2004-10-25 - Nuda Scriptura
Psalm 119:160, "The sum of Thy word is truth, and every one of Thy righteous ordinances is everlasting."
I am sure that the term Sola Scriptura is familiar to most Christians, and it is an important aspect of our faith. However, I came upon the term Nuda Scriptura this week. It really drives the point home even more clearly. We take the Scripture undressed, as it were, by itself, and without all the trappings that can sometimes accompany it. It was the great legacy of the Reformation that Scripture was placed in the hands of the people. There comes, with this privilege of having Scripture in our hands, the responsibility of studying it and understanding what it says. We don't have to rely on someone else to tell us what Scripture says; rather we can go to the Word of God ourselves, and learn if it really teaches what we are being told it says by others.
Nuda Scriptura comes with the responsibility of looking at the Bible, and the verses it has been divided into, within their context. Each verse has verses that surround it, those verses form a context within which we understand the verse, and then there are other passages that can help us understand the whole. The Bible is taken by itself, and when we approach it, we must try to put tradition and our personal presuppositions aside and look at the Bible as itself. It is not easy to do, but the more we can look at Scripture naked, the more we can gain a fuller comprehension of its contents. There is a danger when we pull verses in isolation and form an understanding that fits our experience, hopes, propensities and tradition.
I have heard people say that they have read the whole Bible, putting it in the past tense, and implying that this accomplishment somehow means they know all about what the Bible teaches. It is a very small accomplishment to read the entire Bible. This is the Word of God, the accommodated revelation of the Creator to His creation, about how it is possible to be reconciled with Him, since He has promised to punish sin and condemn the sinner who is not reconciled. It is also our textbook for life. Simply reading the Bible is a shame to us; it is not a feather in our cap. We must be students of the Bible. If we make the claim to be Christians and thus followers of God's revelation to us, we have to incorporate the practice of the Berean Christians into our lives. We must search the Scriptures. And again, we don't search the Bible to proof-text our predetermined view, but rather, to learn the mind of God concerning all things.
It is a central component to living the Christian life, that we know the Word of God. We can't approach our study of it passively. If we really believe what Scripture says, then the study of Scripture will only lead to the further study of Scripture. This life is very short and a preparation for eternity with God. His Word is the best source to help us prepare for Heaven. It is not enough to say we must not be ignorant of God's Word; rather we must say that we must be masters of it. If we live to be old, we will not look back thinking about various crime scene shows we might have missed, or be thankful for frivolous activities we engaged in. But if we cannot look back and say we sought to be masters of God's revelation to His creation, I suspect we will regret that.
Soli Deo Gloria,