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Wesleyan Theology I - Lesson 5

Inspiration of Scripture

Scripture is unique, the word of God and inspired by God. Scripture is the source of truth and provides a norm for truth. Wesley gives four arguments for inspiration. They are miracles, prophecy, goodness of the doctrine and the moral character of the penmen. Characteristics of Scripture include the sufficiency, clarity and wholeness of Scripture. 

Kenneth J. Collins
Wesleyan Theology I
Lesson 5
Watching Now
Inspiration of Scripture

I. THE BIBLE IS UNLIKE ANY OTHER BOOK

II. SCRIPTURE AS THE WORD OF GOD

III. INSPIRATION OF THE BIBLE

IV. AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE

V. INTERPRETATION OF SCRIPTURE

VI. CHARACTERISTICS OF SCRIPTURE

VII. INTERPRETATION OF SCRIPTURE

A. Joel Green

B. The Bible is a story

C. The Story of the Wesley's

D. Method vs. attitude

E. The Bible is a means of grace

VIII. CANON OF SCRIPTURE

IX. QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS


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  • For the first 5 centuries after Christ, the theology of the Christian Church was ecumenical. Since then, you have differences in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox theology, and then the Reformation with different Protestant traditions. The Church has a history of promoting and preserving knowledge in all fields of study. Ideological secularization is characterizing theological ideas as irrelevant and not academic. Structural secularization is the process of marginalizing the subject of theology in the academy. Both revelation and reason are both important elements in the discussion of philosophical and theological subjects. God is transcendant, which means that he is distinct from everything that has been made. God is immanent, which means that the Spirit of God can be communicated in time and space through media, but is not the media itself. 

  • God can only be fully know by revelation. However, we can know some things about God by observation and reason. Thomas Aquinas gave 5 reasons that supports the idea of the existence of God. We can perceive motion and there must be something that caused the motion. Nothing can come from nothing, so something must exist at all times, which is God. Humans are contingent beings, but God’s essence is to exist. There are different degrees of goodness and complexity in organisms, so there must be a being of a highest form of good. Design and purpose must be at work because it’s not reasonable that the universe resulted from chance. Dembski also estimates that the mathematical odds for everything happening from a single cell at less than 1 in 10 to the 150th power. 

  • Humans are both material and spiritual and have the capacity to experience transcendence. Without God, you are describing a diminished view of humanity. John Calvin says that wisdom is the knowledge of God and the knowledge of ourselves. Revelation of God comes from Scripture (the most important), tradition, reason and experience. Theology should be participatory and result in transformation. …Wesley’s theology describe in two words would be, “holiness” and “grace.” Wesley’s theology is conjunctive. Holy love is a tension. Holiness results in separation and love results in community. Wesley’s view of grace includes both cooperant grace and free grace. 

  • Two sources for knowledge are revelation and reason. Empiricism teaches  that you get knowledge from your senses. Rationalism teaches that you get knowledge from the operation of your mind. Kant said that the mind makes a formal contribution to knowledge by organizing it.  All knowledge begins with experience but it does not all arise out of experience. Reason can only take us so far. Humans are the only species that worship God.

  • Scripture is unique, the word of God and inspired by God. Scripture is the source of truth and provides a norm for truth. Wesley gives four arguments for inspiration. They are miracles, prophecy, goodness of the doctrine and the moral character of the penmen. Characteristics of Scripture include the sufficiency, clarity and wholeness of Scripture. 

  • Univocal refers to a one-to-one correspondence between the language we use and the reality of God. Equivocal refers to the idea that human language does not correspond directly to describing God, so it acknowledges ambiguity and more than one interpretation. Analogical refers to language used to describe God using  analogy. “Via Negativa” is describing characteristics that God is “not.” “Via Positiva” is describing a characteristic that is true of God, using analogy. Aseity means that God’s essence  is to exist. Eternity means that God transcends the limitations of time-space. There is not a space where God is not. Omniscience of God means that God knows all things. Omnipotence of God means that God is all powerful. Once God creates, there is an order in creation, and God works within the framework he created.  Immutability means that God’s essence does not change. Leslie Weatherhead describes three aspects of the will of God as the intentional will of God, circumstantial will of God and the ultimate will of God. Wesley describes God’s holiness as purity and simplicity. The wrath of God can be described as God’s unending determined opposition to evil.

  • Triunity describe God’s nature. The concept of the Trinity was foreshadowed in the Old Testament and taught explicitly in the New Testament. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all active in creation, baptism of Jesus and resurrection of Jesus. The Trinity is three distinct persons with the same essence. The distinctiveness has to do, not with their nature or essence, but with the relations. Person is different than an individual. According to Wesley, the Trinity is an invitation to participate in the deeper life of God. The gospel is the universal love of God, manifested in the person of Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Holiness apart from love can result in legalism. Love apart from holiness can result in sentimentality and wishful thinking. 

  • God created humans in his image so we have both a physical and spiritual nature. Sometimes biologists make statements about evolution that are outside of what can be examined and verified by science. According to young earth creationism, creation took place in 6, 24 hour days and the earth is about 6,000 years old. According to theistic evolution, once the process of evolution began, no special supernatural intervention was required for it to continue. The opposite of a naturalistic explanation for life is not supernatural, but intelligent causes. Intelligent design makes information theory and mathematical probability integral to its overall approach. Irreducible complexity argues against gradualism in the evolutionary process. 

  • God freely created the world and chooses to govern within the framework of the created order. The moral law is consistent with the character of God. God uses the moral law to convict the world of sin, bring us to Christ and keep us alive. Natural law is a body of moral principles that can be discerned by reason. Natural law is the will of God expressed in a created order. Deep conscience refers to the interior witness to the foundational principles of the moral law. Four characteristics of our moral design that are evident at the level of the species are interdependence, complementarity, spontaneous order and subsidiarity. 

  • Adam and Eve were created, not just as physical beings, but also spiritual beings. The image of God includes relationality as well as the capacity for rational thought. Wesley describes it as a natural image, political image and moral image. Wesley says that the natural image of God means that we have physical bodies and also a spiritual nature. Humanity is the conduit for God’s blessing of the rest of creation. 

  • The characteristics that give a human personhood belong to another order of explanation than that explored by biology. Sartre, who is an existentialist, says that existence precedes essence. In other words, each person determines their own nature by the choices they make. Others would say that your choices determine your character but that’s separate from your nature. Postmodernism teaches that the self is only a social and linguistic construct. Some scientists have argued that humans do not have a soul, but that cannot be proved or disproved by the scientific method. If God is dead, humanity is dead. Human beings are more than the social groups in which they participate. Humans are animals, but not merely animals.

  • Lucifer brought sin into the world with his sin of pride. The sin of Adam and Eve was unbelief. Wesley describes  unbelief as the perversion of the relationship between God and humanity, a lack of faith in God, resulting in alienation. He distinguishes three types of death as physical death, spiritual death and eternal death. Satan was self-tempted when he sinned. Adam and Eve were tempted by something external to them, Satan.  Wesley sees Adam as a representative of all humans, so all humans inherit Adam’s sin nature. 

  • There are orders of creation and preservation, like family and marriage, that can mediate the grace of God. God sustains creation, and also relates to people as persons. The three-fold circle of divine providence is the outer ring of the whole race of humans, the second smaller circle is all that are called believers and those who profess to be believers, the innermost circle only the true disciples of Jesus who worship God in Spirit and in truth. Wesley doesn’t deny that bad things happen to good people, both from other people and from events in nature. If God eliminated all evil, it would require eliminating freedom, which would also eliminate love. 

  • Wesley describes total depravity as "a want of original righteousness," and also in terms of a "natural propensity to sin.” Luther, Calvin and George Croft Cell agree. Eastern Orthodox teaches that Adam and Eve were not so fallen as to be unable to respond to any subsequent proffered grace. Wesley teaches the total depravity of humans and the sovereign act of God in salvation. He uses prevenient grace in two distinct ways. The “narrow” sense refers to all those degrees of grace that come before justifying and sanctifying grace. The “broad” use views all grace as prevenient and emphasizes the prior activity of God because he is always ahead of us and takes the initiative. Prevenient grace can be understood as both cooperant and free grace. 

  • God acts preveniently to give humans revelation by communicating his divine attributes. God places in humans a moral law that is expressive of the image of God. The Holy Spirit restored to all humans a certain measure of free-will. Original sin makes it impossible for people to respond to God on their own without God restoring their personhood, which they need to be able to respond to God’s grace. God doesn’t do it in a way that overruns a person’s personality.

  • The incarnation is a foundational teaching of the Christian faith. Since Jesus claimed to be God, it’s not an option that he could be just a good person. Paul teaches that Jesus has the same nature as God and that Jesus created all things. Ebionites rejected the divinity and virgin birth of Jesus. Adoptionism taught that Christ was a good man that was penetrated by God’s nature at his baptism and becomes divine, which treats divinity as an acquired attribute. Arias taught that Christ was not coeternal with the Father. He was more than mere man but he was created so he wasn’t equal with God. The first ecumenical council of Nicea in 325 affirms the divinity of Christ in response to the teaching of Arias. Wesley affirmed that Jesus existed as one person with both a human and divine nature. To affirm the essential equality of Christ with God the Father, Wesley often used the terms, “the only-begotten Son of God,” and “the Word of God.” The Son of God is the creator and sustainer of all things and the redeemer of humanity. The difference in the Godhead is relations, not nature. 

  • 1 John 4:2 describes the incarnation as Jesus coming to earth in the flesh. Jesus is also referred to as the Son of David in the Gospels. Jesus was able to become the mediator between God and humanity because his divinity meant that he was not a part of the problem of sin and his humanity meant that he could fully identify with humans. This is a unique and distinct role that can only be accomplished by Jesus, the God-human. Jesus suffered physically and emotionally and then died and was resurrected to new life. This qualifies him to be priest, a mediator between man and God. The title, Son of Man also emphasizes the humanity of Jesus. Apolliniarism taught that Jesus had a human body and soul, but a divine mind rather than a human mind. Docetism taught that Christ is pure spirit and only seemed to have a body. Gnostics view the body as lowly and the mind is considered higher. Monophysitism taught that the divine and human nature of Jesus was mixed into one nature. Nestorianism teaches that the divine and human natures of Jesus were sharply separated. Wesley viewed Jesus as the expression of the God of holy love, maintaining divinity while becoming human.

  • As a prophet, Jesus proclaimed the coming kingdom of God. Messiah in Hebrew has the same meaning as Christ in Greek. It means, “the anointed one.” The baptism of Jesus was the beginning of his public ministry.  When Satan tempted Jesus, the temptation was real because of the humanity of Jesus. It was necessary for Jesus to experience temptation. Jesus as a preacher, went from place to place, proclaiming the kingdom of God. As a teacher, Jesus taught in the synagogues and the listeners described him as teaching with authority. Christ as a lawgiver is seeking to communicate wisdom to humanity. This moral law is connected to God’s character. Jesus performed miracles to heal the sick, bring people back from the dead and demonstrate his power over nature. Christ as priest, became the mediator to bridge the gap between God and humanity. At the cross, what the holiness of God required, the love of God provided. Theories of the atonement are the best attempts of thinking about how to express the atoning work of Jesus. 

  • Penal substitution asserts that atonement primarily involves Jesus’ taking the sinner’s place (‘substitution’) in bearing the penalty (hence ‘penal’) for his or her sin. That penalty was no less than God’s wrath and the sinner’s death. God’s wrath is his unswerving opposition to evil. The moral influence theory teaches that without the fall, that amazing instance of the love of God to humanity would have never existed. Penal substitution and moral influence theory complement each other. In the governmental view, the death of Christ illustrates the punishment which sin may attract and therefore serves good government by acting as a deterrent. Jesus raised from the dead into an immortal body. Only life can give meaning to human existence. Death destroys all meaning. The first time Christ came as a redeemer. As king, Christ is coming again to rule . Three roles of king are giving laws, restoring people to the image of God and reigning in all believing hearts.

  • The personhood of the Holy Spirit is revealed by the roles of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told the disciples that he would send an advocate. The Holy Spirit is an advocate, teacher, proclaims truth, provides direction and assists in prayer. Four characteristics of the Holy Spirit that indicate his deity are eternity, omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience. The Filioque controversy is a difference between how the Eastern Orthodox and Western Traditions describe the nature of the Holy Spirit.

  • At the beginning of creation, the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. The Holy Spirit is the author of the Bible and brings understanding as people read it. The Holy Spirit makes effective the completed work of Christ and gives us the power to live out the Christian life. The Holy Spirit is personal, not an impersonal force. The believers received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost after Christ ascended to heaven. The gifts of the Spirit are for the common good of building up the body of Christ. We should be cooperating with the work of the Holy Spirit in our individual lives and his influence should be evident in how we interact corporately.

 John Wesley's beliefs understood from an historical and theological perspective

Dr. Ken Collins

Wesleyan Theology I

th510-05

Inspiration of Scripture

Lesson Transcript

Just want to say one little point in terms of where we were before, because we talked about scripture as the word of humanity, the word of God. And I want to give you two little references in case you want to explore things further. And I realize I misspoke. The person that Tom Wolfe was quoting, who is the professor in linguistic studies. His name is Daniel Everett. Daniel Everett fbr E.T. And he wrote a wonderful little book which I've read called Language Cole and the Cultural Tool. Language, the cultural tool and what he is arguing in that book, showing that language is a very human phenomenon. Speech is man made. It is an artifact, and it explains man's power over all other creatures. In a way, evolution all by itself can't begin to. That's. That's what he states there. Then the other quote that I wanted to give you, because I didn't give you a juicy quote from Tom Wolfe in his book, The Kingdom of of Language is his kind of revelation, his conversion here on this topic. And this is what he writes, quote, One bright night it dawned on me not as a profound revelation, not as any sort of analysis at all, but as something so perfectly obvious. I could hardly believe that no License seven had ever pointed it out before. There is a cardinal distinction between man and animal, a sheerly dividing line as abrupt and immovable as a cliff, namely speech. Okay, so I direct you to these works, the one by Daniel Everett language, the culture tool, also to Tom Wolfe's book, The Kingdom of Speech. They will shake you up a bit, especially in what you've heard about language in our culture of late. Pointing to language is very, very special nature and language is a window on God.

 

It's no mistake that the gospel comes to us in story and story. Okay, We're talking now about the Bible as a distinct book, as the word of God, as unlike any other book. And I think we are in very good grounds to do that. Over 150 million copies of the Bible were sold this year. 150 million. 50 million copies. Think of the royalties on that. Oh, if we take a look at the top five books of all time, you already know the number one. Because I've told you. Guess what? Number two books. Best selling books of all time. Bible, of course. Number one. What's number two? Progress. No. No one said Pilgrim's Progress, the other said the Koran. Think now. Great numbers, great numbers, great number of people be reading. Schachter 820 million copies of it. Quotations from Chairman Mao. Quotations from Chairman Mao. Oh, wow. There's a lot of people. Now get. Guess what's number three? Number three. Harry Potter. Interestingly enough, Harry Potter comes in at 400 million copies. Lord of the Rings comes in number four at 103 million. And the Alchemist, which I've never even read, comes in at 65 million. What's the source? Business Insider I got that from the web, but very, very interesting. Women are more likely than men. Older people are more likely than younger people, and African-Americans are more likely than other races to read the Bible. Those are clearly established facts in terms of who is actually reading the Bible. So we're entertaining scripture as the word of God. And so we're saying in this venue, this context, that the Bible is not simply a human book. It is a divine book. It is the word of God come to us and we get a sense of the divine inspiration of the Bible, its numinous, uncanny nature, as we take into account the effects that it has upon all sorts of people who read it.

 

And we find that in reading the Bible, they come to greater understanding. Some of them get set free from bondage is that we're enslaving them for decades. We see all sorts of wonderful consequences when people engage this book. So that raises us raises for us the question of the nature of the Bible in terms of inspiration. And we speak of the inspiration of the Scripture by the Holy Spirit. There are many authors to the Bible, as we said earlier, but there is a sense in which there is one author, and that is the Holy Spirit of the living God. The classic text here in terms of inspiration, of course, is second. Timothy 316. All Scripture is God breathed. I love that expression. God breathed. God is breathing through the word and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, training in righteousness. To me, that all sounds like many, many words to say. It can make one wise, it can make one wise. Another important text is second. Peter 121 four Prophecy never had its origin in human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. And so the term inspiration is derived from a Greek word, which signifies literally the in breathing of God, the breathing in to the very words, the very language of Scripture. H Orton Wiley, who was a Nazarene theologian, he has a helpful definition of inspiration, and this is what he writes, quote, By inspiration remain the actuating energy of a Holy Spirit by which holy men were qualified to receive religious truth and to communicate it to others. Revelation made the writers wiser. Inspiration enabled them to communicate the revelation without mistake. The disclosure of the mind of God is revelation when viewed from the standpoint of the truth unveiled.

 

It is inspiration when viewed in relation to the method of its importation and transmission. And so H. Orton Wiley has a number of things to say there, underscoring the distinct nature of the Bible. If we take a look at John Westley in the 18th century, he wrote a small piece. You can tell from the title what it's about a demonstration of the divine inspiration of Scripture, a clear and concise demonstration of the Divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures by John Wesley. And he starts out this little helpful treatise by saying there are four grand and powerful arguments which strongly induce us to believe that the Bible must be from God first. What does he lift up? There are miracles. There are miracles listed in Scripture. Beyond this, he lists prophecies as a second thing the goodness of the doctrine, the goodness of the doctrine. In other words, if one tried to live as the Bible counsels, one would find that with good results. And then he also lists for three the moral character of the penman, the moral character of the Penman. Then later in this treatise, Wesley writes, Christianity is built upon four grand pillars the power, understanding goodness and holiness of God. Divine power is the source of all the miracles, divine understanding of all the prophecies, divine goodness of the goodness of the doctrine and divine holiness of the moral character of the penman. And then after this, Wesley engages in a little reasoning to show the Bible is of God, and he writes this. I beg leave to propose a short, clear and strong argument to prove the divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. So here's the reasoning, Wesley. The Bible must be the invention either of good men or angels, bad men or devils or of God.

 

So he's offering three choices here. Good men or angels, bad men or devils or of God. And so he writes, In terms of the first one, it could not be the invention of good men and angels, for they neither would nor could they make a book and tell lies all the time. They were writing it, saying, thus saith the Lord when it was their own invention. And so Wesley says, We have to exclude that option, that it wasn't written by good men or angels, because the Bible says repeatedly, thus saith the Lord, They're not going to write that. Secondly, it could not be the invention of bad men or devils, for they would not make a book which commands all duty, forbids all sin, condemns their souls to hell for all eternity. So he excludes that option. So then what's the conclusion? Therefore, I draw this conclusion that the Bible must be given by divine inspiration. And so this is Wesley's attempt at reasoning his way to the truth of Scripture. You know, I think one thing that speaks of the authenticity of the Gospels is that the apostles oftentimes show up in a rather poor light. And so if they were fictive documents, you know, they would want to present themselves a little bit better than they are presented there. Now, the authority of scripture can be logically defined into two functions authority as a source of truth and secondly, as a norm for truth. And Wesley sees the Bible as both. It is both a source of truth for us, and it is a norm of truth. And John Wesley, of course, is famous for his statement, which he writes in the preface. I want to know one thing the way to heaven, how to land safe on that happy shore.

 

And then he continues by saying, God himself has condescended to teach me the way, in other words, the way to heaven. He has written down in a book. Give me that book at any price. Give me the book of God. I have it here. Is knowledge enough for me. And then Wesley comes forth with a nice Latin phrase. Let me be homo, Junius Lieber. I'll put that up on the screen here. The white board homo. Unions. Labor. Anybody want to take a stand? What that means take a stab home. Only a slippery. A person of one book. That's right. He wants to be a person of one book. Now, that doesn't mean that John Wesley only read the Bible. Quite the contrary. If you look at his journals, his letters, you realize that Wesley was a prolific reader. Read constantly. He read on horseback, fell off a couple of times. But he ran on horseback. This is saying something else. This is saying homo slavery. I am a person of one book. Remember now we were talking about source and Norm before source into what the Bible is, obviously as revelation, a source of knowledge, but it's also a norm. So, for example, given our little thing there in terms of looking out nature, you know, if someone says that what's out there is simply nature. Okay. And it came simply by chance. Spin of the wheel. Roll the dice over great, great periods of time. And the Bible, on the other hand, says, in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Guess what? Guess what homo owning slavery means. We affirm that that's creation. Okay. Because revelation in this context must norm this other knowledge. It must knowing this other knowledge. Because now you have contradictory knowledge.

 

You have someone saying all that is that came into being came into being not by God, but by mindless chance. Therefore, human life is insignificant. It's simply a happenstance that understanding is pushed aside because it is contrary to our other source of knowledge, which is revelation, a revelation from God. The Bible says God is a creator. Not only is God is a creator, God has created the things that have been made. And not only that, but He has created through Jesus Christ and for Jesus Christ. This creation has a purpose. It is for the celebration of Jesus Christ. The logos made flesh. So here is a very practical example of homo odious slavery. You know, it's not that oh, Wesley's only reading the Bible, but he's reading it in the sense that when contemporary knowledge contradicts clearly contradicts Scripture, then Scripture is to prevail. Is to prevail. If you want to remain in the truth of God, and I'm sure you can think of other examples where you have been taught things in the university that are false, that don't constitute knowledge, both in terms of how they understand a human being and other areas and they flatly contradict Scripture, that sort of thing. If Scripture affirms the reality of spirit and the psychology department doesn't. Well, guess what? We will affirm ongoing research. Ongoing We So the reality of Spirit Angels are real. They're ontologically real. Evil spirits are real as well. God is real. God is a spirit. Human beings have have a spirit. All those things should be affirmed. And that's what is meant by homo. Junius. Maybe here. So Wesley writes, The faith of Protestants in general embraces only those truths as necessary to salvation, which are clearly revealed in the oracles of God.

 

Whatever is plainly declared in the Old and New Testament. That's the object of their faith. They believe neither more or less than what is manifestly contained in and provable by holy Scripture. I actually like listen the Masons Covenant statement on Scripture. And this is what the Psalm stated. Quote, We affirm the divine inspiration, truthfulness and authority of both God excuse me, of both Old and New Testament Scriptures in their entirety as the only written Word of God without error in all that it affirms and the only infallible rule of faith and practice. Now, that's a statement lifted up from the lesson covenant. I think it bespeaks of the inspiration and the authority of Scripture in a very helpful way, in a way that many Christians could affirm. Now, there are various characteristics of Scripture. We speak of the sufficiency of Scripture. Article six of the Anglican Articles, of which Wesley would have read. I talked about the Holy Scripture containing all things necessary to salvation. So that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby is not to be required of any man that it should be believed as an article of faith. Okay. And so the sufficiency of Scripture, when we're thinking about salvation, what is necessary for salvation, there can be nothing outside of Scripture which is which is necessary, absolutely necessary for salvation. Again, in terms of characteristics of scripture, and here Wesley's going to be similar to some of the reformers of the 16th century. He underscored the clarity of scripture. The more technical word here would be the pers vacuity of Scripture. And what that means is that that the doctrine of the clarity of Scripture is that the things necessary for salvation. Can be understood from the Bible without special techniques or higher education.

 

Okay. Now, that doesn't mean that everyone is going to understand everything about the Bible. On some levels, the Bible can be a difficult book. But what that is saying is that the average person, basic people can understand the Bible enough to get its basic message of salvation. That much is clear. And then we speak also of the wholeness of Scripture in terms of its characteristics. There can be no doubt that Leslie believes, according to Scott Jones, that Scripture ought to be a unitary, coherent whole, that it all fits together. The Old Testament and the New Testament. It all fits together. If we take a look at Wesley's preface to the explanatory notes upon the New Testament, he writes this quote, The Scripture, therefore, of the Old and New Testament is a most solid and precious system of divine truth. Every part thereof is worthy of God, and all together are one entire body wherein is no defect, no excesses. And so the very harmony of Scripture is something that is affirmed there as well. Now we have to ask a basic question in terms of in terms of scripture, and it is in terms of interpretation. Augustine, going back to the fifth century, wrote a very helpful work in terms of how do we interpret the Bible, right? Because although the purpose acuity of the Scripture is affirmed, nevertheless, we have seen throughout the history of the church that some people have interpreted the Bible wrongly. They've interpreted it in all sorts of ways. I've been reading myself histories of this nation history of America, and I've been saddened to read during the 19th century how some people interpreted the Bible to keep people in slavery, to keep them enslaved. And that, of course, is very difficult to read.

 

And this little book by Augustine, it's called of Christian Doctrine of Christian Doctrine, the Latin would be the doctrine of Christina. And he basically lays out a hermeneutical principle so that if you read the Bible and you interpret the Bible in a way that's contrary. To love. Guess what? You're wrong. You're wrong. Go back. Retool. You made a mistake. You didn't understand this book properly. Many people throughout. The history of the church. I shouldn't say many. Some throughout the history of the church have read the Bible or in very deficient ways and ways that should have been corrected by this major interpretive principle. We say hermeneutical principle of love. Now, see, I as a good Western, I'm going to say, you know what I'm going to say? What am I going to say? Holy love. I'm not just going to want to say love. I'm going to want to say Holy Love, especially in the 21st century, because so many people misunderstand that word love today. So I'm going to say holy love. So if you interpret the Bible in a racist manner, you know, if you interpret, guess what, you're wrong. Bible is not about that. The Bible is about the love of God and neighbor. It's about holy love. And where would you be in your theology if you get these little things right? You can't get the big picture right. This is the big picture. It's all about Holy love. It's about the love of God and neighbor. It's always been about that. It's never not been about that, except when people sinfully misused and abused the Bible for their own selfish ends. Okay. Yeah. Then you get the distortions, then you get the misinterpretations, people using it to get more of what they want at the expense of others.

 

Okay. Yeah, that's been done. But that's not the intent or purpose of the Bible. It's all about the holy love of God manifested us in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit to the glory of God, the Father. That's the big. Message. Okay. And so we have to be careful here. We have to be careful here. Now, I realize, of course, as a historian, that different traditions, different Christian traditions have interpreted the Bible differently. And that's fine. That's okay. We can we can live and commune and have fellowship, you know, with different traditions who interpret the Bible in a in a different way than we do. That's that's quite all right. Some works that I have found helpful in terms of my own understanding of scripture are by Joel Green. I don't know if you know that name. Dr. Joel Green. He at one time was at Asbury. He went to Fuller, and I think he's finishing out his career in Fuller. He wrote two important works on scripture and proper interpretation, and especially with an eye on practicality. And one of those books is called and I love the title Seized, Seized by Truth. Seized by Truth. And he starts out in this account and he says he writes, Reading the Bible is not necessarily the same thing as reading Scripture. Hmm. What could that mean? Reading the Bible is not necessarily the same thing as reading Scripture. Well, if we read the Bible as Scripture, we're reading it. I think he's suggesting here we're reading it as the church. More specifically, when we read the Bible, we are not necessarily reading the Bible as Scripture, because to read the Bible as Scripture is a theological statement. It's a theological statement. To read the Bible as Scripture is a theological statement.

 

Many people could read the Bible. We have all sorts of academicians today who study the Bible, all sorts of higher criticism, form criticism, literary criticism, etc., etc. They are reading the Bible to use Joel Green's language, but they're not reading Scripture. You see the difference. You see the difference. And the difference is expressive of the orientation we bring to the enterprise, the openness to the Spirit of God as we engage in this particular means of grace. So yes, for Joel Green, for a reading of the Bible as Scripture, we need to express that as a theological statement, the essential character of the division between the world of the Bible and our own world. And I grant you, they are different worlds is not historical, but theological. It has to do with a theological vision, the effect of which is our willingness to regard these biblical text as our scripture and to inhabit its message, its world as our own. Okay. There's actually a lot there. I'm going to have to unpack that a bit. Again, Joel Green is talking about reading not simply the Bible, but reading Scripture. To read Scripture is a theological statement that means attitude approach. How how am I going to approach scripture? What will be my attitude towards it? And then he's talking about inhabiting I like that word, like that verb inhabiting its message and its world and taking it on as our own. Okay, let's look at that another way. The Bible, especially the gospel, is a story. It is a story. We as individuals here have a story. This kind of theological reading that Green is talking about is whereby our story gets caught up in this larger story, and that larger story illuminates our own story.

 

And so that the two work together and our in we become a part of the story. You know, I've been reading a lot about C.S. Lewis of late and Tolkien. And I think one of the reasons why I think there are many reasons, but I think one of the reasons why they both became important people of faith in their own respective Christian traditions is because of this thing of story that the Bible is a very uncanny, numinous book that invites us to become a participant in the story, which is ongoing. I mean, it's an ongoing story, and therefore our little stories get to enjoy this enormous fund of meaning. The larger purpose is that God is working out through creation and redemption, and then on ultimately through glory, you know, at the Wedding Feast of the LAMB for all creation has been for him and through him that that our little small stories get caught up in that. And those meanings, those which are grand, those meanings are enjoyed by us today today and that so this shift that Joel Green is asking us to make, the shift from reading the Bible to Scripture is a shift that invites us, invites us to rich and deep and broad and wide meaning. And so, yes, I think that's one of the reasons C.S. Lewis and and Tolkien were attracted. I think it was Stanley Howe was who first said, although I'll say it again right now here. The gospel story is the greatest story that has ever been told or that could ever be told. In other words, there's not the possibility for a greatest story. I don't care who you are, Harvard in literature or, you know, Stanford in rhetoric. You're not going to come up with the greatest story.

 

You're not that the logos. Truly God Comes home was himself, even among men and women. And not only that, but. Further humbles himself to the depths of Golgotha with its torture and mocking and shame. You're not going to come up with a greater story than that. You know, we measure people in our culture, in our sinful culture, often times in terms of external things, money, how they look, appearance, what race they are, what gender they are, what groups they belong to, this sort of thing. But have they ever considered how they are viewed in the sight of a God of holy love and how we are understood and what meaning we have? Being caught up in this grand story of God's love manifested in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. And so what Green is doing here? He is asking us to enlarge in our horizon, enlarging our horizon that our lives may be transformed, that the Bible, in a real sense, becomes an alternative framework within to construe our lives in which to understand our own journeys. Okay, I've been coming to think of late that what's really important in terms of human beings I've been thinking about people have been passing that I know people have been dying, that the thing that becomes so important about them is story. And it's interesting. The rich often don't have great stories and things that went well and smooth for people. They don't seem to have great stories. The ones who have the great stories are the ones who faced opposition, who suffered and were faithful. And they are so rich in story, even though they may be impoverished in so many different ways. So I think the Bible on this level is an invitation to look at things in new ways, to look at things in new ways.

 

For example, I'll just use another example from our culture and our reach for the westerlies to do that, because this fits it quite well. Most people, most historians, when they look at the Epworth Rectory in 18th century with Susanna over her brood, and Samuel Wesley often gone at convocation or fleeing due to some political battle he had with his wife. They would look upon that Epworth rectory. They were poor because the only thing these historians see is money. Money. Material needs food. What are we going to eat? What are we going to drink? Now, I read these same narratives and I throw up my hands and I say, Wow, how rich The Wesley children were Rich and privileged. Rich and privilege. How so? Well, I'm obviously not talking about things. I'm not talking about stuff. I'm not talking about material. I'm talking about values. I'm talking about the invisible. What can't be seen. I'm talking about meaning that can't be seen. I'm talking about the inculcation of values in those children, such that all three of the sons became Anglican priests and they all went to Oxford and they all became Anglican priest. So don't tell me John Wesley grew up in a poor environment. No, I would have loved to have had that environment growing up. It was a rich environment in many ways, but you can't define richness simply as money. That's the mistake of our age. Don't make that mistake. Don't make that mistake when we think of economies. I love Thomas soul's definition of economics. It has to do with resources. Resources come in all shapes and sizes, all shapes and sizes. And what I hear Joel GREENE doing here is inviting people to become a part of this richness, which is God.

 

And the richness consists not in material things. Okay. That that would be a vulgar ization of it, but it consists in very spiritual things, things in terms of meaning and heart and purpose. 300 years of biblical studies, Joel writes, And the last century of educational priorities generally work against reading the Bible in just this way. The way I've been describing, they've worked against it. They want to read the Bible in quite another way. This is because they have tended to be concerned with method. He expresses it this way over posture method, over posture, although I would express it somewhat differently. I would say method over attitude, method over attitude, how we approach scripture. You say. He's saying posture. And so he's arguing that some of these scholars who are reading the Bible as Bible, in other words, not as Scripture, they are under that old Enlightenment model of self autonomy, self legislation. The Bible is simply an object to be mastered, to be learned, to be understood, but they never enter into its larger meanings. Those meanings are opaque. Okay. We come to Scripture with respect. Joel Graham continues in gratitude and ready to embrace and be embraced into God's own ways and work. The activation of the converted mind is both an assumption of reading the Bible as Scripture and the goal of such a reading. Okay. And he uses the word here. I like the word pilgrim. Going on a pilgrimage to read the Bible is to go on a journey. It doesn't leave us in the same place where we're going to be taken. We're going to travel to a different place. And so Joel Green writes Pilgrimage is more appropriately, a description of the character of our lives in the world, with our status as strangers, in the world attributable to our making our home and in the world of Scripture.

 

And in this hermeneutical scenario, it is not the message of the Bible that requires transformation. That's where some of the scholars got it wrong. It is we who require transformation. It is we who require transformation in order that we may see and discover and ultimately receive all that the Bible has for us. And so the fundamental transformation that Green is talking about here must that that must take place is not the transformation of an ancient message into a contemporary idiom. In other words, how do we make, you know, the ancient Greek of the first century? How do we make that relevant to 20, the 21st century settings? But the major transformation, rather, is the transformation of our lives by means of the Word of God. And reading the Bible in this new way, in this new way as Scripture and not simply as the Bible, is really an invitation to a journey and presents the Bible, I think, in a suitable fashion as a means of grace. We haven't used that phrase in this context, but I think we need to. What is the Bible as we've been describing it here? The Bible is a means. It is a means of grace. It is a means of grace. Meaning that if we participate in the prayerful reading and study of the Bible, that the grace of God will be communicated to us through this means whereby we can grow, be challenged, be corrected, be transformed along the way. And so that's it's very important when we look at Scripture as the word of God, that we interpret it properly and that we bring the proper attitudes towards it so that we may receive all that is there for us. Now, one final word that I'm going to say before we open it up for questions.

 

Simply going to talk about the canon of scripture, very briefly. Talk about canon of Scripture, and then I'll take whatever questions you have. Now, we speak of the Christian Bible. The Christian Bible, of course, made up of the Old Testament and the New Testament. And interestingly enough, when we talk about the Christian Bible, we have to say whose Bible? Because different traditions would number the books of the Old Testament differently. Okay. So Roman Catholics, for example, will have other books in the Old Testament that Protestants won't have, for example. And so, you know, first and second, Maccabees will be in the Roman Catholic Old Testament, but it's not going to be in the Protestant Bible. Now, here's the way I try to handle this in a very ecumenical way, that if Jews and Christians of whatever tradition are sitting around and are going to going to talk about what is common in terms of the Old Testament. They are talking about the process and Bible. They're talking about the 39 books and only those 39 books. Now, the Jews don't arrange those 39 books in the same way. As a matter of fact, they don't talk about 39 at all. For the Jews, it's 24 because you don't break up first and second kings. You don't break up first and second Chronicles. But the content is the same. The content is the same, though. Once again, the Jews arrange their books differently. So the Hebrew Bible does not end with Malachi, that that's a Christian Bible. The Hebrew Bible is going to end. That chronicles okay, with people around the temple. It's that's where it's going to end. So we do read different Bibles and we need to take that into account. But what is common between Jew and Roman Catholic and Protestant is the 39 books and only those 39 books of the Old Testament.

 

And there was I remember all those years ago when the revised Standard version came out, there was at one point a common Bible that was published that could be read by Protestants and Roman Catholics alike, because the Apocrypha, that is those extra books were put in a separate section where the Roman Catholics could read them. The Protestants did not have to read them. Okay. I've also heard and I've been reading this area, so it's been kind of interesting. You know, people talk about the council of jam, the where the Hebrew where the Jews supposedly fixed their canon, you know, around 90 or 91 A.D. But then I read other scholars who doubt that the Council of Germany actually took place. So you've got that whole dialog going on. But nevertheless, the thing to see here, and especially when we get to the question of the New Testament canon, is that it takes time. It takes time. Whereas we have the writings of Paul, for example, very early on in the first century, and we have the Gospels now. We don't have them all recognized as canon. She Canon is a status. It is a status to a body of literature, and that takes time. And if we speak about that formally, when does that happen? That doesn't happen until the fourth century where we have, you know, the 27 books and only those 27 books as being considered sacred canonical status to the Christian community. I mean, if you look at, for example, the moratorium canon of the third century, you're going to see a different number than the 27. But historians tend to focus on the first letter of Athanasius in three, six, seven when he mentions these 27 books and only these 27 books.

 

Other evidence they look at the Council of Carthage, Theodosius affirming these 27 books. But you know, this is a difficult topic. Remember, now we're not talking about when these scriptures come into being because they've already existed for a long time. What we're talking about is being recognized. I think that's the right word. Maybe I should get into that a bit. They're being recognized as sacred scripture to us, to our community. Okay. Now, sometimes I hear Roman Catholics and Protestants go back and forth on this. I hear some Roman Catholics, at least some of their apologists say that the church established the canon. Well, I don't think that's actually a very good way of putting it. The church established the canon or the church established the scripture. I don't think that's helpful. I much prefer and perhaps I'm revealing my Protestant background here, that the church in a in a universal way here in the fourth century recognized. That's the word I like recognized that these books, these 27 books and only these 27 books, in other words, not the shepherd or Hamas, you know, not the epistle, the Barnabas, but that these 27 and only these 27 books are sacred scripture to us. Okay. And so we have here the Bible, the canon of the Old Testament. The canon of the New Testament. This is important. To us today. You know, as we read the Bible in our own different settings, you know, what what kind of bible are we reading? What books of the Bible are we reading? Can we give a theological explanation as to why we're reading the books that we're reading? Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, there are differences between the Christian traditions, even in terms of how we reckon the Ten Commandments.

 

So, for example, there was a big brouhaha about a decade ago with somebody wanting to put us on a monument of the Ten Commandments on some courthouse lawn or something. I forget who was doing that. It was in the papers and, you know, everybody's, you know, getting ready to fight over this separation of church and state. My first question was, whose Ten Commandments did you want to put on the lawn? Because the different traditions number them different way. Roman Catholics and Lutherans, for example, would not have the Presbyterian and Methodist second commandment, which says Thou shalt not make a graven image, and neither shall thou bow down to it nor worship it. They won't have that at all. Well, how do they end up with Ten Commandments while they break up? What is the Presbyterian and Methodist 10th commandment in Thou shalt not cover thy neighbors, wife and neighbors goods? They break that up into the ninth commandment Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor his wife. Ten Commandment Thou shalt not covered by neighbors goods. So they all end up with ten, but they order them differently. And the content is different. So here again, I think to recognize it and I've been riding this horse for a while now, not just here, but I'm trying to get my Christian brothers and sisters to recognize a few things. It is the most helpful way to view the not only the history of the church, but the present situation today, the ecumenical situation today that what we have is the growing up of distinct theological traditions. Okay. No one of those traditions being the center, that's an impossibility. That's been an impossibility since 1054. And if we can speak with each other, though, we are from different traditions in a cordial, mutual, respectful way.

 

I think we can do that, and I think we do that in the greater appreciation of the distinct Christian traditions that have grown up over time, over time, such that we get even the reckoning of Ten Commandments slightly differently, or we get a different Old Testament canon. Then let's say others are going to read. And so I think a greater awareness of of church history, of the length of various traditions, how they came about will go a long way that we can speak kindly and respectfully to one another, even though we are richly and deeply in our own meanings as part of the traditions of which we are. Okay, let me stop there and entertain what questions or comments you might have. It seems like sometimes people that are hostile to the Bible have certain passages or ideas that they go to that they think people won't have good answers for. And so I'm going to trip you up. Correct. And I'm going to make you look bad and I'm going to get you into a place where you're not going to be able to explain this in terms of what I understand Christianity to be. And it seems like the more we read the Bible and the more we're inspired by what the Bible teaches and and encourages us to be, that we can present a vision for what the Bible encourages us as people to be and to have answers for the questions that we know are going to come in a way that can easily disarm those those things. But I think a lot of times we don't read the Bible enough to really know what's in it or to really apply it to ourselves. And we don't take the time to have good answers for those other questions.

 

Mm. Yeah. You've got, you've got quite a lot there. That last piece really triggered something in me and so I'm going to actually begin towards the last part, and this is sort of my sharing with you. I think every serious Christian and not all Christians are serious. I mean, there are different kinds of Christians, nominal Christians, earnest Christians, you know, real, true, proper Christians, as Wesley call them. If one is really serious about Jesus Christ, nobody wants to be conformed, have the mind of Christ. What Scripture talks about that person should be reading the Bible every day, Old Testament and New Testament. And I don't care how many times they've read the Bible, I don't care how old they are. They need to be reading the Bible every day. Why? Because we are changing. Because we're going through life. We're going through time. The culture that we are living in is changing. And my fear is that if we don't do that, precisely what you're talking about is going is going to happen. In other words, that the world will have its great arguments. And as to why not, you know, enter the church and then the response will not be up to snuff. It will not be up to snuff because it tells me that person hasn't been constantly in an ongoing way, thinking through the beauty of the Christian faith in light of its contemporary challenges. And they're doing that day in and day out. Yeah. So and I tell my students in seminary, read the Bible, Old Testament and New Testament every day through chapters in the Old Testament. One chapter in the New Every day. Yes. It's a discipline. This doesn't just happen. We need disciplines because the world, the flesh and the devil are out there.

 

And we need to be fortified. And one of the ways we are fortified is by knowledge of the word of God to feed on the promises of God, to feed on them, be nourished by them, to be strengthened by them. Yes. So I'm glad you raised your question. Yeah. Thank you. But how do you balance respect for as a church traditions with correct interpretation of Scripture when you're dialoging, respect for other church traditions with correct interpretation. Now, of course, when you say correct interpretation, the person is going to say according to your tradition. Because when Roman Catholics start quoting and interpreting John six, they're going to say, I, as a Wesleyan, interpret it a different way, and they might want to correct my interpretation out of their own. So it becomes somewhat problematic. But here's here's what I do. I'm well aware of how different traditions interpret things. And to me, it's just a large grand conversation. And so when I am reading Scripture, I remember how the reformed interpreters, I remember how Roman Catholics interpret this. I know how the Eastern Orthodox interpret this. And I bring that, you know, into my own reflection as I'm reading. Okay. I can still be in my own meanings of the tradition. I mean, that's why I'm a Wesleyan and be respectful of others. If it is not related to an issue that's heretical or something of that nature, but it's a different way of viewing things church traditions, practices, you know. I can I can I can accept and live with that difference. Tom Oden did it this way. Let me show you what Tom Oden did. It may help. It may help you in terms of dealing through this issue. He drew. Actually a pyramid of sources.

 

I'm going to use it in a slightly different way. A pyramid of traditions. Okay. We have. This would be the largest area because I'm going to break these up some more of this of this pyramid. And these are all the common meanings that we have Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, all the same, we're similar in Christology. We're similar in terms of our doctrine of the Trinity. Okay. Then we get to here. Okay. Now, here there's going to be a difference. There's going to be a difference between Eastern orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism in terms of the Philly OC clause. The West is going to be over here. The East is going to be over here. Okay. Then we're going to get to some differences here, perhaps in terms of the reformation, how they are viewing things. And then up here, you know, that may be that may be us, our own, you know, where we interpret things. But the thing is, the core beliefs that make up the heart of the area of this pyramid are shared, are shared. I mean, Roman Catholics and Protestants have much in common in terms of Christology, in terms of doctrine of the Trinity. Now, we differ very sharply in terms of ecclesiology, in terms of sacramental life and all of that. Yes, those differences are real. So, you know, if you were to sit down with a Roman Catholic, you know, you may have a conversation and that conversation may get heated at points when you're talking about, you know, how do we understand the Lord's Supper? It may become difficult when you're talking about the Magisterium or how they understand church authority, especially if you are a Baptist. You say. Bill, do you want to get in on this? I mean, I think the secret is is the idea for the deciding what are the essentials, what are not the essentials, and then having a grace and humility to to listen to their understanding of the idea for them.

 

Yeah. Dr. Mounts here is raising a distinction that Luther made to offer an idea for a diaspora essential to the faith. Non-negotiable are diafra not essential to the faith. Let's live and let live. And actually, between the Reformation traditions, they decided those issues differently. For example, in the reform tradition following Zwingli and Calvin, their basic approach towards what had existed in the past was if it's not in Scripture, then it's basically out. Whereas for Luther, he was much more open. If it doesn't contradict Scripture, it can remain so. Lutheran churches have a lot of the vestments, you know, from the medieval, because in Luther's judgment, it didn't necessarily contradict scripture, whereas Puritan churches are going to have bare walls. Okay, So there's a different judgment there in terms of what is deemed diafra the offer, and you'll see those kinds of differences, I think. You should be able to walk into any church of any different tradition. And by looking around, looking at the architecture, looking, is there a table, is there an altar, are there pictures, etc.. So you should be able to identify what tradition that church is. You should just by walking in and looking around, looking at the architecture of the building itself. You should be able to do that. Yeah. The interesting question, all that is how do you decide what's a diafra? And, you know, I mean, there's so many people will will go to the mat over things that are clearly at least according to church history, not negotiable. And they say notes it can only be done this way. And I mean, have you ever found a way to help people see this is a secondary issue? I mean, whether it's, you know, the whole leadership of the church issue or whether it's eschatology or whatever.

 

How do you help people see what truly is non-negotiable? And what might be negotiable. What we could do. We could. We could do this a number of ways. But I'm going to think like a historian for the first answer that if we look in the early church, we do see a lot of commonality. We do see a lot of commonality early on. It's not total commonality. They're rather mere physics to distinguish from the model physicists who get condemned, by the way, because they don't affirm chalcedon. But in the early church, let's say up to the fifth century, there is a kind of basic ancient ecumenical church. There's broad agreement in terms of proper Christology, in terms of his person and work. There's broad agreement in terms of how we understand God as three in one father, son spirit, in terms of even the baptismal formula. And we really don't start to get to the differences until the sixth century. And then once we get to the differences, they keep magnifying. So I think in answer to your question, I think there actually is a core there's a core to the ancient ecumenical church, and it largely has to do with Christology and how God has been revealed to us in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, which means a Trinitarian faith affirmed by, you know, the ecumenical councils, affirmed by the early creeds, the Nicene, the affirmation, the Constantinople, you know, creed. And so there is a core to work with. So those issues would be very serious. So if someone today were to argue that Jesus Christ became divine at his baptism, we could reject that out of hand because the church had faced that very kind of teaching earlier and rejected that as heretical.

 

And it doesn't properly affirm what we know from Revelation that God has come to us that as the Johannine Prolog states, the logos, you know, in the beginning was the word in words with God, and the word was God. There never was a time when the word was not as the area said. There was a time when the word is not. And so if today someone were to argue a Christology that detracted from these basic consensual truths that were affirmed by everybody. I think we have the basis then for we have to correct you in Holy Love. We correct you. We have a conversation. But you have departed from the way. I would also like to add to this lest there be misunderstanding. Doctrine is incredibly important, don't get me wrong, but I would view doctrine as a good lesson. Let me back up. Let me tell you something that Wesley said wrote, This may surprise you. This may surprise you. He said, Orthodoxy. Is a very slender part of religion. If at all. Now, that's obviously hyperbole. It's an exaggeration. But Wesley's trying to make a point. What's the point? He's trying to make His context is a little bit different in the 18th century. He had lots of people going around. Oh, I'm a Christian. Of course I'm a Christian White. I'm an Englishman. I'm an Englishman. I was I was born in Sussex and I was baptized as an infant. Of course, I'm a Christian. What do you mean? Are you a Christian? Are you a real Christian? Go away. And Wesley encountered a lot of that. And not that he's doesn't take doctrine seriously. He does. But if all you have is doctrine, in other words, correct teaching, I affirm the right things.

 

Faith is a faith belief that. That's not saving faith. It's not saving faith because that faith must or should issue in saving faith, which is not only the affirmation of the truth of the gospel, but also a hearty trust in Jesus Christ. So West is going to use conjunctive language not only, but also it's not only a hearty assent, but it is also a hearty trust. It's both the Assent to the basic truths of the Christian faith, but it's also a hearty trust in a living redeemer. Jesus Christ. It's relational. Okay. See, I can be doctrinally correct in all that I hold and still be a very self-absorbed person. Everything is an object to me. Oh, I've got down all the Christian doctrine, just like I know the teachings of Marxism. Got it all down pat. I can use it any way which I want, but it hasn't affected me as a person at all. I didn't allow it to. I'm using it for something else. You see, you can do that. It's amazing thing about religion. You can use it for other ends. You can use it for lots of other ends. But the Christian faith is an invitation to know and love God. That's what it is. So. So the Christian faith, in a real sense, according to Wesley, is a life. It's a life to be live. Sin is relational. Grace is relational. And you don't get to that relationality if you have an autonomous self redeeming itself because it's focused on correct doctrine. You see, that was Wesley concern. I know that's not our concern today because because we are so back on our heels with the revisionists who have thrown doctrine out the window. So where defending doctrine, you know, tooth and nail and I understand that.

 

But if that's all we do, that's defeat. That's defeat because we never entered in. We never entered in into this rich life in which we have been called. That is to know, enjoy, and to love God now and for all eternity, the Holy Spirit in our Spirit Tabernacle and in us, that we might be a blessing to others, that we might have the mind of Christ transformed and used by God to transform others.