The Divine Wisdom Of Obscurity: Pascal On The Positive Value Of Scriptural Difficulties -- By: Gregory A. Boyd

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 28:2 (Jun 1985)
Article: The Divine Wisdom Of Obscurity: Pascal On The Positive Value Of Scriptural Difficulties
Author: Gregory A. Boyd


The Divine Wisdom Of Obscurity:
Pascal On The Positive Value Of Scriptural Difficulties

Gregory A. Boyd*

I. Letting God’s Word Be God’s Word

As individuals who, out of obedience to Christ as well as the teaching of Scripture concerning its own authority, find themselves compelled to confess a faith in an inerrant Bible, conservative evangelicals have usually felt some obligation to defend Scripture against the numerous alleged discrepancies that it is accused by its critics of containing. While defending the truth is of course always a laudable endeavor, there is, it seems to me, a potential danger in this enterprise. In a word, it is possible to become so captivated with the concern to harmonize various texts with each other and to reconcile the Biblical accounts with extra-Biblical evidence that we can unwittingly force God’s Word into our own version of a rationalistic Procrustean bed. We can easily acquire a defensivistic attitude that fails to see the rich diversity of Scripture, with all the tensions that this richness embodies, as an intended blessing from God, and that instead sees this diversity as a threat, a series of problems that need ingenious solutions. We can, in short, become so apologetically paranoid over the rationalistic attacks upon Scripture that we end up transforming God’s often mysterious Word by our own form of rationalism into a word that we are more comfortable with but that is not God’s Word in its purity.

While there is, I believe, a place for explaining to whatever limited extent we are able the many difficulties contained in Scripture, this apologetic stance must not characterize our fundamental attitude toward Scripture as a whole or toward any of its parts. If we believe in the plenary inspiration of Scripture, and if we believe that Scripture is completely and infallibly authoritative, then our fundamental attitude toward Scripture in all of its parts, irrespective of how difficult it may be to rationally reconcile them in their diversity, should be controlled by the conviction that every aspect of every passage is as it is divinely intended to be. Our attitude should therefore be one of unconditional positive acceptance: a positive acceptance and appreciation of God’s Word just as it is, in the pluralistic form in which God has been pleased to inspire it; a positive acceptance and appreciation of God’s Word even when this Word takes the form of an insoluble problem. The affirmation of the plenary inspiration of the Bible, in other words, entails that we view even the apparent contradictions within Scripture not

*Gregory Boyd is a doctoral candidate at Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey.

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