Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Proposition this!

Gladly, my paper at the Tübingen colloquium went well, and it gave me a good deal of pleasure that all agreed with the thrust of my thesis in affirming a Pauline divine-Christology.

I was also glad to be informed by Prof. Lichtenberger (a delightful man, by the way) that the brilliant NT scholar, William Horbury, will be heading Tübingen-way next month to present a paper in honour of Martin Hengel’s 80th birthday. Oddly enough, I mentioned Horbury in my paper Monday evening, and though he is really not the sort of exegetical opponent one would want to have, I’m nonetheless convinced his take on early Christology is faulty. Thus I take issue with him at numerous points in my work. I’m sure looking forward to his lecture!

I was also pleased to see how much dialogue has been generated below in the comments concerning the ETS adoption of the Chicago statement on inerrancy (and on blogs all over the place). David Wilkerson (from whom I learn a lot) wrote something in the comments that has stuck with me and I have taken the following from it: I would now speak about affirming the Scriptures as ‘true’ (not CS inerrant) without always having to feel that I need to be sure what I mean by such an affirmation. I suppose I wouldn’t feel comfortable anymore with any ‘statement’ qualifying inerrancy through a thousand deaths. Why the need? Can we define the concept of ‘childhood’ in propositions? Can we exhaust or capture the meaning of ‘sin’ or ‘love’ in propositions? Why should we feel able to express the truth of Scripture in just such a way without either missing the point or even getting it ‘one size fits all’ wrong, as arguably the Chicago statement does?

The ETS can of course make all the doctrinal definitions they want - that is up to them. They are defining the limits of what counts as evangelical within their own society, not worldwide (did someone say ‘thank God!’?). But their actions still send out a message to all evangelicals, so perhaps others need to be reminded – and I’m pretty sure many members of the ETS will agree with this – that while numerous things, not least believing the evangel of Jesus Christ, make an evangelical, one is not qualified or disqualified as an evangelical because, to put it bluntly, one does or does not happen to believe that the bunnies literally hopped up into the Ark two-by-two (cf. Article XII).


At 11/29/2006 2:35 AM, Anonymous Anthony Martin said...

Wait a second, you believe (I presume) that God made the universe by speaking it into existance, but He didn't cause bunnies to literally hop onto the Ark two-by-two?

At 11/29/2006 9:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that propositions cannot exhaust something as great as love. Of course not! But in 1 Cor 13 Paul does qualify what love is and what it is not.

Having said that, I'm not enturely happy with ETS's stand. Their basis of faith is brief in the extreme. It has nothing on the nature of Christ's death or his bodily resurrection. Nothing on the work of the Holy Spirit etc.

Why be so strict on inerrancy while giving so much lattitude on the work of Christ? I say that as an advocate of inerrancy who would be happy to sign up to CSI.

At 11/29/2006 11:44 AM, Anonymous Michael Westmoreland-White, Ph.D. said...

Excellent comment. In addition to "true," I have no problem referring to the Scriptures as "certain," "sufficient," and "authoritative." And I wait until people ask before I define or elaborate.

At 11/29/2006 12:47 PM, Anonymous Volker said...

@michael w-w

On what basis "authoritative"? 2 Tim. 3:16 just says that Scripture is "useful"!?

At 11/29/2006 7:57 PM, Anonymous Michael Westmoreland-White, Ph.D. said...

I also like "useful." However, the things that 2Tim. 3 says Scripture is useful FOR--reproof, correction, training in righteousness--all imply authority. Also, "authoritative" is simply a description of the role(s) the canon does, in fact, play in the life of the church. It's a far more useful term than "inerrant."

At 11/29/2006 9:19 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi Anthony!
I believe the account in Gen 1 and 2 is theological, rather than strickly historical. It says something true, using the ideas of their day, about God and his relation to the world. I would look for the same sort of understanding of teh flood narrative - it is telling us smoething about God's attitude to social injustice and sin, yet also grounds an understanding of God's relation to the world in terms of covenant. Do I think the flood happened exactly as detailed in Gen? No. Do I think Gen 1-2 literally happened? No. But they are both 'true' and tell us things we need to hear. I'm not sure that will help you understand my perspective on matters, but thanks for the question.

Hi Guy,
Thanks for these thoughts, Guy. I know we have a different perspective on these matters, but I always appreciate your input.

Nice cartoon, Volker!!

At 11/29/2006 9:22 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Ah, the old authority debate. I think it was McKnight who got into a spot of bother having suggested 'authority' wasn't the best way f conceptualising the nature and role of Scripture. I for one don't see how it is possible to speak of Scripture without speaking in terms of authority, but it is first and foremost the authority of God that is the basis of this (cf. Wright's recent little volume on Scripture)

At 11/30/2006 12:27 AM, Anonymous One of Freedom said...

Glad your paper went well. I guess this issue bugs me most because I've had it bite me in the arse. I'm most definitely not a literalist precisely because I have a high view of the role of Scripture. I agree with you that it is unnecessary and even problemmatic to have a literal reading of Gen 1 or the Adamic Myth. And Job is positively enlightening if you understand it as a modified folk tale.

At 11/30/2006 2:00 AM, Anonymous Ben Myers said...

Glad to hear your paper went well, Chris. And I hope they liked your lively Barthian introduction!

Thanks too for recommending H. Zahrnt's Die Sache mit Gott -- I ordered a copy when you first recommended it, and it has finally arrived.

At 11/30/2006 7:23 PM, Anonymous Anthony Martin said...

Is 'true' something different thant true or is it exactly the same as true?

At 12/01/2006 1:54 AM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Thanks Frank, I read Genesis 1 and 2 with new eyes when I consciously dropped the 'ths is historical' thing. Made me search for the 'why?' more.

Thanks, Ben! I'll be fascinated to hear what you think of teh Zahrnt. I think his is not the most accurate description of Barth and his theological development, but it is probably the most enjoyable I've read.

At 12/01/2006 1:56 AM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi Anthony, no distinction was meant. I suppose I was hitting at the allusive multilayered nature of truth, rather than simply truth = historical. The scene in Chariots of fire, where the runners charge around Cambridge square - that didn't happen, but it says something ture about the relationships involved.

At 9/09/2007 9:58 PM, Anonymous Carol said...

Nice to see my photo of our rabbits being posted across the globe and illustrating healthy biblical debate. Unfortunately, kick up another discussion with this thought: the young bunnies in the photo are BROTHERS.


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