Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Divine and the Human in the Text and in the Word

In the course of reviewing the book The Social Life of Scriptures, edited by James S. Bielo, Mark Noll says,

Christian believers of every sort have almost always spoken of the Bible as divine revelation in human form. The best classical teaching on Scripture has insisted that the divinity, the humanity, and the inseparable intertwining of divinity and humanity are crucial for understanding and appropriating Scripture [Books & Culture (September/October 2010), p. 12].

When we are dealing with Scripture, we are dealing with “the inseparable intertwining of divinity and humanity.” Is there a difference, though, in the “inseparable intertwining of divinity and humanity” that is present in the Bible and that which is present in Jesus Christ?

Unless we preachers keep our constant attention on the twin facts that the Bible is divinely inspired and humanly produced, we will lose the appropriate sense of its power and its pertinence. The Bible is both a divine Word and a human word, which makes it more real than any other written word.

Jesus, though, is the Word made flesh. Jesus is the ultimate merging of the human and the divine. It strikes me as idolatrous to raise the Bible to that same level in our thinking. After all, Scripture points to Jesus and Jesus completes Scripture.

I sometimes ponder the implication of the fact that God inspired (literally, “breathed”) the Scriptures; it sounds much like God breathing into the first man, which gave him life, but which did not make him God.

In Jesus, on the other hand, “the Word was God.”

God was in Christ; God breathed the Scriptures.

The difference seems to me important. After all, is not our preaching of the written word only effective if and as it points to and is enlivened by the living Word?

1 comment:

  1. The difference seems important to me as well. Just so long as we remember that you would not be able to say, "Jesus, though, is the Word made flesh. Jesus is the ultimate merging of the human and the divine" without Scripture. Pitting the two against one another, which you certainly aren't doing, is usually not a helpful exercise. Thanks for this and for the Mark Noll quote; he is one of my favorite authors.