Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Views on Scripture

Somebody asked a while back what my views on scripture happened to be. This is something I was going to address [briefly] anyway, so I'll take this little 20-minute work break to hammer out an answer.

(1) The OT and NT writings are divinely inspired. Paul, for example, wrote [say] Romans in the normal course of affairs, but the Holy Spirit was working through Paul in a manner such that Paul felt perfectly natural while writing the epistle. Whether Paul was aware of the agency of the HS is unknown. The end product is something that is normative.

(2) I hold to all of the traditional authorship and unity claims. Examples:

(a) I hold to the essential Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, allowing for what appear to be obvious later editions. Frankly, I find the documentary and fragmentary hypotheses to be not very-well founded and more driven by naturalistic assumption than be actual evidence.
(b) There was but one Isaiah. No deutero- or trito-Isaiahs in my book.
(c) I hold to the conservative dating of Daniel.
(d) My hobby horse is the fourth gospel. I think John bar-Zebedee's authorship is the best explanation.
(e) All of the epistles claiming that they were written by Paul are authentically Pauline. Of course I allow for the possibility of an amaneuensis [Tertius, say].

(3) I don't have much patience for people who want some of the Bible or certain parts of the Bible and resort to ever-more general philosophizing to get rid of those parts that inconvenience the modern mind.

(4) I chuckle when various internet pseudointellectuals out there talk about hermeneutics and epistemology when they can't even show a rudimentary ability to exegete scripture.

(5) Anytime somebody turns to philosophy when discussing scripture, I take that as their saying "I concede the argument to you."

Now philosophy is a good thing. I have two publications in high-level philosophy venues, which is two more publications than most of the poseurs and pseudointellectuals have on the internet. I've also written a pretty thick grad-level textbook in a top publishing line as well as authored/coauthored 5-6 other published papers in a hard mathematical science, so I'm used to academics. So nobody should accuse me of obscurantism.

But if we're talking about Christian revelation, then the place to go is to scripture, not somebody's philosophical musings. I have my own set of speculations about things for which there is not much info: heaven, hell, the Trinity, etc. But one should not be so arrogant to put these musings on par with those things that God has revealed to us.

(6) Any sort of Christianity that diminishes the centrality of scripture and its normative authority is, at best, a very dangerous Christianity, and, at worst, is a humanistic fraud.

(7) Regarding inerrancy: I subscribe to the Chicago Statement unapologetically. But modernism has so taken its hold in the Church-at-large that to say so invokes certain cries of "fundie!" or "philosophical backwater!" from those who fancy themselves to be our intellectual lights. So be it. I make my stand [for whatever that is worth] with the Chicago Statement.

BTW --- I didn't read the Chicago Statement one day and then decide that, like a woman's handbag or shoes, the CS went well with my idiom. I affirm the CS because it states what I have, for most of my Christian life [11 years or so] naturally held from my own independent thinking and study of scripture. In other words, CS just put my thoughts into writing.

But of course there are problems in scripture. There are a few places where it is hard to see just how, say, two accounts can be reconciled.

But, I treat scripture as any other historical document when it comes to putting things together. There is enough capital built up to where, if I dont see how things piece together, I give scripture the benefit of the doubt and conclude that it is not wise to be dogmatic. The skeptics make good points from time to time. So do conservatives. I have not seen anything yet that seems so unharmonious as to where the burden of proof lies on our conservative side of the fence.

In short, all of these enumerated points are held by the author without any dissonance. Now various statements within scripture make me scratch my head at times, but statements about scripture don't make me scratch my head.

It's a pretty simple affair unless you're a pseudointellectual who is trying to prove something to himself by being a contrarian with views that would make uncritical readers say "That's deep, man."

2 Comments:

Blogger Will said...

You wrote all that in one 20 minute break? Wow. Good stuff though.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005 9:13:00 PM  
Blogger Pedantic Protestant said...

I won the typing olympics in high school, and still type pretty fast today. Those IBM Selectric II model typewriters broke me in in the early 80's.

I was also a pretty good stenographer too, though apparently there isn't a need for shorthand anymore.

I coulda been a great secretary. But I make an even better pedantic Protestant.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005 9:50:00 PM  

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