Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Systematic Theology Chapters 2-3: The Word of God and the Canon of Scripture (Plus a Little Life Update)

I guess I'll start with the life update, since that's what everyone wants to know. "Why are you home in the middle of the day?" "What's this about quitting your job?" (I wish the maddening crowd would calm down... okay, I'm kidding a little bit a lot.) Here's why:

My boss turned out to be a pervert, so the other office girl and I both quit. That's all there is to it; I just need a new job.

Now Theology. The Word of God. Grudem uses this chapter to distinguish the different meanings of the phrase "The Word of God". The first meaning is in the person of Christ. The Bible, and especially the book of John, refer to Christ as "the Word". Another meaning is God's speech: his decrees (like, "Let there be light"), his personal address (like, "I am the Lord your God..."), his words through humans (prophets), and his written words (the Bible, obviously). Grudem states that the study of systematic theology focuses on the Bible, as that "is the form of God's Word that is available for study, for public inspection, for repeated examination, and as a basis for mutual discussion."

Chapter 3 discusses the Canon of Scripture. First of all, the canon of Scripture is simply a list of the books that belong in the Bible. We must trust the canon to be God's words or we will not trust the words He has spoken to us. By the time of Jesus, the Old Testament canon (or at least what we today call the OT) was well established. There were no recorded arguments among the Jews about adding or taking away books. The Jews did not accept the Apocrypha as Scripture, and most of the early church did not either. They treated them as helpful and useful books, but not the Word of God. Jesus himself did not consider them as Scripture, nor did the New Testament authors.

Grudem has a lot to say about the New Testament canon and I can't summarize it all. He basically gives a few requirements the church had for books to make it into the canon: apostolic ties and a self-attesting nature ("the words would have borne witness to their own divine authorship as Christians read them"). He also points out that we should not be concerned about the adequacy of the canon. We don't need to fret, "Are we missing a book?" or "Should this book not be in the Bible?" If God wanted us to have another book, He is a big enough God to get that book in the canon. If He wanted a book out of the canon, He would have worked that. Our God is big enough that we needn't worry! We can trust Him - and we can trust His Word!

Next up: The Four Characteristics of Scripture. And hopefully a new job!

At least I've got some time to work on art projects. :)

Love and Sewing,

Leah Joy

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