>To paraphrase a geologist friend of mine at a recent meeting of the society
>of christian Geologists, maybe it is time that some of you who have given
>up on a literal reading of the Bible (and thus achieved a superior position
>to those of us who have not) reexamined your positions on science in terms
>of Scripture. Why is it only Scripture that has to be reinterpreted??? I
>know that is the easiest course, in terms of intellectual acceptability,
>but you know as well as I it is not an easy course in terms of theological
>implications. Maybe there is a good reason why it is not easy.
I think that "Wesleyan Quadrilateral," is a very useful term (which,
though, Wesley himself did not use). The concept is that there are four
poles in our attempts to interpret Scripture: Scripture (which has the
higher claim to authority), reason, experience and tradition. I am not
Wesleyan in my theology, but I think there is a lot of truth in this model.
*No* interpretation of Scripture is unaffected by the theological
tradition in which I stand, or by my experience, and certainly not by my
use of reason in doing the exegesis. I can hardly filter my beliefs based
on scientific theories out of the "experience" or "reason" components of my
If this is so, then when an interpretation of science and an interpretation
of Scripture apparently conflict, *both* should be exampined, as both are
subject to revision. Just as some scientists become wedded to their
theories, believing them to be reality, so some theologians become wedded
to their theology, believing it to be Revelation.
We should also understand that the degree of certainty which we place in a
statement need not--in fact, cannot--be always the same. For example, I
have much more confidence in my conclusion that the Scripture teaches the
deity of Jesus Christ than I do in my conclusion about the identity of the
sons of God in Gn 6 (buy me lunch and I'll change my mind on that one!). I
have much more confidencce that F=G*(m1*m2)/r^2 is a true statement of a
natural law in this region of space-time than I do that it is a true
statement of law in some far-removed region.