Monday, January 4, 2021

Reflection for the Week - January 4

The clarity of the biblical text, some argue, is based on the truth that it is God’s own communicative action (what God has authored), which gives us light, not a magisterium or a subjective opinion. What is clear is delivered by the Spirit speaking in the text. For me, this raises a number of issues, but I’ll flag just two. I’d wager that it can be extremely difficult to discern Spirit speech. Any difference between the Spirit speaking text and subjective opinions – be they by the magisterium or the individual – is not entirely transparent. Further, when a group of interpreters or even two interpreters come to different conclusions about the meaning of the same text, making the claim that ‘the Spirit is speaking’ can become a foil for ‘my (our) interpretation is the “right” one.’ I mentioned recently that the authority of the biblical text and Divine action are two monumental questions that Christians need to do more work on. In my opinion, general appeals to the apologetic line that the biblical text is God’s communication and the Spirit speaking clarifies this transmission will not get us very far or contribute much to the discussion on authority. A better direction, at the outset, would be to recognize that the biblical text is a messy one, tangled up as it is with ancient ways, people, and phenomena. We should do the best we can with the diversity that’s there, rather than assuming that it’s all somehow authored by God.