Union Seminary states its positions

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Bert Perry's picture

Union has been pretty liberal since even before they kicked the PCUSA out.  All you need to know is the first point, the jettisoning of the inerrancy of Scripture.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

John E.'s picture

They claim the Bible is divinely inspired, but how do they know that? Did something external to the Bible tell them that? Because, if not, how do they know the Bible isn't wrong on that point? I mean, if it contains errors, as they believe, maybe the Bible's self-attestations are errors?  

CAWatson's picture

John E. wrote:

They claim the Bible is divinely inspired, but how do they know that? Did something external to the Bible tell them that? Because, if not, how do they know the Bible isn't wrong on that point? I mean, if it contains errors, as they believe, maybe the Bible's self-attestations are errors?  

Inspiration and Incarnation by Peter Enns explains this position (he was hiding his actual thoughts as a Westminster professor at the time - now he is much more obvious in his understanding). Christ was both divine and human. The Bible is the same way - both divine and human. Humans err. Humans are biased. Therefore, the Bible errs. The Bible is biased theological history. The Bible tells stories through mythology, etc. 

The liberal mindset is to look for "deeper religious truths" behind or underneath the humanly biased or errant stories/accounts within the text. Even Vanhoozer falls into this trap in that multiple views on inerrancy book by Zondervan. 

 

What Vanhoozer argues in his essay is the Bible has problem passages that need to be addressed. Such problems exist due to conflicts with science, geography, archeology, language, contradictory texts, etc. Such problems can be solved; however, literary concerns need to take part in solving these problems. The Bible is inerrant when it is affirming something. Vanhoozer’s literary analysis allows him to get around textual interpretive problems by citing literary concerns. So questions concerning the historicity of the fall of Jericho can be answered through literary issues. “The prior question for a well-versed approach to inerrancy must rather be, what is the author of Joshua saying/doing with his words? Specifically, is the main thrust of Joshua to give the kind of factual reporting that Americans have come to expect of newspapers such as the New York Times? We might expect this, but if we do, it says more about us than about the biblical authors, who could hardly be considered journalists. Rather what we have in Joshua is historical testimony, presented in an artful narrative way (that is, as a story-shaped history) and intended to highlight certain theological themes, all for the purpose of shaping the identity of the believing community and of encouraging them (us!) to walk faithfully before God.” (226) So then Vanhoozer refuses to answer the question of whether the Jericho account was historical or not, stating that the point of the text, “what the text affirms—is that God has indeed made good on his promise to give Israel the land and that the people on their part must respond to God’s faithfulness in like manner.” He does give the reader of the text the ability to affirm the historicity of the text, stating that “it does not follow, however, that the accounts in Joshua are myths, or even legends. On the contrary, Joshua 6 is artful narrative testimony to an event that happened in Israel’s past, an event that reveals both who God is (faithful to his promise) and who Israel is to be in response (obedient to the covenant). Readers, especially those who believe that God raised Jesus from the dead, are within their epistemic rights to trust this testimony until shown otherwise.” (228) So Vanhoozer believes that a Scriptural reader has an epistemological right to believe in the historicity of the Joshua account until which time external (to the biblical account) evidence shows otherwise. The difficulty with Vanhoozer’s position is that “evidence,” assuming he means “scientific evidence,” doesn’t technically show anything. “Scientific evidence” needs interpreted as much as the biblical text needs interpreted.

 

John E.'s picture

For all of Enns sophistry, he still remains in his self-appointed and exalted position of being prosecuting attorney, judge, and jury over God's Word. 

RE Vanhoozer - I haven't read his essay, yet the way you describe it reminds me of Rachel Held Evans' latest book. 

Bert Perry's picture

Tyler--why not just review the Council of Trent, where Smith's argument was first made?  :^)  (I've heard that Augustine and Iraneus made similar arguments, too)

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.