From: Vernon Jenkins (email@example.com)
Date: Mon Jun 30 2003 - 19:51:29 EDT
Re: Concordist sequence--why be a concordist?Howard,
I had proposed resting my case awhile - engaging instead in some harmless lurking; but on reading a recent statement of yours in which I am referred to by name it seems to me appropriate that I offer a brief rejoinder. You said, "Concordism is not, of course, the only way to strengthen the case for an inspired (strong sense) canon. Vernon Jenkins' numerical enterprise, for example, has the same overall goal. But Vernon's high regard for his own YEC reading of the text, coupled with his low regard for the empirical sciences, requires him to find an alternative to the more familiar concordistic approaches. And for Vernon, finding certain "interesting" numbers generated by character-to-number transformations does the trick."
In claiming that I have a 'low regard for the empirical sciences', you are mistaken; indeed, my entire thesis is built upon empirical observation - and the fact that, among this particular body of scientists and Christians, I am unable to stimulate interest in the numero-geometrical properties of the Bible's first verse is almost as great a wonder to me as the phenomena themselves.
Howard, there can be little doubt that I've stumbled upon something significant - something, I suggest, that a scientist and Christian should be prepared to examine most carefully - for if I am correct in my assessment, the implications are immense. It would be most appropriate and helpful, therefore, if someone of your stature were to take a lead here; either to lay the matter to rest by offering a naturalistic explanation of the phenomena, or by confirming them as clear evidence of supernatural design - and a basis for urgent discussion among Christian intellectuals.
----- Original Message -----
From: Howard J. Van Till
Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2003 6:00 PM
Subject: Re: Concordist sequence--why be a concordist?
A few days ago I asked:
>Having observed once again on this list several concordist attempts to bring
>pieces of early Genesis text into agreement (concord) with pieces of modern
>natural science, I am led to ask a series of closely related questions:
>What is the purpose or goal of this exercise?
>Why is concord expected?
>Why is concord desired?
>When specimens of concord have been crafted, what has been gained?
My thanks to those of you who ventured a reply. Most of your replies served to affirm my long-standing evaluation of the concordist approach. This also ties in closely with my earlier remarks on the theory evaluation criteria for theological theorizing.
In those remarks I suggested that there might be great benefit for theology to learn from the history of science. Like much of popular and preached theology today, science was once an authority-based enterprise. Simplistically stated, the text of Aristotle was the authority on questions regarding the natural world. A few centuries ago science discovered the benefits of moving from a textual authority-based system to an experience- & reason-based empirical approach. We all know what has been gained by that move.
But popular & preached theology today (out of step with much of professional theology) continues to operate on the old authority-based model. Ideally, according to that tradition, faithful theology must be derived from the biblical text (or at least be consistent with it). That being the case, then the unblemished credibility of the text must be preserved. If the text is going to serve as the authority, then it must have the requisite quality of holding up under all manner of scrutiny.
Over the last couple of centuries, the natural sciences have become one of the most powerful scrutinizers of received, authority-based traditions, including the tradition of designating the biblical text as a divinely-inspired authoritative text for all manner of things, including many matters to which the sciences have empirical access. So, if the authority of the canonical text is to be maintained, then the reading of the text and the results of science must be in agreement -- concord.
What, then is the purpose or goal of concordism? To demonstrate that the Bible, especially Genesis, is supported by the results of science, thereby strengthening the credibility and authority of the canon.
Why is concord expected? Because if the Bible is inspired in the strong sense (Terry's version, for instance) then it has to be factually correct. Insofar as the empirical sciences have rightly generated factually correct information regarding the universe, then it is important that the concord of Bible and science be demonstrated.
Why is concord desired? To ensure the continuing credibility of the canon that has been designated as being inspired and authoritative, thereby stabilizing the belief system of the community.
When specimens of concord have been crafted, what has been gained? Reassurance that all is (or at least appears to be) well with the received view.
Concordism, in my judgment, is necessitated by the choice to designate a written text as inspired (in strong the sense of containing information received directly from God) followed by the present situation of seeing that the designated text is subject to comparison with other highly credible sources of information on some topics. Concordism's purpose is to preserve textual credibility so that textual authority can still be maintained by the community.
Why do the statements of faith of many conservative Christian organizations begin with a declaration concerning the Bible? It is a natural and unsurprising expression of the traditional textual authority-based system of theological theory evaluation.
Concordism is not, of course, the only way to strengthen the case for an inspired (strong sense) canon. Vernon Jenkins' numerical enterprise, for example, has the same overall goal. But Vernon's high regard for his own YEC reading of the text, coupled with his low regard for the empirical sciences, requires him to find an alternative to the more familiar concordistic approaches. And for Vernon, finding certain "interesting" numbers generated by character-to-number transformations does the trick.
Howard Van Till
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