Friday, November 25, 2005

A pneuma-shaped idol

“I know that for many of us the doctrine of Scripture is presuppositional and prolegomena to all we do. I fear that such an approach will turn the Bible as God’s Word into bibliolatry and idolatry, where mastery of the Bible is equated with loving God and others. Scripture is God’s gracious gift to us, but that doesn’t mean that every extreme is justifiable. We are in need of a new set of categories for understanding Scripture.”

“I’m suggesting we use the term “identity.” The term “authority” is that of power — it tells us that we are “under” something. The term “identity” speaks of the Spirit who is at work — in the world in God’s redemptive work, in the Church as the community of faith, and in that community as it tells the story of God’s redemptive work. And I’m not suggesting that we understand “identity” as filling the same spot as “authority,” but that we learn to see Scripture (not so much as the Authority) but as what gives us our Identity because through it God’s Spirit speaks to and guides us.”

“Identity invites us to conceptualize our relationship differently than the term “authority,” which invites us to see ourselves in submission (which is not the worst thing in the world, to be sure). Identity, I am suggesting, gives us the opportunity to rethink our relationship to Scripture in terms of a pneuma-shaped identity.”

Since idolatry is a biblical category to begin with, bibliolatry is a contradiction in terms. Where does Scripture ever equate submission to the authority of God’s word with idolatry or bibliolatry? Never!

God is an authority-figure. God is powerful. Indeed, God is omnipotent—the Almighty. Hence, God’s words are authoritative—not merely by might, but also by right. God is the Creator and Judge. God is the exemplar of truth.

That is why, for God’s people, the doctrine of Scripture is, indeed, presuppositional and prolegomenal to all we do.

What McKnight is promoting is an unscriptural category of Scripture. Notice the false antithesis between Word and Spirit. Scripture is divinely authoritative because Scripture is inspired by a divine Person—the Spirit of God.

Not every “pneuma-shaped identity” is identical with the Spirit of God. “Beloved, do not believer every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 Jn 4:1).

Unless we have an authoritative word from God, we have no master key against which to test the spirits.