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A brief examination of recent Presbyterian thinking about the Bible and its authority demonstrates that over the past thirty years we have taken questions about the nature of Scripture and the way it should be used in the church and in the lives of believers very seriously. Biblical Authority And Interpretation is an especially useful document for Presbyterians to consider at the advent of the twenty-first century, since it carefully summarizes the history of the discussion in the Reformed tradition in general and in the Presbyterian church in the United States in particular. Correctly observing that "the issue of biblical authority and interpretation is crucial to the life of our denomination because the Scripture has always been considered the one, enduring, trustworthy guide to faith and practice," the 1982 report also calls Presbyterians to use all the resources of modern biblical criticism (knowledge of Hebrew and Greek, archaeological evidence, textual evidence, cultural, sociological, psychological information, etc.) in order to arrive at the most accurate understanding of biblical texts.
Earl S. Johnson, Jr., explores eight biblical texts that have been instrumental in forming the basis of Presbyterian belief and mission. Using Reformed and Presbyterian principles of biblical interpretation--and the standards of modern biblical criticism, he examines Presbyterian theological statements and their influence on the development of the church's positions on social issues throughout history. With this important work, Johnson aims to help his readers avoid interpretative mistakes of the past and find insights into the way the Bible can be used correctly to lead the church in the future.
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