Reforming or Conforming on Scripture?

This is part 2 of my review of this excellent book. The article on Scripture and humanity is written by Paul Wells (no relation to David).

His stated purpose in general is “to apply a little ointment to the Achille’s heel of evangelicalism, the humanity of Scripture” (p. 30). There are three ways Wells attempts to do this. First, a consideration of what happens when people separate the human elements of Scripture from the divine. Secondly, an examination of how people have attempted to articulate this relationship in the past, and third, his own approach to the question.

Wells rightly points the finger at the Enlightenment for driving a wedge between the humanity and the divinity of Scripture (p. 31). However, this is a problem mantle that evangelicals have perhaps unknowingly donned. The question that the Enlightenment poses to us is “whether or not the humanity of Scripture is identical to all other expressions of humanity we might observe (pp. 32-33). The most extreme form of this duality is reader-response criticism, which “challenges the truth and the authority of Scripture” (p. 36).

Wells goes on to examine several models of the relationship of the human to the divine in Scripture. Witness, accomodation, the incarnational analogy, and the servant form of Scripture. I’m not going to do all your work for you. I’ll let you read it to find out which of these is good and which is not.

Wells then examines three authors and their views: Bloesch, Pinnock, and Enns. I will just quote his conclusion about Enns, which is probably of most interest to my readers:

Enns leaves us with the unhappy impression that by being embedded in culture, both the writers and the readers of the Bible are in some way stuck in it. If that is the case, as James Barr remarked years ago, “there is no sense in which the Bible can be ‘authoritative’ for us.” Even if we are sure that Enns does not mean that, his formulation of cultural embeddedness unfortunately suffests that cultural relativity affects the biblical writers and ourselves in much the same way (p. 54).

Lastly, he advocates four perspectives through which we should look at this question: 1. a new humanity in the old. What he means is that “the God-breathed Scripture participates in the old creation as the divine sign and presence of the new creation” (58). 2. the humanity of Scripture as a political function, in the sense of Kline’s metapolis, “the metamorphosed city, the city of God” (ibid.). 3. Christ is the conclusion of the whole historical process. This is the redemptive-historical understanding of Scripture. 4. There is a link between the humanity of Scripture and humanity in regeneration.


Also In!

WTS bookstore has now received the Pitt Minion ESV’s published by Cambridge. If you can’t afford goatskin, there is a French Morocco leather available for $20 less. For a closer look, see this excellent post.