The Nobility And Knowability Of Truth: Part 1 -- By: David Mappes

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 13:1 (Spring 2009)
Article: The Nobility And Knowability Of Truth: Part 1
Author: David Mappes


The Nobility And Knowability Of Truth: Part 1

David Mappes

Associate Professor of Systematic Theology

Baptist Bible Seminary

Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania

Throughout the last forty years conservative evangelical scholars have seriously engaged issues of enculturation, accommodation, and theological method.1 This interaction is providing a healthy chastening of hermeneutics, epistemology, and theological method. Historical studies clearly demonstrate that the early post-apostolic church, the reformers as did the Puritans, Princetonians, and even the historical fundamentalist (especially before social-fundamentalism with the Scopes trials) differentiated first-order apostolic doctrine from types of theological syntheses. Thus degrees of interpretative certainty were proffered. While not everyone practiced this type of stratification in theological method, it was nonetheless generally understood that while some doctrines were held in an absolute manner (as objective doctrinal criteria) other doctrines were held in a less weighty manner (more of a theological synthesis and denominational distinctive).

Some contemporary evangelicals continue to call for a more chastened view in the hermeneutical and theological process so as to distinguish between what is held as first order doctrine and praxis when compared to doctrines derived from theological synthesis. In addition, some brethren are asking for more of a dialogical-theological process that begins with the implications (or significance) of truth as opposed to beginning with the truth itself. They suggest a process whereby we move from current societal-theological issues of concern and then work back into the meaning of the Scripture and than back to the actual societal

question. So as an example one might develop a type of dialogical-integrative theology of sexuality or a theology of ecology or a theology of family or a theology of finance or a theology of materialism. I personally welcome these types of suggestions and contributions as long as we stand clearly within the intention of the author of the biblical text. In addition, we must separate precepts from principles and most importantly maintain an appropriate distinction and designation between the meaning of the author and meaningfulness of the reader. Further, we must balance and prioritize what the biblical authors assert is important and critical to know for the Christian life with what people think is important to know to live their Christian lives.2

However, not all contemp...

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