Scripture and the Truthfulness of the Church – an Excerpt from Engaging the Doctrine of Revelation

The following is an excerpt from Engaging the Doctrine of Revelation, by Matthew Levering.

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Cover ArtIt is not possible to conceive of Scripture, at any stage of its composition and collection into a canonical unity, outside of the liturgical community of the people of God. The Lutheran theologian Carl Braaten rightly points out that “there is no gospel apart from the church and its sacramental life. . . . There is no such thing as churchless Christianity, for that would posit the possibility of relating personally to Christ without being a member of his body, the Church.”

Just as Israel’s Scriptures cannot be conceived outside of the worshiping community, so also the New Testament writings make sense only in light of Jesus’s eschatological reordering of Israel around himself (the messianic King and new Temple) by calling the Twelve and giving them the mission of making “disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). It is in this community of believers that divine revelation has been received, enacted, and handed down.

. . . . Put simply, we do not have divine revelation without faithful mediation—and the mediation of God’s words and deeds that we find in canonical Scripture is inseparable from the mediation of the covenantal community. The purpose of this book, then, is to explore the missional, liturgical, and doctrinal forms of the Church’s mediation of divine revelation and to appreciate Scripture’s inspiration and truth in this context. . . .

This book stands against “ecclesiastical fall narratives,” which call into question the very possibility of truthful mediation of divine revelation. We cannot cordon off the truth of the gospel (let alone Scripture or its interpretation) from the truthfulness of the Church, both because Scripture identifies the Church as the Spirit-filled interpreter of revelation and because historical study shows that scriptural texts and canonical Scripture itself are inextricably embedded in the covenantal community.

©2014 by Matthew Levering. Published by Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

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