Gracious Christianity follows many today by not making Scripture the prolegomena to a theology, this one a gracious theology, but letting it flow out of Spirit and Bible. I have many times said that I think the order is Christ/Spirit/Church and then Bible, for the Bible is the inspired “script” of Jesus and the Spirit at work for the Church. From it we draw our identity. But, how do Jacobsen and Sawatsky outline Bible? The poll on our blog shows where some of my readers are.
The define it as the “Christian’s great sourcebook,” “an inspired book,” and a “human book” (101). Like all of life, the “divine is present in the midst of human fallibility” (101).
1. What is the Bible? “a library” (102) or like the “refrigerator door” with all those pictures and sticky notes. Like a “newspaper”. It deals with everything. “What distinguishes the Bible, however, is that God is also there” (103). Here is an image to think about: “it springs from God’s own presence within, behind, around, and in front of the text” (103-4). All designed to transform us.
2. Reading the Bible Intelligently: the Protestant protest that Scripture is clear (perspicuity) vs. the Roman Catholic contention of Tradition. Both have wisdom, they contend. We need the check of tradition. We need to read individual passages, in light of the whole, in light of its own development.
3. The Church, the Churches, and the Bible: Canon and Church are inter-related. Local churches and individual Christians reflect preferences in Bible reading. Luther liked Paul; Luther struggled with James; some African American Christians don’t like Paul; they like Jesus and Exodus. Denominations are preferential in reading Scripture. The ecumenical movement encourages mutual readings of the Bible. It is a conversation.
4. The Story and the Stories of the Bible: They provide a nice summary Story of the Bible; short discussions of David and Bathsheba and the wedding at Cana.
Here’s a good conclusion: “… the Bible transforms us as we read it into persons ever more capable of showing grace to others” (113).