A frequent criticism of evangelicalism is that it is obscurantist. An obscurantist is one who binders knowledge, or actively resists its progress. In religion it refers to those who oppose the progress of critical biblical scholarship and the findings of modern science. Because evangelicals do not accept much of the current theories in Old and New Testament criticism they are branded as obscurantists. The charge is that obscurantism is essential to evangelicalism and as long as evangelicals persist in it they are anachronisms in the modern theological world.
To the contrary I shall defend the thesis that obscurantism, far from being essential to the evangelical position, is positively not a part of its essence. Further, it is impossible for an evangelical who truly understands his position to be an obscurantist. That obscurantism does associate itself with conservative religion cannot be denied; but the reasons for this are psychological and sociological. It is not the product of the essence of evangelicalism.
Role Of Scientific Scholarship
The Roman Catholic Church professes to be graced with an infallibility that enables her to determine the canon of scripture; to issue decrees on matters of biblical introduction; and, if necessary, to give an authoritative interpretation of a passage of Scripture. The Reformers substituted a different program. They accepted the divine authority of Scripture and the inner witness of the Divine Spirit. But they cut off their divine certainties at this point. They did not profess to possess a special means of knowing the text, canon or interpretation of Scripture. Such items were not considered matters of revelation. The only hedge put around such matters was that no position could be held ...1
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