Anglicans have long said that the three pillars on which our faith rests are Scripture, Tradition and Reason. We acknowledge that the Scriptures contain everything necessary to our salvation, and they are of prime importance in showing us truth about God, truth about human beings and truth about how the two relate. We take the Scriptures very seriously at St John’s.
However, we also realise that the Scriptures belong to the Church. The Church came first: the earliest New Testament Scriptures were not written until around 40-45 AD, came from, and were written to, a thriving Church. The gospels were not written until much later, and it was only in the 3rd Century that the Church drew up a definitive list (or canon) of which books were considered to be included as Scripture.
This means that the Church has first call on the interpretation of Scripture: not journalists, or politicians, or academics, or non-believers. And how Scripture is understood and applied is of the greatest importance. We need to look at the context within which is was written, what the author was trying to say, what is meant to the first hearers (or readers), and what it might mean to us in a different culture and age. God may not change, but his revelation continues – Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would “guide you into all truth” (John 16.13); so the Church has developed creeds which summarise our belief; doctrines such as the Trinity, which are developments of kernels found within the Scriptures…
Scholarship is always throwing new light on scripture and our understanding develops as we meditate on God’s written word to us.
Careful study of the Scriptures in our house groups and in private study combined with a high standard of preaching which seeks to seriously engage with Scripture only provides a base for us to live the Scriptures – we become the next instalment of God’s story as we step into the living pages of God’s book – we are the only Bible most people will ever read!
The collect for Bible Sunday (Last Sunday After Trinity) sums it up well:
Blessed Lord who caused all holy Scripture to be written for our learning help us so to hear them, to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them, that, through patience, and the comfort of your holy word we may embrace and for ever hold fast the hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ who is alive and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit one God, now and for ever. Amen.