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Thursday, April 24, 2008


Authority has always been the key issue when it comes to the fullness of truth among Christians. Truth is a person, of course, and that person, Jesus Christ, is unassailable. But while he does not leave us orphans, he is not here in the person. So what do we do when Biblical scholars call into question the inspiration of canonical Scripture?

Michael Holmes, a professor at Bethel University, doesn't consider the story [of the adulterous woman] inspired Scripture. But he said he would include the story in the Bible, because of its long history and because the verses bear the marks of an authentic story about Jesus.

I'm not quite sure how one can be certain that it is an authentic story about Jesus if one is also certain that it is not inspired Scripture. But, moving on..

Such judgments raise questions about what words like canonicity and inspiration mean for evangelicals. If we reserve the word inspired for the text in the earliest manuscripts, yet accept that other material (such as the pericope adulterae) should be included in our biblical canon, are we implying that select biblical passages may be canonical yet not inspired? If so, what should we do with this distinction?

Biblical scholars do agree on two things: The Bible story should be set apart with a note, and Christians should be cautious when reading the passage for their personal devotions.

While these scholars (and those in the comment box of CT) may have had (or continue) to grapple with such issues, I think I'll just be grateful that Mother Church can resolve this for me. I have constant recourse to the teaching authority of the Church (the Magisterium) so as to free me from such worries. Almost as if (gasp) I had recourse to the authority of Christ in the Body. But why should this present any difficulty? After all, where does authority lie if not in that Body, the Church, the pillar and foundation of the Truth? (Timothy 3:16)

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