Re: Concordist sequence--why be a concordist?

From: George Murphy (
Date: Wed Jun 25 2003 - 11:39:22 EDT

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    Graham E. Morbey wrote:

    > My concern with the two books notion is that each book begins to take
    > on a life of its own and a language and tradition develops over time
    > that seems to make claims about each book not supported by the books
    > themselves. An heuristic device becomes an iron clad dogma! Notice
    > that the Belgic Confession article2 says that creation is like a
    > beautiful book (ie. in certain respects) and that the Bible (his holy
    > and divine Word which is much more like a book) makes God's self known
    > to us more openly.... It seems to me, that the language of the
    > Confession allows for some overlapping of the two books. On this
    > score it seems that George's "ordering " of the books might be a fruit
    > of tradition's hardening of a good analogy. He may be using the
    > ordering to preserve a kind of Lutheran? Christocentrism that down
    > plays to some extent the reformed doctrine of Creation. By starting
    > with redemption, creation may lose some of its doctrinal power and
    > meaning. Creation is so loved by the Creator that it shares fully in
    > Christ's redemption.
    > A fine book for the list members to consider is PROCLAIM THE WONDER:
    > Engaging Science on Sunday by Scott E. Hoezee, published recently by
    > Baker Books. "This world belongs to God, and the pulpit is a crucial
    > vehicle for celebrating science's contribution to the understanding of
    > creation."
    > This from the back cover...................
    > George Murphy wrote:
    > wrote:
    > In a message dated 6/24/03 8:14:28 AM Mountain Standard Time,
    > writes:
    > [snip]
    > << I think these answer entirely or partially all of Howard's questions except
    > the first one. As for that one, the answer is all over the place in the
    > concordist tradition since Bacon and Galileo in the early 17th century.
    > "Obviously," they would have told Howard, "the book of nature and the book
    > of scripture have the same author. Therefore they must agree, when rightly
    > interpreted." Indeed, although I am not a concordist myself, I think this
    > is probably the *strongest* reason one can give in support of *any* general
    > attitude/approach toward science and theology--namely, ,the assumption that
    > truth is one and has a single ultimate source.
    > ted >>
    > Perhaps this has been answered before on the list, but when was the "two
    > books" analogy first used? As Ted points out, it's obviously in Bacon and Galileo
    > but did it originate in late medieval or early modern Scholasticism? What
    > were the historical/theological circumstances that prompted its introduction?
    > Are there patristic sources?
    > Several Christian sources have been noted by others. Related ideas are also
    > part of the Jewish tradition. E.g., Rabbi Judah Halevi thought of the universe as
    > /sefer/, "text". A discussion of his (& other) ideas is in Barry Kogan, "Judaism and
    > Contemporary Scientific Cosmology - Redesigning the Design Argument" in David Novak and
    > Norbert Samuelson (eds.), _Creation and the End of Days_ (University Press of America,
    > 1986).
    > But Halevi also shows one of the pitfalls of the 2 books metaphor, the idea that
    > the "book of nature" is to be read _before_ the "book of scripture." He made use of the
    > tradition that Abraham engaged in astronomical studies, and that only after this
    > received the call described in Genesis 12. But there is absolutely no biblical support
    > for this notion. The citations of Tertullian by Bob Schneider and of the Belgic
    > Confession by Graham Morbey display the same problem. It is a problem because, inter
    > alia, it usually results in having to shoehorn distinctively biblical concepts of God
    > (Incarnation and Trinity) into a unitarian deity supposedly learned of from nature.
    > The difficulty is not with the 2 books idea itself but with the order in which
    > they are read. The book of scripture needs to be read before the book of nature (in
    > order to do theology - not science). In addition, the "book of scripture" should be
    > understood as witness to God's fundamental revelation, not that revelation itself.

            I plead guilty to christocentrism but my argument for the ordering of the
    "books" isn't uniquely Lutheran. The same idea has been presented by the Reformed
    Thomas Torrance and by Nancey Murphy in the radical reformation tradition.
            Denominational labels aside, I think confusion comes from too quickly conflating
    the ideas of "nature" (or "cosmos") and "creation." Science tells us about nature. It
    is through revelation (or, if you will, in the book of scripture) that we learn to see
    nature as creation.

    George L. Murphy

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