“Christian Doctrine” (2)

Image - John Calvin

A famous Reformed theologian, beloved but still prone to error and historical limitation

More take-aways from Christian Doctrine, by Shirley C. Guthrie, Jr. (pages 17-35)

Reformed theology is committed to the slogan “reformed and always being reformed,” ultimately, because of its commitment to the overarching authority of the Word of God, Jesus Christ, to which scripture bears witness, and which speaks to humanity thanks to the activity of the Holy Spirit. Theological statements formulated by limited, specifically situated, fallible human beings are, as a result, always open to reassessment and revision in light of clearer [we hope, anyway] understanding(s) of the Word of God.

Where that puts individual Christians and individual churches, however, is in a place of continual discernment, relatively bound to the creeds and confessions of the church, relatively free from them. Relatively bound, since they represent how the church – our community – has heard and understood the meaning of faithfulness to the Word of God in concrete situations in the past. These have always been demanding, political circumstances that have raised the kind of issues of interpretation and challenges to the active meaning of faithfulness that tend to produce credal or confessional statements – that is, statements of what we are seeing or understanding in the present circumstance. We are not free simply to discard this witness to the content, significance, and implications of the Word of God.

Relatively free, however, since they represent human efforts – earnest, sincere, profound as they may be, still limited and subject to error – and so do not come with guarantees of freedom from distortions, blind spots, areas of resistance to the Word of God, etc. We may find ourselves in from time to time in positions where we are called to go beyond, or to challenge, some particular credal or confessional articulation, in the effort to be faithful to the Christ [which is supposed to be our aim].

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About HAT

Heather Thiessen (HAT) is a happily married 60-ish, Bible-reading, Presbyterian Church Sunday School teaching and choir singing, small fuel efficient car driving, still pretty much 2nd wave feminist and generally out lesbian Hoosier mom. (There are no monochrome states.) From time to time she teaches religious studies to students at a small liberal arts college in Louisville, Kentucky.
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