Thursday, 24 November 2011
Jim's heresy of the day.
2 Tim 3:16 - "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness".
Which scripture was Paul referring to? Obviously not the New Testament because it didn't exist then. So he's talking to Timothy about the Old Testament. Timothy's mother was a Jew, father a Greek, but he was raised with knowledge of Jewish traditions and scripture. Paul preached to the Gentiles, Timothy was working amongst the Greeks, they had no Torah nor were they encouraged in any Jewish traditions. So all a bit odd given Paul's other statements about the law.
I did quite a dig around about the word for Scripture used here. Its a particular form that isn't used often in the Greek and basically means the entirety of all God's breathed Word - or something along those lines. Given the context of Paul's other writings and his emphatic statements about doing away with the law, the only conclusion we can make of this is he wasn't speaking about a bunch of written laws, rituals and prophecies, so much as the entirety of Jesus, the living word. Seeing as this letter is addressed directly to Timothy he would have been very aware of what Paul was saying and its implications. Of course, we mustn't forget Paul had Timothy circumcised early in the piece, which was totally against Paul's own teachings. In studying this point, there are a few fumbling reasons put forward as to why this may have been, but we seem to forget that Paul made mistakes (gasp!) and Timothy's circumcision may have been one.
So going back to a bigger picture, why have we included the New Testament in the same category as the Old. The Old was a strict set of written laws, codes, messages from God to a people who didn't have the indwelling Christ. They had to have it written down and preserved! The early church had no scriptures! The letters and other documents weren't regarded as Holy Scripture until many, many years later, they were just letters floating around mostly correcting churches that were going off the rails. It seems that if we were to have an infallible set of written documents that were to be taken as the literal instructions of God on how to be Christians, Jesus would have organised that before the ascension so there could be no doubt that these instructions were from him! But no, all we have is a set of hodge-podge ambiguous writings that have been tacked together and presented as the infallible Word of God.
Now I know you are looking around for the biggest stones you can find to throw at me... but those documents were inspired by God! Each was to a specific audience - a church in trouble or need, a struggling leader, a group of people in a region needing encouragement, whatever... Were they written to us? Of course not! Are they inspired by God? Yes! Can we learn from them? Yes! Can we apply every little thing in them for our lives? No! So what de we do with all this? Horror of horrors - we have to have a personal relationship with God, our loving Father, with his son Jesus who by his Holy Spirit lives inside us in all his power and glory. He has to be intimately involved with our very being, all that we are and do. He is our Word, our wonderful living Word. The Scriptures should just support what Holy Spirit is already doing in us. If we are constantly walking in greater revelation of God in us we are less and less likely to even be sin conscious, less needy of being propped up by an instruction manual - of being less dependant on trying to figure out which particular scripture fits our particular need at any given moment - of finding a promise to hang on to - because the living Word is IN us already.
Just remember those poor old gentile christians wandering around with no scriptures to guide them, and some of those Jewish christians berated by Paul for telling others they had to live by the Torah. It seems that the last thing Paul wanted was a bunch of scripture fanatics wandering the countryside!
You may have noticed I've been on about all this for a while now. The reason is obvious (to me). Our current understanding of all these things just doesn't work. We happily say if we know enough scripture and understand it all, everything will all fall into place - but it doesn't - it just gets worse! More doctrines, more denominations, more splits, more discord, hatred, lies, envy, pride, you name it. And we keep blaming each other's interpretation of scripture - when will we see that this will never stop until WE stop and realise there's something wrong with this picture?!
Could it be that scripture was never meant to be used like this???