Sunday Adult Forums
All Things Necessary
Conversations with Scripture
By David Romanik
At the beginning of the ordination service in The Episcopal Church, the future priest solemnly declares that she believes “the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary to salvation.” The ordinand then signs this declaration before the entire congregation. This moment is striking for both its power and its strangeness. People are rarely required to solemnly declare much of anything these days, let alone a statement of belief. Yet, clergy in the Church are still expected to provide written evidence that they believe the Bible to contain “all things necessary to salvation.”
Critics might object that this claim is an outdated and exclusive position that has no place in a pluralistic society. How could we possibly presume that a collection of Bronze Age books could contain everything we need to know in our Digital Age? How could we possibly impose such burdensome expectations on our ordained leaders? The only way this requirement is onerous, however, is if we read Scripture incorrectly. Affirming the Bible contains “all things necessary to salvation” would be impossible if we understood it as a taxonomy of moral teachings or a compendium of divine rules. The Bible, however, is much more than this. Ultimately, Scripture is an account of our innate desire to save ourselves, and the acknowledgment that only God can save us. Scripture contains “all things necessary to salvation” not because it is a comprehensive listing of everything we need to know, but because it discloses a fundamental truth about the human experience: Scripture exposes our inability to save ourselves and reveals the salvation that comes from God alone.
It is only when we truly learn how to read Scripture that we can begin to experience this story. During the summer months, you are invited to join The Redeemer’s clergy for a forum series called “All Things Necessary: Conversations with Scripture.” We will explore some of the surprising, challenging, exciting, and difficult moments in the Bible and the ways they are necessary for our understanding of the story of God’s relationship with God’s people.