Timeless Truths?

pacifierGod’s one Law for Adam was temporary. He could eat from the Tree of Judicial Knowledge when mature enough to carry the responsibility. God’s food laws for Israel were also temporary. [1] When the Christ came, and the people of God was brought to maturity, this restricted menu, too, was done away with. It was designed to be outgrown. Not many theologians understand this process of Adam’s “historical maturity”, so they come up with other theories to explain why many Bible truths are not “timeless”. Peter Leithart discusses comments by John Polkinghorne this week:

John Polkinghorne writes that the “human writings [of Scripture] bear witness to timeless truths, but they do so in the thought forms and from the cultural milieu of their writers.” As a result, “we find attitudes expressed in the Bible that today we neither can nor should agree with.”[2]

This description of accommodation is unusually helpful, because it displays the gnostic assumption behind the whole idea of accommodation. That is, accommodation assumes that the writers of Scripture intend to communicate timeless truths, rather than communicating an account of history.

That is, accommodation doesn’t lead to liberalism; it is liberalism.[3]

Polkinghorne blindly rolls together the church’s changed attitudes to circumcision, slavery, the lake of fire and the role of women as though all relied upon the surrounding culture for “inspiration”. His view that the Scriptures are “divinely inspired but not divinely dictated” makes the gutsy Book of God into a maleable tool with nothing to say to culture, a tame gelding commanded to be fruitful, with its fruitfulness the result of being “open” to various interpretations. But the Bible is both bigger and narrower than that.

[1] See Touch Not, Taste Not, Handle Not and  The Greatest Consumer.
[2] John Polkinghorne, Science and the Trinity, p. 45-46.
[3] Peter Leithart, Accommodation.

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