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6 December 2004

Scripturalism and Christianity

Well put.  ‘Nuff said.

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5 Responses to “Scripturalism and Christianity”

  1. soekarno Says:

    Too many Evangelicals are becoming biblically illiterate while at the same time practicing Scripturalism or bibli-olarty. That is, we make an idol of the Bible and worship our ideas about it while ignoring what it says.

    I like this definition of bibli-olarity, even though the word itself is a bit awkward. It strikes me that “making an idol of the Bible and worhip our ideas about it while ignoring what it says” is very Durkheimian… where religion is really just a way of worshiping the collective (including social organization and moral values) that you live in.

  2. Nate Says:

    The Rev. Prof. Gomes, of the Mem Church here at Harvard, noted in one
    of his books that there are three problematic ways to approach the
    Bible:”1. The worship of the Bible, making it an object of veneration and ascribing to it the glory due to God.
    “2. The worship of the text, in which the letter is given an inappropriate superiority over the spirit

    “3. The worship of the culture, in which the Bible is forced to conform to the norms of the prevailing culture.”

    (The Good Book, p. 36)

  3. Bob Smietana Says:


    Thanks for the Gomes reference (and the link( I’ll have to take a look at “The Good Book”


  4. pp Says:

    One probelm with the biblio-larity is that it is based on what very well may be incomplete data. The modern collection of ancient texts which have been assembled by the early Catholic Church. The underlying facts are that similar to Shakespearean works etc. these are based as much on oral traditions passed down and finally written down sometimes centuries later. From that, the Church (there was only one then) assembled these texts. Even today there are disputed writing, most notably the apocrypha (sp?), that could be included in the B-I-B-L-E.
    One thing is that thematically the modern Bible does not really contradict itself. But when taken literally, or as literally as it was translated and recorded, it is full of contradictions. In fact the purpose of the New Testament was to “correct” the Old or the Jewish Law.
    I guess I may lose all my Sunday School gold stars so that is it for this soap box.

  5. Nate Says:

    Well, you’re sorta right.

    If we have faith, we have to believe that the Spirit guided the process of the canon in some fashion, especially with regard to the Christian Scriptures (which I avoid calling the New Testament, as I’ll elaborate below). So that’s why we have the four Gospels we have, as opposed to any of the Gnostic gospels (Thomas, Mary Magdalene, etc.) So says the theology. There’s also some very good “rational” reasons to prefer the four gospels, primary among them that they are significantly closer in time to Jesus’ own life than the Gnostic scriptures. (John and the synoptics were written with the span of one human life after Jesus’ death, whereas most of the Gnostic texts were written around 200 C.E., I believe [it may be 150 C.E., but that doesn’t really detract from my essential point].) The apochrypha, of course, is accepted as Scripture by all Christians, except Protestants and (sort of) Anglicans (although we place it in a middle category and read from it in services and use it for lessons and teaching).

    And the “New Testament” wasn’t a correction of the Law, so much as an elaboration on what it meant to be a Jew in light of Jesus of Nazareth. Since the vast majority of the New Testament epistles were written while the Jesus movement was still firmly part of Judaism (a bit out of the mainstream, but not much more than some of the Pharisees or the Essenes), it’s more of an elaboration. Even the Gospels and the Revelation still bear the marks of a movement that saw itself as having an intrinsic connection to Judaism, even after it had been kicked out of the synagogues. The idea that the Christian Scriptures are a “correction” only develops much later, as Christianity becomes a power, grows in complexity, and strives to forge a very separate identity from Jews, often from a mutual enmity for the first three hundred years of the common era.

    Go ahead, lose those stars! I’ve lost all of mine, and I need someone to join me….