Monday, July 14, 2014

Thoughts on Biblical Infallibility

Article V ("On the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation") of the Articles of Religion of the United Methodist Church says this:

The Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation; so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man that it should be believed as an article of faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of the Holy Scripture we do understand those canonical books of the Old and New Testament of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church.

I affirm this while also recognizing the Wesleyan Quadrilateral, which aligns with prima scriptura, not sola scriptura:

"Scripture is considered the primary source and standard for Christian doctrine. Tradition is experience and the witness of development and growth of the faith through the past centuries and in many nations and cultures. Experience is the individual's understanding and appropriating of the faith in the light of his or her own life. Through reason the individual Christian brings to bear on the Christian faith discerning and cogent thought. These four elements taken together bring the individual Christian to a mature and fulfilling understanding of the Christian faith and the required response of worship and service." (from the UMC website, emphasis mine)

However, while both of these are related to the role scripture should have in our lives, neither one directly touches on the idea of infallibility. For scripture to be "the primary source and standard for Christian doctrine," it must be God-inspired; the Spirit must be able to work in us through scripture.

Moving from there to the word "infallible" sometimes makes me uncomfortable, though, because it has been used with a variety of meanings - sometimes equated with "inerrancy," sometimes stronger than it, sometimes weaker, sometimes used to say that the Bible should be taken literally. Wesley describes Scripture as infallible in his 16th sermon:

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Ecumenism and Esther People

I've alluded several times to major changes in my college Christian Fellowship and the fact that I'm now part of the leadership. I wanted to write in a bit more detail about all of that because, for me at least, it brought up a lot of interesting issues and thoughts.

The fellowship, OCF, is one of only two Christian groups on campus, as my college is very small. The other group is a Catholic association, which is a joint group with the college next door. All the OCF leadership (and honestly, most of the active members) were seniors. The non-seniors who had been deeply involved this year were two first years, and me (a sophomore). Michel and Sonia, the two first years, will be co-presidents. I'll be abroad in the fall but back in the spring.

So far, pretty normal. It's a smaller group than we'd like, but other than that, it seems like this should just be a passing of the torch, right?

In early or mid March, Sonia, Michel, and I started meeting for about an hour a week to figure out that passing of the torch with some of the graduating seniors as well as two adults. The two adults were the Cru staff members who had been assigned to OCF since it affiliated with Cru a couple of years before. At the first meeting, we mostly talked about what these meetings would be like and some logistics, then prayed. It was the second meeting when we really started talking. The president, Sara, asked each of us (seniors and underclassmen) to talk about what we would like to see in OCF.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Never Forsake

So I wrote about what ended up being my theme verse from this past year, but I wanted to also write about my theme hymn: "How Firm a Foundation."

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the LORD
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said
To you, who for refuge to Jesus hath fled?

At the beginning of this year, I wrote in my Disciple Bible Study guide, "I've been struggling with what's special about the Bible and want to explore that." I believed - and still believe - that the books in the Bible are not the only God-inspired texts. Liturgy and hymnody have strongly influenced my faith, and my faith has been shaped by the sermons I've been hearing since I was four years old. To me, it's always seemed evident that there was God-inspiration in these, or at least that there was potential for these kinds of texts to be God-inspired. So what made the Bible special above all of these?

Well, I had part of the answer, but I wasn't all that convinced yet: "Just that it is the oldest? Or helped inspire the other texts?" Mostly that second bit, but I wasn't thinking broadly enough yet. The words we sang or sing are not all verses from the Bible, but they are all inspired by what is contained in the scriptures. The Word is the story of our faith. Without that story, we have nowhere to begin. We have no foundation.