By Good and Necessary Consequence presents a critical examination of the reasoning behind the "good and necessary consequence" clause in the Westminster Confession of Faith and makes five observations regarding its suitability for contemporary Reformed and evangelical adherents. 1) In the seventeenth century, religious leaders in every quarter were expected to respond to a thoroughgoing, cultural skepticism. 2) In response to the onslaught of cultural and epistemological skepticism, many looked to mimic as far as possible the deductive methods of mathematicians. 3) The use to which biblicist foundationalism was put by the Westminster divines is at variance with the classical invention, subsequent appropriation, and contemporary estimation of axiomatic and deductive methodology. 4) Although such methodological developments in theology might have seemed natural during the seventeenth century, their epistemological advantage is not evident today. 5) When a believer's faith is epistemologically ordered in a biblicist foundationalist way, once the foundation--the axiomatic use of a veracious scripture--is called into question, the entire faith is in serious danger of crashing down. In a nutshell, Bovell argues that it is not wise to structure the Christian faith in this biblicist foundationalist way, and that it is high time alternate approaches be sought.
Endorsements & Reviews-
"Carlos Bovell's book is important not just because it analyses the assumptions underlying the attraction of inerrancy but because it captures the serious spiritual consequences that are at stake. He has given us a fresh and illuminating perspective on the intellectual roots of foundationalism as applied to doctrines of the Bible. If Scripture is to be truly heard, and if the faith is to be handed on in a healthy fashion in the future, then Bovell's proposals must be taken with the utmost seriousness." --William J. Abraham Southern Methodist University
"Since the seventeenth century, many Protestants have insisted that Christian beliefs and practices must either be contained in or derived from Scripture. By Good and Necessary Consequence sheds new light on the historical and cultural developments that led Protestants to adopt this position. Even more importantly, it shows that, for ordinary believers who embrace it, biblicist foundationalism can be theologically and spiritually disastrous. This is a smart and evocative work that deserves a very careful reading." --Jason E. Vickers United Theological Seminary
"Bovell shows, with scholarly rigour and persuasion, that the roots of biblicist foundationalism lie in seventeenth-century skepticism. He thereby challenges fundamentalist claims that biblicist modes of thought go back to the origins of Christianity . . . His challenge is hard-hitting, going as far as to suggest that some people may need to get out of Christianity in order to be able to return to it with new understanding." --Harriet Harris University of Oxford
Carlos R. Bovell
Carlos R. Bovell is a graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary and of The Institute for Christian Studies, Toronto. He is the author of Inerrancy and the Spiritual Formation of Younger Evangelicals (Wipf and Stock, 2007).