tml> Biblical Ethics and Islam
  1. Introduction
2. The Bible on its own terms
3. The Koran on its own terms
4. Contrasts between the Bible and the Koran
5. Holy War in the Bible, Jihad in the Koran
6. Christian expansion, Islamic expansion
7. The ministry of the Prince of Peace
8. Questions from the audience
   
Biblical Ethics and Islam

Love of Hard Questions Seminar #220
21 April 2002
2. The Bible on its own terms


Let me start first of all with the Bible. The Bible on its own terms is a story; moreover it is the true story. Now when the word story is used as I was in a church this morning in Avon, many people think of a story as being maybe fictional, maybe true. But a story is a story, there can be fictional stories and true stories. This is the true story. Everything declared in scripture is understood to be true of the one God who made all of us. But many times we lose sight of the power of the story. For example, does anyone know what portion of the Bible is doctrine? What portion of the Bible is specifically doctrinal passages? I don’t know the answer by the way, but I’m going to guess, between five and eight percent. I don’t think it’s much more than that. The laws of Moses, the Sermon on the Mount, the writings of Paul and the other apostles. What’s the rest of the Bible? Story, history and reflections, wisdom literature and so forth, but the story is what starts it all off.

And so the Bible starts with a story, and it is a story that is true, it is historical, and crucially for our purposes here tonight, it is inclusive. So when we read the Bible and it says, “In the beginning God created… ” And it talks about man and woman, male and female. Then it identifies Adam and Eve, and then it identifies their children, and all the way through pre-Jewish history, Jewish history, up to the Messiah, tracing the Messiah all the way back to Adam, and then the believers of the Messiah off into the mission into the Gentile world. What we have is a story that says we all came from Adam and Eve.

So when the apostle Paul, on Mars Hill addresses the pagan philosophers who don’t know his Bible, he knows their Greek poets and he quotes them, but he says at one point, “We’ve all come from one man.” And so at that point he’s saying we are all cousins, literally. And therefore we have a common humanity, which means that when we open up Genesis 1 and we begin to read the Bible, it is an inclusive story that says every human being has a stake in this story and therefore this story is universal and applies to all of us. So it’s inclusive, it’s an invitation.

A second element about the Bible on its own terms, and let me just read how my notes have it here, written by many, in a community, over thousand of years, with checks and balances. And anyone who knows Presbyterian polity can say Amen to that, or federal U.S. government policy. Now what do I mean by this? This is how the Holy Spirit inspired the word of God. You know, the word of God didn’t come through autodictation, but that’s how the Koran comes, by Muhammad’s own testimony. He says he was dictated the Koran by an angel, he calls the angel Gabriel.

But not so the Bible. The Bible goes all the way back, self-consciously, to Adam, and I believe Adam wrote down stuff. It was owned by community. There was no personal copyright and a covenant community as it changed from the covenant of Adam, to the covenant of Noah, to the covenant of Abraham, to the covenant of Moses, the Mosaic Law, to the covenant of David, and the covenant of the Messiah. The covenantal community owned the word as given, and the Holy Spirit gave it. And when he gave it, and it was spoken by those who received it, there was the covenant community to test it.

And aren’t we called to test the prophets in the New Testament? And so this testing, this love of hard questions, is always present. And by the way, this reflects the Triune God, who is three and who is one. There’s a community of full accountability and unity within the understanding of the Biblical God. And it’s done over thousands of years, and we don’t know how many people are involved. We know a few people who wrote certain books, we can figure out some people who might have written parts of the books of Moses, or Joshua probably wrote Joshua, or who wrote Kings and Chronicles.

We know probably Habakkuk wrote Habakkuk and Isaiah, but we don’t know all of the other little stories they took that they put in there. There’s honest redaction in the community of faith. So there are probably thousands of people who have a direct signature and exact language in the Bible, all governed by the Holy Spirit who says we are one, many of us are one in his presence, so that’s the nature of the Bible.

NEXT
  1. Introduction
2. The Bible on its own terms
3. The Koran on its own terms
4. Contrasts between the Bible and the Koran
5. Holy War in the Bible, Jihad in the Koran
6. Christian expansion, Islamic expansion
7. The ministry of the Prince of Peace
8. Questions from the audience