Monday, June 16, 2014

Christianity ex nihilo

Arminian theologians like Randal Rauser and Roger Olson keep trying to decouple the Christian faith from the OT :

This is a question laden with dubious assumptions. You're assuming here that the credibility of the Deuteronomic history resides in the degree to which it corresponds with some set of past historical events. 
How's that a dubious assumption?
This assumption has been repeatedly challenged by biblical scholars and theologians over the last fifty years from Brevard Childs to Hans Frei to George Lindbeck to my friend Yoram Hazony.
Compare how little faith he has in Bible history with how much faith he has in liberal scholars. It's not as if Bible critics were eyewitnesses to OT history. It's not as if they're in a position to correct the record because they saw what really went down. 
From a Christian perspective, my faith rests in the historical life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The faith doesn't rest on the historicity of particular OT events.
Yes, the Christian faith is a hermetically-sealed religion that fell from the sky in the 1C. It doesn't rest on picayune details like God calling Abraham out of Ur. Doesn't rest on God making a covenant with Abraham to bless the Jews and Gentiles. Doesn't rest on God delivering the Jews from Egyptian bondage in fidelity to the Abrahamic covenant (Exod 2:24-25; cf. Gen 12:2-3; 15:13-16). Doesn't rest on whether David ever existed. Doesn't rest on God making a covenant with David–or attendant prophecies about a future Davidic Messiah. Doesn't rest on God restoring the Babylonian exiles to the land, in fulfillment of Jeremiah's prophecy. 
Even though Matthew, John, Luke-Acts, Romans, Hebrews, &c, constantly ground the Christian faith in particular OT events, it makes no difference if those are nonevents. 
BTW, does Rauser think the Gospels are historically accurate? Given his general outlook, surely he regards many reported speeches, incidents, and miracles in the Gospels as fictional additions or legendary embellishments. 
Go back to the Adamic fall narrative as an example. Whether there was a historical fall or not, the narrative functions minimally to elucidate the universal sense of fallenness and alienation that characterizes the human race.
A universal "sense of fallenness" absent a historical fall. That would be delusional. 

What about the main story of the Deuteronomic history? Well here's a concrete issue for you. The archaeological evidence doesn't support the destruction of Jericho within the timeline provided by the Joshua narrative. Is this a problem for your faith.

The timeline is disputed (e.g. Bryant Wood).

Moreover, Rauser fails to distinguish between the historicity of the event, and what trace evidence may survive fire, erosion, or the reuse of building materials. 


  1. Calvinism is so much easier to refute once you decide the Bible is unreliable.

    1. Conversely, Arminianism (and other Arminian-like theologies) is so much easier to defend once you decide the Bible is unreliable.

    2. And denying the reliability of the Bible is a much smaller price to pay than conceding any ground to Calv... calv... sorry I just can't bring myself to say that detestable word.