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Reading the Gospels prayerfully over 30 years ago has led me to the recognition and experience of Jesus Christ as my Saviour, and since then I have found over and over again the bible to be a unique tool of god through which he speaks to me and helps me to abide and to grow in trust towards him. As holy scriptures which excel all books I study them thankfully, respectfully and with the watchfulness required and sharpened by the Gospels. God’s saving power is revealed in the bible in such a unique way – and that forms its authority – that therefore it becomes for itself part and tool of the history of salvation so that we are participating in God’s acts of salvation through it and through which we are inspired by the Holy Spirit without being able to do without the correction of God’s written word. But one can go astray not only without the bible but also with it for it can become Satan’s tool and cause destruction instead of salvation, death instead of life. Thus theologians – starting with the early Christian fathers – could justify with the bible war an capital punishment, crusades and torture, the burning of witches and heretics, nationalism and the politics of racism and a lot more. Thus American fundamentalists can support state-religion and military politics of the United States. Even as far as a nuclear holocaust with biblical arguments.
The theological foundation of such a misuse of the bible has already been laid by the old church with its doctrines of inspiration and the doctrinalisation of God’s word by identifying at first scripture with revelation, then the bible with God’s word and finally sermon with God’s word. Although there was a legitimate but exaggerated intention to ensure the authority and necessity of salvation of God’s word man’s word was converted into God’s word and the bible was converted into a deadly weapon of the church which became more and more powerful and intolerant. When we ask the holy scriptures themselves what they understand by god’s word and inspiration, we find in the old testament the ten commandments and especially God’s speaking through the prophets what – having been written down later – as God’s revelation in the law and in history through formulas such as “thus says the Lord” is protected against confusion of the surrounding word of man. The authors of the new testament, who now see the final and redeeming Word of God in Jesus himself, are endeavoured for the same demarcation; at the same time the good news of Salvation which was preached by him and which was handed down for decades and which was recognised by Jesus’ work is defined as God’s word (1. Thess. 2:13).
Besides the prophets Jesus, John and Paul (as well as all Christians) claim to have God’s spirit (personal inspiration); verbal inspiration is claimed especially for the prophets who precisely for this purpose speak temporarily out of inspiration and in ecstasy. 2. Peter 1:20+21 and 2. Tim. 3:16 refer only to them whereas Paul makes a distinct difference between his personal view and the word of the Lord and whereas Luke (1:1-4) proves the credibility of his “story” only with the reliability of his historical research. The Dogma of the church that says that all authors of the scriptures of the bible are inspired to the very last word and by that prophetic and that therefore the whole bible is to be believed as god’s word, has not only done violence to the people who were – like us – indoctrinated by this dogma, but it has done violence to the bible itself and has made it to that idol to whom since the time of Constantine millions of people where sacrificed – in the name of god. The necessary and liberating clarification is written down in the 1st Barmer thesis 1934, which had gone through bitter experience, and is based on the gospel as a creed: “Jesus Christ is, as he is testified to in the holy scriptures, the one word of god which we have to listen to, which we have to trust in life and death, and which we have to be obedient to.”
(translation by Mike Zipser)
Dieser Text ist verfasst von Wilhelm Prasse (Villingen-Schwenningen, D).
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