Another Aussie Theologian
Shane Clifton, a theologian teaching in Southern Cross College in Australia, recently sent me a friendly e-mail about my inerrancy series, (and included a great article relating to my forthcoming series on evolution and intelligent design, but I’ll leave that for another time).
At the end of the mail, he copied in a text he wrote and with which he has finished his classes with – words that I really liked. He has given me permission to post it here.
‘Gordon Fee argues that, while the “interaction of the eternal word with historical particularly leaves far more ambiguities than some feel comfortable with, God himself, by the very way he gave us this word, locked in the ambiguity.” In other words, the Bible that God gave us comprises 66 books of historically particular circumstances, in every kind of literary genre and in every kind of frame of mind including anger, doubt, faith, love, hatred etc. This is ultimately the Bible’s beauty - the experience and revelation of God cannot be contained within the box of one person, one culture, or one point of history. It is in the very ambiguity and diversity of Scripture that God is revealed to us.I liked that. In our correspondence, he also mentioned that he plans to start his own blog in the next month or so, ‘engaging in issues confronting Pentecostals’, so I’ll be sure to let people know when he sets it up. Having been personally and closely associated with Pentecostals for many years now, I look forward to this blog.
Inspiration is a paradox - the divine and the human intermingled. Fundamentalism deals with this paradox by effectively ignoring the human element of Scripture, the consequence of which is a magic Bible. Ultimately such understanding detracts from the authority of Scripture, and results in poor exegesis and application. On the other hand, to see Scripture as being solely a human book is to deny its authority. The Bible should, instead, be understood as both a human and divine book. Grasping it’s humanity enables us to understand it’s rhetoric - recognizing by faith it’s divine inspiration maintains it’s authority and enables us to experience God - breathing on the Scripture today so that we can ‘know God’ (as opposed to knowing about him), and be changed in consequence.’
Whenever I hear the name ‘Shane’, I experience flash-backs to those various Australian Soaps.
Switzerland brought us Karl Barth, Küng etc.
England T F Torrance, Bauckham etc.
Germany delivered Bultmann, Moltmann, the Pope! etc. etc. etc.
USA brings us Sanders, Borg, Witherington, etc. etc.
And Australia brings us Kylie Minogue. Well, if I was forced to choose, I know which one I’d rather kiss (and, no, it isn’t Barth, before someone’s wit gets the better of them)