Saturday, February 23, 2008

Fear, Faith and Change

This week on the Awareness Course we were looking comparing what Christian believes about the authority of the scriptures and comparing that with Islam and Judaism. Apparently a major difference is that Islam sees the Quran as the ultimate authority. Every word is believed to be the word of God hence they read it in its original language and revere the actual books themselves. Interpretations or Sharia decide what is the correct meanings and application of the scripture i.e. what is Halal – the right thing to do. Similarly our Old Testament particularly the Torah is treated similarly by the Jews.

However these interpretations tend to be very literal whereas usually when Christians interpret the Bible we would tend to approach it differently. For instance we would attempt to understand the style of writing, take into account the context of a verse in the whole Bible and attempt to understand the cultural context in which it is written. We would then apply our understanding of these principles with an awareness of our ever changing cultural context. Though it is scary this means that we are forever journeying in our faith re-applying it to new cultural contexts in are ever changing world.

As Christians rather than saying that our ultimate authority is the Bible many would tend to say that our ultimate authority is Jesus. We would use the Bible as a sign post to point us and others to Christ rather than a finishing post. Of course we love the Bible and it is very dear to us but we do not exalt it to a place of authority above God himself. But rather than simply using our logic to prove points of doctrine from texts in the Bible we are thrown back on God himself to discern how to apply the Bible to our situations that will involve relating to people who may be living very differently from ourselves.

BTW you might be interested in David Matthew's notes on this book that challenges the idea of the inerrancy of scripture.

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