Scripture and the Necessity of Self-conscious Epistemology, Lesson 2
I gave an example in the handout last week that I failed to mention, but one of the things Rosaria Butterfield does when she goes to speak at campuses in the U.S. is that she sits down with the LGBT leaders on that campus and places a Bible on the table where they are meeting and says:
Look, I am coming from scripture. I know that you might not be coming from scripture as being authoritative in your life, and so I know we’re going to disagree on some things. I am bound by scripture, but that doesn’t mean we can’t love each other while we disagree.
She is using, philosophically speaking, a circular argument. The reason why I believe this about human sexuality always circles back to the Bible, because it’s my beginning and end of how I know things.
Now, I said that these Sunday school classes are trying to accomplish multiple goals: I want it to function as an inquires class of sorts, and I want you all to know where Redeemer stands theologically, and I want us to think about methodology (how does what we believe play out in our lives and in the city). We start with scripture, in some sense being the most important thing we do, because everything we do at Redeemer comes back to scripture and its authority.
The obvious question that I’ve gotten on this particular point is, “Ok, so you say scripture has the authority, but which interpretation of scripture are you talking about, because many people in the world today would say the same thing, but interpret the scripture in vastly different ways than you.” And to that, I always say, “Fair point.” Sooo, how do we know which interpretation is correct or not? Where do we look? We look to scripture itself. The confession helps us here, that when we are confused with certain parts of scripture (and 2 Peter 3:15-16 says that not all scripture is easy to understand), where are we to turn? To other parts of scripture:
Westminster Confession of Faith 1.9 - The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.
And regardless of whether we are confused in parts of the scriptures, the main things are so plain that it’s essentially impossible to misunderstand them:
Westminster Confession of Faith 1.7 - All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear to all: yet, those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed, for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.
Now, because of this, I want to give you a broad somewhat systematic view of what scripture is. This is not going to be a creation/fall/redemption type of a summary of the Bible, but the actual hard data of how the Bible came about, what it’s made up of (literarily), and how we ought to view it, by using the scripture itself as our guide—not culture, not primarily our own experience, but knowing that the Spirit does work through our experience to help us understand what the scriptures are about.
That’s what that 3 page hand out is about that you have. This is an area where we need to go back to the old paths as Jeremiah said and learn the actual content of scripture. We have the most access to the Bible than we’ve ever had and we the church is probably more Biblically illiterate than we’ve ever been.