Friday, July 13, 2007

Quote - Mascall on Critical Scholarship

The critical scholar is not committed, within the area of his research, to accepting the Church's presuppositions about Jesus, but he should not be committed to accepting naturalistic presuppositions either. If he does accept the latter, then the results of his research will in all probability contradict the beliefs of the Church, but this is because he has begged the question from the start. In examining, for instance, the evidence for the virginal conception [of Jesus], if he begins with the presupposition that such an event is impossible he will end with the same conclusion; if he begins with the presupposition that it is possible he may end with the conclusion that the evidence for it is good or that it is bad or that it is inconclusive. This is as far as scholarship can take him. The Christian will accept the virginal conception as part of the Church's faith.

In the rare cases where faith appears to be contradicted by scholarship whose conclusions have not been prescribed from the start, [the critical scholar] may be cast down but will not be destroyed. For he will know how temporary and mutable the conclusions of scholarship essentially are, and he will also be conscious that he himself may not have perfectly comprehended the Church's faith.

E.L. Mascall, The Secularisation of Christianity

Hat tip to CQOD.

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