Balancing Models

I read with interest Robert Brow’s essay, “Evangelical Megashift” [Feb. 19]. I was surprised to discover I am becoming a “new-model” evangelical. I thought I was making progress in understanding God’s revelation of himself in his Word! It seems I might be led astray.

The real problem is in fact linguistic—the use of analogies: No single analogy can explain all of God’s dealings with us in this world. Therefore, God inspired the use of many analogies. The prevailing analogy is the model of the law court. It is biblical and explains something of the nature of sin and salvation that no other model can illustrate.

But there are other biblical models. Paul used other analogies—family, body, building, field, marriage, bride—to name a few.

I choose to risk the dangers of trying to balance several models, rather than the danger of continuing to emphasize solely the legal analogy. I see no reason that balancing models leads toward liberalism—I am far more deeply committed to the Word now than I was 20 years ago. But the danger of continuing the old-model emphasis is that we perpetuate a distortion of the gospel in an age when the church is facing spiritual disaster if we don’t learn to communicate a radical gospel in a secular culture.

William W. Dean

Forest City, N.C.

I recognize both of Brow’s models as having their roots in Scripture. In my own spiritual pilgrimage I have been trying to reconcile the two, to bring them together somehow into a neat box labeled “God.” But isn’t this what we will forever be unable to do? Our God is infinite; he is far beyond our finite minds (and models). I believe there needs to be a balance. The old model is not necessarily bad. Let us remain humble disciples, recognizing the Holy Spirit’s ...

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