The Word Comes First

The Word of God always precedes and forms the People of God.

This is an engagement (not a sweeping denial) of the claim that the Church came before the Scriptures and produced the Scriptures. That’s a claim that can be affirmed but within a well understood framework of meaning.

One framework that makes Scripture as the Word of God understandable is the use of hypostatic union in the incarnation of the Son as an analogy for the inscripturation of the Word of God as sacred text written by men.

Talking about the Scriptures as the Word of God is proper and is something akin to the communicatio idiomatum when talking of Christ, attributing the qualities of one nature to the other due to the union of the two in one.

That ‘Scripture’ is used synonymously and metonymically with the utterance, commands, or words of God is plainly evident from no less than Jesus’s own words. This is Christ’s own bibliology. “Scripture says.” “It is written.”

This point itself—the bibliology of Christ and his Apostles expressed in the Scriptures—is why the Church can and ought to speak of a book—or rather the Book—as our authority, because it is and functions as the Voice of God.

We can say the People of God produced the Scriptures if we mean to reduce what’s indicated by “the Scriptures” to the actual literary artifact written by men under the inspiration of God as the Spirit of Christ moved.

All that being said, the original thesis is the larger reality. The Word of God comes first—in creation and in history—forming the world and the people. God speaks, and his creatures respond. He calls, and they answer.

Scripture coming through and being birthed out of God’s people is akin to Christ coming through and being birthed out of God’s people. He came before them in one sense and came through them in another.

The Scriptures coming through and being birthed out of the people of God is a result of the prior activity of the Word of God at work upon the people of God to form them as a people who are prepared to do so.

Scripture in the final form as we have it is an accumulation over time. And Scripture that existed at any given point in history was the Word of God at work upon the people of God through which more Scripture came.

So the Word of God in some form (as its inscripturated existence was building up) is always at work upon the people of God at any given point in history. This is how the Word of God always precedes and forms the people of God.

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