Alibris Secondhand Books Standard

Monday, September 28, 2009

should believers criticize biblical texts?

According to John Hobbins, we must:

It’s not just biblical texts that believers must complain about. It is God himself. Biblical literature is clear on this point: it is connatural to a believer to criticize God. That’s what Moses and the prophets do. That’s what David and his fellow psalmists do. That’s what Job does. That’s what Jesus does from the cross, in the words of Psalm 22: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

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.

The "facts on the ground" are just as much a part of our experience of God as the words we read in Scripture.

It is also possible for a believer to reject a part of scripture definitively, and still remain a believer. As I remember it – I heard it from Käsemann himself – the great NT exegete Ernst Käsemann once stood up in an official context of his church and argued with great passion on behalf of removing Romans 13 from Scripture. Of course Romans 13 remains a part of Scripture, but no one criticized Käsemann for his speech.

Who would? Everyone knew he had lost his beloved daughter in Argentina in the dark days in which a military junta tortured and “disappeared” their political opponents. Including Käsemann’s daughter.

Put yourself in the professor’s shoes. Walk in his boots. Now read Romans 13. Because he was a believer, I submit, he railed against that text.

(Read Romans 13: NRSV | NLT | ESV | NIV)

Käsemann is not the first Christian to reject a portion of the New Testament. Martin Luther argued vehemently that the entire book of James should be removed. And, as Hobbins points out, the Bible writers even railed against God. Why should we hold ourselves to a lower standard?

Hat tip: Henry Neufeld



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