According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of
explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. - anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. - anon
... Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a
power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table
to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace,
reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants
us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. - anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals
and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power
is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. - anon

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Peter Enns: "The Problem of Inerrancy for Evangelicalism"

Inerrancy, and the recent non-apocalyptic discussion, at the annual Evangelical Theological Society ETS) meeting in Baltimore
  • Neither strict nor progressive inerrancy (both of which are represented in the book) describe what I see when I open the Bible and read it. Both prescribe the boundaries of biblical interpretation in ways that create conflict both inner-canonically and with respect to extra-biblical information.
  • My main misgiving is that inerrancy prescribes too narrowly biblical interpretation because it prescribes too narrowly God. All inerrantists, on some level, have the following a priori: an inerrant Bible is the only type of book God would produce. The tensions within evangelicalism over inerrancy are fueled by the distance between this a priori expectation about how God and the Bible “must” behave and the persistently non-cooperative details of biblical interpretation. This distance virtually guarantees continued conflict.
  • CSBI promulgates these false expectations and is also seen as an authoritative document within American evangelical culture. One example is an early assertion that speaks of God “who is Himself Truth and speaks truth only.” This early assertion links inerrancy with the very nature of God, which is, to put it mildly, a conversation-stopper.
  • What is missing here is hermeneutical self-consciousness, i.e., a reflection on the nature of truth that God speaks in ancient texts though ancient authors.
  • To illustrate I referred to several of the passages in the Old Testament where Israel’s God Yahweh is referred to as one among a number of gods–e.g., Psalm 82, Psalm 95, Job 1-2 (Yahweh is chairman of a heavenly council of gods) Exodus 12:12 (Yahweh fights against others gods, here Egyptian gods), Deuteronomy 32:8 (where the high god Elyon assigns to Yahweh the people of Israel as his allotment–though English translations do not reflect this). My point here is how does an inerrant Bible, wherein God only speaks “truth,” fit with these descriptions of God? To restrict inerrancy to what the Bible explicitly “teaches or affirms,” as defenders of inerrancy typically do in these cases, does not help because these texts most certainly “affirm” something about God quite clearly.
  • My point is that these descriptions of God are ones that the Israelites believed to be the case, at least at some point in their history. They do not give us final, absolute, inerrant information about God but contextually expressed beliefs about God. Serious historical study of the Bible has helped us to understand the ancient, tribal world where these texts were produced. The New Testament helps us see that we are to move beyond the tribal thinking that portrays God in these ways.
  • To speak this way is not to dimiss the Old Testament nor is it Marcionism. Rather, we are grappling with “Bible in context” (the historical setting of the Bible) and the canonical complexity of the problem of continuity and discontinuity between the testaments (the gospel is clearly connected to Israel’s story while at the same time does new and unexpected things).
  • An incarnational model of Scripture helps reorient our expectations of the Bible so that “history” ceases being such a huge doctrinal hurdlewe expect an ancient Bible to look ancient rather than protect the Bible from how it behaves.
  • Inerrancy is not a concept that describes this complex dynamic, especially given the gate-keeping function inerrancy has performed in evangelicalism. Other language should be used.

On the last point, during the Q&A, I commented that my view of Scripture is that it carries a “narratival authority.” God uses the biblical story to form followers of Christ, not simply or even primarily rationally, but in their “whole being.” The biblical story has movement, shifts, changes–as does any story–and is used by God to shape us slowly and deeply in a life-long process of being conformed more and more to the crucified and risen Christ, not simply giving us discreet self-contained “truth claims.” The Bible itself bears witness to this journey of God’s people as they grow and reflect on God in various settings and situations, which is why there is such theological diversity in Scripture, and [thus,] systematizing Scripture under a CSBI model is out of place.
 
OK, that’s it for now. I may expand on some of this soon, especially since the book is now available.


 

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