What is Scripture?

Discussion in 'Theology' started by Thomas, Dec 16, 2008.

  1. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi Lunamoth — welcome aboard!

    If you take theology as "faith seeking understanding" (as we do, following St Anselm), then sacred Scripture is the data of that which we seek to understand. It is axiomatic of our faith that the data in question, the knowledge of God and his will for mankind, comprises a Divine Revelation: "In His goodness and wisdom God chose to reveal Himself and to make known to us the hidden purpose of His will" (see Eph. 1:9) (DV 2.1). If it were not Divine Revelation, but 'just' theology, Scripture in its entirely would be subject to the rule of human error.

    Chapter 3 of Dei Verbum opens:
    "Sacred Scripture, Its Inspiration and Divine Interpretation
    Those divinely revealed realities which are contained and presented in Sacred Scripture have been committed to writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit ... written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author ... In composing the sacred books, God chose men and while employed by Him they made use of their powers and abilities, so that with Him acting in them and through them, they, as true authors, consigned to writing everything and only those things which He wanted."
    (I have edited out comments on how the Church views Herself in relation to Revelation)

    That's about as close to a nutshell as we can make it. Scripture is the object of theological investigation, but it is not a theological object — it contains theologies as a means of access to its interior. Every book of the New Testament offers a theological path to the same object — Jesus Christ — thus we can talk of a Matthaen (the Coming of the Kingdom), a Marcan (the Messianic Secret), a Lucan (Sophiology) and a Johannine (Pneumatology) theology, a Pauline (Mystici Corporis Christi) and even a Hebraen (Ecclesial) theology ... but what it reveals speaks unerringly of God become Incarnate in the Son.

    Scripture is, in that sense, sacramental. Augustine spoke of sacraments as a "visible word" (verbum visibile), and of the word as an "audible sacrament" (sacramentum audible — remember people read out aloud until quite recently — reading in silence is something relatively new).

    In the last generation, theologians such as Lucien Deiss and F.X. Durrwell saw the "real presence" of Christ in the Scriptures. Aimé Georges Martimort made this distinction: “While the Word of God is not a sacrament in the strict sense (the Seven Sacraments), its proclamation in the liturgy has a special and unmatched authority and power. Moreover, it is the power exerted by this Word in the saving actions of Christ that founds the efficacy of the Church’s (seven) sacramental actions."

    Scripture conveys the Divine Word in an immediate way, in a way that is analogous to sacramental efficacy. That is why the Church has traditionally understood the Scriptures to be without error. Yet "without error" does not 'cover' every word: "Through Divine Revelation, God chose to show forth and communicate Himself and the eternal decisions of His will regarding the salvation of men. That is to say, He chose to share with them those divine treasures which totally transcend the understanding of the human mind."

    "Free from error" does not adequately describe the extent of the Bible’s sacramentality. Other books can be free of error— a well-edited textbook, for example — but no other book has God as its author, and so no other text conveys God’s saving power so purely: “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (Jn. 6:63).

    Nor, by the way, does "free from error" cover the reader, were that so, then such would require the suspension of man's will and intellect in the process, and the reader would then be the equivalent of an idiot savant — they are 'true authors' in the sense that Scripture is not revealed as an exercise in 'automatic writing' — I would call the sacred scribe an apostle, rather than a theologian.

    Thomas
     
  2. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    Thank you for that answer Thomas. I'll see what I can find from an AC point of view regarding Scripture.
     
  3. Nick_A

    Nick_A Interfaith Forums

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    Sacred Christian scripture as in the New Testament is a medium by which Christian psychology can take place. It is an art form that enables us through contemplation to get out of our own way long enough so as to become temporarily open to the divine truths our conditioned personalities deny us. With enough experience we can begin to think for ourselves furthering the psychological awakening that is the goal of scripture.
     
  4. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    In the spirit of this new board, would you care to cite your sources please, Nick? As it stands this is merely hearsay.
     
  5. Nick_A

    Nick_A Interfaith Forums

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    I can do so Juan, but I don't see how it changes anything. Consider these definitions of theology:
    How can anyone do the first other than through experiential inner verification since religious truth is an open question?

    The second is learning what "experts" have said. The third is earning a degree which entitles one to BS with the best of them.

    But in the spirit of the board, even though it doesn't deal with "experts" and invites inner verification, I'll post a link to an excerpt from Dr. Nicoll's "The New Man" within which he reveals the importance of scripture and parables from the inner esoteric psychological perspective. There is no way to verify it other then through the efforts to "Know thyself." Self knowledge is easily perverted and scripture is a way of dealing with this normal human tendency until a person is ready to become open to the essence of scripture.

    Authentic scripture is art and psychology at a very high level.

    http://pimoebius.com/The Soul Code.htm
     
  6. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    That's more like it! Good post, Nick!
     
  7. Joedjr

    Joedjr A Sometimes Member

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    Hi,
    In my experience I'd have to say that the goal of most scripture in any faith is to raise conscience "up a notch". So I agree with what Nick_A has to say, but maybe not with the wording. ( that is if I actually have an understanding of what Nick_A did say)
    juantoo3 I think you would also agree with the idea that Nick_A has expressed here, which brings me to ask a question. When can't we understand what is being expressed and need a "source" to back it up?
    Joe
     
  8. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    It is of course Thomas' board, and he may run it as he chooses (within certain guides). It was established as a board for more scholarly discussions, and therefore the more formal burden of proof must be established.

    Otherwise, it is just hearsay and opinion without *any* substantiation. Opinions are welcome of course...on every other board. Here, the remit if I understand correctly is the more formal exercise of scholarship.

    Everywhere else a person can (and frequently does) state *what* they believe. If I understand Thomas correctly, I think the underlying motivation for this board is the opportunity to express *why* we believe what we believe.

    So, while you agree with Nick, what is the basis for that agreement? Would you mind citing your source please?

    Oh, for the record, I haven't said whether or not I agree with Nick, just that he made a good post. I haven't decided yet what source I wish to cite to establish my POV. Sometimes I just like to sit on the side and watch the tennis match... Luv-2
     
  9. Joedjr

    Joedjr A Sometimes Member

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    Hi juantoo3,
    So ah, if there is no quote from a person with scholarly renown then your pov is discounted or considered false, even though that person (scholar) might exist. So this would be a board for discussing the ideas and opinion of only scholarly folks I guess.
    Joe
     
  10. Nick_A

    Nick_A Interfaith Forums

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    Joedjr

    What does it mean for you to "understand?" Does it mean the ability to parrot back what you've learned and alternate between believing and disbelieving it?

    I agree with you that most of these secular "experts" lack understanding so what is the real value of these "experts" or scholarly folks

    However scripture has the potential to help us to awaken. It begins with this incredibly deep concept of "metanoia." This is a psychological inner change of direction where essential human meaning doesn't come from the external world as in society and through the normal responses of our personality to it but in the quality of our inner world that can open to the higher conscious influences, (Spirit, Grace,) coming from inside that lead us out of the darkness of our normal lives.

    I agree with you that one doesn't need sources to acquire new misconceptions and opinions. However we do need sources not initiating in the world but by conscious sources from a higher level of reality.

    I know when I got my inner ass kicked, it became obvious that all I had learned through normal education was meaningless and without this initial experience of metanoia I never could have understood anything meaningful to me. I also saw that I could not have come to this understanding on my own but needed help from above rather then more worldly interpretations of "experts" As usual Simone Weil contributes something profound here which would give Richard Dawkins gray hairs:

    This is it in a nutshell. "Experts" are arguing with atheists and are often wrong. We cannot see how true this is until we can begin to open the supernatural parts of ourselves (new eyes and ears)

    So we need substantial help for the experience of "metanoia" but as sleeping humanity in Plato's cave, it is natural to think that such help comes from other cave dwellers with degrees honored as "experts."

    The bottom line is that this concept of "authority" is double edged. It can be either a vital help or a great hindrance towards awakening. This is why the first step for me is to admit my limitations and begin to Know Thyself" which nourishes the supernatural part that is able to do the "knowing" possible and in turn begin to become capable of a conscious quality of understanding worthy of the name Man.

    If the board is only for people to argue about "experts" I would agree with you that it is meaningless but if esoteric Christianity survives here it cannt be the case since it requires inner verification as the source of substance rather then following "experts.".
     
  11. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Not quite how I would put it, but yeah. Hey, I didn't make the rules. Look at the stickied threads for this board. And it might help to go back and look at the thread where Brian OK'd the making of this board. I promise, I'm not making this stuff up.

    http://www.interfaith.org/forum/about-the-theology-board-10267.html

    http://www.interfaith.org/forum/theology-take-two-10427.html

    http://www.interfaith.org/forum/theology-subforum-9541.html
     
  12. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    That is the gist of a different thread on this board:

    http://www.interfaith.org/forum/whos-authority-10276.html

    So, while I can agree the concept of authority is a highly variable and dependent one, it still remains that we as individuals seem to have a need to differentiate between the flakes and the flukes and the legitimate teachers of wisdom.

    What is legitimate for you may or may not be legitimate for me.
     
  13. Joedjr

    Joedjr A Sometimes Member

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    Hi juantoo3,
    So what we are to discuss here are ideas that are seen as valid but perhaps can be seen in different light. It's the different "shades of light" validated through the eyes of an scholarly expert that can be brought to the table here. So it's more like being taught something in a classroom where there might be guest teachers now and again to add to the studies.
     
  14. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Yeah, I think that's a pretty darn good analogy.
     
  15. Nick_A

    Nick_A Interfaith Forums

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    2 Peter 3

    How then to deal with these scholarly experts not content with their own destruction but to include you with them as they teach you "what to know? How to see them for what they are?

    An essential difference between Christianity and Christendom. Where Christendom and its experts in interpretation teach what to know and what to believe, Christianity stresses what it is to know - becoming able to experience beyond our imagination.
     
  16. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi Nick —

    This is a vague, generalised and unsubstantiated accusation. You're asking us to pass judgement on people we don't know — should we assume, for example, we are to pass blind judgement on a private list of your own possession? I doubt it ... but I hope you can see that this is not the way of the Theology Board. We need hard evidence on which to base our judgements.

    Again an assumption. You will have to define 'Christianity' and 'Christendom' for us, before we can agree on differences.

    +++

    As an aside — but again an unsupported argument, so I won't pursue this theologically, but just offer this as an observation
    Two points:
    Firstly: The 'imagination' is a dangerous term to deploy, as we can imagine in the absence of any data at all. A better one would be speculation which is based on a priori knowledge.

    Secondly: You posit Christendom as teaching what to know, and what to believe — so reason and faith working in union to unlock the mysteries or revelation.
    You posit Christianity as stressing the reason alone, in which case the mysteries of revelation, which by their very nature transcend the reasoning faculty, remain unknown to it.

    Thomas
     
  17. Nick_A

    Nick_A Interfaith Forums

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    Thomas

    No, I'm just asserting that what Peter suggests is true. If it is, how are we to know? Hard evidence is explaining and experiencing what John meant by "Test the spirits" rather than blind belief.

    Christianity is the path Jesus opened that leads to the "Way." Christendom is the man made interpretations and customs that manifested the devolution of Christianity in the world.

    No, speculation is an intellectual function while imagination is not so limited but exists in the emotions and body as well as "conditioned responses" A mindless fear is simply conditioned imagination.

    Where the heck did you get that from? Christendom does teach what to know and what to believe and this is precisely why faith and reason appear in opposition. Christendom doesn't bother with being concerned with how reason, emotion, and sensory experience could consciously function together as a living whole. it assumes it does and just says to have faith. Such faith is blind.

    To carry ones cross as Jesus did requires the quality of will to sustain the union of a conscious mind, impartial emotion and the sensory experience of the moment. Impartial emotion sustains the necessary inner psychological space where the Spirit can enter in response to the conflict between the will of the mind and the desires of the body to begin re-birth..

    Only a few are capable which is why only a few can experience re-birth to enter the kingdom. Good seed though is not lost but can be saved in the body of Christ for the next go round.
     
  18. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    If in your blanket accusation of 'Christendom' you include Catholicism, I would address you to the Papal Encyclical Fides et Ratio:
    Thomas
     

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