EFCA Theology Conference: The Doctrine of the Scriptures (6): Contemporary Context

Greg Strand – November 10, 2014 Leave a comment

When considering the history of the doctrine of the Scriptures, what are specific issues considered to be important?

In light of our upcoming Theology Conference, I pondered this question and listed a number of issues I believe are important.

  • Accommodation: This is a big push among many today, particularly OT scholars addressing creation and Adam and Eve, e.g. Kenton Sparks, Peter Enns, Denis Lamoreax, John Walton, et al., who claim that God accommodated himself in his revelation but he did so through the cultural conventions of the day, even though they were inaccurate. This is contrary to the way accommodation has historically been understood. (I will address this in a future post.)
  • Inerrant and authoritative in faith and practice and history and science: Claiming the former and not the latter affirms a limited view of inerrancy, which was the view of Rogers and McKim, who were soundly refuted by John Woodbridge, one of our speakers. This view persists today.
  • Sola scriptura/absoluta scriptura, not nuda/solo scriptura: In a desire to affirm the sole and absolute authority of the Scriptures sometimes Evangelicals affirm it as if it is the only authority, which means other authorities cannot be consulted or used. Interestingly, the Reformers who affirmed sola Scriptura and absoluta Scriptura consulted and used the Church Fathers to support their view.
  • Scripture and tradition: Related to the previous point, this is an important rediscovery by Evangelicals. We are part of a rich tradition that is rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ that goes back to the New Testament. But it does not necessitate affirming Tradition as the Roman Catholic Church.
  • Sufficiency: This is a major issue today in that many are seeking something more – more personal, more direct, more existential, more situational, etc. Consider the significant influence among Evangelicals of Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling. This is related to one’s understanding and expectation of the Scriptures.
  • Ministry of the Word in the local church is not limited to a pulpit ministry: Though the Reformation rediscovered the place of the preaching of the Word, the fallout since has been seeing a pulpit ministry not only as preeminent but almost the exclusive place the ministry of the Word is done. This view has been heightened with some of the excellent conferences as of late which attendees take away that preaching equals a faithful ministry of the Word. Certainly a ministry of the Word in a local church is that, but it is that and so much more. A ministry of the Word also includes the prayer meeting on Monday morning, and the counseling session on Tuesday, and the elder meeting on Wednesday, etc.
  • Major challenges since the Reformation: I highlight just a few: Enlightenment (18th century), Descartes (1596-1650), Kant (1724-1804), Schleiermacher (1768-1834), Feuerbach (1804-1872), Harnack (1851-1930), Darwinian Evolution and German Higher Critical thinking, modernism and liberalism, postmodernism, etc. Much could be written about each and every one of these.

How would you have answered the question? What specific issues would you have included?

Greg Strand

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Affectionately called “Walking Bible” by his youngest daughter, Greg Strand has a ministry history that goes back to 1982. Since that time, he has served in local church ministry in a variety of ministry capacities: youth pastor, associate pastor of adult ministries and senior pastor. He is currently the EFCA's Executive Director of Theology and Credentialing. Greg reads voraciously and never stops learning — a passion reflected in the overflowing bookshelves that spill from his library to multiple offices. And he could tell you about each of those books! His hunger for learning pales in contrast to his great love for God and for teaching the Word of God.

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