Recently Bruce McCormack posted some reflections on the Christology of the HTFC position paper on Art Boulet’s blog. For those of you who do not know, McCormack is a recognized, top-of-his-field, senior scholar and professor at Princeton Theological Seminary.
Not surprisingly I have encountered (most offline and/or through email) some who agree with the HTFC’s critique of Enns who also take issue with McCormack’s piece. Also, not surprisingly, most of these people I encounter do not offer ANY interaction and critique of McCormack’s arguments and historical points. Rather, they protest that “he is a Barthian” or “he rejects doctrine X and doctrine Y of the Reformed Tradition” and thus we need not listen to his historical-theological critique of the HTFC. R. Scott Clark’s post stands as a slight exception in that he attempts to engage McCormack on some historical-theological grounds (see McCormack’s response). Nevertheless, Clark frames his post in rhetoric of incredulity that a Princeton Seminary professor would dare to “lecture” Westminster Seminary/ies professors on points of Reformed Historical-Theology. So, again, the logic in most of these offline and un-blogged (frequently overly bold) critiques of McCormack seems to be that since McCormack is a Barthian, we do not need to listen to him on points of Reformed Historical-Theology.
It is at this point that some basics of hermeneutics and logic serve us. (more…)
Dr. Bruce McCormack of Princeton Theological Seminary has just written a thought provoking essay on the Christology of the HTFC report and how it does not reflect a Reformed Christology.
You can read the essay here.
I have been lurking in Art’s post below regarding Dr. Lillback’s essay, and caught a comment that I think is worthy of a new thread. GLW had this to say:
I am most uncomfortable with the recent developement of what goes by the moniker ‘trajectory hermeneutics’ and even more so when that concept is applied to the arguement that Enns’ is on a trajectory that was set by Warfield- never mind that BBW during his career opposed similar concepts that were being advanced by C.A. Briggs . It is much the same with the advocates of trajectory hermeneutics-they dispense with the Biblical texts on homosexuality and the role of women in the Church-never mind what Paul actually saying- we have to interpret those texts with this trajectory in mind at all times-one word captures this-waxnose. (The highlighting is mine.)
This is a topic of serious interest to me. If I’m understanding GLW correctly, he’s saying that those who employ trajectory hermeneutics “dispense with the Biblical texts on . . . the role of women in the Church.” I think that’s worth discussing, especially in light of the upcoming PCA GA debate about the ordination of women deacons.
It’s no secret that I am an advocate for opening all leadership positions in the church to called and equipped women. It’s been a pleasure on those opportunities I’ve had to sit under the preaching of a close friend and classmate as she proclaims the gospel in her PCUSA church while preparing for ordination. The parishioners of her church are blessed by her teaching, and the gospel is going forth powerfully. But am I dispensing with the biblical texts in my support for her and others?
I would argue not, and here are a few reasons why:
- Judges 4-5, the Deborah narrative, refers to Deborah in 4:4 as “Deborah, a woman, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth . . . “ She speaks the words of Yahweh to Barak, and he recognizes her authority. She is later referred to as a judge (4:4-5) and a mother in Israel (5:7).The formula of her biblical introduction is echoed in 6:8, describing the prophet to the people of Israel who delivers an indictment against them for their faithlessness which led to the Midianite oppression.
- 2 Kings 22:14, Huldah is a prophetess, who delivered the word of Yahweh to Hilkiah the priest and four others in service to Josiah.
- Acts 16:40 describes Lydia as householder with a church in her home, and Acts 18 portrays Priscilla as Paul’s colaborer and teacher.
- In Romans 16:7, Paul names Junia as “outstanding (or of note or prominent or highly respected) among the apostles.” (NIV; NASB; KJV; Young’s Literal; NLT; NRSV). The ESV alone takes ἐπίσημοι ἐν τοῖς ἀποστόλοις and translates it “well known to the apostles,” something of a stretch as far as I’m concerned.
- I note that in 1 Cor 1:11, Paul indicates that his letter is at least partially in response to the report from “Chloe’s people.”
- Nympha oversees a house church in Col 4:15.
- Euodia and Syntyche were Paul’s colaborers in Philippi along with Clement, (Phil 4:2-3), and reasonably part of the leadership group referred to in Phil 1:1 – overseers and deacons.
And so on.
There is a wealth of texts in both the OT and NT that point to substantial leadership roles on the part of women. There are texts that say something different, with 1 Tim 2:11-12 as the strongest among these, but there are quite reasonable exegetical approaches that tame the force of the the plain reading. These, I might add, are not particularly tied to a trajectory hermeneutic, but rely primarily on the overall context of the book, and Paul’s concern about the power of the false teachers over young widows (1 Tim 5:11-15, and esp. v. 13).
I’d like to know what you, our readers, are thinking about on this subject, both in agreement and disagreement. I would welcome discussion particular to the PCA debate, and of course, in general.
Recently Westminster Theological Seminary released documents that were written surrounding the debate over Pete Enns’ book Inspiration and Incarnation (hereafter I&I). The last document in that large packet was an essay written by Dr. Peter Lillback, president and professor of Church History at Westminster, entitled “”The Infallible Rule of Interpretation of Scripture”: The Hermeneutical Crisis and the Westminster Standards.” The main focus of Dr. Lillback’s essay was to show how Peter Enns’ work falls outside of the Westminster Standards (at the end of the essay he “shows” how Enns violates the Standards in 7 different ways).
I have thought of different ways to respond to this essay, from an overview to a point-by-point review, and have decided to simply follow the flow of Dr. Lillback’s essay and object where objections need to be made. I would encourage everyone to read Dr. Lillback’s essay first, and then read this response. If you have not read the essay by Dr. Lillback, please do not throw in your two cents regarding this response. In my opinion, if you aren’t going to take the time to actually read the documents, then you don’t have the right to comment. I also want to apologize for the length of this post, (more…)
Westminster has now made available further documents: the Historical Theology Field Committee précis and the Hermeneutics Field Committee précis.
UPDATE: The document linked above as the “Hermeneutics Field Committee precis” is now the correct document. (The Westminster site had inadvertently posted a summary document at first.)