Al Mohler Talks to Stanley Fish

I love Stanley Fish, and I was thrilled to find this morning in my podcast feed that he has showed up again on Al Mohler’s “Thinking in Public.” I was even more thrilled as I listened on the bus—at single speed, so I didn’t miss a thing, an honor I rarely show my podcasters—that Mohler asks him some of the questions we all want to ask.

Mohler does a great job bringing out of Fish an introduction to his thought and his critique of liberalism. He also leads Fish to distinguish himself from the anything-goes textual relativism that he often gets unfairly accused of.

I’d push back a little bit against Mohler and for Fish on one issue, though I really want to dig deeper into it and I’m not ready to issue any pronouncements: Mohler argues for the hermeneutical textualism of Scalia against the intentionalism of Fish (though both agree that the two positions are part of the overall “mother ship” of originalism). This means that Scalia says, according to Fish, that we have no reliable access to the intentions of the framers of any law except through the texts they produced. Fish says we necessarily form up some idea of the intentions of the framers of any law; they were not writing from nowhere and nowhen but wrote as part of a history, a story. So we might as well, he says, make the search for their intentions an explicit part of our hermeneutical inquiry.

Mohler says, in his customary wrap-up comments after the guest is off-air, that in the case of the Bible all we have is the text. This is the only access we have to the mind of the Author. And I see what he’s saying. But the Bible is a special book: we do have some access (though still largely through the Bible) to the historical circumstances and likely intentions of the human authors God guided to form the Bible.

ScaliaI need to dig deeper into this. I really need to sit down and do the requisite reading. I’ve read Fish. Now I need to finish this:

Colin Gunton on Frameworks of Belief

All interpretation is shaped by the frameworks of belief which we bring to it; the hope is that the text—or rather the Holy Spirit’s opening up of the text—will enable us both to use and to transcend those frameworks with ever new insights into the truth of the gospel.

—Colin Gunton, Christ and Creation

Right on. The postmodern insight that everyone, by definition, sees through his own eyes and from his own location must not forget the fact that in reading the Bible we are not merely dealing with a static text but the living words of a person. My hope as I read in the Bible is not, finally, in my hermeneutical skill or theological knowledge—though these are important secondary means. My hope is not in myself at all; it’s in God’s mercy and grace, as it is in all areas of life.

Biblical Worldview: Creation, Fall, Redemption Promo Video

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Biblical Worldview: Creation, Fall, Redemption now has a promo page on bjupress.com. If you haven’t yet purchased a copy, you will want to do so now that there is a promo page. Bryan Smith, the presenter on the video there, is the one whose vision I was trying to live out in the book. His theological mentoring made a major impact on me during my nine years at BJU Press. He knows his Bible extremely well and works to apply it across all the academic disciplines with a depth and rigor I’ve never seen in anyone else I know personally.

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Article in Answers Magazine

I originally wrote this article for the New York Times opinion page, but it wound up in a slightly less partisan publication, Answers Magazine. (To be clear, the article has been edited a bit to reflect the change of audience.) I just got my copy:

I pray that the article will be beneficial to the readers. It was pretty fun working with the team at Answers, including my former colleague Mike Mathews, who gave me some great feedback.

You can buy the whole issue here.