I am alway amused by the “cutting edge” of liberal scholars and/or contemporary emerging church type scholars. If a person reads a little more than the average American homo sapien he will see that the top scholars of today are really johnny-come-lately in their discoveries.
Here’s a classic example: Compare something that N.T. Wright has said with a statement by the great theologian B.B. Warfield.
N.T. Wright: For my part, I believe it was a great gain in the 1950s and 1960s that Matthew, Mark, and Luke were recognized as theologians, not mere chroniclers.
Just take that statement at face value and ignore the Jesus Seminar issues and the implicit higher criticism. The average person reading Wright would assume that everyone prior to the 1950s and 1960s had either the classic liberal perspective of the synoptics or a stereotypical uncritical fundamentalist belief that viewed the Gospels as an inspired collection of stories about Jesus.
But here is B.B. Warfield (d. 1921): The incidents which the narrators record, again, are not recorded with a biographical intent, and are not selected for their biographical significance, or ordered so as to present a biographical result: in the case of each Evangelist they serve a particular purpose which may employ biographical details, but is not itself a biographical end. In other words, the Gospels are not formal biographies, but biographical arguments – a circumstance which does not affect the historicity of the incidents they select for record, but does affect the selection and ordering of these incidents.
Warfield was defending the inspiration of the Gospel against the attacks of the higher critics who simplistically mocked Bible believers who insisted the synoptic gospels were inspired even though there were apparent inconsistencies and differing arrangement of the events. Warfield simply responded with something that Wright thinks was discovered in the 1950s and 1960s: The Evangelists were theologians making theological arguments biographically.
But one wonders if N.T. Wright would be willing to admit that a fundamentalist like B.B. Warfield was so brillliant.
I think this illustrates Augustine’s famous dictum: Seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand.
Filed under: Theology