“Regeneration: A Crux Interpretum” -- By: David R. Anderson
JOTGES 13:2 (Autumn 00) p. 43
“Regeneration: A Crux Interpretum”
Faith Community Church
The Woodlands, TX
In every “system” of theology there are certain doctrines so imbedded in that system that to uproot them would fell the entire tree. In his excellent work on epistemology, David Wolfe explains that good systematic theology requires four criteria to even qualify as a system.1 He believes the adequacy, rationality, reliability, and suitability of a system of theology can be evaluated or validated on the basis of these four criteria. The failure of a system to meet these criteria indicates its weakness and the likelihood that theological reconstruction on a system-wide level is necessary or conversion to some other more suitable system is demanded for intellectual honesty. The four criteria are:
1. Consistency—the assertions, hypotheses, and opinions expressed by the system should be free from contradiction.
2. Coherence—the assertions and hypotheses should be related in a unified manner.
3. Comprehensiveness—the system should be applicable to all evidence.
4. Congruity—the system of assertions, hypotheses, etc. must “fit” all evidence. It must be accurate, adequate and precise to fit all data. In other words, the whole must equal the sum of its parts. If one part of the whole is out of sync with the whole, then the whole must be revised to include this part without throwing the other parts out of sync. We are searching for the interpretation which best “fits” all the data.
JOTGES 13:2 (Autumn 00) p. 44
Another characteristic of any system of theology is what is called “ingression,” which simply means that some claims or hypotheses might be more deeply embedded or more crucially interconnected within a system than other assertions. We call this “depth of ingression.” Opinions that are not very deeply ingressed in a system may be relinquished or proven false without much change in the system. However, items that are more deeply ingressed are more dependent on the system, and the system is more dependent on them. The testing of these matters is thus more crucial to the system and must be conducted more carefully with a great deal of evidence before any changes in a system would be justified—or, at least, probably before they will be accepted by those committed to that system. For example, in Dispensationalism the doctrine of separation between Israel and the Church is deeply ingressive. Remove this separation and Dispensationalism dissolves faster than sugar in tea.
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