Thursday, July 01, 2010

False Dichotomies and the Bible

False dichotomies are everywhere! Am I fat or ugly? Pick one (but keep it to yourself). More seriously, some want to argue that the church must be loving, not concerned with orthodoxy. Which would you pick if you had too - love or orthodoxy? Isn't there a middle ground that is more biblical?

When it comes to biblical interpretation false dichotomies also plague the discussion. Some argue that God has revealed himself in his mighty acts of history, not the specific words of the Bible (thus the word are undervalued and somewhat unimportant). Other argue God has revealed himself in the words of the Bible, not in the acts of history (thus the historicity of the events are undervalued and unimportant). Which would you choose - did God reveal himself in the words of the Bible or in the events?

Let me relieve the tension now - you don't have to choose! The Bible is not only a record of God's mighty acts, it is one of his mighty acts. It doesn't just tell us of his redemptive missions, it's a part of his redemptive mission. In fact, the Bible isn't just Word, as though it were inactive and powerless, it is action. When God speaks, he acts.

Here is how V. Phillips Long says it in his The Art of Biblical History:
"[quoting Morgan] 'it is quite consistent to claim that divine Providence both directed events in a certain way in Israel's history and controlled the traditions that grew up to interpret those events in such an unerring way that they were correctly interpreted: one can, that is, consistently locate revelation in both events and traditions' . . . This seems to me to be the most promising approach - divine revelation should be located in both historical events and the interpretive word with mediates these events to us . . . For some time now the hermeneutic pendulum in biblical studies has continued to swing back and forth between the two poles of event and word. . . What is needed, I would argue, is to bring the pendulum to a halt in the middle, where it does not lose touch with either historical event or interpretive word."

He then concludes:
"God, the 'lord of history'; the prophet, His 'qualified interpreter'; the result: authoritative testimony to event through word."

Every word of the Bible is an act of God!

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