Holy Scripture is the textual settlement of this embassy. In it, prophetic and apostolic speech is extended into the church's present. Scripture is the availability of prophetic and apostolic ministry beyond its originating occasion. We should note at once that this account of the nature of Scripture does not obliterate its human qualities, but sets them in relation to what Bullinger in a lovely phrase called "the history of the proceeding of the Word of God." Scripture is a human reality ordered to divine communication. There is a parallel here with the elements in the Lord's Supper. Bread and wine are signs in the economy of salvation: by them the ascended Christ distributes the benefits of his saving achievement, comforting and nourishing his people by his presence. These functions do not detract from the created materiality of the elements, but indicate, rather, that such created realities are taken up into the divine service. So also Holy Scripture: prophetic and apostolic words are no less creaturely for being servants of the divine Word; indeed, their creaturely nature is therein fulfilled. It is a bad dualist habit which assumes that scriptural texts are most basically products of a religious-cultural world to be investigated as such, and only secondarily describable as prophetic and apostolic testimony. The astonishingly simple and revisionary rule for understanding Scripture (on which the pre-critical exegesis of the church is predicated) is this: "those moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God" (2 Pet. 1:21). John Webster, "Anglican Theological Review:90/4," 740-41.
Today, as I drove to Portland, OR (from Vancouver, WA, where I live with my family) I turned on local Christian radio :-(. I heard two sermons from Dr. John MacArthur (one of them was being featured on James Dobson's "Focus on the Family"), and then a sermon by Dr. David Jeremiah; both of these fellows, unfortunately, are prominent voices in large swaths and pockets of the Evangelical sub-culture. As I listened to them, my heart broke; I had a range of emotions: sadness, anger, frustration, unbelief, shock, unsurprised, etc. They both supposedly were doing exegesis and expositional teaching of the Bible. Instead, John MacArthur engaged in a pop-psychology exegesis of why natural theology is biblical; and David Jeremiah taught us how to be good financial planners by using principles he deduced from his exposition of the book of Daniel (the series of sermons that this one is a part of is entitled: "The coming financial Armageddon" or something like that).
Where is what John Webster is describing above present in the sermons given by MacArthur, Jeremiah, and a whole host of Evangelical biblical exegesis? It is absent. Instead what I heard today from Mac and Jeremiah, unfortunately, exemplifies what Webster wrote here "It is a bad dualist habit which assumes that scriptural texts are most basically products of a religious-cultural world to be investigated as such, and only secondarily describable as prophetic and apostolic testimony." Both MacArthur and Jeremiah (as representatives of Evangelical exegesis, in general) offered exegetical conclusions that took their pulse from current pop-cultural norms and mores instead of the the presupposition, point, and deep reality of Scripture; which finds its inner norm through the living voice of God revealed in Jesus Christ!
Do you see why I am so sad?