Biblical Authority: The Bible as Coversation Partner
(This paper was written at the beginning of the my first semester of seminary. The Bible is certainly a hot topic of conversation among Christians. That may just be the purpose of it: to bear conversation among others and with its readers. Let's hope this paper shapes you in biblical proportions.)
Biblical authority, in many ways, is the foundation to many of the issues the Church faces today and has faced in the past. Many atrocities in history perpetuated by Christians are and were done in the name of “upholding the Bible.” Church history highlights biblical authority as an important role in the lives of many Christians, so a generous and just understanding of biblical authority may contribute to a more generous and just faith. In this paper I will discuss my embedded understanding of biblical authority, demonstrate my understanding of the text, Struggling with Scripture by Walter Brueggemann, William Plancher, and Brian Blout, and reflect on the ways my embedded understanding has been challenged and confirmed by the text.
Embedded Understanding of Scriptural Authority
As I moved from a solely embedded understanding of biblical authority to a more deliberative one, my understanding of biblical authority moved from a higher view to a lower one. My home church, being from an Evangelical tradition, held a high view of biblical authority. They deliberately taught to “test all things against God’s word.” If one had an issue involving lying, stealing, disobeying, etc., they would be directed to a biblical passage respectively. However, upon further reflection years later, I have come to realize my home church’s deliberative theology on biblical authority is inconsistent with its embedded theology on biblical authority. Often our pastor would preach about a specific topic, often with several sub-points to form the main topic with each sub-point referencing a specific verse in the Bible. The verses in many of the sermons were from different books and were isolated from their context, so they often did not truly reflect a high view of the biblical narrative. The embedded theology of biblical authority presented to the congregation was the Bible was simply a reference guide to apply to specific topics or issues in life. Therefore, while my home church’s deliberative theology of biblical authority spoke of a high view of the Bible, its embedded theology communicated otherwise...