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Centrality and the Authority of the Bible What Do Presbyterians Believe? University Presbyterian Church April 28, 2013.

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Presentation on theme: "Centrality and the Authority of the Bible What Do Presbyterians Believe? University Presbyterian Church April 28, 2013."— Presentation transcript:

1 Centrality and the Authority of the Bible What Do Presbyterians Believe? University Presbyterian Church April 28, 2013

2 Relationship between Bible, Tradition, and Experience Reformed Christians have believed that scripture, tradition, and experience inform each other Subjective experience does not stand on an equal footing with scripture and tradition Neither are scripture and tradition peers Scripture is authoritative in a way that tradition and experience are not Ideally we have a running dialogue between all three—scripture, tradition, and experience— realizing, however, that they are not equal voices in the discussion

3 Scripture Reformed Christians believe that the written words of scripture become, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the word of God. As such, the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are “the unique and authoritative witness to Jesus Christ in the Church universal, and God’s Word to [us]”

4 Tradition Tradition (Catholic Church in general and Reformed church RT.html in particular) also carries the weight of authority, but not the same authority as the Bible RT.html

5 Experience One of the underlying assumptions of the Reformed tradition is that personal experience is a significant part of interpreting the Bible It is, after all, within the realm of personal experience that our faith in Christ becomes flesh and blood reality Personal experience is never a decisive trump card in the discernment of truth

6 The Whole Story of the Bible Deuteronomy 6:4–9 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

7 The Whole Story of the Bible Psalm 145:4 “One generation shall laud your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.” “To be a Christian is to have Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Amos; Paul, Peter, James, and John; Augustine, Calvin, and Barth as one’s [ancestors] in the faith,” so that one’s life story is not primarily a matter of biological heritage, but of spiritual heritage given through a common memory. “The people of God,” Leith continues, “have always been a society based not on blood but on historical experiences....” (John H. Leith, Introduction to the Reformed Tradition, rev. ed. [Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1981], 26–27).

8 The Whole Story of the Bible “Through Jesus Christ Christians of all races recognize the Hebrews as their [ancestors]; they build into their lives as Englishmen or as Americans, as Italians or Germans, the memories of Abraham’s loyalty, of Moses’ heroic leadership, of prophetic denunciations and comfortings. All that has happenedto the strange and wandering people of God becomes a part of their own past…” Richard Niebuhr

9 Truth 1: God Is in Charge Isaiah 40:21–31 Isaiah answers with a word of God’s sovereignty: “It might feel as though the Babylonians are in charge, but it is not so: God is in charge! Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.” Romans 8:31–39 “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?...” Revelation 21:1–5a The destiny toward which all human history is moving is a new heaven and a new earth where there is no more death and no more tears.

10 Truth 2: God Calls Us to Be a Holy People Genesis 12:1–9 – Call of Abraham Exodus 3:1–4:17 – Call of Moses

11 Truth 3: Jesus Christ Reveals God’s Love 1 Corinthians 15:51–58 “Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.”

12 Truth 4: God’s Love Is Not for Sale To be justified (grace through faith) is to be eternally secure – Romans 5:1-5 (Results of Justification): Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

13 Truth 5: God Gives New Life The Reformed tradition follows scripture in saying that salvation is a beginning, not an end in itself, and that, beyond the moment of aying “Yes” to God, one’s whole life is to be directed to the glory and service of God. “Getting saved,” if you want to use that language is about serving God’s purposes in all of life, not having your backside covered!

14 Truth 6: God Is Revealed in the Bible The Confession of 1967 reminds us that “[t]he Scriptures, given under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, are nevertheless the words of [people], conditioned by the language, thought forms, and literary fashions of the places and times at which they were written. They reflect views of life, history, and the cosmos which were then current. The church, therefore, has an obligation to approach the Scriptures with literary and historical understanding”. The Bible is not finally a matter of head knowledge, but of faithful living.

15 Truth 7: We Are the Church Together Acts 2:1-21 – The New Church of Jesus Christ

16 Truth 8: We Serve God with Heart and Mind Bedrock of the Reformed tradition: the life of the mind in the service of Jesus Christ. Christ’s two greatest and foremost commandment (Luke 10:27): ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.’ What does this mean for us today?

17 Centrality and the Authority of the Bible Study Guide for Use with This We Believe: Eight Truths Presbyterians Affirm by Stephen W. Plunkett 0We%20Believe.pdf 0We%20Believe.pdf May 5, 2013 (Next Sunday): Heather Ferguson – Priesthood of all Believers


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