A Look at Postmodernism—Part 10b


If all goes according to plan, this will be my last post on this subject—at least for a while.

Last time I mentioned that Crystal Downing in How Postmodernism Serves (My) Faith has some questionable ideas about the Canon of Scripture.

Thus after a great deal of prayer—as well as argument—a council in 397 finally determined which books should be considered sacred Scripture. Our Bible canon, then, is a product of the situatedness of both Christian and Jewish traditions. Indeed, there is no historical or biblical evidence that God wrote on a wall revealing which books to include and which to leave out.
– p. 222

First, the notion that the Bible came from human tradition leaves out the work of the Holy Spirit, which God makes plain. Second, she herself said prayer was involved. Can we not assume that God answered prayer? And directed those men to choose the books He inspired? Think about it. Would He inspire Scripture (and He said He did) and forget to inspire the men who compiled it?

Downing then identifies the word canon as derived from the Greek, meaning “measuring rod” or “ruler.” She explains that a ruler has no meaning except that which men confer upon it. Because someone decided an inch would always mean a certain length, an inch then became a measurement to be relied upon.

Amazingly, this word origin has more to do with Downing’s understanding of the Canon than anything else:

Rulers are absolutely necessary, and hence become necessary absolutes.

The same, then, can be said of the biblical canon, which is the “rod” or “ruler” by which we take measure of God’s revelation in history. Having been established by humans as the absolute guide for following Christ, the canon should not be altered by addition or subtraction. (Emphasis mine)

Clearly, to say that the Bible has been established by humans is to negate the inspiration of God. Downing’s sole reason for keeping the Bible “as is” has a basis on pragmatism alone.

Downing again, quoting from another source:

“An unlimited canon is no measure, any more than a foot ruler can gain inches and still be a foot ruler. Because it is closed, the canon can perform the function of mediating a specific identity through successive ages of the church.”
– p. 223

Perform the function, as if it is nothing but a tool to use, not surprising since Downing’s metaphor is a ruler. But, friends, Scripture is more than a tool. It is the method God chose to disclose Himself.

Whenever two people first meet, there’s some amount of taking each other’s measure. Once both parties decide there’s something worth cultivating—a friendship, a business partnership, a romance—the people get to know each other better. They find out what the other person likes and what he is like.

The Bible does that for us concerning God. To add or detract would be like having someone who doesn’t really know us call our new friend and tell some story that wasn’t true.

Later, Downing says “Unfortunately, the history of Christianity is filled with examples of people who turn their ruler into an idol, making it so inflexible that it can’t measure new things.”

This completely misses what the Bible is. No person who reads the Bible, who loves the Bible, because it is God’s Word would make it an idol. People who USE Scripture as I mentioned last time may be prone to all kinds of error. Whole cults have developed claiming some part of the Bible as proof of their views. Such error does not change the truth about the Bible. Neither should it cause us to change what we believe about the Bible.

The Bible is God’s writing—His revelation of His personhood, His plan, His work. To believe in the Bible is to believe in a God who is powerful enough to write through men, wise and knowledgeable enough to include what people centuries later would believe, caring enough to include what we need to know to learn of His salvation, intimate enough to prick the hearts of individuals over their own personal sins.

Simply put, the Bible shows us the heart of God.

Published in: on September 22, 2006 at 5:00 am  Comments (6)  
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