Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Musings on the CSBI Part IV

Part III of the CSBI is laid out in articles of affirmation and denial. I am going to focus on those articles I would like to see clarified or reconsidered.

Article V

We affirm that God's revelation in the Holy Scriptures was progressive.

We deny that later revelation, which may fulfill earlier revelation, ever corrects or contradicts it. We further deny that any normative revelation has been given since the completion of the New Testament writings.


Article XVIII

We affirm that the text of Scripture is to be interpreted by grammatico-historical exegesis, taking account of its literary forms and devices, and that Scripture is to interpret Scripture.

We deny the legitimacy of any treatment of the text or quest for sources lying behind it that leads or relativizing, dehistoricizing, or discounting its teaching, or rejecting its claims of authorship.


Here we get into those "hermeneutical" issues that Peter keeps bringing up. ;-} The relation of the Old Testament to the New - the question of the applicability of the Mosaic Law to the Church and the present world - is a hermeneutical question of the highest import. If we are no longer to stone Sabbath breakers, use bitter waters to decide cases of adultery, or not eat pork, have not those commandments been "corrected" and "contradicted"?

"Grammatico-historical" exegesis of Hosea 11:1 alone yield the exegesis of it that Matthew used? The exegesis of the Old Testament by the New is usually *typological*, not grammatico-historical. I do not want to see GH exegesis disposed of, but used in conjunction with the NT pattern of OT exegesis. This, BTW, would also have the advantage of taking care of a lot of dispensational excesses. ;-}

The question of how to read the OT comes down to whether or not we read the Bible Christologically. I would like that to have been made more explicit here.

Article XI

We affirm that Scripture, having been given by divine inspiration, is infallible, so that, far from misleading us, it is true and reliable in all the matters it addresses.

We deny that it is possible for the Bible to be at the same time infallible and errant in its assertions. Infallibility and inerrancy may be distinguished but not separated.


Article XII

We affirm that Scripture in its entirety is inerrant, being free from all falsehood, fraud, or deceit.

We deny that Biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in the fields of history and science. We further deny that scientific hypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood.


Article XIII

We affirm the propriety of using inerrancy as a theological term with reference to the complete truthfulness of Scripture.

We deny that it is proper to evaluate Scripture according to standards of truth and error that are alien to its usage or purpose. We further deny that inerrancy is negated by Biblical phenomena such as a lack of modern technical precision, irregularities of grammar or spelling, observational descriptions of nature, the reporting of falsehoods, the use of hyperbole and round numbers, the topical arrangement of metrical, variant selections of material in parallel accounts, or the use of free citations.


The whole question of what standard of truth is being used as the canon of inerrancy is again raised. Here they qualify what does *not* qualify - modern technical precision, exact quotations, etc. So what *does* qualify?

This question also impacts the article on creation and the flood. And again, the hermeneutical angle is prominent. How are we to interpret these chapters of Genesis? Does observation of creation today have any valid place in that interpretation?

Article XVI

We affirm that the doctrine of inerrancy has been integral to the Church's faith throughout its history.

We deny that inerrancy is a doctrine invented by scholastic Protestantism, or is a reactionary position postulated in response to negative higher criticism.


The affirmation of the truthfulness and inspired nature of Scripture *has* been the concensus of the Church throughout its history. But the nature and intensity of the inerrancy debate in the past 100 years, I think, *does* have some bearing on the dual rise of scholasticism and liberalism - both being sides of the same Enlightenment coin. The framework of Enlightenment thinking was tailor-made to spark this debate, and fed both sides of it.

5 Comments:

Blogger pgepps said...

I see you caught the dispie-dig bug. heh. Well, it ain't like Ryrie didn't set us up for some with his contorted attempts to define "literal" broadly enough to mean "metaphors and parables are literal, too"--though I can find you a Franciscan from a few centuries ago who had neatly nailed that problem.

I think most of your critiques, here, are better directed to the milieu than to the statement. To me, one of the chief virtues of the CSBI is its reticence.

For example, the CSBI does not commit us to rejecting Kline's hypothesis about the interpretation of Gen 1-2, or any number of other approaches. It would not preclude (though I think the language of Genesis does) an understanding that Genesis teaches a "local" flood. All it does is reject the viewpoint that Scripture's truth ends where verifiable empirical claims begin, or that we can/should affirm "Scripture teaches X; Science teaches not-X; not-X must be true." *HOW* we resolve a situation which *seems* to set up that dilemma, the statement quite specifically does not address, except to reject the anti-biblical approach. (I suggest that we suspend both points pending active inquiry into the interpretation of Scripture or the further clarification of science which resolves the tension.)

Similarly, the negative standard for inerrancy is, I think, precisely on-point. This is why my preferred statement of inerrancy is "no truth will contradict Scripture."

That is all inerrancy must mean, all it does mean to anyone who grapples (as the CSBI writers clearly did) with how to simultaneously state that (a) God does not make mistakes in revelation, and (b) humans do make mistakes in interpretation, to a world where (b) is commonly understood to make (a) irrelevant or untrue.

The situation "Scripture says X; not-X is true" cannot exist. It cannot even be conceived of as a possibility in the Christian's hermeneutical horizon. It isn't available as an outcome of analysis.

That's all their laboring, in their laborious way, to work out.

Cheers,
PGE


P.S. Since when did historical-grammatical hermeneutics have a problem with the OT/NT? Seems to me dispies and covenantalists were both using it, even if the Ryrie types were trying to define the covenantalists out of it. Paul uses types in ways we can't? Sure, he's an authoritative interpreter 'cuz he's canonical. I'm not saying it's not crude, but it's easy enough to do without leaving historical-grammatical (though I favor a more, shall we say, enriched hermeneutic). PGE

8:47 AM  
Blogger pgepps said...

[ahem] "all they're laboring"

Pardon my illiteracy. PGE

8:51 AM  
Blogger burttd said...

I see you caught the dispie-dig bug. heh.

Not dispensationalism - New Covenant Theology. There is a difference.

I think most of your critiques, here, are better directed to the milieu than to the statement. To me, one of the chief virtues of the CSBI is its reticence.

Point taken. But the document's reticence partly makes it vulnerable to being abused by the milieu, IMHO.

*HOW* we resolve a situation which *seems* to set up that dilemma, the statement quite specifically does not address, except to reject the anti-biblical approach. (I suggest that we suspend both points pending active inquiry into the interpretation of Scripture or the further clarification of science which resolves the tension.)

Again I agree. And again, the milieu we're dealing with ties inerrancy - often times - to a rationalistic hermeneutic that ends up driving people to these conclusions. One of my goals here is to drive a wedge between that unholy union.

Since when did historical-grammatical hermeneutics have a problem with the OT/NT?

I'll restate that I'm not in favor of abandoning GH interpretation, but pairing it with *typological* interpretation as well, especially in dealing with the OT. The NT's use of the OT is by and large typological.

8:58 AM  
Blogger pgepps said...

dispie-dig bug. I know you're not "one of us" (myself being a small-d type). I've been getting twitted for dispie-ness it from all angles, lately, and "outed" myself on the blog recently.

We largely agree on the main points. I think CSBI left us room to reach that agreement.

Re:HG, my only reason for the postscript was to note that it is *possible* to deal with the problem within that system, so we shouldn't overstate its shortcomings. I think it is necessary to add figural readings, but to keep HG as a test-case intact. That is, the figural content won't be *at odds with* the propositional content, but it may well go *beyond* it.

:-)
PGE

6:33 PM  
Blogger pgepps said...

Hey, commented further here and here (latter is an expansion of my reference earlier to a Franciscan--Nicholas of Lyra).

Cheers!
PGE

5:49 AM  

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