Monday, April 4, 2011

The Problem of Scripture Reading Part II

    "We believe in Jesus the Eternal Son of God because the Bible testifies that this is who He is." (pg. 341) This is the answer a lot of contemporary Christians will give when asked why they believe in Jesus. They believe because they are told to believe. (We have all probably sung the children's song, "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.")  If Scripture tells us to believe in Jesus, then we will believe in Jesus. This is because "We believe in Jesus because we first of all believe in the Bible." (pg. 341) The Lutheran scholar Johann Gerhard, in his Loci theologici,states that faith in the Bible is an "axiomatic presupposition of all the articles of faith." (pg. 341) That is, to believe in anything, one must start with the Bible.

    Yet, this is highly problematic for Brunner. For when we make the Bible our starting point, "The authority of the Bible precedes the authority of Jesus." (pg. 341) Instead of deriving our faith from the Revelation we derive it from what is revealed. When looking at "faith n the New Testament sense as "meeting (or encounter) it rules out this...conception of faith. According to the Biblical conception of faith we believe in Jesus as the Christ not because it is taught to us by the Church or in the Bible, but because He, Jesus, the Christ, meets us as the true Word of God in the witness of the Scriptures." (pg. 342) When we believe in Christ because we are commanded to by the Bible, we are believing in an idol, according to Brunner, as we can only believe in Christ because we have encountered Him.

   The text of Scripture is dead but the Word of God is alive when believe in Christ-through-encounter. This does not mean that we do not need Scripture, but that we need to put Scripture in it's proper place. "The Bible is not the authority on the basis of which we believe in Christ, but the Bible is the means, which shows and gives us the Christ." (pg. 342) Brunner continues that "The disciples of Jesus did not believe in Him on accord of any doctrine that Jesus was the Christ. Because God, through His Spirit, opened their eyes, they "discovered" Jesus as the Christ." (pg. 342) 

   "That disturbing mystery of the Person of Jesus which even unbelievers feel, becomes evident to faith as the mystery of the unity of the divine and the human Subject in the action and speech, in the suffering and in the death of Jesus." (pg. 342-343) When we read the Scriptures in a modern, academic or disinterested way, we never encounter the disturbing mystery of God. We only encounter some wise sayings, some moral standards, and e have to dis-regard the rest. But when we meet Christ, He disturbs our slumber, and reveals Himself not to be a speaker of words, but as The Word. When we fail to read The Word, we fail to read Scripture. That is the problem of Scripture Reading.

1 comment:

  1. Moyer Said:

    Dan, suggestion for a future blog post. You've refered to this concept many times: "...Instead of deriving our faith from the REVELATION we derive it from what is revealed..." (or a variation of it). It is this concept of a Revelation that carries with it a lot of undefined weight, I would appriciate it if you could spend sometime in defining this concept. Spiritual revolations come in all different varieties, every religion and culture that has ever lived on this planet it's safe (with slight exaggeration) to say had a concept of spiritual revolation. But when you say Revolation i'm assuming you have a very precise definition in mind.

    On a side note:
    One of the foundations of Mormonism is its insistence that a person seek the truth by praying for a private, special revelation from the Holy Spirit

    "In answer to our prayers, the Holy Ghost will teach us through our feelings and thoughts... Heavenly Father will answer their prayers, typically through feelings of their hearts and thoughts in their minds." (handbook for Mormon missionaries)

    More commonly refered to as "burning in the bosom"