Friday, July 29, 2005

God is my teddy bear

Kevin Johnson has such a peerless ability to overlook the obvious—even when he’s staring it straight in the face. If you beat him over the head with a baseball bat, he’d exclaim: “Baseball bat? What baseball bat? That must be a feather!”

Time after time he can churn out these gushy, Harlequin Romance-style devotional pieces in which it’s more important to emote all over the place and whisper sweet nothings into the ear of Jesus than to actually know the Lord and live for him.

***QUOTE***

We make a mistake if we think that our central concern as Christians should be to properly exegete the text of Scripture. Nor should we be entertaining the idea that such should be the primary concern of the Christian minister. Bible study of course is important but our central concern should be Christ.

***END-QUOTE***

Mark well the glittering false antithesis. From where do we derive our knowledge of Jesus if not from the Bible?

Those of us who do exegesis understand perfectly well that exegesis is a means, not an end. But without a roadway, you cannot arrive at your desired destination.

***QUOTE***

Oddly enough these are men who advocate sola scriptura and turn a blind eye to tradition–except of course the tradition they value.

***END-QUOTE***

This is another ignorant lie. Kevin’s ignorance is self-reinforcing. Since he doesn’t do serious exegesis, he doesn’t see how serious exegesis is done. If he did serious exegesis, he would see that trained exegetes are quite conversant with the history of interpretation. They will generally present a number of exegetical options which have been offered over the centuries, and then advocate their own through process of elimination.

***QUOTE***

Where does the Bible say that men should be trained so? Not only did the original authors of the New Testament generally avoid the sort of historical/grammatical method of interpreting the Scripture they had available to them, they often employed methods that today would be declared unacceptable by those who feel free to call biblical hermeneutics a science.

***END-QUOTE***

Several more of his trademark fallacies:

i) To begin with, the original audience was contemporaneous with the author. It shared the same cultural preunderstanding and background knowledge. But what was common knowledge for them is hardly common knowledge for a man living 2000 years after the fact.

ii) Since the science of archeology didn’t exist back then, it wouldn’t even be possible for someone living in NT times to bone up on Egyptology or Assyriology.

iii) What methods would be declared unacceptable? Is this an allusion to typology?

***QUOTE***

And so, I must ask, what sort of training did the original twelve Apostles have in interpreting Scripture? How many years of seminary did they get under their belt prior to our Lord’s death?

***END-QUOTE***

Another mindless question. Clearly we’re not in the same privileged position as those who spent three years in the Savior’s company, day in and day out.

***QUOTE***

Perhaps catholicity would be easier for us if we stuck to those things that are central to the gospel of Jesus Christ–namely, knowing and obeying Him.

***END-QUOTE***

“Catholicity” is Kevin’s idol, not mine. And it’s only in Kevin’s furry mind that “catholicity” has anything to do with knowing and obeying our Lord. “Catholicity” is not central to the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is only central to a schismatic little coterie of buffet believers who take a side-dish of Romanism here, a side-dish of Orthodoxy there, a side-dish of Luther here, a side-dish of Calvin there.

***QUOTE***

It is a common mistake for those who advocate a strict solo scriptura view to think that their read of Scripture is decidedly the correct “one interpretation” and that it has little to do with tradition. Unfortunately, that usually isn’t the case. For tradition exists wherever men exist.

***END-QUOTE***

Kevin is a one-trick pony with a broken leg. What a competent Evangelical exegete does is not to merely assume or assert that his interpretation is the only correct one, but to compare and contrast his interpretation with other traditional interpretations, and then defend his interpretation by reason and evidence.

***QUOTE***

Never mind that seminaries didn’t exist during the New Testament era and that men and women were often enrolled into service in the New Testament era quite rapidly after their conversion with little or no training in anything at all let alone training in the proper use of the Scriptures.

***END-QUOTE***

Again, this is all willfully obtuse.

i) To begin with, there was certainly a tradition of Jewish learning. Paul studied under Gamaliel. Apollos was well-educated. So was the author of Hebrews. You had the synagogue system. Jews committed Scripture to memory. Just consider how many literary allusions there are to the OT Scriptures in Mary’s Magnificat. All this from a simple Jewish girl and peasant.

ii) The NT is replete with quotations and allusions to the OT. So knowledge of the Scripture was a priority.

iii) The early church, being “early,” had a limited talent pool to draw upon.

iv) The Magisterial Reformers were keenly interested in exegesis and hermeneutics. So there is nothing the least bit “Reformational” about Kevin’s orientation.

***QUOTE***

Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying. The study of the Scriptures is important.

***END-QUOTE***

This disclaimer is a classic throwaway argument. What he really means is: “I think serious Bible study is a big waste of time. But I don’t want to be accused of saying what I really think. So I’ll throw in this phony disclaimer to cover my flank.

Ironically, and the irony runs very deep indeed, Kevin’s touchy-feely pietism is textbook Anabaptist theology. A sweet, sugary, thumb-sucking spiritually for the inner child and feminine side.

Kevin doesn’t want a Lord and Savior—he wants a spiritual teddy bear: something that gives him that soft pillowly, feeling. And the fuzzier the better!

6 comments:

  1. Kevin Johnson's views remind me that we are living in a time when anti-intellectualism characterizes much of the church. That is a curious thing, considering that the greatest commandment is to love God with all our being, including our minds! An unthinking mind is a curious offering to make to the Creator of our minds, is it not?! Surely a pressing need in the 21st-century American church is for minds to be engaged and hearts to be fired up! Zeal alone is insufficient (Proverbs 19:2). But of course knowledge without zeal is also unhealthy!

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  2. You have misconstrued my view if you charge me with anti-intellectualism. No one is doubting a need to properly interpret the Scriptures, study them, or the need to train men to do so. The question was simply, "What is central?"

    Steve's uncharitable review of my post (and his arguments against me personally) is most unwelcome. I don't appreciate words being put in my mouth or drawing conclusions about what I've said that I simply didn't advocate in the first place. Shadowboxing and hacking away at straw men just isn't becoming. I don't understand how he views his comments as anything approaching Christian dialogue.

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  3. If Kevin really wants to have a serious Christian dialogue, the opening move is his.

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  4. The problem here is that Kevin simply has no credibility on this issue. If he had a track record of offering a serious exegetical defense of his positions, or showing a mastery of the standard exegetical literature, then one could give him the benefit of the doubt, but I can only judge him by his past performance. He has nothing in the bank to justify a line of credit.

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  5. >>>> I don't appreciate words being put in my mouth or drawing conclusions about what I've said that I simply didn't advocate in the first place. Shadowboxing and hacking away at straw men just isn't becoming. I don't understand how he views his comments as anything approaching Christian dialogue.

    This, Kevin, is a textbook example of mirror-reading, considering that the very first statement you made was this: We make a mistake if we think that our central concern as Christians should be to properly exegete the text of Scripture...which is, itself, not a thesis the author of the original article at A & O to which you were replying argued.

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  6. Why the need to belittle anabaptist theology?

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