I am currently reading All Right Now by Tim Geddert. So far its been an enjoyable read. Geddert wants to lay down the basics of what he sees as core convictions regarding the nature of scripture. At one point (pp.25-26), he describes four aspects of being a “people of the book”. I find them very helpful (especially the second) as I think they highlight the fact that Christians have faith in the authority of scripture, its reliability, and its importance for us today because we come to the Bible being centered on the person of Jesus rather than on some other notion of “Biblical” authority or infallibility grounded in human ideas about what makes for “reliability” or “infallibility”. Here are the points in sum as well as some commentary on them from myself:
1.) People of the book put their trust in God’s word rather than in the words of “experts” who want to push the newest theories about God’s word. While I have some misgivings about the potential misuse of such an “aspect” of being a people of the book, especially as it can be used as an excuse to use the Bible to push unbiblical agendas, I think Geddert is largely right. Geddert is right, I think, precisely because he shows how some of the modern experts are obsessed with what is historical about the bible and what is not. We see this tendency very prominently in modern Historical Jesus scholarship that tries to pick and choose based on a whole pile of very sketchy-at-best criteria, what Jesus would and wouldn’t have said. At the end of the day, trusting in God’s Word is not trusting in how the Bible conforms to the demands of what modern historical scholarship calls a “true” event or saying. This is not to promote ignorance to the historical method, it is simply to call into question whether or not certain methods of historical inquiry are appropriately applicable to the Bible.
2.) People of the Book seek in Scripture “the way, and the truth, and the life.” Quoting John 5:39-40, Geddert helpfully points us to the fact that it is Jesus that is the way, the truth, and the life, NOT the Bible. Sometimes in modern Christian circles, this fact is ignored. Geddert says it best: “If the book itself takes center stage, we are not truly a people of the book, for we will have adopted a different center than that spoken by the Scriptures themselves.” (p.26)
3.) People of the Book examine all claims in the light of the Scriptures. Here Geddert is particularly interested in how this applies within the Christian community. No one leader or individual should ever have the monopoly on the truth of God’s word which means that any claim by an individual to have heard the truth must always be examined by the community together as it looks to the scriptures. This is critical as, quoting Geddert once more, “when the Bible no longer has the power (or our permission) to call into question our own opinions, we have stripped it of its authority altogether.” (p.26)
4.) People of the Book consider to be most important that which the Bible considers most important. Here Geddert is concerned that some Christians get caught up in “secondary” issues within scripture and forget the most “important emphases” therein. Quoting Matthew 23:23 as an example, Geddert wonders if the modern church wouldn’t be criticized by Jesus in a similar way saying that “he might have criticized our overly scrupulous prooftexting to defend our long-cherished beliefs about the Bible’s teaching while neglecting the weightier matter of working toward unity and mutual acceptance in the church — even with those who interpret texts differently.” (p.26)
Anyhow, I thought I would share these little snippets of wisdom as I think they hold direct application for our congregation. What do you think?
Update: More reflections on this book have been posted at a later date.