Friday, November 30, 2007

Biblicism: A danger to Protestant theology

The centrality of the Scriptures as guide for life marked an important advance over the view that all matters of faith and life are to be ruled, sometimes rather arbitrarily, by popes and councils. At the same time it opened the way for a “paper pope” replacing the pope in Rome—hardly an advance over the Middle Ages. Sometimes the Bible was hypostatized and almost regarded as though it was working on its own. It is important, in this regard, to keep in mind that the Reformers did not yet teach biblical inerrancy; they were interested, rather, in the cause which the Scripture promotes. Luther could say, “God and the Bible are two different things, just as the Creator is different from creature. Lutheran and Reformed orthodoxy, and not the Reformers themselves, propagated the idea of “doctrinal unity” of Scripture, according to which we can deduce one doctrinal system from all biblical sayings. This led to the dogma of verbal inspiration of the Bible, which is found in many branches of Protestantism. Indeed, in Hans Kung words:

biblicism remained a permanent danger to Protestant theology. The real foundation of faith is then no longer Christian message, nor the proclaimed Christ himself, but the infallible biblical word. Just as many Catholics believe less in God than in “their” church and “their” pope, many Protestants believe in “their” Bible. The apotheosis of the church corresponds to the apotheosis of the Bible!
David Bosch, Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission

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