The Congregation at Duke University Chapel

Authority of Scripture

For the ears, you can listen to an audio recording of this presentation. [high fidelity audio playable under all personal computer operating systems via VLC media player, Microsoft Windows Media Player with the codecs for FLAC et al, OS X QuickTime with the XiphQT plugin, etc., on many Android-based mobile devices, and on iOS-based mobile devices via apps such as FLAC Player or Golden Ear]

Authority of Scripture

presentation at Adult Forum by
Diana Abernethy
Ph.D. Candidate in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament at Duke
April 23, 2017

What is Scripture and where does it come from?

What does it mean to say Scripture is inspired?

The Holy Spirit has been working in creation and God's people from the beginning. God breaks into the messiness of human history and meets us.

The Holy Spirit guided the Israelites as they wrote the Old Testament - an account of God's work among them throughout history.

The Holy Spirit guided the New Testaments writers as they wrote accounts of their encounters with Christ and the early church.

God has chosen to work in groups of people - the people of Israel, Christ's disciples, the church, etc - and we see different voices in Scripture as these communities recorded their discernment of God's work in their lives across time.

What do we do with it?

How does Scripture shape our discipleship?

The Holy Spirit guides us as we read Scripture today.

John Wesley: "searching the Scriptures" as a means of grace
What are we searching for?
God gave us Scripture as a book as God's self-revelation - as we read Scripture, we look for and meet Christ - the Word of God - in it.

What is "the Word of God"?
Christ is the Word of God.
Different Christians talk about the relationship between Christ as the Word of God and the words of Scripture in different ways.

How do we read Scripture?

Start by reading plain sense.

Classic Disciple Bible Study questions are helpful:
What does this passage tell us about God?
What does this passage tell us about humans?
What does this passage tell us about the relationship between God and humans?

Can be helpful to read in community - in corporate worship, small group study, etc.

As we read Scripture, we ask how God's self-revelation informs our discipleship. We respond by witnessing to God's work in Scripture, in God's people across time, and in our own lives.

As we read the plain sense, we encounter some parts of Scripture that are difficult (violent, etc), and that leads us to ask if the passage has a spiritual sense.

Origen says that not every text has a literal sense, but every part of Scripture has a spiritual sense (First Principles, book 4, sections 14-16 [~25% down page]).

Christians have been reading the Old Testament allegorically from beginning. Example: Paul's discussion of Sarah and Hagar Galatians 4:21 - 5:1

Looking beyond the plain sense is not denying the authority of Scripture - it is looking more deeply for how God is revealing Godself to us in Scripture.