I was simply going to give a quote of the day from Ken: “When push comes to shove, those of the Chicago Statement approach consistently trump the most obvious meaning of the Bible with evangelical tradition, in my opinion.” But I really think the whole post and his series as a whole is worth a look, for those readers of this blog (you know who you are) who are interested in the subject of Biblical inerrancy.
The fuller context of the aforementioned quote provides a powerful insight, and so I thought I’d provide it in full:
2. Scriptures are supreme. The authority of the Church is subordinate. Creeds, councils, declarations are of lesser authority.
Given the assumptions of the authors, I agree. I think the “Church” here is understood in a political sense–the political bodies of church history, not least the “Catholic church.” I certainly do not think any political church holds such authority, and the creeds and councils are still political statements. In my opinion, however, when these authors say “Scriptures,” they really mean the Bible read Christianly, the Bible read as Christian Scripture. They would disagree that they meant this, but in my opinion they cannot see their own glasses and how those glasses color their perspective.
From my point of view, these sorts of statements involve such subtle but significant misunderstandings of language that I almost don’t know what to say. It poses as contradictory options things that, on deeper examination, I believe are virtually the same. I’ll agree to it in the same way I agree when my son says something like, “So it’s better to score a touchdown than strike out, right Dad?” What I’m thinking, though, is that he’s a little confused.
In my opinion, so many of the meanings these signatories themselves found so authoritative in the text of Scripture were themselves products of their own Christian tradition. The signatories would deny that this is the case, but they do not properly see themselves, in my opinion.
The NIV is a wonderful example of the “say one thing, do another” dynamic I see necessary for this hermeneutic to sustain itself.
Say: We are listening to the Bible. Our interpretations come from the plain sense of the text. We are under the authority of the text and not letting the Church have a higher authority.
Do: Let’s translate “form of God” as “very nature God” so the full divinity of Christ is not in question (Phil. 2:6)–is “shape” really the same as “very nature”?! Let’s translate “firstborn of creation” with “firstborn over creation” (Col. 1:15) so there is no question of whether Jesus is created or not. Let’s add a word out of nowhere to “did not give” so it reads “did not just give” (Jer. 7:22), even though there is no such word in the Hebrew–we don’t want to leave any question about whether Leviticus was written at the time of the exodus. Let’s add another word out of the blue so that “to the dead” reads “to those now dead” so there is no room for the dead being saved (1 Pet. 4:6)–Protestants don’t believe such Catholic ideas. Again, let’s add another word that isn’t there in the original so that “is not concerned” reads “is not just concerned” so we give no room for allegorical interpretation in 1 Cor 9:9-10.
Most of these moves have no clear basis in the text and seems in each case to be motivated overwhelmingly to maintain the perspective of the neo-evangelical tradition, thus deconstructing the fundamental claims of this hermeneutic. When push comes to shove, those of the Chicago Statement approach consistently trump the most obvious meaning of the Bible with evangelical tradition, in my opinion.
This will also be relevant to readers who have an interest in Bible translation.
You know you want to – pay Ken’s blog a visit.