Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Word of the Lord

We are rather careless, it seems to me, in the way we speak about the Bible as the "word of the Lord." When I hear that phrase, or the "word of God," I tend to duck, because I expect someone to lob a hand grenade at me. At least, that's been my experience with it. On the other hand, Jesus criticized the religious leaders of his day for "making void the word of God" essentially by the way they used it. That, among many other things, ought to give us pause.

The letter of James says that the way to respond to "the word" is to "humbly accept" it (Jas. 1:21, NIV). I don't think that means that we are to swallow at face value everything that is presented to us as "word of God," but rather we are to engage in humbly studying our faith, in Scripture and in theology, and in humbly seeking what seems to be the truth. I used to teach my students that we need a "hermeneutics of humility," meaning essentially the same thing. I think the humility has to come from the realization that we are all fallen and therefore also flawed in our understanding of the "word of the Lord."

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