Saturday, July 12, 2008

Evangelical scholars writing with kid gloves

Kent Sparks observes: "First, it appears to me that many evangelical biblical scholars have not yet adequately synthesized their theological commitments with critical scholarship. Scripture's difficultites are clear enough to them, but so long as it is unclear how these difficulties relate to biblical authority, these scholars will be...tentative about the critical conclusions that they embrace. Second, a number of conservative scholars...have pastoral hearts and so wish to shield their readers from disruptive, faith-testing bouts with cognitive dissonance...A third reason for the rhetorical ambiguity of evangelical biblical scholarship is that evangelical scholars are often wedged uncomfortably between their desire to be good scholars and their desire to sell books to conservative readers...To put it baldly: it seems to me that serious scholarship does not sell among conservative Evangelicals. Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, there are institutional issues at stake." (God's Word in Human Words, 167.)

There's a secret waiting to come out in conservative evangelical scholarship: the critics were right! Who will be the one who will begin telling their constituencies what they have found? When will that one be in a position where they can actually and finally tell?