procrastination, heresy, and navel-gazing.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

this is the word of the lord

the response is supposed to go, 'thanks be to God'.

i remember the Don getting a bit sermonic when, getting up to preach after the bible was read, chastigated the reader for not offering a 'this is the word of the lord', whereupon he said it, and all the good Anglicans in the room responded 'thanks be to God.'

this is definitely not having a go at the Don, and his point was well taken, and he was making a point rather than having a go at the bible reader.

but i am reading John Goldingay's, 'Models for Scripture' (Eerdmans, 1994), and he suggested this might not always be the correct response (p10).

so after Mark 14.1-12 was read, he wanted the reader to say 'this is part of God's story'. or after Job or Ecclesiastes, 'isn't is amazing the things you can say to God'.

after either you could still respond 'thanks be to God.'

perhaps after prophetic oracles such as Isaiah 5.1-7 they could say 'this is the word of the lord', but a more appropriate response would be 'God help us.'

now i love formal liturgy as much as the next guy, but i like the point Goldingay is making here - 'word of God' is a model for parts of scripture, not scripture as a whole. it is used by scripture to describe particular words (cf eg Heb 4.12; Isa 55.11).

an automatic response to the reading of scripture can imply an lack of genuine listening; it would be good if there were a flexibility in responses that recognised the diversity of scripture.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,


Anonymous Mark Earngey said...


I'm with you insofar as I reckon a variation on the responses to Scripture could really reflect another aspect of what Scripture is 'doing' over against what Scripture 'is'. I like that!

I don't know Goldingay's motives besides what you've written above, but I would disagree with him if his motives were that Scripture in its entirety was not the 'word of God'....

10:28 am  
Blogger psychodougie said...

sorry it's hard from a little quote but i think he would disagree with what you think he's doing! he doesn't like the functional description (against someone like Webster).

rather he's thinking about the various 'models' of what scripture is - one of them being 'the word of God'. i think he would apply it to parts but not the whole.

so he spends a bit of time showing how we make various models for the parts (the word, revelation, innerant etc) apply to the whole.

as the Kernel said on Hebrews 4.12, the double-edged sword is 'the word' immediately preceding that, rather than lifting it out of the context to apply to the whole of scripture. but we inevitably do that, which JG would say is a category error and a misuse of the context.

i did a search for 'word of God' and i think i agree - it's invariably used to talk about a specific word, rather than 'scripture' as a whole.

that said, i do have to read past the first chapter to see the implications for discarding this pretty big model for scripture.

at the very least, it's making me think!

10:38 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home