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  • Writer's pictureScott Carr, Jr.

Scripture and the Christian Life


Christians approach the ethical task primarily as those who participate in the life of Christ. St. Paul states that “we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian [the Law]” (Gal. 3:25). Rather, When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father” (4:4-6)! Scripture is a tool for Christians to shape their life in Christ through formation in the story of redemption and provision of directions and descriptions of the Christian life. Experience, tradition, and reason cannot replace the clear Word of God in Scripture (BC 2) and Christians are free of human wisdom’s demands (Gal. 4:3). However, they serve as instruments and tools to aid Christians in interpreting Scripture. Tradition provides the voice of a community that has lived under Scripture for centuries. Reason is not Scripture’s judge but helps Christians understand the text in light of their historical context. Experience provides a personal testimony of how Scripture forms Christians in their life with Christ (Hays 296-297). Karl Barth took Scripture’s formative role in the Christian life seriously. “God acts through Scripture to encounter and claim us, regardless of our intentions or interpretative abilities” (Hays 230). While he does make use of tradition in interpreting Scripture, he rejects reason and experience because, he claims, they always lead to idolatry (Hays 237-238). His stark rejection of these tools in principle suggests a fear of their power. Yet in light of the resurrection of Christ, Christians are free from their stranglehold (Galatians 4:3). They may serve as tools enslaved to Christ rather than rule as humanity’s taskmasters.Christians approach the ethical task primarily as those who participate in the life of Christ. St. Paul states that “we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian [the Law]” (Gal. 3:25). Rather, "When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father'" (4:4-6)!

Scripture is a tool for Christians to shape their life in Christ through formation in the story of redemption and provision of directions and descriptions of the Christian life. Experience, tradition, and reason cannot replace the clear Word of God in Scripture (Belgic Confession 2) and Christians are free of human wisdom’s demands (Gal. 4:3). However, they serve as instruments and tools to aid Christians in interpreting Scripture. Tradition provides the voice of a community that has lived under Scripture for centuries. Reason is not Scripture’s judge but helps Christians understand the text in light of their historical context. Experience provides a personal testimony of how Scripture forms Christians in their life with Christ (Hays 296-297).

Karl Barth took Scripture’s formative role in the Christian life seriously. “God acts through Scripture to encounter and claim us, regardless of our intentions or interpretative abilities” (Hays 230). While he does make use of tradition in interpreting Scripture, he rejects reason and experience because, he claims, they always lead to idolatry (Hays 237-238). His stark rejection of these tools in principle suggests a fear of their power. Yet in light of the resurrection of Christ, Christians are free from their stranglehold (Galatians 4:3). They may serve as tools enslaved to Christ rather than rule as humanity’s taskmasters.

Hays, Richard B. The Moral Vision of the New Testament. New York, NY: HarperOne, 1996.


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