On the Value of Modern Biblical Scholarship

November 12, 2010 — Leave a comment

In reading through Frame’s Doctrine of the Word of God, he quotes C. S. Lewis who is responding to some claims of Rudolf Bultmann. Those claims in particular were that Jesus’ personality was of little interest or importance to the apostle John and Paul.

Lewis, himself quite the scholar, in his “Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism” says:

“Through what strange process has this learned German gone in order to make himself blind to what all men except him see? (p. 156)

These men ask me to believe that they can read between the lines of old texts; the evidence is their obvious inability to read (in any sense worth discussing) the lines themselves. They claim to see fern-seed and can’t see an elephant ten yards away in broad daylight. (p. 157)

Or in another words, many times what passes as highly academic Biblical scholarship runs roughshod over the text in such a way as to miss what it sometimes plainly states.

Certainly not all sound scholarship is like this, but the overall point Frame is making is that much “biblical” scholarship these days comes from an essentially non-Christian starting point and foundational assumption: Man is free to critique the word of God as he sees fit.

This autonomous reasoning, so prevalent in general unbelieving thought, is deteriorating the Christian mind when it comes to Biblical scholarship. The conclusion from this is not that all highly academic scholarship is of little value. Rather, the conclusion should be that what passes the current academic credentials for scholarship is not the final authority when it comes to Biblical studies.

If the choice is between the plain teaching of Scripture and the teaching handed down from academic circles, the Christian must choose faithfulness to God’s word rather than the academy. For many people, this may not be an issue, as they are not wading around in higher academic Biblical studies. But for those of that are, there is the temptation to yield to the dictates of the academy concerning what Scripture can and cannot say rather than letting Scripture speak for itself.


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I'm an avid reader, musician, and high school Bible teacher living in central Florida. I have many paperback books and our house smells of rich glade air freshners. If you want to know more, then let's connect!

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