[asa] Pinnock on Climbing out of the Swam (was Lamoureux, Concordism, and Inerrancy)

From: Don Nield <d.nield@auckland.ac.nz>
Date: Mon Mar 03 2008 - 15:38:22 EST

I heartily agree with David's recommendation. Back in 2000, in an
article in "Stimulus" (a N. Z. publication) in response to an article by
Jonathan Sarfati, I wrote:
In a long two-part article which traces the centuries-old effort to
harmonize the Bible with modern science, written by the evangelical
geologist Davis Young12, the author concluded that the effort had
failed. He wrote (page 1) "The evangelical community is still mired in a
swamp in its attempt to understand the proper relationship between
biblical interpretation and the scientific endeavor." Another
evangelical, Clark Pinnock13, took up this theme. He wrote that the way
out of the swamp is to begin reading early Genesis appropriately in its
own context, in the setting of the life of ancient Israel, and to stop
forcing modern agendas upon it. Evangelicals who are supportive of the
final authority of the Scripture ought to be open to this. Pinnock is
convinced that the text of early Genesis invites a literary reading
which does not call for a close scientific concordance. The purpose of
Genesis 1-11 first and foremost is to teach certain theological truths
which lie behind God's striking a covenant with Abraham and his seed.
The statement that God made the sun, moon and stars on the fourth day,
ought to tell us that this is not a scientific statement. There are
numerous indications that the writer of Genesis 1 wanted to combat the
errors contained in the creation myths of the ancient world. There are
evidences of literary artistry in the construction of Genesis 1, notably
the parallelism between the first and second triad of days. The author
is using the Hebrew week as a literary framework for displaying the
theology of creation. God creates the spaces, and then he populates
them. Pinnock says that it is the evidence of the text, rather than the
desire to avoid modern criticism from science, which ought to move
evangelicals away from a misreading of the first creation account as a
scientifically informative tract and burdening themselves with enormous
and unnecessary difficulties.
12. D.A. Young, "Scripture in the hands of a geologist, " /Westminster
Theological Journal, /49 (1987), 1-34, 257-304.
13. C. H. Pinnock, Climbing out of a swamp: The evangelical struggle to
understand the Creation texts. /Interpretation/ 43 (1989), 143-155.
Don/ /

David Opderbeck wrote:
> Here is a quiz for everyone. Who said the following about Gen. 1-2, in
> criticism of "concordism" in evangelical hermeneutics, and when was it
> said? (I think the answer challenges Lamoureux's overly-broad thesis about
> evangelical hermeneutics, particularly as the author of this statement is
> mentioned en passant in one of Denis' footnotes):
> there is a modern set of presuppositions, linked to the realist epistemology
> most evangelicals favor, which has a profound influence on their exegesis.
> Having a realist epistemology means that they will tend to favor truth of a
> factual and scientific kind and not be quite so open to truth of a more
> symbolic or metaphorical type. One sees it in the evangelical doctrine of
> biblical inspiration, which is protective of cognitive truth in general and
> factual inerrancy in particular. It means hermeneutically that the "natural"
> way to read the Bible is to read it as literally and as factually as
> possible. In apologetics too evangelicals like to appeal to empirical
> reason: They like to ask, If you can't trust the Bible in matters of fact,
> when can you trust it? In many ways then, evangelicals are in substantial
> agreement with the modern agenda which also prefers the factual and the
> scientific over the symbolic and figurative. What could be more modern that
> to search for scientific truth in texts three thousand years old? Such a
> modern presupposition will demand the right to read the Bible in modern
> terms whatever the authorial intention of the text might be. It just assumes
> that our values must have been the same as those entertained by the ancient
> Israelites.
> The influence of these presuppositions and this mindset is overwhelmingly
> powerful, and the difficulty standing in the way of evangelicals
> transcending it is enormous. Changing one's presuppositions is a painful
> business, and it will not be easy for evangelicals to listen to the Bible's
> own agenda and to put their own on the shelf. Yet it can be done, and it is
> happening.
> This area of hermeneutics also reveals the "docetic" potential very near
> the surface of the evangelical doctrine of Scripture, an unconscious wish
> not to have God's Word enter into the creaturely realm.31 A strong emphasis
> on the divine inspiration of the text naturally tends to overshadow the
> obligation to read the Bible in its own human and historical setting in
> order to grasp its truth. It encourages readers to seek the pure divine
> message to themselves here and now and to assume they will grasp its meaning
> best by reading the text in the most "natural" way, which means, in a way
> congenial to the assumptions of the reader, maximizing the danger of text
> manipulation.
> Inevitably this also leads to theological impoverishment. So much time and
> energy is consumed tilting at windmills that little gets said about the
> actual doctrine of creation.
> The answer: Clark Pinnock, in 1989 ("Climbing Out of a Swamp: The
> Evangelical Struggle to Understand the Creation Texts," Interpretation 43
> No. 2 (1989)). If you can gain access to this article, do so -- it is very
> worthwhile.

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Received on Mon Mar 3 15:39:41 2008

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