Scripture as a 'yard-stick'

Somehow, I seem to blog here and respond to the blogs of other people with reflections that often at their core are exploring the 'authority' we accord the scriptures.

I accord the Scriptures the highest authority but there is more going on than just that. I am very aware about avoiding a kind of legalism, which I have witnessed at play in certain circles of which I have been on the fringes, even if only 'virtually'.

I am always looking for ways of articulating what I understand about the way God has revealed himself. My latest discussion here was with someone who was at great pains to warn me about subjective experience, faith coming only from hearing the Word. I agree and yet I am somehow uneasy about the precision of this assertion, it seems too narrow, not that God's Word is narrow, just that it also points beyond itself. Somehow the assertion, 'faith comes through hearing the word' fails to capture the expansiveness I am after.

So I have enjoyed meditating on this from our very own A B of C, this afternoon:

The Bible shows us people who are governed by the contemplation of divine wisdom without reference to Scripture; paradoxically, it displays its own limits when it relates the virtue and insight of its own characters (who never read it). 'The bounds of wisdom are large' (II.1.4); God teaches by many means, and we do no honour to God or to the Bible by imagining that all God might ever wish to say to us can be contained in one volume. We learn from nature, from spiritual inspiration, from sheer experience. And God is not glorified if we assume that we can please him only by doing exactly what Scripture specifies and no more.
The Richard Hooker Lecture: Richard Hooker (c1554-1600): The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity Revisited The Temple Church, London


Peter Carrell said...

Scripture is the 'yardstick' because it measures what we may not do while not, as Hooker argues, constraining all that we may do; and measures what the message of salvation is, nothing more and nothing less than what is contained in Scripture. Thus we do well to bring our subjective experiences to the yardstick to check that nothing which feels good is actually bad for us, for example, leading us down an erroneous pathway.

I always feel good about eating lots of chocolate, but it always turns out to be bad for me. If only I listened to the yardstick of sound nutritional advice I would eat a modest amount of chocolate :)

Rachel Marszalek said...

Thank you Peter, now why couldn't Rowan Williams have put it like that? ;-)

...and yes, gift of discernment in its application to chocolate very useful, but theory often easier than practice.

Suem said...

I think this is an interesting post. We really need more discussion of the ways in which we read and respond to scripture.


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