I’m convinced that the reason we Christians should read and study scripture is to bring us to Christ. The study of scripture for its own sake is worthless. It’s a means to an end, not the end itself. With that in mind (our purpose for studying scripture) we should ask the question, what is Scripture’s ontology, or in other words, what is the nature of scripture? What is it?
The answer to the question is not an easy one. We will do a disservice to ourselves and others if we do not admit this. And Christians don’t all agree or have the same answer. Tyler and I may not even completely agree on the answer.
The following is the way I (Gabriel) answer this question: Scripture is a God-Inspired source that carries the Logos (Christ) of God to us and is thus used by Christ to witness to Himself.
I (Tyler) would amend the answer a bit: Scripture is a God-inspired revelation of God that carries the Logos (Christ) of God to us.
Really the only difference between these two answers involves scripture as revelation. So let’s flesh this out a bit more. Does scripture reveal God to us?
The Nature of God’s Revelation
Well I (Gabriel) begin to answer that with a quote. “If the Son is not one with God even as God the Father is, he cannot truly and genuinely reveal the Father.” As Athanasius has written, Only God is capable of truly revealing God, therefore only the Logos (Jesus Christ) which is fully God can truly and fully reveal Himself. Revelation cannot take place apart from God’s-Self. Unless Scripture is itself God, then it cannot “truly and genuinely” reveal God to us. There is no revelation apart from God’s-Self, and this takes place through the Logos (Christ) who is Himself God.
So in my opinion Scripture does not reveal God to us, only Christ does that.
And I (Tyler) appreciate Gabriel’s emphasis on Christ. I’m reminded of the opening chapter of John’s Gospel: “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” Apart from Christ, we cannot know God.
In a Trinitarian sense, I agree with Gabe. God the Father can only reveal Himself through God the Son. But when I say the Son, I don’t necessarily mean Jesus.
I’m not going to go too in depth here. I’ve written about my understanding of the Trinity elsewhere. In a nutshell, the Trinity is how God has chosen to make Himself manifest in the world. God is transcendent, outside this world, yet has intimately woven himself into the fabric of this world through the Son.
Anytime God interacts with this world, it is by nature the Son. The man who appears to Abraham as a visitor, the man Jacob wrestles, the back of God seen by Moses, and ultimately, the incarnation of the Word in Jesus Christ. I believe this is all under the purview of the Son.
So yes, in a sense it is God the Son who reveals God the Father. But who reveals God the Son?
I would say it’s the third person of the Trinity, God the Spirit. Everything God the Father does, he does through God the Son. But it’s all done by the power of the Spirit.
God the Father is the source of all revelation. God the Son is the medium through which all revelation takes place. And God the Spirit is the power behind it all. In what way does the Spirit power this revelation?
I don’t think there is a singular answer. There are many ways the Holy Spirit powers the revelation of God through Jesus, and I believe scripture is one of these ways.
Perhaps the only difference between Gabe and myself is semantics, but I believe scripture reveals God in the same way a bill board reveals a business. Scripture is a signpost pointing to something greater than itself.
A Vehicle for the Word
Scripture, as well as an infinite number of other sources, serves as the vehicle for the Word (Jesus) not because there is something magical or special about them, and not even because the Holy Spirit is its composer. (I do not think the author of Scripture is in any way the Spirit of God, but a plethora of human beings.)
No, it is not because of any of these reasons that scripture (among other sources) serves as the vehicle for the Word. Rather it is because the very nature of our God is Incarnational, and the very fabric of reality is modeled after its creators nature.
It is therefore not only natural but to be expected that creation itself as a whol,e as well as among its particularities and details, all serve as the vehicle for the Divine Logos. Scripture is no exception to God’s all-inclusive grace weaved throughout the fabric of reality. And as the church has chosen scripture particularly, Christ the Word is incarnated to us especially in scripture.
Among those of the Protestants who think Scripture is itself God’s voice they especially hear God’s voice through Scripture not because Scripture is actually God’s voice, but because Christ as the incarnational God is meeting them in their understanding, and is allowing, the only source that they will allow, to serve as His Vehicle for His Divine Self, the Logos so that He Himself is not barred from teaching His People Himself. Is it any surprise that our very savior and God appeared to us as the Incarnated Son of God in Jesus Christ of Nazareth?