Paul Helm on History and Dogma

Paul Helm has a new article posted at Helm’s Deep. that deals with the issues surrounding the arguments posed by those who favor history (narrative) over against dogma (propositions). While Helm is not advocating propositions over narratives, he is trying to safeguard the necessity of propositions in the scheme of theology. In establishing his point, Helm uses this very convincing argument about the sinlessness of Christ. He writes:

A narrative-style study of the Gospel narratives may lead us to the reasonable conclusion that Jesus did not sin. From this we may justifiably conclude: ‘Jesus is sinless’ is true. Will that do, for dogmatic purposes? No, it will not. Crucially will not. For there was a time when it was true that ‘Adam is sinless’, but then he sinned, bringing death into the world and all our woe. If as a result of historical investigation we come to the conclusion that Jesus is sinless, this is indeed a striking conclusion, but it is dogmatically as weak as water. As weak as water even if we are able to conclude, on historical grounds that (unlike Adam) Jesus was always sinless.

This is not only a convincing argument, it is simply unanswerable. Interestingly, Geerhardus Vos, the great Redemptive Historical theologian, says as much when he explains that the apostles were the authoritative interpreters of the words of Christ recorded in the Gospels. You can read the rest of this article here.

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