For those who did not browse through my notes from “Jesus, A Public Figure, a Public Announcement: A Dialogue with N.T. Wright” (see here) I thought I’d mention again a statement made by Dr. Scott Hahn that has stuck with me:
“The New Testament was a sacrament before it was a document.”
I appreciated this reminder. I enjoy exegesis and historical-critical research, but sometimes such endeavors lead us to forget that we were given Scripture during its formation into canon not merely for the sake of defining orthodoxy, or for providing scholars with materials to examine, but as a means of worshipping the Christian God revealed through Jesus. This is not to deny the usefulness of these documents for forming orthodoxy or for biblical scholarship, but rather it is a reminder of one of the primary purposes of Scripture that we are dangerously close to forgetting if we are not intentional in remembering.
This is what a good ontology of Scripture should provide; thus the importance of thinking about these things Dogmatically</em. which is what you're doing 😉 . The greatest little book I have ever read on this is John Webster's Holy Scripture: A Dogmatic Sketch; I highly recommend it to you.
@Bobby: I am beginning to think that when you say “dogmatically” you mean something like when I think “creedal” or “confessionally”. In other words, while e.g. Mark may not have had the “high Christology” of the Gospel of John or the Council of Nicaea his Christology is given new meaning when canonically and creedal reinterpreted. This allows scholarship to affirm confessional observations without doing revisionist history to make later orthodoxy “fit”. It is like Edith Humphery said on this blog once, the words of Scripture are the place from which the creeds grow. The Apostle Paul may not have been “Trinitarian” as we understand it, but he gave us the language from which the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity has been rightly realized (along w. John, et al).
It’s not just when “I” say Dogmatically that that’s what it means, but when Christian theologians in general use Dogmatically that is what this means.
Yes, but my point is more terse; it’s just affirming what you were getting at in the body of the post itself. I.e. That we need a proper order to our doctrine of Scripture relative to the God whom it bears witness. So Christian Scripture presupposes that it has alread been received by a certain community who has been given shape by a certain God. So to speak of the ontology of Scripture understands that it is subsequent to God’s choice to reveal Himself in the first place (which in Christ created the Church, the community who received the Scriptures as God’s Word for them, and to the ends of the world etc).
A great reminder, Brian. Why are we so quick to forget the intensely pragmatic grounding of our Scriptures? Perhaps it is because we hesitate to submit ourselves to the life of Christ as experienced and applied in our text. We reject the humility of Christ for what Thielicke calls “the psychology of the possessor.” Confession and submission are the foundation for true engagement with the text.
@Paul: I agree, and I do so as one who enjoys the critical side of study as well (e.g. the Synoptic Problem). For some it may be odd to read Scripture from multiple perspectives like this, but I find it useful and enjoyable. One side sacramental, one side critical.
Comments are closed.