Sunday, February 1, 2009

Discussing Speculation


Theological speculation has been the problem with many theologians in the past and it led to heresy. Too often does scripture speak on a subject then the human mind makes that extra non-biblical jump into a reasoned guess about what the conclusion is. The problem that many people have is letting scripture speak where it speaks and letting it be silent where it is silent.

However, I think too often this is used a cop out when we don't know about a certain aspect of Scripture. Too quick, I think, do we jump to this conclusion and let things lie.

Thus, it went in a discussion from lunch today. The topic of "When did the fall of Satan and his angels occur?" came up because it was brought up in another seminarian's youth Sunday School class. Upon hearing this another seminarian chimed in "We have no idea, so there nothing to discuss." But should the discussion really end like that?

Truly, we have no exactness of when this occurred. However, it would be wrong to simply state this to the kids. For Scripture does speak on the fall of Satan. What would be best is to discuss those passages which speak on it then make the conclusion that Scripture does not explicitly tell us when.

In this way do you let scripture limit the conversation, while at the same time the "people" see that you have not simply brushed the question aside but have actually thought about this. Thus, you build their confidence in you for future conversations.

+Kyrie Eleison+

2 comments:

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

The other Seminarian was in error when he said "we have no idea" - we know that it was after the creation of the Angels and prior to the fall of Adam. Now, that doesn't narrow the scope down too much as Scripture gives neither the date of the fall or the exact point at which the Angels were created. . . but it's something - not nothing.

If one gets pressed further - shrug and then say, "If I had to guess, ______, but that's only a guess, so I don't and can't know."

Dan @ Necessary Roughness said...

Yeah, as a layman I would have appreciated it if the evidence were presented first, (Jesus' testimony re: Satan's fall and the appearance of the Genesis serpent), and then the seminarian could have said, the rest is mere speculation, but...and then if he hadn't thought about it, say that he hadn't thought about it that much yet.

If someone wants to speculate and speculates poorly, the seminarian could then cite scripture that would correct the poor speculation. He still teaches that way.

As an instructor myself (though not of the Bible), there is a return on my time investment when I allow a student to dovetail from the course a little bit for a question. If I listen to him, he may make more of an effort to listen to me.