Canon within the canon
Acton Institute Powerblog

Canon within the canon

Having trouble understanding the Bible? Can’t seem to reconcile what you just “know” to be true with the plain meaning of Scripture?

Why not take Episcopalian Bishop Spong’s hermeneutical approach? According to a column in the Detroit News, Bishop Spong, author of The Sins of Scripture: Exposing the Bible’s Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love, says you can feel free to downplay or ignore difficult passages.

“Much as I wanted to think otherwise,” he says, “…sometimes (the Bible’s) texts are terrible. It was not a comfortable insight, but it grew into a crusade to lift the Bible above its own destructiveness and to force the Christian church to face its own terrifying history that so often has been justified by quotations from ‘the Scriptures.'”

Also, Bishop Spong thinks the apostle Paul was a “deeply repressed, self-loathing” man.

It’s funny how this hermeneutical approach tends to reduce the Bible to just three words, “God is love.” And with no context to determine the interpretation of that verse fragment, the reader is free to define what “love” is for himself. Thinking that you need to go on “a crusade to lift the Bible above its own destructiveness” might just be the most arrogant thing I have ever heard.

Jordan J. Ballor

Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty. He is also a postdoctoral researcher in theology and economics at the VU University Amsterdam as part of the "What Good Markets Are Good For" project. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary.