Yesterday I shared some thoughts on hermeneutics, the language of faith when discussing doctrines like the virgin birth, and the historical-critical approach to studying Jesus in “Three hermeneutical paradigms to use when studying the doctrine of the virgin birth.” Later in the day someone posted a video that Greg Boyd put on YouTube on Sunday where he attempts to answer the question, “How can something as important as faith in Christ depend on the accuracy of information about the historical Jesus, when our evaluation of the veracity of historical information can never rise above the level of the more or less probable?” Since it is relevant to yesterday’s post I thought I’d share it here. Let me know your thoughts!
There are portions of Scripture that we understand differently because of the first coming of Jesus Christ. We read Gen. 3.15 where the seed of a woman will crush the head of the serpent differently than prior generation after prior generation of Hebrew/Jewish readers. We do the same with “the prophet” like Moses predicted in Deut. 18.15-19. We read the Suffering Servant passages of the Book of Isaiah differently. Why? Because God’s apocalyptic inbreaking in the person of Christ made better sense of the imagery and the poetry of it all.
There are still dozens of passages of Scripture—from the prophets to the gospels to the Apocalypse—where we debate over what it means and what it meant and whether any of it matters. Many conclude Scripture is misguided and that God has not spoken to us there. How can God speak in such confusion?
Maybe we should give Scripture the “eschatological” benefit of the doubt. It seems many Christians prefer to denigrate the Scripture to a merely human product because some passages remain cryptic and unclear and therefore they “must be” erroneous. But what if God has not unraveled portions of Scripture due to His sovereign purposes? What if there are passages that lead us to scratch our head in confusion just like many passages in the Hebrew Scripture did to Israel (and some still do to Jews and Christians alike) because God will speak through them at the opportune time?
Maybe we, the church, need to rethink how quick we are to discard and disregard portions of Scripture due to their mysterious nature when instead we should let it criticize and concern us? What if there is a reason why some passages give us the angst of unknowing? What if God uses these passages as much as he uses Jn. 3.16 (a passage we think we understand now, but nothing like we will understand at the Parousia).
It is easy to criticize Scripture when we do not comprehend what is going on with a given text and when it seems to be misguided. But we may miss the opportunity to let the Spirit create in us a holy, discomforting expectation. Maybe we should trust God, as lover of our souls, as one who has sent us a letter that says some concerning things, yet in whom we must trust to explain those things when He reveals Himself fully to us. To do this is to make a theological assumption that God is going to let us see Him in Christ. We look through a glass darkly now, but that doesn’t mean God is gone or His Word has mislead us.