Posted on: April 21st, 2009 Liturgical View of Scripture (I): Communion of Saints

Here is the introduction to this series.

Here is Part II.

I have spoken to some friends about how the liturgy has transformed my attitude toward a feminist person at my seminary. Experiencing this person (let’s call her “Jane”) in the liturgy, interacting with her in the liturgy, prompted the realization that, although she may hold many views which I find objectionable, she is a member of the body of Christ, and is clearly worshipping Jesus. I think that this is a powerful anecdote which begins to show how liturgy can transform the way we deal or cope with biblical messiness and interbiblical “conflict” (what some people call “contradictions in the Bible”).

I am drawing an analogy here between myself & Jane, on the one hand, and, say, Joshua and Judges (vis a vis the conquest), or the Old Testament’s portrayal of harem warfare, or whatever biblical conflict (“contradiction”) you like. By the way, one implication here is that it is not the case that “Israel has misreprented YHWH” (say, in the affirmation and committing of harem warfare) but rather that we, the people of God, have (possibly) misrepresented YHWH. Huge difference there, one which (in some ways) is less traumatic or fatal or disturbing. (By the way, and I hope to come back to this at some point, Anglicanism has never affirmed that Scripture is inerrant…. For that matter, I don’t think that classical Presbyterianism has either, at least until our isolated modern denominations did so, has it?)

But because of this analogy, because Jane and I are not just in the same family as each other (and — within the liturgy — we find a way to live peacefully with our differences) but also in the same family as whoever it was who “wrote” or spoke or passed down the Old Testament (on principle I don’t use the phrase “Hebrew Bible” anymore except in limited situations. That phrase contradicts one of my basic points here.), these differences are worth discussing and struggling with, but they don’t cause some crisis in the church. They neither prompt us nervously to rush to Scripture’s defense, nor do they prompt us to jettison Scripture as something which is hopelessly flawed.

This, by the way, is ecclesiology.

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3 Responses to “Liturgical View of Scripture (I): Communion of Saints”

  1. religiocity » Blog Archive » Liturgical View of Scripture: Intro Says:
    April 21st, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    […] For the first article in this series, go here. […]

  2. Gordon Davis Says:
    April 25th, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    Matt, you inspired me to do a short study of how close (or not) Westminster comes to calling Scripture inerrant:

    I.1. In Scripture that knowledge of God, and of his will, which is necessary unto salvation are committed wholly unto writing.
    I.2. Holy Scripture is the Word of God written. All the canonical books of the Bible are given by inspiration of God to be the rule of faith and life.
    I.4. God is the author of Holy Scripture.
    I.5. [I]nfallible truth and divine authority are attributed to the Holy Scriptures.
    I.8. The Old and New Testaments were immediately inspired by God and, by His singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages and are therefore authentical.
    I.10. The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined…can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in Scripture.

  3. matt Says:
    April 25th, 2009 at 10:47 pm

    Thanks, Gordon. I was hoping that someone would do this; I did remember that the Confession uses “infallible,” but I could not quite remember what else it says, and if it uses (something tantamount to) “inerrant.”

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