Canon within the canon
Religion & Liberty Online

Canon within the canon

Having trouble understanding the Bible? Can’t seem to reconcile what you just “know” to be true with the plain meaning of Scripture?

Why not take Episcopalian Bishop Spong’s hermeneutical approach? According to a column in the Detroit News, Bishop Spong, author of The Sins of Scripture: Exposing the Bible’s Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love, says you can feel free to downplay or ignore difficult passages.

“Much as I wanted to think otherwise,” he says, “…sometimes (the Bible’s) texts are terrible. It was not a comfortable insight, but it grew into a crusade to lift the Bible above its own destructiveness and to force the Christian church to face its own terrifying history that so often has been justified by quotations from ‘the Scriptures.'”

Also, Bishop Spong thinks the apostle Paul was a “deeply repressed, self-loathing” man.

It’s funny how this hermeneutical approach tends to reduce the Bible to just three words, “God is love.” And with no context to determine the interpretation of that verse fragment, the reader is free to define what “love” is for himself. Thinking that you need to go on “a crusade to lift the Bible above its own destructiveness” might just be the most arrogant thing I have ever heard.

Jordan J. Ballor

Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is director of research at the Center for Religion, Culture & Democracy, an initiative of the First Liberty Institute. He has previously held research positions at the Acton Institute and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and has authored multiple books, including a forthcoming introduction to the public theology of Abraham Kuyper. Working with Lexham Press, he served as a general editor for the 12 volume Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology series, and his research can be found in publications including Journal of Markets & Morality, Journal of Religion, Scottish Journal of Theology, Reformation & Renaissance Review, Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Faith & Economics, and Calvin Theological Journal. He is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary and the Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity & Politics at Calvin University.