Walter Brueggemann on the Bible as inherently the Word of God

‘The Bible is inherently the live Word of God that addresses us concerning the character and will of the gospel-giving God, empowering us to an alternative life in the world.  I say ‘inherently’ because we can affirm that it is in itself intrinsically so.  The Bible is forceful and consistent in its main theological claim.  That claim concerns the conviction that the God who creates the world in love redeems the world in suffering and will consummate the world in joyous well-being.  The fundamental agreement about main claims is the beginning of the conversation and not its conclusion.

From the term ‘inherent’, four things follow:

1. It means that all of us in the church are bound together, as my tradition affirms, ‘in essentials unity’.  It also means, that in disputes about biblical authority nobody has high ground morally or hermeneutically.
2. The inherency is focused on its main claims.  From that it follows that there is much in the text that is ‘lesser’, not a main claim, but a lesser voice that probes and attempts, over the generations, to carry the main claims to specificity, characteristically informed by particular circumstance . . .
3. The inherent Word of God in the biblical text is, of course, refracted through many authors . . . they were circumstance-situated men and women of faith (as we all are) who said what their circumstance permitted and required them to speak, as they were able, of that which is truly inherent.
4. The Bible is endlessly a surprise beyond us, that Karl Barth famously and rightly termed “strange and new.”  It is not a fixed, frozen, readily exhausted read, it s rather a “script”, always reread, through which the Spirit makes new.  When the church adjudicates the inherent and the circumstance-situated, the church of whatever ilk is sore tempted to settle, close and idolize.  Nobody makes the final read; nobody’s read is final or inerrant, precisely because the Key Character in the book who creates, and consummates is always beyond us in holy hiddennness.  When we push boldly through the hiddenness, wanting to know more clearly, what we thought was holy ground turns out to be a playground for idolatry.’

~ Walter Brueggemann

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