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It has been said many times that we cannot impose our scientific concerns and methods on ancient persons, those who penned Scripture. I second this. It is anachronistic, arrogant, and lacks thoughtful sensitivity. The concerns and ways of our time (Greek: chronos) cannot be teleported back in time and imposed on ancient persons, and then, triumphantly find them deficient by our standards: this is being anachronistic, which word comes from two Greek words, ana (up) and chronos (time), taking our concerns that arose well downstream in history and placing those upstream in history. At this point, at least one person wants to object, “But God is the author, so he should be accurate!” This does nothing to what I have said, however: instead, what we see is our imposing 21st century standards on God Himself, ” . . . so He should be accurate like we are in this scientific 21st century.” God was speaking to people living in the bronze, iron, and classical ages, not to Enlightenment and Post-Enlightenment individuals. The concerns and methods of our age do not become the standards by which we judge what was important to all other ages: this is blatant hubris that has forgotten its own limited and temporal situation: the flower fades and the grass falls. The next generation full of pride will be along soon enough to speak about all of us as antiquated, infantile primates. The question is, do I want to be the current generation full of pride like this? Why do I say this lacks thoughtful sensitivity? I do so because we are after, if we are open inquirers, how God has spoken to humans at certain points in history. An important point to remember is that just because something is conceivable doesn’t mean that it is possible; many people confuse this. Therefore, just because it is conceivable that God could speak to iron age people with 21st century language, thought-modes, conceptualizations, concerns, and scientific frameworks, doesn’t mean it is possible. For God to communicate in such radically different language and developed knowledge (or undeveloped in some ways) demands us to ask the question of whether or not this would really communicate, or if it would just be God speaking at those iron age people without any real communication occurring. Communication, it must be remembered, always involves two persons: hence the “co-” on the front of “communication.” Someone might equally object: “God could teach them.” This is conceivable, but if it is possible is a real question. If God is interested in loving well, and have us freely love Him — as I believe — it may not be possible for God to “teach” man in this way since He would have to reveal Himself to such an extent that man’s freedom to choose love would no longer be an option. If God is too evident, the choice for God becomes one of survival, not love: of biological fitness, not moral desire. For instance, the laws of nature are evident, too evident certainly if I just off a 20 story building. It is not a moral desire in heart-felt devotion to choose to abide by the law of gravity; it is a choice aiming at my continuing biological fitness. Thus, I think having a thoughtful sensitivity to such matters as these requires openness, patience, humility, and endurance in pursuit of satisfactory answers, rather than that cliché dribble so frequently propagated, whether for or against wanting God to speak in 21st century language. We’ve all experience others trying to force their views on us, so let’s call this desire to impose our 21st century framework on all peoples at all times the “bigotry of temporalism.” If we impose our clearly passing frameworks of knowledge on all people at all times as though our way of thinking is absolute, we are the bigots who enforce our so-called superior views of the moment on all, as if God. This certainly is imperialistic: this forced submission of everyone to our present time’s way of seeing things. This point is yet another reason to know history; if we do not, we lock ourselves into slavery to the current moment’s way of framing things.

Dr. Scalise