Same Planet, Different Worlds

Over at Scotteriology, agathos tries to explain “why Biblical scholars and conservative theologians will always disagree.”

In a nutshell, one side of the discussion, conservative inerrantists, prefers a deductive synchronic approach to the text and the other, biblical scholarship, prefers an inductive diachronic approach to the text. These interpretive assumptions and methods are so different as to leave the opposing camps with essentially different Bibles, hence, the arguments.

Once someone has set up a deductive synchronic shield around a text any argument with them is almost pointless, especially, if the shield becomes more important than the text–they are in the Matrix and do not have a context for what you are trying to explain. On the other hand for those that have taken the red pill the methods of biblical scholarship are self evident and any attempt like the character Cypher in the movie to re-enter the Matrix blissfully unaware is impossible. As James notes that would be akin to criminologists stopping the use of fingerprinting.

In the comments he gives some definitions:

diachronic = seen through time, to develop over history
inductive = see what the text actually says and then develop your theory about what it is

synchronic= seen from only one point in time, to always have a fixed meaning
deductive = come to the text with a theory already in place and then use the text to support that theory

I think this is pretty accurate.  I’m reminded of a discussion several years ago on an email list that wound up being essentially between me and a pastor who was very dedicated to verbal plenary inspiration.  In a nutshell, it went like this:


A perfect being can only produce perfect things.  God is perfect. God produced the Bible.  Therefore, the Bible is perfect.


That sounds great in theory, but the problem is I’ve actually seen a Bible.


A perfect being can only produce perfect things.  God is perfect….

There’s your inductive/deductive distinction right there.  And I think it makes a huge difference.  None of us are going to approach the text free from bias, but the strict inerrantist assumptions don’t just color your conclusions, they keep certain possibilities from even being considered.


Filed under Bible, This Is Good

2 responses to “Same Planet, Different Worlds

  1. Well, I’ve gotten a chance to read more. Well written. Makes me feel less lonely theologically. It’s obvious to me that the Bible writers weren’t concerned about the same things we are today. Today we’ve created a magic book with all sorts of requirements upon it that neither it nor any other book meet.

    Often the Bible has even become an idol.

    You don’t need a bunch of comments from one person on your blog, so this will probably be the last one for a long time.

    Your blog’s bookmarked, though, and I’ll be reading. Keep up the good work.

  2. Clint P.

    So Paul won’t feel like he is the only one who posts, I am posting too. You have been added to google reader. I really like your blog.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s