This blog post is the result of an ongoing discussion over on Jonathan Brink’s Blog. It has been carried to Ryan Cavanaugh’s Theology Junkie Blog. This answer is for the first part of his blog post. I will do another blog article to deal with his second point which actually takes up more words on his blog. Let me emphasize this; Ryan will not seem to deal with my premise which is that Jesus and his followers (New Testament Authors) redefined the term word of God from the Jewish held definition Torah to their own definition which was gospel and Jesus, the living gospel. I maintain that this among other things shows that Jesus and his followers gave a solely redemptive purpose to scripture. You can read my original blog post in its entirety here.
“I did read your blog, and it was interesting, however, you perhaps didn’t deal with the issues that would go against your thesis. Allow me to list several, and you can decide if they are convincing. First, when we look at 1 Tim 5:18 “18For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer deserves his wages." We notice something interesting. First, we have a quote used by Paul from Deut 25:4, but Paul also adds Jesus’ words in Luke 10:7 and declares them both as “scripture.” From this we learn that the words in the gospels were and are to be considered in the totality of the Word of God. As we take the authority of the Mosaic Law and the Prophets, so we should take the words of Jesus.”
Here Ryan jumps to the conclusion that I use the word of God and scripture interchangeably and I do not. I differentiate between the two largely because I see Jesus and his followers doing the same thing which was the point of my original posts. So, while I see the scripture as inspired, I see the word of God as something specific that is more than scripture. In the unbelieving Jews eyes it was the Law/Torah. This is why Jesus felt the necessity to change the definition. One of the main points I make is that Jesus and the first century writers differentiated between the word of God, word of truth and, word and, scripture. Jesus referred to scripture twenty-four times and called it the Law or, the Law and Prohets several other times and when he spoke of the word of God it was always about the gospel. The reason for this was to show that in Jesus view, the scriptures were solely redemptive. This does not diminish the standing of the scripture but, it does elevate the word of God and, therefore all of the scripture is not the word of God. Calling it the sacred scripture is enough.
“Second, we take 1 Cor 14:37 which Paul says, “If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord.” Paul, in his letter of correction to a church with many issues flat out says that his words are the word of the Lord and should be seen as such. And in fact, if anyone says that they are spiritual, they should acknowledge this fact. This is yet even more truth that all of scripture must be seen as the Word of God.”
It means that Paul’s writing is elevated to scripture but it in no way is elevated to the level of word of God except where Paul is relating the gospel. The bulk of Paul’s writing is gospel but, the passages that could be used as the Pharisees used the Old Testament scripture are not the word of God. The context of this writing is 1Corinthians chapter 13, the love chapter and, we all know that love is a command of the Lord and when Paul writes about it….. it is likewise a command. Obedience is different in the New Covenant era than it was under the Old Covenant. Obedience is from the heart it is the obedience of faith. There is absolutely no way that one can conclude that all scripture is the word of God from this passage when one defines the word of God as the gospel and that is precisely what Jesus did.
Ryan goes on:
“Third, we take Peter’s words in 2 Peter 1:16-21, We learn that scripture is greater than any personal experience; even greater than seeing Moses and Elijah, and seeing the transfigured Christ with our naked eyes. Scripture is more reliable than that, and that no prophet just wrote his own words, but the Holy Spirit carried him along. The Spirit moved the authors to write exactly what they wrote, because it is all the word of God, and is more reliable than any personal experience, even such an amazing experience than the mount of transfiguration.”
Peter is not saying that scripture is above experience. You cannot find that in the text and, he is actually stating the reverse. He is saying that they should believe them because of the experience, because of the transfiguration…. He is guarding them against those who would say that Peter’s was doing a private interpretation of the scripture by claiming the gospel of Jesus of Nazareth. When one familiarizes oneself with the Talmud it is clear that the rabbi’s had a Christ centered view of scripture. They claimed that Jesus interpretation was private and erroneous (John 7:48-49.) Peter was speaking of the Pharisees who claimed that Christianity was a private interpretation of scripture.
Finally Ryan states:
“I understand that this could be seen as only relating to the Old Testament, but Peter goes on to say in Chapter 3, and I think this is remarkably telling as he is about to die, what is the last thing you would want to say? 2 Peter 3:14-18, “14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. 15And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. 17You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” Peter connects Paul’s writings to the Word of God by calling it scripture. They twist Paul’s words “as they do the other scriptures” This one is remarkable. Peter connects Paul’s words to the entirety of the Old Testament by calling it the other scriptures. And failure to do this will cause a lost of stability and doing it will lead to your own destruction.”“From this we clearly see that the whole bible is the word of God, not just parts, but the whole. The gospel is not just found in the gospels, but is found everywhere in the Old Testament, and in every chapter of the bible (Even in the conquests of Joshua).”
In this passage Ryan simply restates his belief that all scripture is the word of God. The above passage does not prove anything as I am willing to admit that what Paul wrote was scripture however, it is not all the gospel, word of God and.... Jesus and all of his followers have made that point exhaustively with a preponderance of evidence as is shown in my original article. I will do part two of Ryan’s objections in a day or so.