Re: [asa] discussion of concordism essay

From: Ted Davis <>
Date: Thu Sep 14 2006 - 13:42:42 EDT

Hi, Terry,

Thank you for the kind comments about the article. Let me respond to a
couple of things, snipping the rest.

Just kidding, of course. I'm sure this all flows out of your own
personal wrestling with these issues, but you historians make it look
so easy and you never have to show your own hand when you talk about
this stuff. No suspicious glances from church members. No threats of
withholding support from constituents. No ecclesiastical trials.

My response:
Yes, it is as you surmise. I was myself a concordist of the classical type
(Silliman or Hitchcock more than Dana) for several years. Like you, I
especially appreciated the vision that view embodies about the unity of
truth. One might even say that there is a "weak concordism" that I still
hold, namely, that all truth is God's, so that ultimately we will not find
contradictions between the various "books" that we try to read. Of course
the hermeneutical details one must involve oneself in, when reading *any* of
those unspecified books, do tend to get one bogged down from time to time
and one can lose sight of the larger, rather beautiful, vision. But
"strong" concordism of the type I wrote about is no longer my cup of tea.

At the same time, I am not too critical of those who hold such a view.
(ie, I don't consider it a "dirty word") It was my own view once, it still
makes a certain amount of sense to me, and I actually hold a view of that
sort on some issues--archaeological ones, e.g., where I have more confidence
in the basic historicity of things in scripture than I do concerning early
Genesis. (I don't mean to imply here that archaeology simply "confirms" the
Bible in a simple, straightforward way. Sometimes it actually does seem to
do that, but at other times it seems quite strongly to show that there are
some errors in the Bible about where/when certain things took place. I
won't offer examples here, though I could.)

Why the difference with early Genesis? This brings us to the second
question I want to respond to.


Most of the time I'm quite content with Asa Gray's way of putting things as
you quoted him, but
I think there's somewhat of an idealization/theologization of Christianity
that is somewhat contrary to Christianity's fundamental historical character
(at least in the parts that you quoted). I'm also content to let each
"world" speak for itself, but it appears to me that sometimes they talk
about the same thing--sometimes when they're talking about the same thing
problems seem irreconcilable. With Asa Gray, this shouldn't and doesn't
bother me, but I have nagging doubts about whether the cognitive dissonance
that I espouse
on these issues is consistent with the unity of knowledge and the
comprehensiveness of Christian belief that I also espouse. Ah, the luxury of
the historian...

Anyway, what would be interesting to me is to find out what folks like Asa
Gray who seemed to have such a progressive view already in the 19th century
did with Genesis 2-3 and Genesis 6-9 and Genesis 11.
While the 19th century Bible and science scholars were in turmoil over
Genesis 1 (as some still are today), Genesis 1 is easy.

Ted replies:
As you say, Genesis 1 is easy. I also like the Framdwork view you
mentioned in the snipped part of your post.

I find persuasive those biblical scholars who say that Genesis 1-11 is all
in some non-historical genre. My brother, an archaeologist and ancient
historian, tells me that the accounts of ordinary life in Abraham's day are
very accurate and could not have been invented later on, and this is
consistent with my view of the earlier sections of Genesis. Historicity (if
not necessarily historicity in the modern sense) is substantially present
after the early part, but probably not present much before Abraham. I would
thus apply a similar hermeneutic to Genesis 2-3 as I would to Genesis 1.
The revealed truth would be theological, not historical. You know how that

What about Paul? is the next obvious question. My answer: go read what
Robin Collins says in Perspectives on an Evolving Creation. I think that's
just about right.


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Received on Thu Sep 14 13:43:19 2006

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