Skip to main content

Presuppositions and Biblical Interpretation

This semester I'm taking 'Introduction to Biblical Theology,' and for this class we've been assigned to read and review According to Plan by Graeme Goldsworthy (I will abridge my review and post it here sometime in the next couple of months). I'm nearly finished with parts one and two, and thus far I like the book very much. I think it is an excellent primer to biblical theology and deals with many of the difficulties of hermeneutics in a clear, concise, and thoughtful way.

In the third chapter of the book he discusses the differences between working within humanistic models of knowing and a properly Christian model of knowing. When contrasting their differing presuppositions Goldsworthy states that,
Either we work from the basis of a sovereign, self-proving God who speaks to us by a word that we accept as true simply because it is his word, or we work on the basis that man is the final judge of all truth. The Christian position, to be consistent, accepts that the Bible is God's word, and says what God wants it to say in exactly the way he wants to say it (p. 44).
A fundamentalist would agree with this statement. I agree with this statement. Both could affirm this statement as could any position in between, and mean very different things when affirming it. However, some Evangelicals (fortunately there are many Evangelicals who graciously disagree) would claim that a model that departs from the traditional Evangelical model of inerrancy automatically denies this statement. However that is not the case.

I believe in an inerrancy of intent. God's communicative goals were perfectly achieved in Scripture (more on that here). Thus Scripture will yield the truth when you ask the right questions of it. It does not answer every question that we have in a straightforward manner, God gave us the Holy Spirit and our redeemed mind for that reason (I must qualify that by saying that the way we understand the Bible certainly will impinge upon the way we answer almost every question whether the Bible addresses them or not). The Bible has dual authorship, both human and divine. Peter Enns incarnational model is very helpful here. Scripture was written by people in a specific (pre-scientific) cultural context. For example, sometimes they made non-scientific statements about things that are scientific issues now. To say that the Bible has nothing direct to say to address scientific matters is not to deny the truthfulness of Scripture but to understand the Bible in its own terms. It's a case of letting God's revelation speak inerrantly, as he intended it to, rather than trying to force it to answer questions that (in my opinion) God never intended it to answer.

We need to learn to be gracious on this matter. We need to see that people on both sides are trying to do their best to understand what it means for Scripture to be true and authoritative. More irenic dialogue is needed. While I don't expect everyone to eventually come to agreement on this issue, we need to not divide over it and above we must all love one another. Unity in diversity is one of the true marks of the Christian church, and (like Michael Patton) I believe, hope, and pray that we can disagree in a way that glorifies God.

Comments

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Commentary Series Overview

When I write commentary reviews, one of my main goals is to assess how well the commentator hit the intended audience of the commentary and utilized the format of the commentary. This often necessitates cluttering up the post discussing issues of format. To eliminate that, I thought that I would make some general remarks about the format and audience of each of the series that appear in my reviews. Terms like liberal, conservative, etc. are not used pejoratively but simply as descriptors. Many of you are familiar with Jeremy Pierce's commentary series overview. If you don't see a particular series covered here, check out his post to see if it's reviewed there. I am making no attempt at covering every series, just the series that I use. Additionally, new series (such as the NCCS) have been started in the five years since he wrote his very helpful guide, so I thought that it might not be completely out of order to have another person tackle commentary series overviews. This…

Paul's Argument in Galatians 3:15-29

15 Brothers and sisters, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. 16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ. 17 What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. 18 For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise. 19 Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator. 20 A mediator, however, implies more than one party; but God is one. 21 Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! Fo…

Doctor Who: Rose Tyler - Traitor?

The end of season four was very, very controversial. When I first saw it, I felt cheated. I was angry. The more I think about it, the more I think I see what Russell Davies was doing. He is too good of a writer and the show is too carefully crafted for him to screw up Rose's character and the end of a four season storyline. So while the ending isn't strictly part of our series, it is tangentially related, and I've agonized over that scene in Bad Wolf Bay so much that I have to write about it. :)

To briefly set things up, near the end of the final episode of season four, there is a meta-crisis, that results in a part human. part Time Lord Doctor being generated. He has all of the Doctor's memories, and thinks and acts like the Doctor. However, importantly, he only has one heart and cannot regenerate. He only has one life to live. The meta-crisis Doctor brought full resolution to the battle fought against the Daleks, and in the process, wiped them out. Thus, the real Doc…