Friday, January 25, 2008

General Impressions

As the Christian blogoshpere gets bigger and bigger, I see that there is a trend, by many, to shy away from biblical exposition. People would rather deal with their views and argue about their thoughts, rather than go to the texts of our holy book. Even scarier is the fact that many explicitly state that they do not want to deal with the Bible.

For the life of me I cannot understand why a Christian would not want to wrestle with the text of Scripture in formulating and resolving differences in their theologies. Here at Bring the Books…we have had commentators state that they do not want to get into a proof texting war. On one level I agree with this. I do not want to throw a Bible reference out there and then have you throw two more and then I throw three more and so on. But I do want to give texts that prove my view (proof text). I want to show why the text in question does in fact teach the doctrine I am claiming it teaches. I want to give a solid historical-grammatical exegesis of the passage. I want to show that my view is the same as the authors. We cannot do this by arguing about our own thoughts or reasons. The only way to know what God things about this or that subject is to go to his Word.

On another blog I frequent, the author states that he rarely solves theological disputes by exegesis. He thinks that we need to resolve conflict on the level of our presuppositions. I agree that in a dispute our presuppositions often can be the reason for the dispute, but even if this is the case, are we not to get our presuppositions from the text itself? Are we not to let the Bible set the agenda? Should we not have the same presuppositions that the Bible has? The only way to do this is to go back to the text! Even if that means we have to get our exegetical tools dirty. Even if that means we have to set Calvin or Murray or Hodge to the side for a moment. Anyone who knows me, knows I have a high view of tradition and I value the fathers of our faith very much. But you do ultimately settle theological dispute by saying, “My theologian can beat up your theologian.” Or by erecting a balance scale and setting all the fathers on their perspective sides and see which side out weighs the other. As reformed Christians (reformed with a little “r,” those whose theological roots are in the Protestant Reformation) we need to remember sola scriptura. I am not arguing for solo scriptura (only the Bible), but I am arguing that the Bible is our final authority in all matters of faith and practice and we need to take our theological disputes to the text. Back to the Bible!, ought to be out battle cry.


  1. Josh,

    Keep beating this drum! Proof texting and exegesis are two different activities. Just yesterday I read someone's definition that proof texting is citing verses that have "only verbal similarity" to the present argument. Exegetical work goes far deeper.

    For reformed Christians, almost all of our reformation fathers had no problem going to the patristic period for support. Calvin is full of Augustine and Cranmer's homilies cite the early fathers every few sentences.

    "To the text!" is a good battle cry, especially if we keep in mind (as you do) that verse-slinging shuts down inquiry and discussion instead of promoting it.

  2. Jason,

    Thank you for the kind words of encouragement!

  3. Let me cite the current debate happening on our own blog under the Compatiblism discussion as evidence. My first blog post (on the subject of Compatiblism, I mean) was a series of examples from Scripture of Compatiblistic freedom in the Bible, but the Heretic wasn't even interested in discussing the Biblical examples I cited. He explicitly stated that he could get whatever reading out of the text that he needed, once he had decided what his position was on philosophical grounds. This is not a healthy way to find the truth at all. While I do think that natural reason and philosophy are tools which can help us, they are by no means conclusive; and worse yet, the discussion eventually gets reduced to opinions and insults. The text can be dissected and exegeised (sp?) but what can I do with Heretic's opinions? The best you can do with someone who isn't interested in the text of scripture is show that they don't belong to the traditional understanding of what "Christian" means. Well said, and welcome, Walker. Thanks.


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