Sunday, 18 May 2008

Christ and the Bible

Just finished Christ and the Bible, by John Wenham (it's out of print - try ABE books). I confess I've rarely found so much helpful in such a little book on the Bible - he deals with technical detail with a fluidity and clarity of style which makes for a very readable little volume. It was the first in a tetralogy on Scripture (if indeed he finished it), and I'm rather inclined to get hold of the others - certainly I'll get a copy of this one, having borrowed it initially. He approaches Scripture claiming not to assume infallability, but to see Jesus' and the NT writers' view of Scripture, both Old and New Testaments, to establish its testimony. He also considers Canon, which section I found most confused in argumentation. I agree with Frame's constructive criticism of the original 1972 edition (I read the 1993 revision), though still Mark Dever puts it as the must-read of his bibliography on Biblical inerrancy.
[Wenham's argument] starts by accepting as valid the characteristic Christian experience of conversion. A convert from a non-Christian religion or from modern secular society seldom arrives at the decisive moment of faith with a view of biblical inspiration already formulated in his mind. His quest is a wrestling with the Christ portrayed in the New Testament and witnessed to by Christians. As he progresses in his search the Gospels seem to him more and more to have the ring of truth. At last he comes to the moment when he says, ‘Lord, I believe.’ He has arrived at faith with a conviction about the basic truth of the New Testament witness to Christ, but without necessarily any clear beliefs about the truth or falsity of many of the details or about the status of the Bible as a whole. God has become real to him in Christ through the external witness of the gospel and the internal witness of the Holy Spirit. In conversion he has made the discovery that God, made known in Jesus Christ, is the centre and starting-point of all true knowledge. Growth in the knowledge of things of God (which includes progress in theological understanding) comes by holding fast to the centre and by working outwards from there. There is a progression: God; God revealing himself; God revealing himself supremely in Christ; Christ teaching the truth of Scripture; finally, with Scripture as a guide, the Christian exploring the apparently limitless jungle which makes up the world of phenomena.

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