Daniel Doriani on professing to submit to Scripture and actually submitting to Scripture

The submissive [or conservative] interpreter bows to the God who reveals himself in Scripture and accepts, in principle, whatever it says. If the Bible upsets a cherished conviction, we say, “I stand corrected,” not “I wonder.” Facing a difficult teaching, we may suspect that it has been misconstrued or otherwise hesitate. But if we confirm that it means what it seems to mean, then we bow–not to the text , but to the God who gave it. So conservatives claim the highest willingness to submit to Scripture.

The difficulty with this view is that confessing, “I submit to Scripture,” is one thing, while actually submitting is another. Further, this [conservative/submissive] view can be perverted by illogical thinking:

I believe whatever the Bible says.
Whatever the Bible says, I believe.
I know what the Bible says.
Therefore, what I believe is what the Bible says.
Therefore, if the Bible seems to say something I don’t believe it must not really mean that.

This sort of thinking betrays a startling naïveté. Burdened with groundless self-confidence that they are knowledgeable and free from prejudices, people holding this view can distort texts so that they confirm prior beliefs and dismiss whatever does not fit their system. They profess the authority of Scripture but function as if impervious to it…

To further prevent self-deception, conservatives should distinguish between standing on and standing under the Bible, a distinction made by the evangelical German scholar Adolf Schlatter during a theological examination. A churchman asked Schlatter if he stood on the Bible. “No,” he replied, “I stand under the Bible.” That is, he would not use the Bible as a platform to build his own theology. He would observe the data of Scripture and allow them to determine his views.

Daniel Doriani, Putting the Truth to Work: The Theory and Practice of Biblical Application, 66-67

About cteldridge

A beggar trying to tell other beggars were the Bread is.
This entry was posted in Biblical interpretation, Doctrine, Scripture. Bookmark the permalink.

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