Two Extremes

There was an insightful comment by Stephen under Rachel Held Evans’ post, The problem of biblicism.  Stephen states the following:

“If one has to attend 3-4+ years of seminary and do a PhD, all the while being informally mentored by other evangelical academics, in order to put “biblicism” into practice, then it’s a failure. The continued protestations of inerrantist gatekeeping intellectuals only serves to show their elite intellectualist and doctrinal model of what Christianity most basically is: the production and consumption of complex and sanctioned evangelical theological discourse. This practically makes their version of Christianity unavailable to 97% of people since the requisite material, social, and economic conditions for participation in their model of Christianity are only available to a minority of people.”

I wonder: Why would God reveal his will for us using a book that contains the writings of historical periods, cultures, and languages that are different from our own?  Should it take a Ph.D. to understand the will of God—-especially when Ph.D.s and seminarians themselves disagree about what the Bible means?

I don’t want to go to the other extreme, though, the extreme that says “God revealed his will to common people, not to intellectuals, and so therefore I have the authority to beat you over the head with my interpretation of the Bible, even if there’s no scholarship backing it up, and you have to accept that as a ‘Thus saith the Lord’.”  Okay, I paraphrase!  I characterized some of that view accurately, and, near the end, I was giving my opinion as to where that position has led.  In any case, I’m uncomfortable with both extremes.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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