John Hobbins writes on his blog “Ancient Hebrew Poetry” that struggling to make sense of biblical teaching that contradicts what we can see with our own eyes is required of believers and not something to be rejected:
“It is right and good and a joyful thing to complain and criticize whenever there is a gap between the truth we associate with God and the facts on the ground.
Truth of redemptive significance is bound to be counterfactual. God, therefore, is bound to be counterfactual. To be sure, the world is full of people who have no need of redemption. They are the wealthy. They will never have a need to criticize God or the way things are.
[…]What matters is the context in which complaints and criticism occur. Do I make the criticism because I expect God or scripture to answer my questions and I will not rest until I find my rest in God and his Word? Or because I’ve decided that God and his Word are something I need to protect myself against, because I’ve found a higher standard of truth by which to judge them both?”
Read the full article here.
Augustine of Hippo argues that when we claim that the Bible must be understood in such a way as to invalidate things that are demonstrably true (like the age of the Earth) then we do violence to the biblical witness. Rather than insist that God is testing our belief by asking us to believe something fundamentally irrational, we are instead called to go deeper into the biblical witness so as to understand the real point that is being made.
…I wish more folks would keep this in mind when they go to places like the Creation Museum in Kentucky.
“Augustine of Hippo argues that when we claim that the Bible must be understood in such a way as to invalidate things that are demonstrably true (like the age of the Earth) then we do violence to the biblical witness.”
From your keyboard to God’s ears! (With apologies to my Yiddish speaking friends.) Creationism does great violence to Torah. I think I need to spend more time with Augustine. Do you have a cite?
Hi Jim – I do. I’ll have to dig around though to get the specific passage. I first came across it in a lovely monograph about the conflict between Galileo and the Church. Let me see if I can find it for you.
I don’t suppose you can aim me at the monograph?
Will do as soon as I have time to attack my library and ferret out where I’ve stashed the book. My books are still a mess since my move to Phoenix and my subsequent two offices. I haven’t had the time to carefully sort them yet.
Though you’d think now that I’m in my fourth year here, that would’ve already happened. Clearly the book elves are not being bribed by the pot of bookbinders glue that I leave at the foot of the shelves overnight. Maybe I need to add chilli to the mix for the elves in the Southwest to feel sufficiently grateful…