Migliore's doctrine of Holy Scripture

Daniel Migliore
This post continues a series reviewing Daniel Migliore's book, Faith Seeking Understanding, An Introduction to Christian Theology. For other posts in this series, click a number: 1345.

Migliore helpfully sets out a Trinitarian doctrine of Holy Scripture for the church. Here are excerpts:
As long as the church remains faithful to the self-communication of the triune God, it will acknowledge the priority and authority of the scriptural witness in its life and mission. At the same time, the real humanity of the biblical witnesses will also be recognized without apology or embarrassment. It is not a weakness but a strength of the Christian understanding of revelation that its original witnesses are unmistakably historically conditioned and remarkably diverse human beings. That we have the treasure of the gospel in clay jars (2 Cor. 4:7) is as true of Scripture as it is of all subsequent Christian witness based on Scripture. Hence not everything found in the Bible is to be taken as a direct word of God to us. Some texts of the Bible may stand in utmost tension with the revelation of the character and purpose of God as identified by the grand narrative of Scripture. ...Scripture witnesses to revelation but is not identical with it. Even Calvin acknowledge this, although not as boldly as Luther. Today it is essential that a Christian doctrine of revelation distinguish clearly between Scripture's witness to the personal self-disclosure of God definitively in Jesus Christ and the historical contingencies and ambiguities of this witness (pp. 40-41).
Migliore goes on to say this about the authority of Scripture for the church:
...The authority of Scripture has to be understood in relation to its central content and its particular function within the community of faith. Scripture is the unique and irreplaceable witness to the liberating and reconciling activity of God in the history of Israel and supremely in Jesus Christ. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Scripture serves the purpose of relating us to God and trasforming our life (p. 44).

Comments

  1. Hi there!

    Very interesting post, and it reminds me that
    proclamations like, "The Bible is the inerrant word of God!" are common in modern Christianity. But is the Bible really inerrant or even infallible? Well, the Bible is not the inerrant, infallible word of God the way many teach and read the Bible's contents.

    You see, because the teaching of grace is so often mixed with works, the Bible, which is then called upon to support this odd mixture, can come across as a confusing, contradictory, and errant document. Thus, it is common to hear, even among Christians, statements like, "You can prove anything from the Bible." or, "The Bible doesn't make sense to me." or, "The Bible is just a collection of writings from men who couldn't agree on anything." Further, these types of statements are just the logical outcome of mixing grace and works together, and no amount of theological gyrating is going to change this outcome.

    Yet, the Bible is inerrant, but only if the power of the gospel is allowed to have full sway in our understanding. When this power does have full sway, an amazing benefit happens in our comprehension of the Bible, and this benefit is that the entire Bible makes sense. The reason is that the Bible was put together with great intentionality and care through the guidance of the Spirit to the end that it can help all who believe.

    The Bible is thus like a great novel, which flows to a very logical, relevant, and encouraging grace conclusion in Jesus Christ. In other words, we can all take great comfort from the Bible's holy words written by holy men as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. It is as Paul wrote to the Romans:

    Rom 15:4--For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (NIV)

    So, the Bible is inerrant, and it is as long as the Bible is handled as intended. Therefore, as we believe in the name of Jesus Christ, we find, from Genesis to Revelation, a wondrous tome that surely does show itself as the mistake free words of God to all who believe. This revelation is one of the great benefits that springs directly from the power of the gospel, which, by the way, is that Jesus is Lord, and God raised Him from the dead.

    All the best!

    J. Richard Parker

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  2. Excellent post and comment brothers! Will there be or has there been a Your Included interview of Mr. Migliore? Thank you for this blog Mr. Johnston.

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  3. Hi Michael,

    I'm not aware of plans to interview Dr. Migliore on "You're Included." I'll check on it.

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  4. Anonymous12/09/2010

    All Scripture is God-breathed (II Timothy 3:16-17) God exhaled. When we read the Bible, we are not looking for the Word of God. We are reading the Word of God. The 'historical and ambiguities of this witness' are no less the Word of God than the 'personal self-disclosure of God in Jesus Christ'. We can debate interpretations of passages, but to suggest that any passage of the Bible is somehow less than God's revelation is to either, 1) make Scripture the word of man, or 2) make Scripture up for grabs, meaning that some of the Bible is partially the Word of God and partially the word of man.

    What are the implications from such assertions? If you assume the Bible is witnessing to revelation rather than being the revelation, then the Bible is either exclusively or partially the word of man witnessing to Jesus. We are thus confronted with a literary contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction. The Bible cannot ultimatley be trusted - at least not in its entirety. God has left it to us to create our own theology based on how we decide He should act. For instance, if we don't like what the Bible says about God's wrath, we'll make it mean something other than what it says. If you pick and choose what is merely witness as opposed to revelation, you can create your own meaning for words in the Word.

    But if the Bible is God's revelation about Himself, we can only try to understand what the Bible says and means within the genre it has been written. And with God's help, we gain the fullest and richest explantion of who God really is through the written Word attesting to the Living Word.

    As someone has said, it takes a whole Bible to make a whole Christian.

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  5. I think that Migliore's point is not to assert that some of Holy Scripture is not "God breathed" (inspired) but to assert that all Scripture is inspired and then to address tha nature of that inspiration. This is, no doubt, a controversial issue.

    For past Surprising God posts on this topic see:

    *http://thesurprisinggodblog.wcg.org/2010/09/in-what-way-is-scripture-word-of-god.html (this post references the GCI statement of belief concerning Holy Scripture)

    *http://thesurprisinggodblog.wcg.org/2008/01/barth-and-scripture.html

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  6. Hi Mr. Johnston. May I recommend another great angle on this discussion. Below is a link to Martin M. Davis's blog post on T.F. Torrance's take on this issue. It is excellent! Thank you brother.
    http://martinmdavis.blogspot.com/2010/11/torrance-hypostatic-union-pt-4.html

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  7. Thanks for this link Michael. What Martin offers there is very helpful.

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  8. Anonymous12/11/2010

    Thanks for the references. They do answer the question as to the authority of Scripture as presented in the postings. The view apparently presented is that Scripture is the word of man - at least partially or at some level. For if the Bible were really the Word of God, it would without question be infallible.

    Infallible, of course, doesn't mean complete (all Christians would agree that only Jesus can give us the complete revelation of God). Infallible does mean completely correct in what the Bible does reveal - ie not, a 'secondary' revelation or a 2nd tier of God's word. It wasn't altogether clear from the postings if what was being asserted was that man corrupted the revelation in some way or if God chose to present (or probably 'allow' is better) Scripture as less than His absolute authoritative speak. But in any case, it seems clear enough that the Bible is not just incomplete in revealing all there is to know about God, but also is in fact not completely accurate in what it reveals.

    This view of Scripture seems to be growing in some sectors of Christianity. I don't know that there is really any point to debate it. You either believe the Bible is infallible and completely accurate in its revelation of God or you don't. I personally do believe the Bible is God's Word. I believe He is ultimately the Author and therefore it is infallible.

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  9. There is, of course, lots of debate surrounding the ideas of the Bible's "inerrancy" and/or "infallibility." Regarding that debate, I appreciate what David Olson writes in a blog post titled, "Why inerrancy doesn't matter" at at http://www.rogereolson.com/2010/08/19/why-inerrancy-doesnt-matter/

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  10. Here are two helpful articles on this topic posted on the GCI website:
    http://www.gci.org/bible/inspiration
    http://www.gci.org/disc/25-bible

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