Sunday, February 17, 2008

Christology as the model for scripture?

Someone explain again why Christ as totally divine and totally human is assumed to be a serviceable model for understanding what scripture is? Aside from there being a meeting of divine and human in both Christ and scripture, what warrant is there really for setting the terms of the discussion in terms of an incarnational analogy? I don't see why evangelicals feel compelled to defer to conciliar formulations of christology to help them articulate what kind of thing we think scripture is? Like I say in my book, evangelicals should not bind scripture to Christ. I thought you were supposed to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, not your doctrine of scripture!

Aside from the arguments I give in my book I might also suggest two further points. First, the council determined that Christ has one person and two natures. Where is that in scripture? Or what part of scripture can help us conclude that? The declaration that Christ has one person and two nature is a conciliar determination, plain and simple, a decision that has become a major part of the Christian tradition. This conciliar model--not biblical (which isn't a bad thing necessarily, but it does need to be stated)-- is setting the parameters within which all evangelical discussions of scripture can take place. Why allow this to be the case?

Second, an insistence on an incarnational analogy allows for a mood of discussion such that people can't help but suggest to each other that if one entertains such and such about scripture then one is like the so and so heretics during the christological controversies. Evangelicals can't seem to help themselves from saying, "Now that's a docetic view of scripture," "That's an Arian view of scripture," "That's an adoptionist view of scripture," and so on. I don't see how this kind of talk helps clarify anything. I think this kind of talk tacitly imposes a conceptual scheme on scripture that evangelicals who think of themselves as "orthodox" will not be willing to question. The incarnational analogy sociologically limits the range of options that can be entertained and may even force discussions about what scripture is in directions that scripture itself may not welcome. That scripture has the equivalent of one person and two natures is not a formulation that all evangelicals will be on board with--or they may want to think about it critically. Such evangelicals should not be regarded as heretics from the onset on account of the arbitrary terms in which the discussion has already been set. Talk about loading the questions!