My last post to Mr. Kramer is probably all that I need to say to wrap up this topic from my end. I’d like to add a postscript here because several folks seem to be interested in my interpretive approach. I’d like to elaborate a little there. Maybe it belongs here as a PS and maybe as a different topic, if it generates further discourse.
I’ve said that I don’t like to interpret scripture according to nature, but rather interpret scripture according to scripture. BioLogos’ position may be best summed up by the oft-repeated statement that we have two books of revelation- the book of scripture and the book of nature. Thus scripture is interpreted by the other book- nature.
Scripture is given to us in a completed canon. It is completed and finished revelation. This is especially important because the books of the Bible have withstood an important test… the test of time. They have been, through time, refined by fiery trials of the church and by apostles, prophets, pastors and teachers and the saints themselves. This is an important and painstaking work that was ordained by God, proving its authors by “signs of apostleship,” self-referencing prophesy, and many more “infallible proofs.” Many books that are now outside the canon have been introduced over the years, but were rejected as spurious or antilegomena.
Psalm 12: 6 The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. 7 Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.
The words of the holy scriptures are tried in a furnace of earth, purified, and kept and preserved by God.
Does nature speak of God? Yes, of course, we see that it does according to scripture. But the language of nature is ongoing. It is continually being revealed to us as we make further and further discoveries. That’s a blessing as a testimony to God’s glory, just as someone speaking about God’s work in their personal life is a testimony to God’s glory, but neither the testimony of a personal Christian nor the testimony of science can be trusted as authoritatively as scripture, and we cannot interpret scripture based on these types of testimonies. People can misread God’s work in their lives and circumstances can change, so personal testimony is a blessing, but must bend to scripture. You could call CS Lewis’ work a “book of testimony of God,” but we are not to bow scripture to it. Likewise, sometimes what we understood yesterday in nature is proven untrue today. Scientists sometime fudge on this and say that they are refining, but many times the refinements would more actually be called reversals. Other times the public jumps to hasty conclusions based on new findings that the researchers themselves don’t claim. So science must also bow to scripture.
At science’s worst, BioLogos’ book of nature is rewritten.
At science’s best, when it is settled science and not rewritten, BioLogos’ book of nature is Progressive Revelation. If you’re unfamiliar with that term you should study its meaning so you can see why conservative Christians recoil from it so much.
So, should BioLogos throw out the book of nature metaphor? No, I think it’s a beautiful and useful idea, but it should be clear that the book of nature is secondary in authority to the book of scripture. It is testimony about God. It is commentary on God. It is glorification of God and magnification of God. But it is NOT a book on equal authoritative footing as the Bible.
It reminds me of the talmudic commentary that the Jews were guilty of adding to the scriptures. They added tradition after tradition, and as it was passed down from generation to generation, it became authoritative alongside scripture. Jesus rebuked them for this very thing. Please consider this carefully:
Mark 7:1 Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem. 2 And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault. 3 For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. 4 And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables. 5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? 6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.