8 thoughts on “Fallibility

  1. Jacob

    Kevin, this site is an island of sanity. I don’t know why some people feel threatened with the idea that God created a universe more complex and wonderful than they can imagine. I don’t understand how people can live with the idea that almost everything is an illusion and God designed things that way.


  2. Ignoring the parallels between the first and second statements is far too common. Science is unreliable — it keeps changing. God’s word is eternal, unchanging. Not only that, we have the Holy Spirit to help us understand God’s word. How can we go wrong? Therefore, God’s Word trumps science. Conveniently, one forgets that theology is to science as God’s Word is to God’s World.


  3. Dan

    “I don’t understand how people can live with the idea that almost everything is an illusion and God designed things that way.”

    Jacob, which people can you be thinking of?

    Thank you Carol for posting the important point I was goign to make. Only, I think for “parallels” you meant to write “contrasts”!


  4. Dan,
    I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks this way. I actually did mean parallels. We have God’s two books, the book of nature and the book of special revelation. Both books reflect God’s character. Both are interpreted through the filter of fallible human beings. “Science,” the interpretation of the book of nature, changes as we understand more and more. It is too often contrasted with God’s Word, unchanging. But the analog to science is theology. Theology also changes over time as our understanding of scripture grows (or as we allow our human sinfulness to take us in poor directions doctrinally). For example, it took several hundred years for the church to solidify basic doctrines such as the trinity and deity of Christ.


  5. Dan

    Hi thanks Carol. I see what you mean – and in that case, perhaps I do have something to say that you didn’t quite say ;) Namely, that there is indeed a great difference between the two interpretive activities, insofar as one deals with a body of evidence which is always changing (increasing), while the other has only to handle a body of revelation which is fixed, and therefore there is no source of destabilisation from any future change in the raw data, because there will never be any!

    In that context, I think it’s wide of the mark to say it took centuries to establish the Trinity etc. Statements to that effect are to be found throughout the ante-Nicene fathers, in liturgies and so on, and Arius’s teaching was heretical even with respect to all of that. The Council of Nicaea was a concerted attempt to reject Arianism explicitly and systematically. To say that the idea of the Trinity didn’t emerge until then, is like the silly claim by Ronald Numbers et al. that YEC is a recent concept!

    BTW, “going” not “goign”, lol


  6. Dan, you do have an interesting point about the difference between the two interpretive activities, but I’m not sure I fully agree. The universe with its governing physical laws is a fixed truth. Scripture is also a fixed truth. You are right to point out that the universe changes over time while Scripture is a closed canon. However, the dynamic nature of the universe is merely a reflection of its fixed physical laws. We have only a partial understanding of those laws. Our understanding grows as we observe and study the manifestations of those laws. The text of scripture may be fixed but we do not have the original manuscripts, nor do we have complete understanding of the original languages, let alone the cultures in which they were written. So, the body of evidence we have for interpreting scripture also grows as we learn more about the original languages and historical context as well as by reasoning and praying through the tough passages and doctrines.

    I am basing my claim that it took centuries to solidify doctrines such as the Trinity from Jaroslav Pelikan’s “History of the Development of Doctrine” (Vol. 1). It is not that the idea of the Trinity didn’t emerge until a few centuries after Christ. It is that it took that long for the church fathers to work through a solution that fit all the data points while weeding out heresies. The church worshipped Jesus as Lord from the beginning, but how did that fit with “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is One?” Once that was resolved, how did Jesus’s deity fit with His humanity? Again, it took a long time to wrangle through that dilemma.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s