Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Section 2: The Truthfulness of Scripture

The Self-Donation of God, pg. 2:

"In light of the fact that Scripture centers on the promise of the gospel, we must insist on the reality of its truthful historicity. Although "literal religion" is frequently maligned as childish by our culture, the truth of the gospel presupposes the truthful historicity of the Bible. The "non-literal" and therefore more "mature" reading of the Bible insisted upon by much of contemporary culture in fact denigrates Christianity into an incipit religion of the law. It is infrequently acknowledged that Liberal Protestantism's legalism automatically follows from its anti-literalism. If the Bible only presents us with fanciful allegorical stories, then these narratives are capable of doing nothing other than giving us general moral truths. But, if Scripture centers on God's promises which culminate in Christ, it must be the case that God has literally been faithful to his promises in the actual history of the world. To suggest that God's activities of promise making and fulfillment in Scripture are mere allegories or legendary "sagas" makes such promises about some other realm and not about the real, literal, historical world. If the scriptural world is not the real, literal, historical world, then what freedom can it give to sinners living in the real historical world? This means that the gospel-centered message of the Bible is inherently tied up with the truth of its history in which God makes his trustworthiness known. 
Similarly, to admit that Scripture could be untruth in historical matters would also be to suggest that God's ultimate promise in the gospel could be an error. Even if we have considerable evidence of the central events of the crucifixion and the resurrection of Christ, admitting that Scripture can error downgrades the certainty of these events to the level of "probable." Saying that the biblical documents can be untruthful is to say that their historical claims are to be believed with the same degrees of greater and lesser probability that all secular history possesses. Nevertheless, if we have full assurance of our salvation (as Scripture tells us we do, Heb 10:19-20), then the events which underline those promises cannot merely be probable, but absolutely be true. Indeed the nature of the faith does not allow Christians to confess that Christ "probably" died for their sins and "probably" rose for their justification. If that were the case, my assurance through Word and sacrament is also merely probable. But these things are not probable, but as Luther repeatedly states in the Catechisms, "most certainly true." They are most certainly true because God makes them known and guarantees them in his truthful written Word. Indeed, as Luther aptly states in the Large Catechism: "Because we know that God does not lie. I and my neighbor and, in short, all men, may err and deceive, but the Word of God cannot err."

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