The law and the lawgiver

Last week we celebrated the birthday of our young adults fellowship at church, and we discussed the topic of the authority of Scriptures. You see, I found that whenever we have a discussion about this topic (not only last week), somehow I’ve got the feeling that the notion of authority comes from the perception that the Bible is a set of law and God is the lawgiver. Not that the Bible does not contain laws nor that God is not a lawgiver, but we need to understand that the Bible does not only contain laws and God is not only a lawgiver. The Bible is much more expansive than that and so does the notion of the authority of Scriptures. Indeed, the portion of “laws” itself (e.g., various parts of Pentateuch, the sayings of Jesus) comes within a specific narrative in the story of Israel and Christ. So, I would argue that we even need to re-learn how we look at these “laws” themselves. Nevertheless, I do admit that this particular view of the Bible (and hence God) is the easiest one to construct, as it is pretty straightforward to follow. God said these and these in the Bible and I need to follow them. But, again, we will severely emasculated the Bible and make it what it is not if we only see the Bible as a collection of laws.

The positive solution to this problem is not easy though. But at least I agreed with the session that the authority of Scripture is never about the authority of Scripture in itself, but actually is a shorthand of the authority of God (in Christ by the Holy Spirit) through the Scriptures. The authority of Scripture is not an inherent but a derived authority. This is a fine starting point. Moreover, when we speak of God, we are speaking of a very specific god as well, which means that the authority of Scriptures has a trinitarian and Christological shape. To give an example that I could think of off the top of my head, to believe in Holy Spirit means that the authority of Scripture is never mechanical and automatic (as if the passage always means the same thing for all time and place) but always pneumatical. To submit to the authority of the Scriptures means that to submit to the authority of the Holy Spirit, the Lord of our hearing and reading of Scripture, to develop the art of listening to the Holy Spirit whenever we read the Bible. And so on and so forth (needless to say that the so on and so forth part is the difficult part, but anyway it’s time to stop now.)

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