Introduction to Some Reflections on I&I and the Reformed Tradition

As some, perhaps many, of you are aware, I was asked by the faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary to produce a document clarifying some of my thinking in Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament (I&I). This request was made as part of a motion, eventually passed by the faculty, in support of I&I and its theological orientation. This is not news, especially in view of recent attention this entire matter has received in the blogosphere, including Christianity Today Online.

At any rate, in response to the faculty’s request, I produced a 38-page paper that was distributed to the board at their request and to the faculty. It also appears to have been fairly widely circulated (which, as I state on page one of that report, is perfectly fine by me). The report in full even appears on at least one website that I know of.

My original intention was simply to leave the matter where it was, in the hands of the faculty and board, so as not to draw undo attention to seminary matters (even though I felt that this paper would have proved helpful to numerous readers). As it stands now, the attention drawn to this issue is quite pervasive, comes from various sources, and without any aid from me.

In light of these developments, reproducing certain portions of that paper makes a degree of sense.

First, since the paper already has a wide distribution, including electronically, it makes sense that it appear in some fashion on the web page of its author. Second, in the interest of academic discourse, I feel it is very much worthwhile to lay out some of my thinking here for interested readers. Third, what I consider to be misunderstandings and mischaracterizations of my theology continue to be disseminated, both from those outside of the seminary (I will admit I read some of the discussions on blogs, most often with some dismay) but also by those closer to home. Those interested in this matter may benefit from hearing my own thoughts presented in what I hope are reasonably sized chunks. And just to be clear, I by no means intend to suggest that disagreement with my positions constitutes “misunderstandings and mischaracterizations.” I do feel, however, that some criticisms of my position are based on assumptions of the nature and purpose of Reformed Theology, confessional commitment, the nature of Scripture, etc., that I do not hold, nor are they held by most people with whom I interact daily. That is what I wish to clarify here.

What will follow, therefore, is a series of distillations from the 38-page paper that I feel are most pertinent to the ongoing theological discussion. This will likely take several posts. I will also make some adjustments of the original to allow the separate portions to stand as individual posts.