Sunday, October 29, 2006

And Now For Something Completely Different....

Having looked somewhat in depth at the "this-worldly" devotion that often characterizes pietism (whether in its liberal or evangelical formulations), I would now like to consider those things which characterize what D.G. Hart considers the proper alternative to pietism: confessionalism.

One of the most immediately obvious differences centers around the question of authority. Now I know what you’re thinking: "Don’t all Protestants hold to the Bible as their sole authority in all matters related to faith and practice?"

That’s a good question, but I’m not sure it’s the right one. In other words, framing the issue of authority in terms of Bible versus Tradition commits the same error as does dividing Protestants into either evangelical or liberal camps. It captures a lot, but misses a lot more.

The question has never been over whether the Bible or tradition holds ultimate sway for Protestants, for we have always given the final word to the former. The real question, then, is the follow-up: "This Bible that is our ultimate authority, are we to read it in conjunction with, or in isolation from, the rest of the believing community down through he ages?"

Well, which is it? Are we to open the Good Book with a blank slate and receive its truths fresh from the Author’s lips, or are these truths in some way mediated through confessional documents and/or the lips of the ministers of the Word?