Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Wild Goose (Part 4 of the Bible)

If you're still with me after the first three parts of this, you may find yourself asking, "So what?".

I think it's important how we view scripture. Allow me to do something I'm not too big a fan of: proof-texting:
It cannot become what the Law was for the Pharisees.
It cannot replace God.
It is not God. It is God's servant.
And it is our servant (useful!).

I struggle when I see faith statements or church belief statements that begin not with God, but with scripture. Our story doesn't begin in or with scripture. It begins with God (even scripture says so). Faith does not come from the Bible, faith is fed and shaped by the Bible. The Bible is not the "source" of our faith or the "foundation" of who we are.  Jesus is (by the Holy Spirit.)

Speaking of the Holy Spirit...sometimes it feels to me like the primal authority that is often given to scripture cheapens the active presence, work, and person of the Holy Spirit. Jesus, by the way, did not leave us the Bible. Jesus left us his Holy Spirit. We didn't trust ourselves a couple of centuries later, and thusly canonized scripture (and it's a good thing, because we certainly did/do need it).

But ultimately, anything is nothing without the active presence (=inspiration) of the Holy Spirit. We can understand that this was the same Spirit of God that inspired the people who spoke and wrote scripture and is the same Spirit of God who helps us with it today.

Faith is not so easily a matter of black and white. And the spotlight of our faith (the Holy Spirit) is not a matter of black and white. There is a good reason that the Holy Spirit is called "spirit" and not a Holy "Rock" or Holy "Head" or Holy "Statue" or anything else that we can easily see, manipulate, control, or stick in our pockets. Material things can be controlled. But you can't control the things of spirit. We might even say that it blows where it pleases. Further, there are good reasons that the Holy Spirit is described by images like stillness, fire, wind, and loud noises. Again: none of those are easily controlled.

We're able to control the words of the Bible with our own power. We can shape and form them as we see fit. And we do so very often (all of us). None of us come to the scriptures with unbiased lenses. But the Holy Spirit doesn't live in our pockets or in covers with zippers that Grandma stitched. (I was recently informed that a Celtic image for the Holy Spirit is the "wild goose." Not bad. Though even a goose can be caught and manipulated for our own purposes.)

It's difficult to place too much priority on things that are of divinity, but I'm comfortable saying that the Bible is subservient to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

But it's notable how they work and dance together.

So I will continue this later with a further post on how I tend to think the various ways that authority comes to us. It's my feeling that if I give the Bible too much authority, I'm actually devaluing the living and active God. I have one or two other posts brewing as well in response to questions that have come up. I'm not sure I can do this daily from here on, but I will try.
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This is Part 4 of a short series on The Bible.
Part 1 - Chan, the Bible, & Jesus
Part 2 - I love the Bible. Really.
Part 3 - A Signpost and a Compass

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