Saturday, September 03, 2005

Rationalizing Away Pauline Theology

The more things change the more things stay the same. Apparently, this maxim is no less applicable to theology than it is to other more mundane subjects. A case in point comes from John Eadie’s preface to his commentary on the Letter to the Colossians. Dr, Eadie’s comments were written in 1855 but they sound as if they could have been written today.

I believe that the writings of the apostle, whatever their immediate occasion and primary purpose, were intended to be of permanent and universal utility; and that the purity and prosperity of the church of Christ are intimately bound up with an accurate knowledge of, and a solid faith in, the Pauline theology. I dare not, therefore, in the spirit of modern rationalism, say in one breath what the apostle means, and then say, in another breath, that such an acknowledged meaning, though fitted for the meridian of the first century, is not equally fitted for that of the nineteenth; but must be modified and softened down, according to each one’s predilections and views. The privilege of individual deduction from the inspired statement is not questioned – the attempt to glean and gather general principles from counsels and descriptions of a temporary and special phasis is not disallowed; but this procedure it totally different from that ingenious rationalism which contrives to explain away those distinctive truths which an honest interpretation of the apostle’s language admits, that he actually loved and taught.


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