Wednesday, January 2, 2013

It's About God.

I found this excerpt from a sermon at Fleming Rutledge's blog this afternoon and I really appreciated it:

"The senior professor of New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary, Beverly Gaventa, was a student at Union Theological Seminary, where Jack studied, at the same time that I was. When I saw her again at Princeton a few years ago, I asked her what she was working on, and she said she was writing a commentary on the Book of Acts. Knowing that Acts has been called “the most disputed book in the New Testament,” I asked her somewhat warily, “What approach to Acts will you be taking?” I was thinking of stuff like, is it historically trustworthy? what about its depiction of Paul? what sort of community was it written for? is it Jewish or Hellenistic? what genre is it? and so forth. What’s your angle on Acts?

Professor Gaventa said something revolutionary. She said, “It’s about God.”
It’s about God. In other words, the Acts of the Apostles is misnamed. It’s not about the actions of the apostles. It is about the actions of God. Now this may seem obvious to you, but it isn’t. More often than not, the Bible isn’t taught today as if it were about God. It’s taught as a repository of human religious thinking. It’s presented as an interesting and important document about human spiritual development. It’s treated as a collection of human imaginings about God. But this is precisely what the Bible is not. The Bible demands to be understood as the revelation of the one true God who is really God. This doesn’t have to be believed, of course, but it requires that we hear it the way it means to be heard, whether we believe it or not. It means to be understood as the Word of God. Not the dictated-directly-from-heaven Word, to be sure, but the true and living Word of God nonetheless."

(Whatever could be amended or qualified regarding the nature of Scripture as "the" revelation of God is not what is important here. What's important is how the Bible is read. And for Rutledge, the Bible witnesses to divine action, not primarily to human action.)

1 comment:

Gilgoredh said...

This comment is very important, considering the context within which it is said, within an academia that has grossly confused the Bible for a human word instead of a divine Word. That said, the Bible also very much testifies to the human response to God. As such, the Acts of the Apostles is very appropriately named. It has become very popular (within certain circles)to downplay the critical human response as a human response. Even if it is enabled empowered by the Holy Spirit, it is still the human response that is enabled and empowered. Of course, it is an asymetrical dialectic, but a dialect never the less. I think this is important to note because it reminds us that the Scripture also informs how we as followers of Jesus Christ now ought to respond to God, like those who came before us. Unfortunately, the academic seminary does a bad job at shaping the Christian life.

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