John H Armstrong : How Does a Postmodern Understanding of Faith Relate to a Premodern Understanding?

The Confessions of St Augustine MacroImage by Rachel Ford James via Flickr

Although I hear people say “Moses meant this” or “Moses meant that,” I think it more truly religious to say “Why should he not have both meanings in mind, if both are true? And if others see in the same words a third, or a fourth, or any number of true meanings ,why should we not believe that Moses saw them all? There is only one God, who caused Moses to write the Holy Scripture in the way best suited to the minds of great numbers of men who would all see truths in them, though not the same truths in the each case.”

For my part I declare resolutely and with all my heart that if I were called upon to write a book which was to be vested with the highest authority, I should prefer to write it in such a way that a reader could find re-echoed in my words whatever truths he was able to apprehend. I would rather write in this way than impose a single true meaning so explicitly that it would exclude all others (The Confessions of St. Augustine, trans. Edward B. Pusey, 1962, 308).

Makes Augustine sound like a post-modern emergent!

The reason for Augustine's view, and how this fitted into the pre-modern church's understanding of the nature of Scripture, are further explored in Armstrong's thought-provoking article.

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