In a recent article for First Things, Gerald McDermott writes about the reluctance of some evangelical scholars to identify with their own tradition:
“Evangelical theologians, like other orthodox thinkers, are susceptible to the peculiarly academic sort of ambition that seeks acceptance and recognition by their liberal colleagues. We want the academy’s approval, and so we are tempted to write and teach a theology that will be consistent with its moral and theological sensibilities.”
The spirit of the age has little room for evangelical distinctives like inerrancy, soteriological exclusivism, the doctrine of hell, etc. So it is no surprise that McDermott observes that the evangelical left tends “to reject the idea that the actual words of the Bible are inspired.” Such a confession simply doesn’t mesh well with the ideological mores of modern people. Evangelical scholars who are willing to swim against this powerful stream seem to be few and far between.
That is why I love Jim Hamilton’s recent blog post “Why I believe the Bible.” The post is a brief narrative from a scholar who isn’t afraid to put his flag in the ground and say “here I stand.” Jim writes:
“I think that my belief that the Bible is the word of God was probably most strongly challenged during the PhD program. It wasn’t challenged, though, by arguments so much as by the ‘peer pressure’ of the academic guild. That is, the initiates in the guild weren’t producing evidence, logic, and an overwhelming case against the Bible. It was more like an unspoken entrance requirement: if you want to join the ranks of the real scholars, you can’t believe that the Bible is inerrant, and you can’t hold that the attributions of authorship are accurate. Those ideas aren’t allowed here. I actually had an editor of a semi-evangelical journal tell me that I needed to become a real scholar and stop betraying so many evangelical assumptions about the Bible in my writing. Never, mind you, was any of this actually argued. The strongest pull seems to come from things so deeply entrenched that they don’t need to be argued. I was disgusted by the ‘peer pressure’ from the esteemed guild to reject the Bible.”
Read the rest of Hamilton’s post here. And if you haven’t done so yet, go buy Hamilton’s new book, The Glory of God in Salvation through Judgment: A Biblical Theology. It’s a must-read.