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What comes first, the church or the bible?
In many respects this is a chicken or egg question. It isn’t really possible to separate the two. We have the bible through the church and we privilege the bible because of Christian community. Walter Moberly in Chapter 3 of The Bible in a Disenchanted Age: The Enduring Possibility of Christian Faith looks at plausibility structures for Scripture. The bottom line, he suggests, is that we can’t separate our confidence in the bible as something distinct from other ancient literature from our experience of the community of the people of God. After considering Augustine (354-430) and Newbigin (1909-1988), he summarizes:
Point - Church - Bible - Way - Christians
This is an important point. Church and bible are complementary and inseparable. The way in which we live as Christians interprets the Bible and is the living witness of that interpretation to the world. This is also why some of the scandals of recent years, whether pedophilia, harassment, greed, arrogance, and so forth, are so damaging. It is not so much the failure of individuals – there will always be misguided individuals as well as con men and women and other miscreants – even individuals in positions of authority. Rather, it is the failure of the community as a whole to respond appropriately from a grounding in the teachings of the Bible and an understanding of God through...
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