Lord, grant us wisdom | Jesus’ Creed
It has been a difficult year. No one likes uncertainty, but it has been a year of uncertainty. We are not in control and we cannot force reality to follow our rules, or declare the virus nonexistent. The best we can do is take precautions, refine treatments and develop vaccines, then vaccinate and pray… not in that order. Prayer is a regular and continuous need.
As Christians, we have often focused on clear direction and certainty. We see it in the responses to the current crisis, but there are many more examples we could cite. Calvinism is rooted in certainty (TULIP anyone?). The Catholic Church roots certainty in the ecclesial structure. Inerrancy is a doctrine which loathes uncertainty, but cannot avoid it.
Charles Ryrie at p. 76 of Basic theology wrote:
In the old days, all that was needed was to assert your belief in the full inspiration was the statement, “I believe in the inspiration of the Bible.” But when some did not extend inspiration to the words of the text, it became necessary to say, “I believe in verbal inspiration from the Bible.” To counter the teaching that not all parts of the Bible were inspired, it was necessary to say, “I believe in the verbal and full inspiration of the Bible.” Then because some did not want to attribute complete accuracy to the Bible, it was necessary to say: “I believe in the verbal, full, infallible, infallible inspiration of the Bible. But then “infallible” and “infallible” began to be limited to matters of faith only rather than also embracing everything the Bible records (including historical facts, genealogies, Creation stories, etc.) , it therefore became necessary to add the concept of “unlimited inerrancy”. Every addition to the basic statement is the result of erroneous teaching.
While the church has faced erroneous teachings throughout its history, I do not think such teachings have led to increasingly specific statements. Rather, it is the very human desire for unambiguous certainty that has led to this development. Unfortunately, this does not work. The Bible is not a book that lends itself to such easy constraint and definition. Following the example of Ryrie and others who have sought to root certainty in inerrancy, we will begin with the Bible itself to understand the nature of the Holy Scriptures… but the conclusion will be somewhat different.
Paul wrote to Timothy:
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and of which you are convinced, because you know those from whom you have learned it, and how from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which can make you wise to salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. All scriptures are inspired by God and are useful in teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that God’s servant is fully equipped for any good work. (2 Tim. 3: 14-17)
The Sacred Scripture that Paul refers to in his letter to Timothy is our Old Testament. The handwritten forms available to Paul and Timothy included the Septuagint as well as Hebrew and Aramaic texts similar to the Masoretic text used in our modern English translations. Given the variations found in even the earliest known manuscripts, it is difficult to defend verbal, plenary, infallible, infallible inspiration. Surely, if it had been important, an almighty God could have preserved the infallible text for his people. I have come to a belief that this is, and should be, enough to stop with Ryrie’s initial statement. “I believe in inspiration from the Bible.
Paul refers to the Old Testament writings and assigns them a purpose. The New Testament gospels, letters, and other writings certainly serve the same purpose. The Holy Scriptures come from God and serve to make us wise, equipping us for any good work. This wisdom comes, not with the easy certainty we might wish for, but through stories and examples, songs and poems, proverbs and prophecies, sermons and letters, and carefully curated accounts of events. historical.
The Bible makes us wise with the wisdom that comes from God as we read it seeking that wisdom, not precision and certainty. The pursuit of wisdom requires that we struggle with ideas, contradictions, and puzzles. In this we learn to follow God through times of change and uncertainty. Studying Scripture as a whole, not in bite-sized pieces that are easily swallowed, and as it is, not shaped to match our preconceptions, will make us wise.
There is one commandment that the New Testament makes clear – and about it there is no ambiguity except that we choose to invent to justify our foolish desires.
As recorded in Matthew, Jesus summarized the Law and the Prophets
So in all, do to others what you would like them to do to you, for that sums up the Law and the Prophets. Mt 7:12
“Master, what is the greatest commandment in the Fa? “
Jesus replied, “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and the greatest commandment. And the second is like this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments. Mt 22: 36-40
John records Jesus speaking to his disciples in a long speech on the night of his betrayal:
“A new commandment that I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, you must love each other. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. “Jn 13: 34-35
Paul follows Jesus:
Let no debt go unpaid except the debt continue to love one another, for whoever loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments “Thou shalt not commit adultery”, “Thou shalt not kill”, “Thou shalt not steal”, “Thou shalt not covet”, and any other command that may exist, are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself. Love doesn’t hurt a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law. ROM. 13: 8-10
For all the law is fulfilled by keeping this commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself”. Ga 5: 14-15
We must act with love towards other Christians, towards our neighbor (not limited to other Christians, eg Luke 10), and towards our enemies (eg Mt 5). In doing so, we are fulfilling the Fa. But even acting with love must be done by the wisdom that comes from seeking the mind of God. For this we must pray and study the Holy Scriptures – not to force them into a mold of our own making, but for the wisdom that comes from God.
Lord, grant us wisdom.
If you want to contact me directly, you can do so at rjs4mail[at]att.net
If you wish, you can comment on this article at Reflections on Science and Theology.