Disclaimer and caveat: I am speaking of “spiritual things” – this inherently means I am speaking of something that is elusive (marked not only by disclosure – but also by hiddenness and mystery) – something that can’t quite be “pinned down” and systematized! “The Spirit blows wherever it pleases – you hear it its sound – but you do not know where it came from or where it is going” –
I am proposing that there are two fundamental and opposing approaches to Scripture: (by “approach” I mean your assumptions and presuppositions about the nature of Scripture – and how is it to “function” in your life?)
Paul frames this for us in 2 Corinthians 3 – in sum:
“The letter kills but – the Spirit gives Life”
But what does Paul mean by “the letter”?
He takes the Ten Commandments (“tables of stone”) – and the larger context of the Pentateuch (e.g., “when Moses is read…”) and sets them in opposition (or perhaps a better word is “contrast”) to “the Spirit”
THIS SHOULD SHOCK US!
Paul sets the 10 commandments in opposition/contrast to the Spirit – And, the view that the “ceremonial law” alone is done away with in the New Covenant just isn’t true!
IF ANYTHING MEETS THE DEFINITION OF “SCRIPTURE”- THIS DOES!
The “Letter(s)” here are from the very “finger” of God, written on the stone tablets.
Let’s put them in contrast:
•A ministry of death
•Fading in glory
•External and static
•Written – reading words
•Inclined towards rule-keeping
•The pursuit of “certainty”
•View God as unchanging
•Can be systematized
•A ministry of Life
•Growing in glory
•Internal and dynamic
•Image – gazing on Jesus’ “face”
•Inclined towards Love
•View God as “the Living God”
•Cannot be captured or contained
Let me close this (part 1) with my favorite quote from C.S. Lewis:
Yet it is, perhaps, idle to speak here of spirit and letter. There is almost no “letter” in the words of Jesus. Taken by a literalist, He will always prove the most elusive of teachers. Systems cannot keep up with that darting illumination. No net less wide than a man’s whole heart, nor less fine of mesh than love, will hold the sacred Fish. – Reflection on the Psalms (the chapter called “Scripture”)