Allan Bevere: We Need the Whole of Scripture for Christian Ethics

from the personal blog of Dr. Allan Bevere, pastor, professor, and author of Politics of Witness: The Character of the Church in the WorldColossians and Philemon: A Participatory Study Guide, and more
Bible Psalm 119Christians have always struggled to view the whole of Scripture as authoritative in a practical sense, but it has become fashionable of late to deliberately argue that 21st century Christians should have a canon within a canon, that we modern, enlightened, scientifically-oriented believers have the wisdom to decide which Scriptures are relevant only for today and which are only for a by-gone more primitive era.

The problem with such a view is that the church hasn’t left us with that option. All Scripture is authoritative and necessary for Christian ethics, for Christian life– from law to prophetic pronouncement, from poetry to prose, from parable to narrative– all of it is authoritative. Once we realize this, we are freed from the arrogance of suggesting that we know more than the ecclesiastical wisdom of the ages what God has and has not said, and we can spend our time reading, interpreting, struggling, and wrestling with the biblical narrative from Genesis to Revelation in all of its complexity. (Read more … )




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Steve BuonarrotiAllan R. BevereSteve Kindle Recent comment authors
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Steve Kindle

Allan, as a Progressive who promotes the idea of a “canon within the canon,” I must object to the way you have characterized us. We are not standing in judgment of Scripture; we are merely doing what every interpreter does—organizing thoughts around a perspective. In my book, I’m right and You’re Wrong, (available through Energion) I argue that Jesus did this very thing with the two Great Commandments. He encouraged us to measure all the Bible against these two principles, and was his canon within the canon. One of the issues of biblical interpretation that describes this challenge of coming… Read more »

Allan R. Bevere

Steve, Thanks for your comments. Of course, in any position there are differences. When one speaks in generalizations those differences are not always highlighted. But the truth is that of late, there has been a movement within the “progressive” camp (e.g. Adam Hamilton) to do exactly what I am critiquing… rejecting some Scriptures as Scripture because it does not live up to modern progressive sensibilities. Those harmful texts, of which you speak need to be understood within the larger context, to be sure, and that is exactly my point. And I realize that all of us struggle with the canon… Read more »

Steve Kindle

Alan, thank you for your serious response. I will ponder over it as it an angle I’ve not seen anyone take. It is vastly superior to fundamentalist apologists who approve of a violent God and justify God’s violence as an appropriate response to idolatry. (One such said God had to destroy all the Canaanites because they were full of syphilis and couldn’t let Israel be so contaminated.) Yet, I am not with you as yet. As I argue in my book, the choice in one interpretation over another hinges on which lens one views the text through. I am with… Read more »

Steve Buonarroti
Steve Buonarroti

Allen! You need to zip your mouth up! You know NOTHING about politics! Tell us why you got fired!