Monday, June 30, 2008

As Liberal as they Come? pt 1

The essence of classic Christian liberalism is this- the willingness to allow material observation to judge the Scriptural record as flawed or incorrect.

Evangelicals and fundamentalists for the most part start from Scripture and validate their observations by it. This is a principle enshrined in their theology of Scripture- that Scripture is the inerrant, inspired Word of God. The inerrancy of Scripture then, is their foundational battleground. I dare say that if the first few chapters of Genesis did not exist, most evangelicals would have little problem accepting the day-age theory or even theistic evolution. That final, absolute, Truth is judged by them to be able to be known "a priori" from Scripture is their most enduring characteristic.

While most evangelicals would not hesitate to say Christianity would be true even if the Bible did not exist, that is different than saying there is a reason it must be so. The point I am getting to is this- if you remove the support of Scripture do the truths expressed in Scripture follow from what remains? If all you have is the Holy Spirit and creation around you, and the traditions of the churches, does the evangelical or fundamentalist understanding retain any relevancy? Would it follow?

There is the danger that we appeal to human sensibility which may or may not be inclined toward Spiritual things. It is because of this that one very good reason for an inerrant, inspired Scripture presents itself- a check upon our own sin nature and human errancy.

I think we should admit into our thinking at least one bit of Scripture, if for no other reason than it was spoken by Christ. He told us that He would send a Comforter, the Holy Spirit, would be a Teacher, and lead us into all truth. Well there you have it. If Scripture is authored by God, it should be interpreted by and attested to by His Holy Spirit. To broaden that statement, if it is God's truth, the Holy Spirit should attest to it.

Now this is a difficult thing, because many people have many different ideas of what the Spirit is saying to them. Well, then we should look at the traditional teachings of Christianity through the ages, as a testimony to the Spirit's working through ALL people and times. This method would agree with Scripture were it says that the church is the pillar and ground of the truth.

What you find when you take this tack... when you admit that God has chosen to teach truth to man and that He does so through His Holy Spirit as expressed through the churches through the ages... you find that the upper hand does not rest with the liberal, but rests with the evangelical.

Furthermore, traditional church teaching has upheld the authority of Scripture and has constantly been engaged in vindication of it. The writings of B.B. Warfield are very instructive in this matter.

"The Fundamentals," written during the Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy, were little more than a restatement of traditional Christian belief.

So this is my thinking. You not only have traditional church teaching, you also have the authority of Scripture to deal with, and traditional church teaching that upholds that authority. That testimony is difficult to go against.

Next post: my tension.

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