“Christian faith is inescapably rooted in biblical tradition. But the Bible isn’t a series of knock-down propositions. It is a set of living, dynamic, troubling, inspiring and disturbing accounts of the ways of God among wayward people across the centuries. For Christians its interpretative core is the Gospels. They are, by their nature, diverse rather than singular. They speak of a God of unutterable grace who, in Jesus, turns upside-down every expectation of the conventionally religious. In Christ nothing we thought we knew about God, the world or ourselves remains untransformed. But, as the New Testament records demonstrate, and as the communities that have been formed from it show, Christians have continued to disagree about the precise nature and impact of what God has declared in Christ. To be ‘biblical people’ involves recognising ourselves as part of this vital argument. It also requires us to engage vigorously (as the prophets did) with God in the contemporary world. In all this we are gloriously free. But we are also constrained by the Jesus whose concern was the last, the least and the lost; not the powerful, the sufficient and the self-righteous. For we are, finally, the people of a person, not a book. That is the living irony of ‘being biblical’. To come to terms with it requires openness and generosity, but also the discipline to be formed into a people focussed on what might be involved in being Christ-like.”
Simon Barrow (www.simonbarrow.net)
… I don’t quite know whether this makes me either or both ‘biblical’ or ‘liberal’, given the extent to which such terms are frequently rendered un-operational by ideological distortion or abuse. Not to mention the ‘traditionalist’ (who could just be someone who recognises the liveliness of a tradition, not a malcontent who simply wants to stop it changing.) See also my more extended piece on The Bible in missiological perspective, and the review of Walter Brueggemann’s very fertile Texts Under Negotiation. A number of my articles demonstrate particular ways of handling the Bible: reflections on the Beatitudes, notes for individual and congregational use, and sermons on St Paul, wisdom, resurrection, et al. See, for example, Bread is for sharing. I have also been exploring the boundaries between text, knowledge and practice in a more experimental way (based on a biblical text, as it happens.) Other important guides in this area of ‘biblical faith’ include Kenneth Cragg.