Biblical Foundation Statement
This is a statement concerning the relationship between Gutenberg College and the biblical message. It is intended to clarify that relationship for Gutenberg personnel, students, and the public. All board members, regular and probationary faculty, full-time administrative staff, and other staff designated by the president must acknowledge their agreement with the Biblical Foundation Statement by signing a Declaration of Compliance. Gutenberg College does allow these individuals the freedom to disagree, in good conscience, with particular statements in part two, the doctrinal statement, subject to an appeal process. We do not require that students agree with this Biblical Foundation Statement; they are only required to read the Statement so that they understand the college’s perspective.
Part One: The Bible and Gutenberg College
The Bible is at the heart of everything we do at Gutenberg College. This is true in at least three important ways.
The Biblical Text
We believe two things about the written books of the Bible: 1) that everything they assert to be true is in fact true, and 2) that they communicate these truths through normal human language. Now, we are well aware of the complexities involved with interpreting the Bible and discovering its truths. The Bible communicates in many ways, through narrative, parables, visions, poetry, and so on. And we know that the philosophers have raised good points about how people’s presuppositions, cultural influences, and desires can impact how they interpret a text, especially a complex text like the Bible. Nobody gets it all right. But we reject the spirit of skepticism that insists that we cannot make progress in knowing the truths that the biblical authors are communicating. Those authors clearly believed that what they had seen, what they had been told, what God had given them to understand, could be communicated in words, and that through those words people could learn and lives could be changed.
Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness… (2 Timothy 3:16)
So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31)
Human language is not a perfect means of communication, but God gave us human language as the primary way to convey life-changing truths about God and His relationship to His fallen world.
This confidence that the words of the Bible can communicate truth has great implications for all the teaching at Gutenberg. Learning to be careful readers of difficult texts is one of our key goals. Learning to read well by paying attention to context, the original language, historical background, and one’s own biases applies not just to the Bible but to all texts. In all our reading at Gutenberg, and there is a lot of it, we seek to avoid both skepticism and arrogance. But the conviction that the truth is in the Bible, and that people have and will continue to make progress in understanding that truth, is central to everything we do.
The Biblical Worldview
We believe that in the Bible God has revealed the fundamental truths of human existence, the origins, purpose, and destiny of human beings. The Bible reveals these truths by telling of God’s dealings with the Jewish people and His sending of Jesus, the Messiah. That story in its outline, as we understand it, is this:
God created all things and all peoples, and He called them to love their Creator and to love each other. Those people, however, fell into rebellion against God and selfish conflict with each other. God intervened in His creation to save it by calling the nation of Israel into existence, requiring repentant faithfulness of them, and giving them great promises with implications for all humanity. Israel failed to be faithful, and God sent them into exile and judgment. But His prophets made clear that God would intervene once more by sending the Messiah. That Messiah was Jesus. As the incarnation of God entering into His creation, Jesus brought God’s salvation by a) being the High Priest to bring humanity to God, offering His own life as a sacrifice so that we could receive God’s mercy, b) pouring out the Spirit to bring about spiritual restoration that only God can provide, c) being the greatest of all prophets, calling us to be His students and learn from Him, and d) being the King of the Kingdom of God, which one day will come in its fullness and rescue the world from sin, futility, and death. Once again, it is repentant faithfulness that God calls for, believing in and submitting to the Messiah, Jesus, which can only come about through the restoring work of the Spirit.
This story and its implications undergird everything we do at Gutenberg College. We study many writings besides the Bible: books of philosophy, history, theology, science, and so on. But we view the intellectual journey of Western culture in the light of the biblical story.
The Biblical Call to Individual Choice
We believe that a biblical faith must be the choice of each individual, made without manipulation or coercion from anyone else. Only the Spirit of God can bring about the needed spiritual transformations in the human heart. This belief fosters a delicate but constructive tension at the heart of Gutenberg life. On the one hand, we firmly believe that the Bible is true and that one’s eternal destiny hinges on one’s belief in the truth of the Bible. On the other hand, we firmly believe that we should not try to pressure or manipulate our students into making that choice. We want the discussions at Gutenberg to be marked by respect for the dignity of all participants, even as those participants believe strongly in the truth they are advocating for. It is not easy to marry strong convictions with respectful listening, but that is what we seek to accomplish.
We call on all involved at Gutenberg to respect the dignity of everyone else. For ourselves, we are committed to respecting each student, whether a student agrees with us on everything or not. For the students, we expect them to respect the place of the Bible in the Gutenberg project, whether they agree with us on everything or not.