Can something be biblical or unbiblical?
In a recent press release regarding a sexual abuse scandal, the leadership of the Sovereign Grace Ministries responded to an accuser with the accusation that he was using "unbiblical language."
“We denounce as sinful and unbiblical his determined effort to accuse our brethren,” the council says of Detwiler, who blogs at BrentDetwiler.com. “Consequently, we urge our brothers and sisters in Christ to avoid giving audience to Brent Detwiler’s unbiblical speech until such a time that he repents of this ungodly pattern. Such harmful speech is ruinous to the church of God.”
The reference to "unbiblical" speech in this paragraph is curious, and curiously undefined. They do link it to "harmful" speech in the next sentence, and Detwiler's actions as "sinful" in the first sentence. What do these terms mean, and how are they using them in this rhetorical context?
The fact is that the Bible is not simply one thing, and it is not an easy matter to identify any particular action, idea, or truth as "biblical," not to mention "unbiblical." These terms reflect a complex interpretive process, and an unarticulated hermeneutic behind how and why particular biblical texts might be used as they are.
I propose that we stop calling things "biblical" and "unbiblical." I will have an article on this topic in the Interpretation section soon.