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The Nature of Scripture

Hello All! I’ll be writing a Lenten series on Sidewalk Scribbles starting March 6th (Ash Wednesday) but in the mean time I want to share a few posts on specific topics of theology. Why? Well, Liz and I are getting ordained in the Free Methodist Church this Summer and my posts are actually answers to questions directly from my ordination application. I want to share them because I think it’s important that each of us know what we believe not to defend it, as some would say, but to cultivate it. Theology and/or doctrine should never be about warding off what’s out there but about cultivating what’s in and around us. I hope you find these words helpful and refreshing.

It is vital Christians and church communities understand the incarnation of Scripture. God’s Word is written by humans under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, fully divine and fully human in its compilation and what it reveals. Scripture is not meant to be a rulebook or reference guide for how to behave, but rather the Old and New Testaments tell the story of God and God’s salvation of all creation.

The entirety of scripture is pointing us to the way of Salvation ultimately found in Jesus Christ, and because of that we understand the two testaments do not contradict one another but rather the New Testament is the fulfillment the Old Testament. Scripture itself is incarnated (fully divine and fully human) and it points us to God who incarnates Himself with us in the person of Jesus. Likewise, Christian salvation is both a spiritual (divine) and physical (human) salvation and implicates the whole of our person, our communities and all of creation.

Often scripture is emphasized as either more divine or more human and we find many dangerous implications here. If scripture is spiritually overemphasized it casts our humanity and thus the humanity of Jesus into the shadows and ceases having any use or voice in our lives. It divides the spiritual and the physical and creates a spirituality and church which lacks any relevance to the lives of people within the church and those outside. Truly, It preaches resurrection without death.

If scripture is physically overemphasized it lacks any power to heal, save and redeem. It reimagines Jesus as concerned only with our life and current personal and social issues and lacks both roots in the historical church and fruit in the life to come. Here scripture preaches life without resurrection.

When we understand scripture to be fully divine and fully human we are invited to bring our whole selves to it. We understand that it is not calling us to be more human or more spiritual than we are already are, but it beckons us to come, die and be raised to newness of life.

When we read and incarnate the word of God into our lives it slowly incarnates us into our world to do the work of ministry. When the incarnation of scripture incarnates us we take up the ministry of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit and fulfill Jesus words, “greater works than these will you do.” Our ministry takes on the pursuit of salvation of the whole, the full divinity and the full humanity of everyone and all creation. Here when we serve the poor we know whether we offer a cup of water or a prayer of salvation we do the work of incarnational ministry where the entire person is being saved.

This understanding of ministry also brings us into community with those to whom we minister. When our hermeneutic is either spiritual or physical we create power dynamics of dependency and stifle the regenerative salvation we all need. However, a fully divine and fully human hermeneutic propels us into ministry bringing wholeness and healing to our world.