The Nature and Authority of Scripture : Historical Sources and Theological Engagement for Congregational Awareness and Reflection
Date of Award
C. Leonard Allen
James W. Thompson
For many Christians, biblical authority is rooted in the concept of inerrancy or in the historical veracity. But within a increasingly post-modern culture, the church faces a crisis in both of these foundations. The modern presuppositions that undergird the inerrancy doctrine and the historical-critical method are showing distinct cracks in the once seamless confidence placed in both approaches. Additionally, for Churches of Christ, understandings about the nature and authority of Scripture area just below the surface of a number of issues confronting congregations. This project/thesis seeks to address this growing dilemma within the context of the Westlake Church of Christ in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Foundational to the project/thesis is the exploration of historical and theological resources that are a part of the rich legacy the church possesses. Thus, the heart of this thesis is comprised of two related endeavors. First, an historical review of the major themes and issues that are related to the nature and authority of Scripture is presented. Through the church fathers and the reformers, certain themes such as accommodation and "faith seeking understanding" inform current understandings about Scripture. Second, a theological reflection is offered, which takes up the historical legacy and integrates in into some contemporary postures. This exploration results in concluding that Scripture's authority rests in the concept of "witness," and to hear the "witness" of Scripture the church must rely on literary, historical, and theological spheres of inquiry.
With this groundwork in place, a specific intervention was developed for Westlake. Utilizing the written historical and theological reflection, a document was formed. Interjecting primary readings from persons such as Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and authors from within Churches of Christ, this eight unit document served as the text for a focus group of eleven persons from Westlake. In addition to reading this document, each member of the focus group was called on to engage in discussion and dialogue throughout eight one-hour meetings held in as many weeks.
This intervention produced significant shifts in thought for the participants. Additionally, this project created an opening for incorporating the subject matter of this project/thesis into the training of adult teachers and into Westlake's general adult education program.
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Reed, Carson, "The Nature and Authority of Scripture : Historical Sources and Theological Engagement for Congregational Awareness and Reflection" (1995). Doctor of Ministry Theses. 22.
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Includes a draft copy of the author's "The work of witness" designed for teaching small groups and Bible classes (leaves 97-217).