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…
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.