An Outline of David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion

Originally published posthumouly in 1779, David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Theology sounded the death knell for natural theology. Natural theology was the attempt to discern the character and existence of God from creation alone, apart from revelation. Addressing arguments from the appearance of design in the world (a posteriori), what is now called the cosmological arguement (a priori), and the moral argument, Hume describes in an engaging manner the interactions of an ‘orthodox’ Christian, Demea (who is really a Christian mystic); a deist, Cleanthes; and a empircal skeptic, Philo. Though the dialogues seem to favour Cleanthes as Hume’s representative, Philo throughout best represents Hume’s thought and is consistently given the upper hand in the dialogues: it is in Philo, then, that we should seek Hume’s voice. Speaking through Philo, Hume concludes that everyone must concede that the first cause of the universe bears some remote resemblance to man, yet that this not so very different from atheism and such a concession, apart from revelation, cannot be further explained and can have no effect on the way a person lives his life–it is a practically meaningless concession. In light of his rejection elsewhere of the possibility of revelation, we see here in Philo the intent of Hume’s book: thinly disguised by the concluding paragraph, Philo intends the reader to conclude with him that God is not clear in creation and that any first cause we attribute to the universe is nothing like the Christian God–it would be unknowable, probably evil, and unable affect the lives of anyone.

Apart from revelation, then, Hume’s book is a devestating critique of religion–a critique that is strikingly relevant today, parroted often by the New Atheists. Yet we don’t live in world without revelation: God has made Himself abundantly clear in  creation, so much so that all are held accountable, and has revealed Himself from the beginning of His creation verbally to His creatures. Humes argument is a devestating critque of religion that would start with man as the ultimate reference point for meaning, that would make man’s autonomous reason the measure of God’s existence and attributes. In so doing, Hume’s book is a valuable read for the biblically saturated Christian today. He shows that to begin with man’s autonomous reason is to end up without God, but God has never left it up to our autonomous reason: in making us in His image, we have been born with the interpretive tools necessary to accurately discern His invisible attributes in His creation (Rom. 1:18ff): it is only in our unrighteousness that we suppress this knowledge and attempt to work on the foundation of our finite reason alone. More than this, God has also revealed Himself clearly in His Scriptures: the Bible testifies to the fullness of His character as man in this life can know Him and His work. When one begins with Scripture, Hume’s arguments appear hollow.

To aid the interested reader in better understanding Hume’s argument, I have provided below an outline of Hume’s Dialogues summarizing each part of the book and with it a shorter outline .

a) An Outline and Summary of David Hume’s Dialogues

b) An Outline of Hume’s Dialogues

 

Not a Single Survivor: an Exegetical Investigation into the So-Called Hyperbolic Victory Accounts of Joshua 10:28-43

I recently posted another one of my papers on Academia.edu:

For some , Josh 10 and similar accounts present an immense ethical dilemma–how can God commission and participate in such a slaughter? Yet, our answer to such a dilemma presupposes that we understand the texts that raise it; have we? Many argue we have not, that they communicate no such thing. They argue that what we have are hyperbolic victory accounts communicating no more than complete victory–not necessarily utter destruction. The contention of this paper is that Joshua 10:28-43 is not hyperbolic but records with striking emphasis the fulfillment of God’s HRM (to devote to destruction) commands in Deuteronomy as regards a specific section of southern Canaan. (It contains as an appendix a word study on HRM [Herem].)

You can download or read it here

Review of Interpreting the Prophetic Word by Willem A. VanGemeren

In his Interpreting the Prophetic Word, VanGemeren has undertaken a hefty venture: he seeks to provide both the tools needed to interpret prophetic literature in the Bible and a sweeping overview of each prophetic book. His approach is generally Reformed in its emphasis on the centrality of covenant in the unfolding of redemptive history and his appreciation of both continuity and discontinuity across both testaments. In this response, I will attempt to provide a broad summary of the books contents and interact briefly with VanGemeren’s handling of the Minor Prophets, especially Habakkuk.

 

Interpreting the Prophetic Word is composed of 3 sections, amounting to a total of 12 chapters. The first part attempts to provide the requisite information needed to understand and interpret the prophetic; the second part presents the message of the each of the Minor Prophets and draws attention to their key motifs. Employing these motifs, the last part unpacks the message of the Major Prophets, including Daniel. I will not summarize VanGemeren’s understanding of each of the prophetic books, but will provide a summary of his overall approach by briefly summarizing Chapters 1-3, 8, and 12.

In Chapter 1, VanGemeren lays the groundwork for what follows. He first identifies a key antithesis for interpreting the prophetic. At the heart of the prophetic is contrast between religion, characterizing the kingdom of man, and revelation, associated with the Kingdom of God (19). Religion, in VanGemeren’s use, refers to human religion, religion that seeks to manipulate the gods for the ends of man, which builds a human system to explain their environment and provide a way for peace with it (20-21). Religion is characterized by vox populi and realpolitik and is antithetical to revelation, God’s continued interaction with and rule of His people. The prophets, as spokesmen of God, are messengers of revelation; they oppose realpolitik and vox populi. “Realpolitik” and “vox populi” are technical terms describing the fundamental characteristics of religion: realpolitik, for VanGemeren, is the pragmatic and manipulative application of any technique that seeks to maintain or improve group life (26); Vox Populi refers to that form of realpolitik that rewards those who support common ideals and upholds traditions and popular views (26).  Chapter 1 concludes by considering the key prophetic figures Moses, Samuel, and Elijah.

In Chapter 2, VanGemeren introduces the features of prophetic ministry and their message. Prophets are those spirit empowered and called spokesmen of God who speak for Him with His authority. They are to be good shepherds of the people and at times are vindicated with signs (43). Their message was a witness to the plan of God: they were given unique vantage points into God’s plan from which they spoke to Israel and Judah’s situation (44). VanGemeren then considers the prophets as they developed through and interacted with the major events in Israel and Judah’s history and in their conflict with false prophets.

In Chapter 3, he provides the hermeneutical framework in which he will interpret the prophetic books. He emphasizes the need to consider the prophets in light of both their historical meaning and their canonical function. Canonical function describes the function the books, understood historically, have in the progressing eras of redemptive history (e.g., how Jeremiah functioned in the post-exilic era). He also highlights the important concept of “progressive fulfillment”: God’s promises are not two-dimensional predictions but rather like a vine that grows, “extends its branches in various directions, bears fruit, and keeps developing” (83).

In Chapter 8, VanGemeren explains 6 key motifs identified in the Minor Prophets, the day of the Lord, kingdom of God in creation, the Messiah and the messianic kingdom, the Spirit of restoration, the new people of God, and Israel and the nations. He hopes that these motifs will provide a helpful way in for interpreting the Major Prophets. Chapter 12 concludes the book by considering how we are to interact now with the Prophetic Word. He emphasizes here the Prophet’s emphasis on the Spirit at work, producing the future orientated and theocentric kingdom ethics found in the Prophets; the need for the whole of Scripture, both old and new (tota scritpura); and the tension we still face as those between the times—partaking of the new age but not yet receiving its fullness.

 

VanGemeren’s work reveals a breadth of learning and a deep knowledge of the prophetic, yet the comprehensive scope of the work has left room for criticism. Considering his account of the Minor Prophets, the book already shows signs of becoming outdated. The last 26 years has witnessed a bloom of new literature considering the Minor Prophets as a single canonical whole, with its own internal structure and message. The scholarly research in this area is deeply insightful and holds tremendous promise for interpreting these books.

Furthermore, his sweeping approach necessarily requires VanGemeren to approach each book quite generally, at time this produces an inadequate treatment of the particular books. Habakkuk is in important example of this deficiency. VanGemeren identifies the message of Habakkuk as the moral question engendered by God’s raising up of the Babylonians: “How could God use Babylon to inflict judgment on Judah when their cruelty and pagan ways further destroyed God’s kingdom?” (169) He rightly identifies the result of the questions Habakkuk asks, that the people develop faith in God and submit to Him, even in His fearful freedom (169). Key to his understanding is reading Habakkuk through the kingdom motif; Habakkuk questions concern the destruction of God’s earthly kingdom (169) and the answer is to wait the full establishment of God’s glorious kingdom (171). Though VanGemeren properly identifies important points, he ends up making sub-emphases the main emphases.

The kingdom of God is surely implicit throughout Habakkuk but this is never an explicit emphasis. The explicit emphasis on kingdom VanGemeren identifies is 2:14, an interpretation arrived at via Isaiah 11:9, but this reading underplays the context within which it is found. This text alludes to Numbers 14:23 with Isaiah and refers to the glory of God being magnified in His mighty works, particularly here the judgement of the wicked tool He has used (cf. 2:13, 3:3). The taunt in which it is found  (2:6-19) is structured to emphasize the Sovereignty of God in the destruction of His wicked tool and the end of His glory achieved by their downfall.[1]

More importantly, Habakkuk is unique in the approach it takes to the coming Babylonians: his dialogue with God is meant to lead the reader to conclude that Babylon is God’s salvific act (1:2, 3:16-19), that they are to trust God for life despite the unbelievability of the vision God gives (1:6, 2:4). Habakkuk rightly identifies the Babylonians as judgment on wicked Judah (1:12), but comes, as the book progresses, to affirm that they are not only judgment on wicked Judah but God’s salvation for His people (3:16-19).[2] Habakkuk has heard of God’s deed in the vision of 1:5-11 (cf. 3:2); in chapter 3 he responds in the way God commands by trusting God for this salvation (2:4, 3:16-19). Chapter 3 should not then be read as a remembrance of God’s past action (172), but the coming of the Divine warrior for judgment in Chaldea portrayed in the imagery of Deuteronomy 32 and Judges 5. Despite these criticisms, VanGemeren has accomplished a commendable feat with this volume.


[1] The woes are the answer to Habakkuk’s question in 1:17, and so a vindication of God’s character. The structure of Ch. 2 is a Chiasm, as suggested by the parallel woes in 6d-8b and 18-19, the repeated refrain in 8c-d and 17c-d, the echoing of the shame theme in woes 2 & 4 (9-11; 15-17b), and the three marked questions in 2:7, 13, and 18.

[2] 3:13 should read, “You come forth for the salvation of your people, for salvation with your anointed.” In v. 14, YHWH piercing the head with his arrows should be identified as God crushing the house of wickedness (Judah) through His anointed (Babylon). Cf. the Vulgate’s “in salutem cum christo tuo.”

(This review was originally prepared for Prof. Tremper Longman to fulfill the requirements of BIBLE 529: Jeremiah, at Regent College)

Review of The Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggemann

In his The Prophetic Imagination, Walter Brueggemann attempts to unite the Old Testament evidence with our contemporary situation in order that the Church may seriously consider the role of the prophetic in ministry (xxiii, 1). According to his own definition of prophetic, Brueggemann’s book is itself prophetic in that its poetic language seeks to excite the reader about the hope for the prophetic in ministry (energizing) and to criticize—mostly implicitly—the old ways, both liberal and conservative (critical). Yet, despite—or maybe because of—his poetic flourish, the book is far from lucid.

Brueggemann follows in the steps of many contemporary writers who prefer rhetorical flourish to clarity or profundity (e.g., 17). This obscurity goes beyond style: Brueggemann appears to employ catch phrases from Neo-Orthodox theology (“freedom of God”) and idealist philosophy (“Jesus is the real king [2:11], and the real king stands as a decisive negation of the no-king” 83) without explanation, importing—intentionally or not—much content only familiar to the well-educated. In this response I intend only to provide a brief summary of the book’s contents and address a few of the problems I identified in his argument.

 

The Prophetic Imagination consists of seven short chapters; the first six seek to establish his vision of the prophetic from an interaction with the OT prophets (1-4) and then Jesus (5-6). After identifying our situation as analogous to the Old Testament’s, a stagnant royal-consciousness in need of criticism and energizing by the prophetic counter-consciousness, Brueggemann, in chapter 1, dialogues with the Exodus account to present Moses as the first and model prophet. Moses presents us with the model of prophetic counter-culture. In the face of the oppressive Egyptian royal consciousness, Moses engages in a counter-culture ministry by criticizing the Egyptian Empire through his introduction of the “freedom of God” (6) and the “politics of justice and compassion” (6-7). That is, against the dead and manipulated religion of the Egyptians (“static religion”), Moses introduces a radically free God. In the place of oppressive politics, a counter-culture of compassionate-justice is established. We see, then, that Moses criticizes the Egyptian socio-economic structures and energizes his people with a new vision of God. This, we are assured, is the purpose of the Exodus and, indeed, the whole of prophetic ministry (115).

The rest of the chapters follow in this general picture. Chapter 2 outlines the royal-consciousness; that is, the anti-prophetic, socially oppressive, structure against which prophetic ministry strives, which defined Egypt and came to define the Jewish monarchy, at least from Solomon on but probably including David (23-25). The royal-consciousness preaches a static, changeless, god, oppresses people through rigid socio-economic policy, and pushes conformity that edges out all hope.

Using the example of Jeremiah, Brueggemann in Chapter 3 looks at the prophetic role of criticizing, how it uses metaphor and grief to counter the royal-consciousness. In Chapter 4, Isaiah is an example of energizing. The re-introduction of old symbols, the presentation of something to hope and yearn for, and the giving of a newness that could redefine the dead royal-consciousness, with astounding language to cut through oppressive despair, are the tools the prophet uses to counter the reigning culture.

In Chapters 5-6, Brueggemann attempts to show these same features in the ministry of Jesus, criticism in chapter 5 and energizing in chapter 6. The last chapter concludes by bringing these insights to bear on our contemporary situation, suggesting how we can and should bring these prophetic insights into our ministries.

 

To conclude this response, I would like to address the argument of the book. Brueggemann makes clear his own presuppositions: he is attempting to provide a social criticism of the texts, to approach the text with a hermeneutics of suspicion (xiii). He adopts modern critical scholarship and so is willing to see much discontinuity between the so-called “royal” and “Mosaic” traditions (e.g., 28). However, this response will focus not on the internal consistency of his views but his argumentation and use of the text. Turning to the argument, I suggest that the biggest problem with Brueggemann’s argument is the lack of argument. In both of my readings of the book, I was struck by the lack of significant argumentation in favour of his many pointed and rhetorically sharp assertions. If one is previously inclined towards liberation theology and Marxist economic-social criticism, Brueggemann’s exegesis and points will ring true, but there is no substance to convince those with a more conservative bias.

Beyond the lack of substantial argument, Brueggemann frequently employs selective use of the evidence (though this is consistent with his critical biases, he never argues for these biases). The first is the shocking lack of any mention of God as essential to prophetic ministry. To be sure, God is considered the content of the prophetic message, He is the free God against the static religion, yet Brueggemann never discusses the prophets as covenant lawyers or spokesman for God. Early on, he starts “to think from the human side of the matter” and never gets to the divine side (xvi).

The result is a serious skewing of the Biblical data. For example, in his hands, the Exodus becomes the ex nihilo creation of a new subversive counter-community, it is an act of God’s absolute freedom (Ch. 1)—an underived community (111). The Exodus is particularly aimed at deconstructing the royal-consciousness of Egypt. Pharaoh’s hardened heart is identified as “Yahweh’s peculiar way of bringing the empire to an end” (14). Yet this reading drastically misses the point of the narrative. In brief, Yahweh delivers his people because He hears their cries and responds as the God who is obliged to act towards them because of the promises He has made to the patriarchs—this community is already the Abrahamic covenant community. Furthermore, the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart was not God’s means of toppling the Empire but His intervention to bring Himself glory through the display of His power in fulfilling His promises to Israel and crushing Egypt with its gods. More so, God instructed Moses and Aaron to go repeatedly to Pharaoh for this very reason, contrary to Brueggemann’s assertion that their request for freedom demonstrates dependence upon the empire for help and relief (12).

This sort of criticism could extend for pages. He fails to mention that the prophet Nathan was instrumental in the building of the temple, Samuel in the institution of the monarchy; that the tabernacle prefigures the temple and demonstrates God’s desire to be in the midst of His people—that is, the temple is not a fetter on God’s freedom but a blessing conveyed by their Covenant God. His vision of the prophetic cannot do justice to Habakkuk, where God’s inaction is decried in verses 1-4 and His response is to bring what appears to be further oppression (1:5-11, cf. 3:14). God’s command here is to do exactly what Bruegemann thinks is wrong (42-44, passim), turn to God in confession that “all is well” and to trust completely in Him despite the unbelievable (Hab. 1:5-6, 2:2-4, 3:16-19). Concerning the New Testament, he fails to mention that in addition to shepherds, Magi also visited Jesus and that Zechariah was not just “an old man struck dumb” but a leading priest (103) —so it was not only the marginalized. He also identifies Jesus as a nazirite, which He was not (he drank, touched the dead…) (81).

Despite Brueggemann’s beautiful prose, the book fails to argue for its thesis, never transcends a Liberal emphasis on social action—despite aiming at the root and not the symptom—and does not do justice to the biblical picture of the prophetic.

(This review was originally prepared for Prof. Tremper Longman to fulfill the requirements of BIBLE 529: Jeremiah, at Regent College)

A Review of Heavenly Participation by Hans Boersma

Throughout the history of theology, there have been individuals and entire movements that have contributed, in short periods of time, immense insights into Scripture and our understanding of theology—though Catholic and Protestant traditions have moved along relatively different trajectories and have usually not treasured the same individuals and movements. Heavenly Participation, by Hans Boersma, is an attempt at a lay level to contribute to this supposed deficiency. It is an attempt to call the attention of Protestants to the Catholic Nouvelle Theologie[1] movement. In looking at the contribution of these theologians, Boersma calls Evangelicals to retrieve (ressource) the  Platonic-Christian synthesis of what Boersma calls The Great Tradition[2](9, 185).

The sacramental ontology (more on this later) which characterized the Great Tradition is at the heart of the book. The book amounts to a case for reclaiming this ontology by a ressourcement of the Great Tradition and it’s Platonic-Christian synthesis (9-11, 16)—by ressourcement he means looking “to the history of the church for resources to give theological direction to people in the twenty-first century” (9). As a popularized follow-up to his earlier book (Nouvelle Théogie and Sacramental Ontology), Boersma is spelling out the theological implications that the Nouvelle Theologians and their ressourcement of the early church continue to have and—in Boersma’s eyes—should have on the Evangelical church (xi). In attempting to present the findings of his earlier book for Evangelicals, he presents a profoundly unevangelical reinterpretation of Evangelicalism.

 

To make his argument, Boersma picks up the Exitus (departure) and Reditus (return) theme of Platonism—a tribute to the synthesis that lies at the heart of the book (16). Part 1 recounts the fraying of the sacramental tapestry or the disintegration of the sacramental worldview of the Great Tradition (17-100), part 2 is then an attempt to return to this worldview by “reconnecting the threads,” by outlining the implications of a sacramental ontology for the Christian church (101-190).

There is a good bet you do not know what Sacramental Ontology is, it turns out that there aren’t many resources giving a good definition of it. In the winter of 2015, I submitted a master’s level paper on the subject at Regent College and used this as my working definition; “[Sacramental Ontology] is an understanding of the nature of the things in this universe as sacraments that participate in and point to heavenly realities.” That is all rather dense; see here for a more on this definition. In brief, for Boersma, a sacrament is something that signifies and participates in the reality it points to. Signifying it, it is like a symbol or sign, representing it and pointing to it. By participate Boersma means platonic participation, see the above mentioned paper for an explanation and critique of this concept. The rest of this review will attempt a brief critical response to three areas of this book—the above-mentioned paper provides a substantive critique of the worldview lying at the heart of Heavenly Participation. We will briefly examine the argument of the book, is it persuasive? Then the presentations of other views found in the book, and finally the picture of authority Boersma provides.

 

Reading through Heavenly Participation, I found the argument, or whatever may be called an argument in this book, to be thoroughly unpersuasive. Throughout the book, Boersma presents the Platonic-Christian synthesis as the view of the Great Tradition but never gives a reason why we should adopt this synthesis. Most of the book seems to amount to a prolonged appeal to authority; though present throughout, this is especially seen in his chapter on Tradition as Sacramental Time (120-136). Here he appeals to the writing of Kevin Vanhoozer as an example of Evangelicalism’s ability to support the understanding of tradition and Scripture that a sacramental ontology supposedly suggests (130-136). He actually concludes that for Evangelicals to truly be Evangelicals, they must jump on the Catholicized “Evangelicalism” of Congar and, supposedly, Vanhoozer (136). This whole chapter amounts to this: since Vanhoozer is an intelligent Evangelical who accepts allegorical exegesis and the Catholic view of tradition, so should you.  He makes a failed argument here and there (51, 40-44), but, mostly, he draws unsubstantiated conclusions (eg. 129, 187-188). He doesn’t give much reason to accept his ressourcement, and the way he dismisses his opponents is equally unpersuasive, frequently setting up straw men and ad hominem arguments (eg., 125-126, 130, 138-139, 140-141)

 

After a failure to substantiate any sort of argument, the presentation of various positions throughout the book deserves a short critical response. There are at least a few points where Boersma seems to misrepresent different authors or historical positions. I think that his simplistic association between the Reformers, Nominalism, and Justification by Faith is ridiculous, but I will leave that to the historians of philosophy to pursue (89-94). More substantial is the presentation of the view of Augustine, the subject of my above-mentioned paper (eg. 124-126). The last one I will mention is his presentation of Vanhoozer; though I would not go everywhere Vanhoozer does, I have great respect for his approach to theological interpretation of Scripture and Scriptural authority.[3] Boersma seems to present Vanhoozer in a way that is friendlier to his own position than Vanhoozer’s works justify. Boersma presents him as someone who rejects sola scriptura in favor of the view that doctrine develops after Scripture and that tradition is needed to interpret it (134). It would seem that Vanhoozer rejects historical-critical exegesis in favor of allegorical exegesis and rejects meaning in the text for meaning that is partly “determined by reception” (130-134, 141). He would also seem to understand the text as having a plurality of meanings, or “meaning potential” (133). Reading Vanhoozer’s books gives a reader a completely different impression. He doesn’t reject objective meaning, but accepts a depth of objective meaning.[4] Though Vanhoozer uses language friendly to Boersma’s position, he grounds it solidly within a framework of the primacy of Scripture as understood objectively.[5]

 

The last point I felt deserved a response was the stance on authority presented by Boersma. Traditionally, Evangelicals have been known for their strong stance on Scripture and its centrality. This being the case, Boersma’s position on Scripture may make this book hard to swallow for the average Evangelical. For the sake of brevity, which I seem to have already sacrificed, I will quickly suggest three ways that Boersma has undermined the authority of Scripture in every area of the Christian life. The first is his implicit elevation of philosophy to magistrate, giving it absolute power over Scripture. Early in the book, Boersma laments the potential for fear that discussion of ontology may invoke in the Evangelical reader (20). Unfortunately, this paragraph could only serve to heighten that fear in the acute reader.

Seeing a purely “biblical” theology as “terribly naïve,” Boersma speaks of his search for an ontology compatible with Scripture. He makes it clear that, in his opinion, Scripture does not teach an ontology—either implicitly or explicitly. Therefore, we must go somewhere else; Boersma picks up his ontology from the Nouvelle Theologians and, supposedly, from the Great Tradition (20). The problem is not necessarily that he goes to something other than Scripture for an ontology,[6] but that throughout the rest of his book, he bases his theological conclusions and understanding of Scripture upon his presupposed ontology. He uses his ontology to justify the suggestion of plurality of meanings and the undermining of Scripture’s objectivity (eg. 133, 140, 149, 152-ft. 32).[7]

The other two ways are tied up in this first one. Boersma uses the concept of Sacramental Ontology to justify the equalization of Tradition and Scripture as one authoritative source of Christian authority (120-136). Moreover, he explicitly rejects any objective meaning in the text in favour of a multiplicity of meanings determined by the reader and justified by a “Christological anchor.” In a footnote on page 152, he writes, “I do not believe in the existence of an objectively given, historical meaning that one can discover and solve just as one does scientific problems.” The implication is that in rejecting the objective “historical meaning,” we need to take up the allegorical and subjective spiritual meaning.

 

I hate writing entirely negative book reviews, but Boersma’s Heavenly Participation failed to give any reason for accepting its conclusions. Beyond this, it presented a dangerous view of authority and builds upon the foundation of a philosophically weak Sacramental Ontology. If you want an introduction into the thought of the Nouvelle Theologians, this book may be helpful—beyond that, it may also be helpful in diagnosing the spiritual and academic atmosphere here at Regent College.


[1] Nouvelle Théologie was a  twentieth century French Catholic renewal movement that included thinkers such as De Lubac, Congars, and Balthasar (xi).

[2] By Which Boersma refers to the Church Fathers and the Medieval Theologians. (xi)

[3] As presented in his books, The Drama of Doctrine, Is There A Meaning in This Text?, and the paper “Ascending the Mountain; Singing the Rock: Biblical Interpretation Earthed, Typed, and Transfigured.”

[4] Vanhoozer, The Drama of Doctrine, 352. Ibid., 152. “Vanhoozer Response to My Review | Biblical Foundations”, n.d., accessed January 6, 2015, http://www.biblicalfoundations.org/vanhoozer-responds-to-my-review/. “Vanhoozer Response to My Review | Biblical Foundations”, n.d., accessed January 6, 2015, http://www.biblicalfoundations.org/vanhoozer-responds-to-my-review/. When preparing for his defense of allegorical exegesis, Boersma seems to imply that Vanhoozer himself performs allegorical exegesis on Acts 8 (131-132). Boersma does use the word “example,” so maybe I am reading too far into this, but Vanhoozer makes it clear that he is using this is a case study and not expositing the texts meaning. Unfortunately, whether I have misunderstood Boersma or not, he does go on to misunderstand Vanhoozer on the role of tradition in Acts 8. Boersma suggests that Vanhoozer sees four different, but not exclusive, ways to gain further insight into the role of tradition and interpretation from this passage (131-132). The result is that Vanhoozer seems to be much closer to Boersma than he actually is (132). In his book, Vanhoozer identifies four possible approaches to tradition that could be understood from the text, he then identifies the fourth approach—canonical linguistic—as the best. Ibid., 116–119.

[5] John G. Stackhouse, ed., Evangelical Futures: A Conversation on Theological Method (Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Books, 2000), 81; Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Is There a Meaning in This Text?: The Bible, the Reader, and the Morality of Literary Knowledge (Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 1998), 46–47; Kevin J. Vanhoozer, The Drama of Doctrine: A Canonical-Linguistic Approach to Christian Theology, 1st ed. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2005), 351–352.  Vanhoozer, The Drama of Doctrine, 352.

[6] I don’t believe Scripture holds every answer to every philosophical question, so it is unrealistic to suggest that Scripture must provide every answer we desire. But, if Scripture is God’s authoritative Word, then it must have primacy in determining what philosophies may be acceptable or unacceptable. That is, it may not provide the answers, but it sure can invalidate a wrong answer and justify the right answer. It presents a clear worldview within which our philosophy must be performed.

[7] For contemporary defenses of Sola Sciptura and the authority of Scripture, see Scripture and Truth, ed. D.A. Carson, especially the chapter by Wayne Grudem, and The Doctrine of the Word of God by John Frame.