Andrew Asks Anything: Matthew Vines, Ctd

A reader connects the podcast to the ongoing thread on evangelicals and gay marriage:

A moment that jumped out at me during your podcast with Matthew Vines (partially because of my own interests and background as a former Presbyterian) was when you responded to Vines’ description of John Piper’s attempts to use the Greek to determine whether porneia was a valid excuse podcast-beaglefor divorce, and whether that divorce separated a married couple or a couple that was merely betrothed. You described this sort of hermeneutics as a sort of insanity. Matthew responded with the argument that if scripture is the word of God then we could and should take it seriously.

That exchange really intriguingly revealed the cultural distance between your Catholic upbringing and Matthew’s experience in a conservative reformed church. It was one of the few times when I thought you were both unable to achieve a mutual understanding of perspective and experience. Your faith traditions, I think, have materially different positions on what scripture is, what it’s for, how it’s interpreted, and what it should mean for our lives, going even beyond the simple Lutheran formula of sola scriputura.

In recent history, the reformed and evangelical churches responded to historical literary criticism of the texts by digging in their heels and doubling down on inerrancy and scriptural authority. But the whole exercise is a bit circular.

If you ask a good reformed Presbyterian how they know about God, they’ll say scripture. If you ask why scripture is any good, they’ll say because it’s inspired by God. If you ask them how they know that, they’ll probably cite 2 Timothy 3:16, “All scripture is God breathed and useful for rebuking correcting and training in righteousness.” See, scriptures says it’s God-breathed, so it must be true.

Which is why 1 Corinthians 7, cited by your evangelical reader as a source for Christian theology of singleness, is one of my favorite passages. Besides revealing Paul’s eschatological perspective and apparent belief that the end of the world was coming any minute, and all the juicy marital advice, Paul comes straight out and says on matters of singleness and marriage, his advice is NOT from the Lord, but only his own opinion. This passage is even used by Biblical inerrancy advocates to argue that Paul himself could tell that there were times he was writing under the inspiration of God.

But what do you do when God-Breathed scripture states explicitly that it’s not God-Breathed? Which part of that statement is inspired word of God? And what does it mean for Paul’s advice to single people? Is it a worth a hoot? Hard to tell.

My previous thoughts on the podcast are here and here.  And don’t forget to check out Matthew’s remarkable new book, God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships.