How It Happens
Easy Descent on an Unguarded Road
Recently we received a piece of writing in which biblical references to the author's subject were rejected as unhelpful, given the realities of the world in which we now live, whereas the author found real help in certain kinds of fiction. No attempt was made to explore what those unhelpful biblical references were teaching; much less was there any notion that what one finds in them is authoritative and that the task of the believing interpreter is to approach them humbly as the Word of God, following, if he can find it, the tradition of the Church, and discover what the Scriptures are saying on the assumption they are to be heeded and obeyed.
The phenomenon of treating what one finds in Scripture as something one may take or leave if one has good reason, an old habit and invariable sign of theological liberalism, seems to be on the rise among younger people who have been told they're "orthodox." They come from places with a name for theological conservatism. This points to a fundamental change from earlier days in the institutions where they are receiving their training. What is even more arresting is that those who think this way typically toss off their observations easily and naturally, as though they were accustomed to it, as if it were something they could do while thinking of themselves as orthodox with a perfectly clear conscience. Some passage from the Epistles, they will typically indicate, is Paul's opinion, but archaic and lacking in relevance—so something better must be found elsewhere.
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S. M. Hutchens is a Touchstone senior editor.
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