4 July 2017

God's Breath

I'm writing this from Leipzig, Germany, at the World Communion of Reformed Churches. 10 days of meetings and worship and site visits with delegates and visitors from every corner of the globe.

Last Friday afternoon, there was a panel discussion on theological norms and values, and one of the speakers was Allan Palanna, a professor from United Theological College in Bangalore, India.  He was speaking about the principle of Sola Scriptura, one of the principles of the Reformation - the idea that our faith is grounded solely on scripture. The challenge with this principle is that scripture is always linked with interpretation - the four-way dialogue between the words that are written, the context in which they were written, the person who is reading/hearing, and the context in which the words are heard/read - the dance between text and context.

In his presentation, Dr. Palanna referenced 2 Timothy 3:16, that scripture is "God-breathed." Dr. Palanna spoke of scripture as the breath of God, and told us that God's breath can not be contained.  If, by our interpretation of scripture, we try to restrict it to one so-called "correct" interpretation, we constrict and contain God's breath and neglect the dance between text and context.

I would propose that the moment that we try to constrict the breath of God is the moment that breath becomes only air and ceases to be life-giving. Earlier on Friday afternoon, we had heard from J├╝rgen Moltmann and one of his themes was that the God of Christianity is a God of life in contrast with the many gods of death in the world. The message is not only merely life but fullness of life. Life where all people have access to the same resources and opportunities. Life where no one "falls between the cracks." Life where everyone is a valued member of a community.

And so I ask, how can we allow scripture to be the life-giving breath of God?