Science in Christian Perspective
[on Dr. Ramm's book]
From JASA 8 (June 1956): 22-23.
I must apologize to Arthur Kuschke for jumping to the conclusion, with evidently insufficient evidence, that he had made up his mind about the book with little or no examination of it. Although I disagree with him that Ramm's statements "give over the issue to the enemy" I am convinced that Mr. Kuschke's letter is a sincere and studious attempt to analyze the all-important underlying theological issues.
In reply, may I comment briefly upon Ramm's position on interpretation and inspiration.
The observation contained in Mr. Kuschke's sixth paragraph, I believe, is really unwarranted. Ramm is not urging a "less strict" view of inspiration. He is urging a recognition of the fact that the truth of God is indeed revealed in a human medium-language and culture-which has changed greatly since the revelation was made, so that we must take the scriptures in some cases and "re-translate them into our transcultural concepts" '(page 79)
Neither is Ramm's intention merely to show a differences between popular and technical scientific language. It is clearly a matter of attempting to answer the question, "How do we tell what is cultural and what is trans-cultural?" (page 77). A view of inspiration certainly need not be "indeterminately weaker" by avoiding either extreme in answering this question.
As for the second illustrative polarity which is criticized here, I think it is well taken that Brunner's "view of Biblical interpretation is determined by his attitude toward the Bible itself." But I believe Mr. Kuschke is inadvertently switching the discussion from a comparison of interpretations to a comparison of beliefs. Certainly an interpretation of scripture may fall somewhere between an ultra-literal one and an ultra-symbolic one, no matter whether one's attitude toward the Bible be one of belief or unbelief.
Operating within a very restricted concept of time (prehistory), Keyser exhibits most of the misinterpretations of scripture now recognized as typical of such a position. Thus in his emphasis upon the immutability of species, equating "kind" with a non-genetic concept of "species," Keyser may very easily be shown to have been "wrong" in these details as well as in other aspects of this pattern of interpretation, while at the same time holding the "right" view of inspiration and inerrancy of scripture.
The claim that our interpretation must be somewhere between Keyser's and Brunner's interpretations certainly need not imply that our belief in the scriptures must necessarily be identified as farther from Keyser's position and closer to Brunner's.
With these things in mind, then, I believe that many reviewers of The Christian View of Sc'ence and Scripture have misunderstood both Dr. Ramm's terminology ("cultural" vs. "trans-cultural," a distinction so ably discussed by Smalley and Fetzer in the second edition of Modern Science and Christian Faith using the term "supercultural" instead of "trans-cultural,") and the context of many of his observations on inspiration. Rather than "theological concessions" they could perhaps be referred to as "interpretive non-conformities" which, as Culver has pointed out, are, in most cases, not original with Ramm, or even with the present generation.Sincerely in Christ,