Thursday, February 4, 2010

Configuring Scripture, Criterion #6

6. The Criterion of Comprehensiveness
The scriptures contain multiple concerns, themes and images, many of which are in apparent tension with others. They are not given to neat systematization. Any comprehensive approach to the Bible ends up with some anomalies. A five-point Calvinist, for example, will have difficulty fitting those passages of scripture that suggest human freedom into her or his configuration. If one gives priority to passages declaring God's sovereignty and providence, those other passages must somehow be made to "fit." Similarly, Luther’s approach making salvation by grace through faith the key struggles with passages that suggest that we will be judged according to our deeds.

No one, in practice, gives equal authority to every verse, passage, or theme in the Bible. How we interpret the Bible largely depends on how we shuffle the deck and what we declare is trump.

The fewer passages of scripture (or harking back to Irenaeus' metaphor, the fewer gems) that are anomalous to a configuration the better. Even then, the remainder remains and must be acknowledged and reckoned with.

Criterion 7. Dissimilarity

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