Thursday, June 15, 2006

"New Truth" is not God's Truth: Part One


As we reported here yesterday, there is a debate that is raging within some denominational circles about homosexuality. The basis of the argument has degenerated to the axiom that "all truth is God's Truth" therefore newer and more enlightened discoveries should have precedence over older and more “outdated” forms of understanding (e.g. the Bible).

The argument goes something like this (which can be seen in Bishop Griswold’s quote from the previous post): Since we are more enlightened being armed with more education and research concerning the inner workings of man’s psyche and physical well-being then we should eschew old ideas of biblical anthropology in exchange for a more biological understanding. The result being that God made a person such and such a way therefore any attempts to change such is a lack of love and an affront to the imago dei. Even N.T. Wright has reasoned that a decision concerning sexuality in the church should be left up to a “consensus”.

This argument while largely taking place outside of evangelical circles nevertheless reveals a fundamental weakness in many evangelicals’ notions of truth and the sufficiency of Scripture. I know many evangelical who look at passages like Psalm 19 and walk away thinking that God has revealed Himself in creation in such a way that general revelation provides us with something that the Bible does not. If you find it hard to believe that evangelicals would embrace such a perspective then I would invite you to visit the “counseling” department of most evangelical seminaries. When you’re done there visit the biology lectures of evangelical colleges. After you’ve listened to their lectures, visit the psychology, sociology, anthropology or physical science departments. Better yet let some of the leading evangelical scholars in this area speak for themselves:

“All truth is certainly God’s truth. The doctrine of general revelation provides warrant for going beyond the propositional revelation of Scripture into the secular world of scientific study expecting to find true and useable concepts” (Crabb, Effective Biblical Counseling, 36).

“The evangelical church has a great opportunity to combine the special revelation of God's Word with the general revelation studied by the psychological sciences and professions. The end result of this integration can be a broader (and deeper) view of human life” (Narramore, “Perspectives on Integration,” 17).
“My knowledge of special revelation—the Bible—would have been combined with my knowledge of general revelation—what God has taught me about his world through my study of psychology, physiology, counseling, rehabilitation, and other fields” (Collins, “An Integration View,” 117).
“Just as the rain falls on the just and the unjust, so too does truth, by the process that theologians call God’s common grace. Romans 1 speaks of God even revealing central truths about his nature to unbelievers (v. 19). … If we understand God’s counsel to be truth, we will be committed to pursuing truth wherever we find it. And we sometimes find it in the careful and insightful writings of unbelievers” (Jones and Butman, Modern Psychotherapies, 27-28).

21 Comments:

Blogger Jerry Wragg said...

In sad fact, Paul, R.C. Sproul expressed the same mindset in a recent radio sermon. When asked about the divine veracity of the Genesis account, he said that until general revelation compellingly "overturns" a literal interpretation of the 24 hour day he remains committed to the literal view.
In effect, he admits to the superiority of "scientific" exchange and discovery over supernatural revelation.

2:37 PM  
Blogger Jerry Wragg said...

As Columbo augments, "Uh...one more thing here uh..."

I fear that, like Grudem, Sproul's philosophical leanings sometimes become a trojan horse for a kind of naturalistic infiltration within Christianity.

2:43 PM  
Blogger TheBlueRaja said...

Just a quick note on the Wright comment - it's pretty clear that he thinks the lifestyle of homosexuality is sinful and that attempts to make the Bible seem as though it could approve of modern manifestations are doomed to failure. The statement about "consensus" has something to do wtih how the Anglican ecclesiastical machine works and the desire to keep the Anglican communion from disintegrating.

11:27 PM  
Blogger TheBlueRaja said...

With that said, it's easy to remember why I'm not an Anglican . . .

;)

11:27 PM  
Blogger Matt Waymeyer said...

As an FYI, if I have my facts straight, I believe Dr. Richard Mayhue has a chapter coming out entitled "Is Nature the 67th Book of the Bible?" I believe it will be part of a book with multiple contributor, but I don't know the title or editor of the book. I'm guessing that the title of Dr. Mayhue's chapter is playing off a statement that Hugh Ross made about science or nature being just that.

10:42 AM  
Blogger Paul Lamey said...

Blueraja,

I too have read Wright's statements that you referenced here. What I find problematic is that the issue has been in study at various levels for almost two years. On similar points the issue for Anglicans might even be traced back to the 1960's. So what is not pretty clear is why they continue to allow such foolishness in their communion instead opting for more "study". Wright may be clear more or less on his own personal beliefs but his influence as Bishop of Durham has been unusally silent compared to fellow Bishops from Africa and Austrailia. His language of "consensus" is vague at best and only seems to play down the issue further. Note of caution: Please don't interpret this as some rant of a "TR" as your new assosiations constantly do at your new place of residence. I'm simply pointing out a trend that has been evident among Anglicans for some time yet I see some of the same mistakes among evangelicals in our own backyard...which was the point of my post.

11:11 AM  
Blogger TheBlueRaja said...

Have a beer and settle down there, tiger (you're not a southern baptist, are you?); I agree. The lack of prophetic passion in addressing the issue. At least his recent letter/ultimatum to the ECUSA has a bit more backbone, though.

12:17 PM  
Blogger Paul Lamey said...

I have forsaken my SBC ways which has caused some of my brothers to question my usefullness.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Matt Waymeyer said...

Paul,

Just so you know, I wouldn't put myself in that category at all. I have questioned your usefulness for years on entirely different grounds.

12:40 PM  
Blogger Paul Lamey said...

Matt,

You, most of my family, my fellow elders, my mailman, and all the dogs I had as a child would join you.

12:46 PM  
Blogger Matt Waymeyer said...

In other words, those who know you best.

12:48 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Devil's advocate: has the study of nature/science ever proved popular biblical interpretation to be wrong?

2:18 PM  
Blogger Paul Lamey said...

JDM,

I was unaware that the Devil needed an advocate. The answer is no unless you're playing some kind of devilish word game with the phrase "popular biblical interpretation."

2:51 PM  
Blogger TheBlueRaja said...

Check it: "Gay activist Colin Coward of Changing Attitude in Salisbury, England, dismissed Wright's paper, saying, "Tom Wright has gay priests in his diocese, and he has done nothing to stop them."

4:58 PM  
Blogger TheBlueRaja said...

Holy cow - are you serious, Paul? You don't think that popular beliefs about medicine, physics, astronomy etc. influenced the way people read the Bible for four millennia?

7:20 PM  
Blogger Paul Lamey said...

Raja, that wasn't the question NOR IS IT THE POINT OF THIS POST. If I somehow misunderstood JDM and he was asking what you have here then my answer is sure, no my answer would be like duh. I've already answered you more here than I promised myself I would so be careful b/c I'm far less tolerant of rabbit trails than other blogs.

9:35 PM  
Blogger Jerry Wragg said...

Paul -
Nicely done! How quickly you were able to sense a diversion and stay on course...

Proud to know you-----

6:05 AM  
Blogger Caleb Kolstad said...

Perhaps Sproul went to the same school as Jim Boice....

This is good stuff to chew on.

Thanks

7:35 AM  
Blogger Paul Prins said...

New to the blog, and just want to point out that even though God reveals some truth to non-believers (think of the countless people who've heard the gospel and aren't saved, let alone through other means) it begs the question. Why would you go partial strength with the truth, when you have the real deal at your finger tips?

Just a thought.

11:41 PM  
Blogger runninbill said...

As one involved in a small way in "high science," most people including Christians have a woefuly inflated view of the concept of natural revelation as truth. First of all, while our understanding of a "hard" science like physics is fairly extensive (but certainly not exhaustive), our understanding in "soft" sciences is minimal. Read textbooks in a discipline over time in the latter and you will discover that what was "truth" a few years ago is passe today. (In fact, many books are out of date by the time they appear in print.) So we know far less than what we claim to know (though we are very good about theorizing about things and assuming that is "truth"). We need a healthy dose of humility when it comes to what we actually know.

Secondly, the application of that (incomplete) knowledge is far different from Scripture. God has told us everything we need to know, and given believers His Spirit to be able to understand and apply (albeit imperfectly) that absolute truth. We have far more access to what we really need to know as believers than we do to the information in general revelation.

7:01 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Paul, sorry for the diversion.

Note to self: skim through Abraham Kuyper's "Stone Lectures" before Paul's next post on this issue.

9:52 PM  

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