Evangelical Faith and the Challenge of Historical Criticism Part 2

Appropriation and Constructive Use of Historical Critical Method in Biblical Studies

To read part 1 – The Promise and Perils of Historical Critical Method in Biblical Studies LINK

Some readers may conclude that we have been unduly alarmist in our discussion of the impact of historical criticism which have proven detrimental to the faith of some evangelical scholars. It would be good to recapitulate our concerns by referring to a recently published book – Evangelical Faith and the Challenge of Historical Criticism ed., Christopher Hays and Christopher Ansberry which presents the current state of the historical critical method in evangelical scholarship. The authors are self-confessed evangelical scholars teaching at two venerable evangelical institutions and their book carries endorsements by several established evangelical scholars.

Reading the book confirms the concern that adoption of historical criticism could result in a shift towards liberal teachings: 1) denial of the historical Adam and Eve, 2) doubts about the reliability of the Biblical account of the founding of the nation of Israel, 3) the book of Deuteronomy was not written in the time of Moses. It was a produced much later at the time of King Hezekiah. The various books of prophecy were not written by the purported prophets but by some anonymous groups of followers who codified an ongoing collective tradition. Since it is impossible to identify the actual writers, it would be more accurate to describe these writings as pseuepigraphy, 4) New Testament criticism shows the events narrated in the gospels do not accurately reflect the original context as later anonymous authors took the liberty to redact and collate the texts to serve their own theological purposes. Finally, 5) the Book of Acts is demonstrably not historically reliable as critics conclude that there are discrepancies in historical details and theology between the Paul of the Book of Acts and the Paul of the Pauline Epistles. Continue reading “Evangelical Faith and the Challenge of Historical Criticism Part 2”

Evangelical Faith and the Challenge of Historical Criticism Part 1

The Promise and Perils of Historical Critical Method in Biblical Studies

How is it that access to modern tools of learning which evidently has help many Christians deepen their understanding of the Bible results in some losing their confidence in its historical reliability? It seems we have a classic case of the paradox of knowledge of good and evil which brings blessings and curses in a fallen world. Wonder drugs work miraculous cure but if taken excessively, would poison the body. Atomic energy generates massive electric power but it can also be used for weapons of mass destruction. Historical criticism which enhances our understanding of ancient scripture can also destroy faith – if it is applied without regard for the object of its investigation, the Bible with its self-attested divine authority. In this article I shall examine the process, promise and perils of the historical critical method for the study of the Bible.

Christians today can access many tools of modern knowledge to study Bible. Obscure words are clarified using Greek and Hebrew lexicons, strange ancient customs are explained by Bible encyclopedia and puzzling passages are illuminated in Bible commentaries. Understanding of the Bible becomes more concrete with new knowledge gleaned from recent archaeological excavations.

Leaders in the Malaysian evangelical churches in Malaysia welcome these tools as they will spur vigor and enthusiasm in systematic study of the Bible. After all, the evangelical churches have traditionally prided themselves as a Bible-centred movement. However, there is concern that some scholars have cast doubts on the evangelical doctrine of verbal plenary inspiration and infallibility of the Scripture as they deem the doctrine to be inconsistent with modern scientific study of the Bible that is promoted vigorously in the Western liberal academia. Continue reading “Evangelical Faith and the Challenge of Historical Criticism Part 1”

A Christian Social Vision for Malaysia: Call for Dialogue

A group of Christian leaders and professionals call upon all Malaysians to dialogue on how to work together to build a shared nation.

 A CHRISTIAN SOCIAL VISION FOR MALAYSIA

I. PREAMBLE

Malaysia was formed as a multi-racial and multi-religious nation with a constitutional democracy which grants equality and religious liberty to all citizens under the law. However, recent social-political developments have caused deep concerns that the rights enshrined in the Federal Constitution are being undermined by racial and religious extremism resulting in political marginalization of minority groups, increasing authoritarianism in government and society leading to the restriction of freedom of speech, assembly and association of citizens as well as encroachment by religious authorities on the fundamental liberties of all citizens.

Many individuals and groups have expressed similar concerns. As Christians, we are mindful of the call from the Holy Bible to be peacemakers. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). As such, we, members of Kairos Dialogue Network would like to share our Christian social vision and call upon fellow-Malaysians of good will to come together for rational discourse and open dialogue. Our hope is that with commitment, we will succeed in building consensus, regardless of our colour, creed or confession and work together to build a harmonious, peaceful and progressive society.

II. OUR CHRISTIAN CONVICTIONS

A. OUR AFFIRMATION

To read the full statement go to:

Kairos Dialogue Network
— Website http://kairosdialoguenetwork.org/
— Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/kairosdialoguenetwork/
— Twitter https://twitter.com/kairosdialogue