D.A. Carson in Themelios, April 2017:
The words are in quotation marks because they are borrowed from Mike Ovey’s column in a recent issue of Themelios.
This is the stance that insists that all the relevant biblical passages on a stated subject are exegetically confusing and unclear, and therefore we cannot know (hence “imperious”) the mind of God on that subject.
The historical example that Ovey adduces is the decision of a church Council during the patristic period whose decisions have mostly been forgotten by non-specialists. At a time of great controversy over Christology—specifically, over the deity of Christ—the Council of Sirmium (357), which sided with the pro-Arians, pronounced a prohibition against using terms like homoousios (signaling “one and the same substance”) and homoiousios (signaling “of a similar substance”). In other words, Sirmium prohibited using the technical terms espoused by both sides, on the ground that the issues are so difficult and the evidence so obscure that we cannot know the truth.
Sirmium even adduced a biblical proof-text: “Who shall declare his generation?” they asked: i.e., it is all too mysterious. Nevertheless, the orthodox fathers Hilary of Poitiers and Athanasius of Alexandria assessed the stance of Sirmium as worse than error: it was, they said, blasphemy. They decried the element of compulsion in Sirmium’s decree, and insisted that it was absurd: how is it possible to legislate the knowledge of other people? But the blasphemous element surfaces in the fact that the decree tries to put an end to the confession of true propositions (e.g., the eternal generation of the Son).
Practically speaking, the claim of dogmatic ignorance, ostensibly arising from Scripture’s lack of clarity, criticizes Scripture while allowing people to adopt the positions they want. This art of imperious ignorance is not unknown or unpracticed today.