NEWS: Alan Lenzi Invents New Trilemma – On Biblical Studies and Christian Faith
Posted by NT Wrong on June 7, 2008
The original ‘trilemma’ was coined by C. S. Lewis, who famously argued that Jesus must either be Lord, a Liar, or a Lunatic. This caught on immediately, due to the catchy alliteration.
Now, Prof Lenzi has discovered a trilemma which applies to biblical scholars who claim Christian faith. These are the good professor’s own words:
“Ultimately, I think one must exercise a kind of intellectual schizophrenia, engage in [at least] implicit mysticism, or turn a blind eye to some major critical issues if one is going to maintain Christian faith as a Biblicist.”
– Alan Lenzi [, with systematic emendation]
Let’s break that down.
A self-professed Christian doing biblical studies today, after all that has been discovered over the last 200 years or so, must either:
- 1. Be an schizo, intellectually holding to two opposite things at once;
2. Be a mystic, appealing to some lame ‘God works in mysterious ways’ theology, Barthianism, some other obscurantism, or all of the above;
3. Be intellectually dishonest, choosing to ignore the ramifications of what she or he has learnt.
‘The New Trilemma’, as it has been coined, manages to avoid the charge of ‘false trichotomy’ which undermined C. S. Lewis’ formulation – because it leaves open the possibility that faith-professing biblical scholars can do all three (sometimes, even, within a single sentence).
A New Trilemma has been born.
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