Re: [asa] Lamoureux, Concordism, and Inerrancy

From: George Murphy <gmurphy@raex.com>
Date: Sat Mar 01 2008 - 11:06:37 EST

I appreciate the concern about priorities. I would just comment that science-theology dialogue & sexual ethics aren't totally distinct. We need to take into account what science says about, e.g., sexual orientation & the fact that human sexuality has to be seen in an evolutionary context - which doesn't mean that we ignore the even wider theological context.

Shalom
George
http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
  ----- Original Message -----
  From: David Opderbeck
  To: George Murphy
  Cc: ASA list
  Sent: Saturday, March 01, 2008 10:34 AM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Lamoureux, Concordism, and Inerrancy

  Thanks. You maybe can see the pastoral concern here for many of us evangelicals. If I'm going to be discussing my views in the public square, or in my local congregation, I'd rather risk being wrong about some question concerning how faith and science relate than risk being wrong about sexual ethics. The metro NYC area includes lots of well educated people who probably do want to think more carefully about faith and science, and I think that's missionally important. But it also includes many more people, I think -- including many of the well educated people -- who are struggling with our media culture's obsession with sex. So many apparently good marriages I know of have been broken by pornography, adultery, and sexual identity problems. So when the rubber meets the road, even aside from all of evangelicalism's historical and cultural baggage about scripture and inerrancy, there are places where we are (properly) hesitant to go.

  On Sat, Mar 1, 2008 at 10:16 AM, George Murphy <gmurphy@raex.com> wrote:

    Yes, what I've said about the threefold form of the Word - & I think what's in the ELCA constitution - is strongly influenced by Barth. I hesitate to call my own views "Barthian," let alone neo-orthodox. As a Lutheran I'm not comfortable with, e.g., Barth's views on the sacraments (& this of course simply refelcts longstanding Lutheran-Reformed differences.) That's closely connected with the present topic if the sacraments are considered under Augustine's rubric of "visible words."

    The fear that a christological centering will lead to some type of antinomianism is common. In the Missouri wars of the late 60s & 70s the conservatives accused the moderates (aka "liberals" - as if one could be a liberal in the Missouri Synod!) of "gospel reductionism" - i.e., elimination of the law for Christians. That stemmed from questions about whether the Lutheran Confessions teach a distinctive "third use of the law" - i.e., a use peculiar to Christians. That is a Reformed teaching but for Lutherans the "third use" is really just the 1st & 2d uses as they apply to Christians - i.e., we still have to live in society & we still sin so the law still accuses us. I.e., to deny a distinctive 3d use isn't to say that the law no longer applies to believers.

    Which of course just gets us to the beginning of questions about sexual ethics.

    Shalom
    George
    http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: David Opderbeck
      To: George Murphy
      Cc: ASA list
      Sent: Saturday, March 01, 2008 8:52 AM
      Subject: Re: [asa] Lamoureux, Concordism, and Inerrancy

      George, if you had to label your view of scripture and inspiration, would it be Barthian / neo-orthodox? I don't know about the whole of the ETS' theological statement, but this divergence from neo-orthodoxy is an important defining thread in evangelicalism. There is a fear that relativising all of scripture to Christ leads to relativising some important themes, such as the moral law -- and many evangelical leaders would cite, say, the debates over sexual ethics in many of the mainline denominations as a key example of this. But at the same time, some who would define themselves as evangelical aren't completely hostile to Barth -- the strand that includes Bernard Ramm later in his life and Fuller Seminary, I think.

      In short -- as somone with an evangelical heritage, who appreciates many aspects of that heritage, and who still identifies broadly as "evangelical," I like your wording, but I need it to be unpacked so that I can understand where it really falls between Warfield and Barth.

      On Sat, Mar 1, 2008 at 8:05 AM, George Murphy <gmurphy@raex.com> wrote:

        OK, but that still doesn't grasp the main point - that the Bible is the Word of God as a record of the witness to God's revelation centering on Christ and as the basis for the ongoing proclamation of Christ. We are to emphasize the truth of scripture for the sake of Christ, not Christ as one example of the truth of scripture. I'm not just picking on David here. E.g., the Evangelical Theological Society's statement "About the ETS" on its website says, "The ETS is devoted to the inerrancy and inspiration of the Scriptures and the gospel of Jesus Christ." This gets it precisely backwards. (The following "doctrinal statement" then starts with scripture & then the Trinity - with no mention of the incarnate Word.)

        The point, I should emphasize, is not that there are 3 "Words of God," Christ, proclamation and scripture, but one Word in 3 forms.

        This is by no means a trivial matter. The error of putting scripture first can lead to the notion (seldom if ever stated explicitly) that the statements that it makes about Christ are on a par with all the other inerrant propositions in scripture & thus non sequiturs like "If we can believe a fish swallowed Jonah - or that Adam was a 'real person' - then we can't believe in Jesus' resurrection." I.e., supposedly we're to believe in the resurrection & Jonah for the same reason, that they're found in an inerrant book.

        Shalom
        George
        http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
          ----- Original Message -----
          From: David Opderbeck
          To: George Murphy
          Cc: AmericanScientificAffiliation
          Sent: Friday, February 29, 2008 9:19 PM
          Subject: Re: [asa] Lamoureux, Concordism, and Inerrancy

          Thanks. That's why I said "the canonical scriptures are God's written word." I didn't intend to say the written scriptures are the sum total of God's revelation. I fully agree God's self-revelation is most fully expressed in the person of Christ, and that God's written revelation ultimately points us to Christ.

           
          On Fri, Feb 29, 2008 at 8:34 PM, George Murphy <gmurphy@raex.com> wrote:

            David et al -

            I could say "forgive me for harping on the same old thing" but it's the thing, old or new & calls for no forgiveness. While you might argue that it's implicitly there in your closing statement about scripture, "implicit" isn't sufficient. Where does Christ come in? Cf. The Confession of Faith in the ELCA constitution. After speaking of Jesus Christ as the Word of God incarnate and the proclamation of Law and Gospel as the Word of God, it says:

            "The canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the written Word of God. Inspired by God speaking through their authors, the record and announce God's
            revelation centering in Jesus Christ. Through them God's Spirit speaks to us to create and sustain Christian faith and fellowship for service in the world." (Emphasis added.)

            Move up to Shop-Rite.

            Shalom
            George
            http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
              ----- Original Message -----
              From: David Opderbeck
              To: AmericanScientificAffiliation
              Sent: Friday, February 29, 2008 7:58 PM
              Subject: [asa] Lamoureux, Concordism, and Inerrancy

              Denis Lamoureux's article in the current PSCF is interesting. It is similar to a longer article by Lamoureux in a recent issue of Christian Scholar's Review on evangelicals and concordism.

              I'm sure all of this will be discussed in more details in Denis' forthcoming book, but I feel that he's not doing justice to the spectrum of contemporary evangelical views on inerrancy and that his definition of "concordism" is a bit wooden. He seems to equate "the" evangelical position with Harold Lindsell and a strict reading of the Chicago Statement.

              But this begs the question, it seems to me, of what "evangelical" means. Is Fuller Seminary "evangelical?" Fuller's statement on Biblical authority diverges from the Chicago Statement, and certainly from Lindsell, in many key respects. Is John Stott "evangelical?" Alister McGrath? Stott might be closer to the Chicago Statement but in "Evangelical Essentials" he qualifies inerrancy basically to what the text "intends" to teach, and I'm not sure McGrath would even use the term "inerrancy" (query -- does anyone know anything specific McGrath has written on this?) How about Donald Bloesch? Bloesch's "Holy Scripture" IMHO is a wonderfully balanced text that discusses "inerrancy" in a particular way. Even one of the evangelical Baptist stalwarts Lamoureux cites, Millard Erickson, takes a much more nuanced position in his "Systematic Theology" than Lamoureux lets on: Erickson says "The Bible, when correctly interpreted in light of the level to which culture and the means of communication had developed at the time it was written, and in view of the purposes for which it was given, is fully truthful in all that it affirms," and he specifically discusses the use of phenomenological language to describe natural and historical events.

              Likewise, the term "concordism" seems ill-defined to me in Lamoureux's usage. There is of course Hugh Ross style "high concordism," in which the Biblical text is seen to be making scientific claims that essentially remained hidden for millennia and can only be fully understood in light of modern scientific knowledge. But Lamoureux seems to suggest that an assertion that Genesis 1-11 refers to any "real" history is "concordism." It seems to me that he forces the reader into an artifical box: either accommodation or a dreaded "ism," "concordism."

              In my view, we need to get away from this "ism" talk. The question isn't accommodation vs. concordism, or inerrancy vs. errancy (or "limited inerrancy"). Why not just say this: the canonical scriptures are God's written word and are authoritative for the Church. They reflect God's character as perfectly truthful and good; they also reflect God's character as the God who empties Himself and condescends to meet us on human terms; and they reflect the humanity of the writers and editors through whom God has spoken. Part of the Church's task, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, is to understand and apply the authoritative scriptures in each time, culture, and place in which the Church exists."

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Received on Sat Mar 1 11:08:23 2008

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