The Theological Method Of Lewis Sperry Chafer -- By: Bruce A. Baker

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 05:1 (Spring 2001)
Article: The Theological Method Of Lewis Sperry Chafer
Author: Bruce A. Baker


The Theological Method
Of Lewis Sperry Chafer

Bruce A. Baker

Pastor, Open Door Baptist Church
Peculiar, Missouri

Introduction

The Need And Purpose Of The Study

It is no secret that modern society is experiencing a fundamental shift in its underlying philosophy. The impact of post-modernity on contemporary culture can scarcely be overemphasized. Grenz contends that “we are apparently experiencing a cultural shift that rivals the innovations that marked the birth of modernity out of the decay of the Middle Ages: we are in the midst of a transition from the modern to the postmodern era.”1

Whether one considers this transition a positive2 or negative3 development does not alter the fact that certain assumptions once

shared by society are no longer sacrosanct.4 The previous consensus that knowledge is inherently good, certain, and objective is no longer held by a growing segment of our society. After all, they contend, knowledge can be used for evil as well as good, the rapid growth of science makes obsolete previous claims to certainty, and any search for objective truth is unavoidably compromised by one’s own experiences and environment.

While no one in fundamentalist circles would subscribe to this viewpoint unconditionally, it must be conceded that there is at least some validity to each of these claims. All one needs to do is examine the majority content of the Internet to realize that advancements in science (in this case computer technology) are often twisted to serve immoral ends (pornography). The explosion of scientific knowledge makes textbooks obsolete almost as soon as they are printed. Furthermore, the recent presidential election battle is sufficient evidence that two people can look at the same set of facts and yet derive mutually exclusive conclusions based primarily upon their political persuasions.

While postmodernity’s overall view of truth has had a general influence in society as a whole, it is this third claim concerning the role of one’s experiences and environment that has had the greatest effect on biblical studies. The current controversy surrounding the “New Hermeneutic” between the disciples of E. D. Hirsch and Hans-Georg Gadamar is just one example.

Regardless of one’s position in this debate, postmodernity’s concern over the effects of our own personal biases can scarcely be denied. As Johnson point...

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