I was reading an author this morning that made a few statements regarding the “objective truth” of Scripture. While I understand what he is trying to say it made me wonder about the use of that terminology. When I think of the canonical gospels I don’t think of (a) objectivity nor do I think of (b) erroneous. I think of truthful subjectivity. In other words Scripture definitely has an angle, a lens, and a narrative through which it tells the story of the world and individual authors within the canon even more so. Shouldn’t we speak of Scripture as being subjective yet truthful?
Again, we must not get loose from the reality epistemology. Any subjectivity must come from the text itself, and also the history of exegesis. And here is the Historical Church also.
Seeking a balance in our postmodern age, I would recommend the book by Stanley Grentz: Renewing the Center, Evangelical Theology In A Post-Theological Era. There is a newer 2nd edition out now, with a Foreword by Brian McLaren and Afterthought, by John R. Franke. I have both the first-edition (2000), and this second 2006. Grentz died in 2005 at only 55 of a brain aneurysm. This book is sort of a classic-like now on the subject. A must read in my opinion!
PS BTW the 2006 version is on super sale at CBD, 4 US dollars?
Can you clarify what you mean by “the reality epistemology?”
OK, it might be so that Scripture is “objective truth” however in order to glean anything from it, we must subjectively internalise it.
One thing I want to clarify is that I don’t think subjectivity entails error. What I am saying is that the authors of Scripture provide us an angle on truth that has their minds, words, and worldviews as a filter. For example, I see no contradiction between Paul and James regarding justification by faith but I think they are both looking at something similar from two different angles. Both are true in their observation but subjectively so.
We may say that God’s act of justifying is an “objective” act but it can never be described and understood objectively. The biblical authors inform us through filters and we interpret through filters.
Mentally I wanted to write that wee word “of”, but missed it, typo.
And certainly we can only “internalise” the Word of God, in and by the Spirit of God.
As I quoted Luther on my blog, it must be the truth of our conscience, but only as God “has” spoken to and in it, from His written and objective Word itself. But certainly by the Spirit of God. Note Romans 8:15-16. And only the regenerate heart can “know” God, and His Word! Regeneration precedes faith.
Brian, couldn’t agree more.
Yes, it is subjective truth transferred from the Holy Spirit to the human authors. But at the same time, I think that scripture transcends our binary of objective/subjective.
What would you call such transcendence?
Transcendence is one of the very realities of the character of God Himself. And God is both “transcendent” and “immanent” in His Church, and also to a fallen world. This is traditional Theism. We can see this in the theology of Thomism itself for example. It is a theology of both faith & reason, and puts redemptive man and the Church in the centre of God’s creation.
I understand the concept of God as transcendent but I am not sure what Rod means as relates to the perspective of Scripture. Is he saying Scripture is a “God’s-eye” view? Rod, I need you to comment again! 🙂
Ha ha ha. No, I do not mean divine transcendence, per se, but what I am saying is that objectivity/subjectivity are modern categories that we use to identify truth as such. I am saying that culturally and religiously speaking, the biblical text is outside of the Western philosophical tradition; it transcends, rather, the categories we impose on it as constructs of modern thought because the original text is not a product of modernity. Is that clearer?
I agree that our modernist categories are anachronistic in some sense, but isn’t all of theology? We need terminology to discuss Scripture. Do you suggest something else that captures what you are thinking?
I think it is interesting that nothing was more historical or real for Bultmann than the crucifixion of Christ. And the sight of the crucifix was such an impact for me, even as a wee boy of about 6.
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