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Benson on Scriptural Confidence

February 28th, 2011 | 2 min read

By Andrew Walker

Christopher Benson—a Mere-O reader and verbal ombudsman—has an excellent post up at his blog where he replies to Jonathan Fitzgerald’s insistence that ambiguity ought to be our reply when asked about making a moral pronouncement about homosexuality. Benson states,

Where the Bible leaves him [Fitzgerald] uncertain about the moral status of homosexuality, it inspires enough confidence in me to make a pronouncement. Notice my word choice: confidence. Moral judgments only require confidence; they don’t need to satisfy Immanuel Kant’s condition for apodictic certainty, i.e., certainty beyond dispute.


My concern is that Fitzgerald and other progressive evangelicals have adopted postures of uncertainty because they’re relying on their own reason to shore up their doubts rather than permitting the Spirit to vouchsafe “the unassailable truth” of Scripture. Calvin supplies us with a test for the proper reading of Scripture: Do we subject Scripture to our judgment and wit or do we subject our judgment and wit to Scripture? To use spatial language, it’s the difference between lording ourselves over the text versus lowering ourselves under the text.


Fitzgerald’s “I don’t know” often becomes an excuse for relinquishing trust in the Word of God when its judgments areleast like ours. By contrast, Helm’s “I don’t know” is a cause for deepening trust when mistrust tempts us to conform Scripture to our judgments rather than conform our judgments to Scripture.


Our postmodern society is characterized by its ironic judgment against all judgments. In that setting, what strategy is easier: to choose silence when the apostle Paul says homosexual practice is “contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God” (1 Timothy 1:8-11) or to persist in believing that what was entrusted to Paul and the early church is also entrusted to us – however puzzling or offensive? Trust builds confidence in our moral judgments. This confidence is not internally produced but externally conferred by the Spirit who attests to the perdurable truths of Scripture.

I’d point you to the full article for further review.