Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Dissonant messages

The consistency and infallibility of Scripture is a traditional presupposition of the Calvinist/Arminian debate. Both sides traditionally assume that Scripture consistently teaches one or the other position. And that's a revealed truth. It's just a question of ascertaining what the Bible teaches. 

However, modern Arminians (especially in academia) often have a more liberal view of Scripture. For instance, Asbury Seminary is the flagship of Arminian seminaries. Here's what Bill Arnold, who's an OT prof. at Asbury, recently said:

I agree that there are many topics in the Bible for which we have diverse voices that sometimes present dissonant messages. Christian biblical theology takes all the dissonant voices and traces progressive messages and themes across the canon, but always including every text. A truly “biblical” theology does not set out deciding which texts fail to express the mind of God. The very presence of a verse in the Bible is witness to its lasting value. These texts are Israel’s witness (Brueggemann’s “testimony”) to the mind of God, and the early church’s witness to God’s continued work through the Messiah.

i) On this view, there's no expectation that Scripture has a consistent position on the Calvinist/Arminian debate. It could, by turns, teach Calvinism and Arminianism alike, expressing dissonant messages. 

It that case, it would be artificial and reductionistic to harmonize these discordant voices. 

ii) In addition, even if consistently taught Arminianism, once you repudiate inerrancy, that could be consistently wrong. And Arnold is far from alone in this respect. It's not uncommon for Arminian academics to deny the inerrancy of Scripture. 

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