John Webster on Holy Scripture

‘… Scripture is a transcendent moment in the life of the church. Scripture is not the church’s book, something internal to the community’s discursive practices; what the church hears in Scripture is not its own voice. It is not a store of common meanings or a Christian cultural code – and if it engenders those things, it is only because Scripture is that in which Jesus Christ through the Spirit is pleased to utter the viva vox Dei. Consecrated by God for the purpose of Christ’s self-manifestation, Holy Scripture is always intrusive, in a deep sense alien, to the life of the church. All this is to say that the church assembles around the revelatory self-presence of God in Christ through the Spirit, borne to the communion of saints by the writings of the prophets and apostles. This divine revelation is “isolated” – that is, it is a self-generating and self-completing event’. – John Webster, Confessing God: Essays in Christian Dogmatics II (London/New York: T&T Clark, 2005), 189.

One comment

  1. As a student of Intellectual History, I was struck by the thought that the Scripture is the supreme expression of the Divine Intellect, designed for the very purpose of communicating the very mind of God to the mind of man in order to effect the heart in a transformational manner. Consequently, the greatest problem of the Bible is its perspicuity, its clarity. It is simple and at the same time profound, a depth of clarity which produces the problem of grasping its sagacity and subtlety. We think we understand, but the bottom of the revelation always eludes us; we are in over our heads, when we thought it was but a few feet deep. The book is so dissonant to so-called modern man’s way of thinking and even more so to post-modern man that it jars and grates the sensibilities. As a result they unwittingly dismiss it with a few sneers at its seemingly puerile teachings, when all the while the Book has taken their measure and found them wanting in every respect. Like the mariannas Trench of off the coast of the Philippines, the Bible’s depth is so great that it, literally, cannot be grasped. Just think what power there must be in a work that can be read and its words began a process of change, of improvement, of uplift for a home and the people of that home. And more, the advancement of a nation, the transformation of a civilization from savagery to sophistication, from cruel materialism to refined spiritual attainments. How wanting our modern and post-modern society has become due to its methodology’s inability to cope with the reality of the biblical revelation, and, as a result, we are beginning to descend from freedom’s holy light into the gray twilight of despair and dictatorial idiocies. But prayer is being made, and soon the answers will come, and the descent of the Heavenly Presence will add to the power of the words and society will take on new life.


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