God’s Use of the Bible
February 24, 2009
Here is a nice reminder on the Bible’s intrinsic-extrinsic authority:
Only God can authenticate his word. We can try, of course. We can develop all sorts of theories of inspiration and devise all sorts of proofs of why the Bible must be true and hold all sorts of rallies in supposed “defense” of the Bible. These may make us feel more secure when we already believe, but they have not been notably successful in persuading the unconvinced. If the word of God, in its original spoken or later written form, does not come with intrinsic authority, nothing else will finally suffice.
…When we are being bluntly honest with ourselves, we know that what makes us most resist dealing seriously with Scripture is not fundamentally the Bible’s pre-scientific worldview or its historical obscurities. It’s the way it fingers all too accurately where we fall short here and now. What troubles us is not what is not clear, but what is. As Mark Twain puts it, “Many people are bothered by what they don’t understand in the Bible. I, however, am greatly disturbed by what I do understand.” And W. C. Fields said, “I have spent a lot of time searching through the Bible for loopholes.” By contrast, to affirm the biblical story in all its discomfiting clarity is to say with Karl Barth,
“Every verse in the Bible is virtually a concrete faith-event in my own life….I have been personally present and have shared in the crossing of Israel through the Red Sea but also in the adoration of the golden calf, in the baptism of Jesus but also in the denial of Peter and the treachery of Judas….And we shall have to answer this question alone: whether, after the Word of God has sought to provide us with this movement and meaning, we have perhaps evaded it?” (Church Dogmatics, I/2, T&T Clark, 1956, p. 709)
Marguerite Shuster, “A Book with a Difference,” in God, Creation, and Revelation: A Neo-Evangelical Theology (Eerdmans, 1991) by Paul K. Jewett, pp. 167-8.