Expanding Rainbow of Evangelical Christian Options For Interpreting the Bible Makes It Increasingly Difficult to “Tell the Difference Between Liberal and Evangelical Christian Scholars”

Options For Interpreting the Bible

However, the other side of that debate would phrase the question differently. They would say, Itʼs growing more difficult to tell the difference between conservative Evangelical and mainstream biblical scholarship, adding that they think Evangelicalism needs to come to grips with the wider world of biblical scholarship and all the questions that arise necessarily from studying the text and history deeply.

Hereʼs whatʼs happening. Some evangelical scholars now argue that the Sermon on the Mount didnʼt happen literally as written. They say that people collected Jesusʼ sayings and put them together into the Sermon on the Mount. They say the geneologies of Matthew and Luke are fiction. They say the visit of the magi is fiction. They say the negative portrayal of the Pharisees in the Gospels is not accurate. But these same scholars also sign statements saying the Bible is without “error,” adding that it is without “error” based on its intended meaning, just as their more conservative brethren likewise assert. The debate involves oneʼs interpretation of a textʼs “intended” meaning, for itʼs day and age as well as for Godʼs purposes of teaching necessary truth.

The past generation of Evangelical biblical scholars, including those of the highest calibre, have been repeating that what we have in the Gospels are the surviving traces of Jesusʼ life. So we need to apply criteria to see which parts of the Gospels may have happened historically. They admit that all we have is a scale of probability on any given passage.

Robert Gundry. Says that the author of the Gospel of Matthew presents Peter as an apostate who lost his salvation. Gundryʼs lecture can be viewed here. Gundry was expelled from the Evangelical Theological Society for arguing that the author of the Gospel of Matthew used a Jewish literary genre called midrash that embroiders historical events with nonhistorical ones.

Michael Bird. Says Gundry should be reinstated to the Evangelical Theological Society. The reason is because increasing numbers of ETS members have grown more comfortable with modern biblical criticism.

Craig Blomberg. Agrees with Gundry saying we should allow that kind of interpretation. Blomberg says we shouldnʼt see the story of Jesus telling Peter to find the coin in the fishes mouth as historical. Also says we should accept Gundry back, that his method of biblical interpretation is perfectly legitimate, that his view of three Isaiahʼs is fine, and that a Pauline imitator wrote books instead of Paul.

William Lane Craig. Says he doesnʼt know what to think about the “raising of the many saints” passage in the Gospel of Matthew, but that it could be taken as apocalyptic symbolism. When asked his opinion on whether there were guards at the tomb, Lane says he canʼt think of anybody who would defend whether there were really guards at the tombs. Craig also admits he “does not know” how to interpret the Bibleʼs opening chapter: “I think that you can see from this survey of various biblical interpretations of Genesis 1 that there is quite a wide range of interpretations of Genesis 1 that have been defended by Bible believing Evangelical scholars. It is not the case that we are ‘boxed in’ to just one interpretation that is valid and sound for anyone who is a Bible believing Christian. Thereʼs quite a wide range of interpretations of Genesis 1. And you might say, well, which of these interpretations is the best? If any, which one would you endorse? And here I have to give my candid view, I donʼt know. I have been studying and reading on this subject a long time and Iʼm still uncertain as to what is the best view, so I donʼt have a sort of hard and fast opinion on this, but I think thatʼs alright. I think that the Christian can be open-minded with respect to various interpretations of biblical passages, and doesnʼt need to pigeon-hole everybody into one acceptable interpretation.” Source: William Lane Craig, Defenders podcast, series 2, “Section 9, ‘Creation and Evolution,’” Part 12

“When it says that Adam was created out of the dust of the earth, if this is a figurative narrative that could well describe human hominid forms, the material stuff out of which these are made. I donʼt think that itʼs clear, unless you take this in a very literal way, I donʼt think itʼs clear that even human evolution would be incompatible with biblical theism.” SOURCE: William Lane Craig, Defenders podcast, series 2, “Section 9, ‘Creation and Evolution,’” Part 13
Source: Creation vs. Evolution Series

For more on this topic, keep tuned to this conservative Christian website as well as looking up the works of the above mentioned scholars to understand their points of view.

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