A model for future evangelical engagement with historical criticism
Christopher M. Hays is a brilliant young scholar, and together with Christopher Ansberry (there must be an anointing on that wonderful Christian name), they have edited the exciting new volume, Evangelical Faith and the Challenge of Historical Criticism.
Reflecting on how historical-critical results may or may not challenge or illuminate evangelical theological concerns, they ask such questions as:
“[T]o what degree do the enscripturated events, attributions and expectations need to have occurred as described in order to maintain the integrity of evangelical Christian theology? To what degree is evangelical Christian theology threatened by the conclusions of historical criticism?” (13, italics supressed).
Chapters ensue, examining Adam and the fall, the exodus, fact fiction or both?, problems with prophecy, pseudepigraphy, the historical Jesus and many more besides. I have read a couple of pre-pub chapters and I just finished the opening chapter tonight after work, and I can confirm that this will prove to be a tremendous resource for those who care about the future of evangelical faith, to hold it with both conviction and intellectual honesty. They certainly don’t want simplistically to “prove” the historicity of x, y or z, but nor do they want to pretend that the veracity of historical reference is always irrelevant to faith. They write after my own heart!
As Chris Hays writes:
“As evangelicalism seeks to shed the anti-intellectualism of its youth, it will take more faith, not less, to walk the narrow path of fidelity in the life of the mind. In this, the task of the evangelical biblical scholar must not be to peddle pious truisms but to make plain the witness of Scripture on its own uncomfortable terms” (8)
A delightful call to faithful criticism and critical faith for a new generation of evangelicals who find the defensive rhetoric of some of the older Evangelical gate-keepers of little value on certain central concerns.