"For it Seemed Good to the Holy Spirit and to Us:" A Wesleyan Pneumatology of Scripture

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Walls Lectures


Walls Lectures, video


People remain fascinated by stories of beginnings. Whether they are exciting stories shared by a favorite aunt of a family’s roots or narratives of our human origins told by theologians and scientists, we are interested in how we became to be. Books written on this topic are instant best sellers. Debates over competing narratives of our origins, whether political, sociological, or biological, animate college classrooms and social media. Over the years, Christian historians have long puzzled over the question of the Bible’s origins because there is no known text or discovered artifact that tells us about when and how the Bible became to be a principal text in the church’s life and work. Yes, theologians have long affirmed that there would be no Bible without the church. After all, it was the church that formed it in the distant past and it remains the church from whom we receive the Bible today in worship, instruction, mission, and witness. But the question remains, what are the Bible’s origins and how did it become the church’s scripture and formative of its faith as God’s people? How can we trust that the decisions made long ago by ancient people about ancient texts are relevant for today’s Christians? In response, the title of this year’s Walls Lecture reclaims one of scripture’s most famous one-liners to cue the telling of the Bible’s story from the perspective of the Holy Spirit. Drawing upon SPU’s Wesleyan heritage to provide a fresh, bold way of locating and explaining the Spirit’s role in each grand moment of the Bible’s formation, three important biblical passages are used to reimagine its composition, canonization, and communication as a Spirit-drenched production. In doing so, our hope is that scripture’s faithful readers are made more alert to what Professor Wall calls a “participatory pneumatology”—a Bible reader’s partnership with God’s Spirit that actively forms and animates their life with God.

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