The Rev. Dr. Tom Trinidad is the Vice Moderator of the 220th General Assembly (2012) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church in Colorado Springs, CO.
I want to introduce you to Tom’s blog Thinking Faith and an entry titled “Explaining Faith Church and the Presbyterian Church USA“. Tom does an excellent job presenting four basic approaches to viewing God, the Bible and human experience and explains all four approaches can be found in the PC(USA) but that our official theology is in the middle, characterized by both progressive and conservative/traditional approaches.
Tom explains the four approaches below. I’ve applied an example of how Christians who believe God created the heavens and earth reconcile the differences between the six day creation story in Genesis 1 and modern science using each approach.
Fundamentalist dismiss human experience as a source of knowledge and rely solely on the Bible. Creation happened in a literal six days, there is no possibility science is correct.
Conservatives/Traditionalist take human experience into consideration as a source of knowledge, but it is subordinate to biblical revelation. Where the two conflict, the Bible decides. Creation happened in a literal six days, but there is a possibility science is correct.
Progressives consider human experience as well as the Bible as sources of knowledge, while at the same time recognizing that God as Mystery transcends the Bible. Where there are conflicts, progressives err on the side of grace, trusting God to be the judge. Science is correct, but there is a possibility creation happened in a literal six days.
Liberals look to human experience as the final arbiter of conflicts among sources of knowledge. Science is correct, there is no possibility creation happened in a literal six days.
I tend to stand between the two middle ground approaches. @beardonabike posted this tweet on Twitter yesterday, “There is a difference between leaning on your own understanding and throwing away God given critical thinking skills.” I agree. I believe the PC(USA) does too.
How do you view God, the Bible and human experience?