Over at the Doorman-Priest’s dance hall, he has been leading a series of discussions over the past week on Salvation. The current discussion is about how Scripture fits into the whole thing. He says there are basically four ways to understanding scripture (quoted below)
•Not to believe any of it (which isn’t much of an option for those professing a Christian faith).
•To take a Fundamentalist approach and argue that scripture is inspired literal truth and is to be accepted as the Word of God without question or interpretation.
•To follow a Conservative line which suggests that the Bible is the word of God filtered by the cultural and historical context of those who felt inspired to express their views.
•To accept a Liberal interpretation which says that the Bible contains the word of God and which also recognises allegory and myth as valid literary Biblical genres.
and then quotes the passage in the Gospel of John (taken from this week’s Gospel reading) where Jesus heals a blind man. Our friendly neighborhood bouncer with a heart of gold wants to know:
So, ignoring the atheist viewpoint, which of the other three viewpoints above reflects a belief in the inerrant word of God? Do they all in their own way? Is our attitude to scripture determinative of salvation?
My response is as follows:
My view of Scripture is somewhere between the Conservative and Liberal points of view.
In one of my discernment interviews, a well-meaning evangelical on my committee asked me about whether i thought Scripture was a good roadmap for living a holy life. I told him that I saw Scripture more as a guidebook than a roadmap. Roadmap has the connotation of showing “this is what you must do to get to where you want to go” and is more about the destination. A guidebook tells you all sorts of wonderful things … stories, places to go, things to do, but doesn’t have many real hard or fast rules and is all about the journey.
The purpose of Scripture in my opinion is not to lay down a set of rules or to point to the miracles that happened in some by gone age. It is a revelation of how God has revealed Himself in history … first in Creation, later through the Law and Prophets, and then finally through Jesus….God’s ultimate self-revelation. This does not mean that every single verse, jot or tittle in the Bible is without error. On the contrary, it was written by very fallible human beings living in a certain cultural context with all the social mores and taboos and permissions of the day.
When it comes to things like the miracles or the flood, I believe they happened. If I were to find out that they didn’t happen the way the bible said they did, would that shake my faith and cause me to forsake my religion? No. My faith is not in an event or a book. It is in the person of Jesus Christ. Muslims say that Christians along with Jews are “people of the book.” That statement could not be more farther from the truth, in my opinion. Christians are the people of the Person. How one views Scripture is not determinative on Salvation. Salvation is not found Scripture, but in Jesus Christ.
Take today’s Gospel story as an example. The blind man did not believe in Jesus because of the miracle of gaining his sight. He believed because Jesus revealed himself as Messiah, then the formerly blind man worshiped. His salvation was found not in a miracle, not in being a professing Jew, but in the one who revealed himself as Son of God.