Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Identity of Christians through a theology of scripture


E. J. Young wrote, “He who is bold enough to assert the presence of actual errors in the original manuscripts is in effect saying that the Word which God has revealed contains errors. It is as though he were to say that God Himself has breathed forth an impure Word.”[39]

That is only one side of the coin. On the other side, we have to also say that he who is bold enough to assert that there are no actual errors in the scripture is in effect saying that he knows how reality is when all factors and right interpretation are achieved. It is as though he were to say that he himself is God, possessing objective and noumenon knowledge of reality in its entirety.

Both sides of the coin are blasphemies. Defining ‘truthfulness’ and ‘errors’ in the Bible is an on-going affair and has to be dealt with on case by case basis, depending on which particular portion of which particular book is in discussion.

The gap caused by historical processes is real and we cannot eliminate it. And what we are left with is this peculiar collection of peculiar books that are handed down to us from those who have lived their lives provided by and from within the context this collection has preserved. To recall again, the Bible as the Word of God is the open context of which God’s operating and engaging authority enshrined through and within which God’s people found themselves, rather than a mere closed text that witness only to the past.

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[39] E. J. Young, Thy Word is Truth (USA: Eerdmans, 1957; Finland: The Banner of Truth, reprint 1997), 136.
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Now, following from that, I applied this theology of scripture as a framework to understand the identity of being a Christian.

So far the typical identification criterion to decide whether someone is a Christian or not is by the person's reciting, as an act of affirming, a certain text like the Apostles' Creed or the 'sinner's prayer'. After doing that, one is considered a Christian. And at the deeper reality, this means that when a person confesses these articles, one's very being is believed to go through a process known as 'conversion'. So before reciting, the person is a sinner. After reciting, the person becomes a saint. From the state of condemnation into the state of salvation. All happened through an act of locution; expressing self-directed meaningful sentences. A theoretical ontology.

When the Bible is the open context of which God’s operating and engaging authority enshrined through and within which God’s people found themselves, rather than a mere closed text that witness only to the past, our perception of Christian's ontology effectively changes.

With this theology in view, Christian's identity is not so much in affirming texts but locating the person's being within a context.

Having the person to locates his/her being is having his/her self assumed into a different world. This event is not so much as to affirm certain texts but to fix the self into a context; moving and establishing one's self in a location. The difference is like Harold Crick, in Stranger Than Fiction, reading about his own life on manuscripts and him actually assuming that life to be him-self. Hence by appropriating the Bible as God's Word, the person's identity is an act of assumption; one's being assuming into the context of God's kingdom* via the portal provided by the scripture. A praxial** ontology.

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*"...the location of the Bible is within God's authority in the world, God’s economy in creation-renewal, and in the event of revealing the God-self to the world. The scripture is here understood as the ever-motioning 'context' for all these." So, what do we mean when we say the Bible is the Word of God.

** Adjective of praxis.
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