Thursday, June 29, 2006

"For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Hebrews 4.12).

I love the Bible. I love studying the Bible. I love meditating on the words and the meanings of the Bible. I love, at times, surrending to the call of the Bible.

But as I have discovered in the last past eleven years since I first began to serve as a Preaching Minister, the Word of God is truly living and active. When I look back at some of my early sermon outlines, I blush with embarrasment. "Did I really say that?" "How could I have ever believed that was the meaning of that passage?"

Any serious student of the Bible has had similar experiences. Because we are living and the Word is living, its effect on our lives is continual. It divides what we do not fully comprehend -- soul and spirit.

"The issue of the authority of the Bible is a perennial and urgent one for those of us who claim and intend to stake out lives on its attestation. But for all of the perennial and urgent qualities of the question, the issue of biblical authority is bound, in any case, to remain endlessly unsettled and therefore, I believe, perpetually disputatious. It cannot be otherwise, and so we need not hope for a 'settlement' of the issue. The unsettling and disputatious quality of the question is, I believe, given in the text itself, because the Bible is so endlessly 'strange and new.' It always, inescapably, outdistances our categories of understanding and explanation, of interpretation and control. Because the Bible is, as we confess, 'the live word of the living God,' it will not submit in any compliant way to the accounts we prefer to give of it. There is something intrinsically unfamiliar about the book, and when we seek to override that unfamiliarity we are on the hazardous ground of idolatry" (Walter Brueggemann).

God in His grand design has given to us a Word from Him that we can never totally master in the hopes that His Word will ultimately master us.