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

From: David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com>
Date: Mon Mar 03 2008 - 16:15:23 EST

I agree George. It drives me bonkers when my evangelical brothers and
sisters look askance at bringing extra-Biblical information to bear on
hermeneutics, and even in formulating the precise contours of our
understanding of inspiration. We're supposed to be ontological realists, I
think.

On Mon, Mar 3, 2008 at 4:06 PM, George Murphy <gmurphy@raex.com> wrote:

> Don -
>
> While I agree with what you've said about Genesis itself, I think that
> your
> final sentence - or rather Pinnock - needs some correction. You said:
>
> "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."
>
> I think that it is important to emphasize that there is evidence both
> internal to the text (which Pinnock refers to) and external to it (i.e.,
> scientific knowledge about the world) that points to a non-historical,
> non-modern science reading of the Genesis creation accounts. The internal
> evidence tells us that there are other legitimate ways of reading the text
> but cannot in themselves absolutely rule them out. After all, there is a
> long tradition of Jewish & Christian scholars before the rise of modern
> science who did read them in that way. It is then the scientific evidence
> which tells us - if we think that our theology ought to be coherent with
> the
> way the world really is - that among the available choices we should read
> the texts as something other than historical or scientific narratives.
> Science doesn't dictate to theology but theology needs to take science
> seriously.
>
> I think it's especially important to be clear about this when we're
> talking
> to skeptics or critics of Christian. It will strike them as disingenuous
> in
> the extreme if we seem to be saying, "Well, we didn't really need science
> to
> tell us anything."
>
> Shalom
> George
> http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Don Nield" <d.nield@auckland.ac.nz>
> To: "David Opderbeck" <dopderbeck@gmail.com>
> Cc: "Michael Roberts" <michael.andrea.r@ukonline.co.uk>; "George Murphy"
> <gmurphy@raex.com>; "ASA list" <asa@calvin.edu>
> Sent: Monday, March 03, 2008 3:38 PM
> Subject: [asa] Pinnock on Climbing out of the Swam (was Lamoureux,
> Concordism, and Inerrancy)
>
>
> >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 16:16:11 2008

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