Original Research - Special Collection: Bible 200

Skrifgebruik en Skrifgesag in die postmodernistiese konteks

Johan Janse van Rensburg
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 55, No 3 | a2687 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v55i3.2687 | © 2021 Johan Janse van Rensburg | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 October 2020 | Published: 18 May 2021

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Johan Janse van Rensburg, Department of Practical Theology, Faculty of Theology, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

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Scripture use and Scriptural authority in the postmodernist context. This article focused on the burning issue of the authority of Scripture and the way that it is currently used in the Christian and theological community. The research was necessitated by the gap between academic epistemology and the use of the Bible in religious activity. The research illustrated how a different understanding of the authority and interpretation of the Bible caused a clear division in church and society, particularly in the Reformed churches. The aim of the research was to illustrate the current abuse of the Bible in religious debate to legitimise pre-conceived convictions on theological and ethical issues. It was found that, even within the Reformed tradition, the opposing use of Scripture has caused diversity in the church community; thereby causing a serious break in the unity of the church. During the research process, it became clear that a radical new approach to Scriptural interpretation opposed the traditional Reformed understanding of the application of the Bible as per the three main confessions of the Reformed faith. What influenced such a radical new way of Scriptural authority? It was found that an analysis of philosophical systems, leading to the postmodern era, clearly prepared the way for an approach to search for the so-called true meaning of the text behind the text. This new approach was juxtaposed against the Reformed use of Scripture in the immanent text of the Bible and application thereof in the Reformed confession.

Contribution: All over the world and also in South Africa, the church community seems to be drawn into a battle for survival. Many church members have lost their faith, abandoned the church membership or moved on to other religions, mainly due to the way Scripture is currently viewed and applied. Unless the confusion in the understanding of the Bible is cleared, the process will deteriorate rapidly. In particular, the theological training of ministers and pastors needs careful consideration. Some academics have denounced their faith in the existence of God in favour of a post-theistic conviction. Students are taught that the Bible is not the Word of God, but human words about God. Such convictions have caused great confusion in church communities. It is envisioned that this research, published in a scientific journal, will underline the urgent need for the church, in general, and the Reformed faith, in particular, not to ignore the seriousness of the matter.


authority of Scripture; postmodernodernism; hermeneutics; universalism; fundamentalism; biblisism; Reformed; confessions.


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