Sunday, December 7, 2008

answering the critics # 1

The Critics speak

[Today I've asked Andrew, who doesn't see the S-of-S in the same why that I do to write a critical guest post of the S-of-S. Feel free to ask your own questions about the S-of-S in the comments thread.]

My writing this post for Luke would seem to suggest that I have a problem with the sufficiency of Scripture, which I don’t! I agree with Article VI that the Scriptures contain all the teaching that is necessary for salvation. So in general what Luke is talking about is fine, but I have concerns about the larger perspective.

I believe that a central mistake of the post-Enlightenment church has been to make the doctrine of Scripture central to its debates rather than the message of Scripture. The problem, as the modern era has shown, is that if the doctrine of Scripture is considered to be inextricably connected to our interpretations of Scripture, then if someone can cast doubt on the doctrines of Scripture then they can dismiss the entirety of Christian theology. Or if you can doubt the interpretation, then you can doubt the Scripture. So Biblical Criticism destroyed the confidence of countless people regarding the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus. And the discovery of the age of the universe and the process of evolution made the foundation of Christianity in the Genesis narrative seem archaic.

The church’s mistake was to co-opt the Enlightenment approach into our theology and claim that our faith rests on the epistemological certainty provided by the inspired Scriptures. This was to mirror the Cartesian idea that human reason could discover foundational principles of thought upon which to base an understanding of the world. The problem comes because both of these approaches fail to take into account human subjectivity, as postmodern philosophy has demonstrated. Once you have made the Bible a ‘constructive’ philosophical/theological tool, then it can be deconstructed, and Christianity along with it.

So my concern is that Driscoll’s talk about inerrancy being a ‘watershed’ issue is part of the last gasp of the church’s attempt to syncretise with modernist rationalism. And this concern extends to the contention that the sufficiency of Scripture means that it can be viewed as an absolute epistemological basis apart from context and human interpretation.

I don’t believe the way forward for the church is to continue to fuss over the doctrine of Scripture. Scripture will show its inspiration when it is read, understood, and proclaimed, not when it is made into an idol that serves our insecurity. What we really need is better theological interpretation of Scripture, and to develop a greater trust in the Holy Spirit.

There’s so much more to be said, but I’ve reached my word limit. Sorry for using big words, it makes things quicker to say.