Friday, November 21, 2014

Perfect Imperfections

 30 So when they were sent off, they went down to Antioch, and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. 31 And when they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement. 32 And Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, encouraged and strengthened the brothers with many words. 33 And after they had spent some time, they were sent off in peace by the brothers to those who had sent them. [5] 35 But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also. (Acts 15:29-35 (ESV)
Rejoiced because of the encouragement. The tension is resolved both in Jerusalem and Antioch. The people are happy. It’s a good day in the life of the church. Judas and Silas return to Jerusalem. Actually the missing verse 34 says that Silas stayed. There is some dispute over the late manuscripts that say that. And it seems unlikely from the rest of the text, so it is left out of modern translations.

There is always this thing with the N.T. manuscripts. None of it fell from heaven. It’s “inerrancy” is not  found in minutia, but in the message itself, and that isn’t harmed by whether or not Silas stayed in Antioch or not, neither is the inspiration of the Holy Spirit harmed by such things. Those who study the manuscripts find these sorts of discrepancies from time to time, and have to decide which one is closer to the original, or originals. It’s a fantastic study to look at all the different aspects that go along with manuscript study. Yet it causes heart burn for many. You run across fundamentalists who will have a heart attack at the thought that the Apostle John might have misspelled a word. A theology of glory can’t handle error or discrepancy. It’s the theology of the perfectionist. The odd thing  about  it though is that none of these discrepancies really change anything one way or another about what we believe as Christians. My salvation is just not dependent upon whether or not Silas stayed in Antioch or not. What matters is whether or not Jesus rose from the dead, what matters is the content of that which is written and communicated. And the imperfect means by which God communicates our perfect salvation is the perfection with which he uses what is weak to shame the strong, the foolish to shame the wise. It really is a brilliant revelation of himself and his love for man.   

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