Reformed, Always Reforming

This book looks fascinating. It is focused on a topic dear to my heart: the relationship of Reformed confessions to the modern practice of ST. There is a great imbalance in the way many theologians today exercise their trade. Exegetes cannot stand to have any systematic concerns wend their way through the process of hermeneutics. I see this distaste on the part of exegetes as the chief danger in today’s theological culture. Explaining the reasons behind this bifurcation of ST and exegesis is not exceptionally difficult. Postmodernism is the culprit, in my opinion. Since postmodernism has an inherent distrust of metanarratives (and ST surely partakes of nothing if not an overarching explanation of everything related to God), each text of Scripture is made to tell its own story. The analogy of faith is something either not known, or not heeded.

However, not all the problems lie here. After all, there are those who argue rather strenuously against postmodernism, and yet still do not like the influence of ST in exegesis. What is the reason behind this phenomenon? Either postmodernism has gotten into their unconscious mind, influencing them in ways they do not appreciate, or they wish to have contradictory, muddled theologies rattling away in their compartmentalized brains.

Be that as it may, postmodernism is not the start of this bifurcation. Surely, we must trace it back to the Enlightenment, or as my brother is fond of saying, the Endarkenment. Surely, postmodernism has its origins there. Whenever mankind thinks of himself as the arbiter of truth, each man’s truth becomes authoritative in his own mind. Thus, the idea that several voices should say one thing is anathema. I really think that hatred of ST is a product of man’s desire for autonomy.

Is there danger of ST drowning out exegetical concerns? Of course there is. We have seen many examples of this in the history of the church. A preconceived idea dictates the course of exegesis. However, it has been a hallmark (mostly) of Reformed scholarship that the ST flows from the exegesis.

I think it terribly important, however, that we recognize this fundamental truth about ST: it must guard our exegesis. Our doctrine of God must prevent us from looking at “God repented” and saying that God is open to changing in the light of what mankind does. In other words, the relationship between ST and exegesis must be a two-way street. Exegesis is, and always has been, the life-blood of ST. However, ST must put boundaries around our exegesis. I am hoping that the above linked book will deal with these issues in some detail.