Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Thompson on Scripture

Next Sunday (the 19th), Mark Thompson is visiting Christchurch to speak on the clarity of Scripture (details here). As a bit of pre-game warm up I thought I'd have a wander through the book of his 2005 Moore College Annual Lectures, A Clear and Present Word. How's this for a wonderful statement:

Christian doctrine is not essentially rational, mechanistic or impersonal, but is relational at its very core because God in his eternal being is relational and determines all reality. A Christian doctrine of Scripture must speak of Scripture as it is related to God, and this will of necessity draw attention to the person, work and words of Jesus Christ, the one who is genuinely and without reduction both God and human. Scripture exists by and within the purpose of God to be known by men and women, those he is determined to rescue for himself. It is properly understood as an integral part of the purposeful communicative activity of God (Clear and Present Word, 78-9).

I wonder if we can go even further, and suggest that given what Thompson has said about the nature of the Scriptures being grounded in the nature of God (relational and communicative), it is right to speak of the Bible as being not only an 'integral part of the purposeful communicative activity of God', but also an integral part of the purposeful salvific activity of God.

Of course this salvific activity would need to be understood broadly (so as to include both the softening and hardening of hearts), and one would not want to restrict God's salvific activity to the presence or articulation of the exact words of Scripture (such a view would be validly open to Barth's critique of restriction of God's sovereignty), but the Bible not only communicates what God has, is, and will do, but the message of which is effective, by the Holy Spirit, in bringing those purposes about - 'and you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation (Eph 1:13).

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