From: george murphy (email@example.com)
Date: Tue Jun 17 2003 - 22:15:52 EDT
"Howard J. Van Till" wrote:
> >From: "Iain Strachan" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> > Having read all these [statements of faith] , I don't necessarily think it's a
> question of what
> > your priorities are as to where you put God and Jesus with respect to the
> > authority of Scripture. Some sort of statement on the authority of
> > Scripture, even if it doesn't mean inerrancy, is almost axiomatic & it makes
> > logical sense to state your axioms first for clarity before making the main
> > point (perhaps).
> Interesting comment, which raises a question:
> How many on this list think of your set of Christian beliefs as an axiomatic
> system derived from an authoritative text?
> Here's another way to put the question, drawn from occasional discussion on
> the issue of fruitful criteria for evaluating scientific theories:
> How many on this list would identify "derivable from the designated
> authoritative text" as one of the primary evaluation criteria for the
> evaluation of theological theories?
There are no statements about the authority of scripture in the ecumenical
creeds. (The closest they come is the phrase in the Nicene Creed that says that the
Holy Spirit "spoke by the prophets.")
There are also no statements about other important matters - e.g., the Eucharist.
Creedal & confessional statements have generally developed by responding to
particular questions and challenges which arose in the church at various times -
e.g., the expansion of the christological part of the older baptismal creeds in
response to the Arian challenge. Creeds and confessions are not speculative
theology & do not answer all questions that can be asked. When & how the church may
have to speak authoritatively to new questions can't be predicted in advance - & of
course the question is much more difficult now when it's hard to see how the church
can speak with one voice.
Creedal & confessional statements are supposed to be based upon scripture.
But it's not simply a matter of "deriving" these statements from the Bible because
such a process of derivation depends on the interpretative principles which are
used. The ancient church insisted that scripture had to be interpreted consistently
with "the rule of faith" - which in turn had to be consistent with scripture. So
it's really a kind of bootstrap process. I think that this corresponds, more or
less, with the common understanding today in science that there's no uninterpreted
"raw data", but that all data is to some extent theory dependent.
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