Saturday Morning Brunch

This week I am spending time with my family down in Tennessee to celebrate my younger sister graduating from High School.  While I’ve been here I have been doing some reading, finally catching up with the rest of the world by reading A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans.  Next week I hope to write and post a review of that book, which I have thoroughly enjoyed!  Stay tuned for that…

This week the most noteworthy piece to catch my eye was this critique of inerrancy by Zack Hunt (a fellow Yale Divie) posted on Red Letter Christians.

I like most of what Zack has to say, though I think he inadvertently raises a deeper and more interesting question about how progressive protestants can approach/use scripture through the way that he interprets the flood story.  Though admittedly not the main emphasis of his article, Zack implies in a brief, passing look at the passage that the story’s message is essentially about “a God who watches over and cares for His creation even in the midst of a storm,” which struck me as a tad simplistic given that in the story God sends the storm to destroy everyone not on the boat.  This reading raises, in my (probably convoluted) mind, a question about theological authority.  Here’s the comment I left for Zack:

Great article! I think your discussion of faith and certainty is dead on. Wholeheartedly agree that faith implies some degree of doubt and that inerrancy boasts of a false certainty which actually undermines faith. I also think you are right to point out that historically inerrancy is a new doctrine, not a traditional dogma of the church, and that assertions of a “truer” form of Christianity usually accompany heretical developments. My only quibble with this post is with your reading of the flood story. I think saying that the message is that God cares for us even in the storm might overlook a significant part of the story (namely, that God sent the storm to destroy everyone who wasn’t on the boat). Not sure this is a big deal in terms of the points you are making in this post, but I think its worth mentioning because one of the things that we more “liberal”/”progressive” protestants struggle with, in my experience, is the extent to which its ok to reinterpret texts/doctrines in light of our own ideals or present situations (especially when we deal with any story/text/doctrine that might make God seem angry or judgmental). That struggle brings us back again to a question about “authority” in theology, which I think is at root what conservative evangelicals are trying to get at with the doctrine of inerrancy (it’s a doctrine about scriptural authority at heart). So this is all a long set-up for a question I’d be interested in your thoughts on: setting aside inerrancy as a concept, what are the parameters of “theological authority” that are invested in scripture?

What do you think?  I hope you will join the discussion, either here or on RLC.


What do you think? I would love to hear from you, please share your thoughts. Just remember to be respectful of others.

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