Saturday, July 21, 2007

Exodus redux

Andrew Fulford, a fine young Canadian Christian, college student, and blogger has been contending for the faith once delivered.

http://puritas.blogspot.com/2007/07/another-argument-against.html

I thought both his original post and his reply to William and Greg were excellent.

One preliminary issue: both commenters are attempting to put Andrew on the defensive. This is illicit.

When a professing Christian (William; Greg) is addressing an inerrantist, the onus is hardly on the inerrantist to prove inerrancy.

Christianity claims to be a revealed religion. A religion of the book. The knowledge of Christianity comes primarily from a text. A verbal, written revelation. That’s a fundamental truth-condition of the Christian faith.

This text also makes self-referential claims regarding its inspiration.

The burden of proof lies squarely on the shoulders of the professing Christian who effectively denies the inspiration, and, hence, revelatory status of Scripture (by denying the inerrancy of Scripture) to explain what reason he has to be a Christian when he denies a fundamental truth-condition of the Christian faith.

The Bible says one thing about itself, while William and Greg say something to the contrary. That is a problem for *their* profession of faith, not for *ours*.

They attempt to put Andrew on the defensive by shifting the burden of proof. That’s’ a good tactical move. But it only works when they are arguing with someone to their right on the theological spectrum. However, someone to their left on the theological (or atheological) spectrum could do the same thing to them.

This is what is so duplicitous and unscrupulous about their tactics. They recycle many of the stock arguments against the Bible that you’ll find on the lips of Hitchens or Dawkins or Voltaire or Ingersoll or H. L. Menken or Thomas Paine when attacking the Bible-believer. But they combine this with a compartmentalized Christian faith.

Greg Armstrong said...

“The issue isn't so much with copyists as it is with redactors.”

i) This assumes what he needs to prove: the redaction of Scripture. Where is his supporting argument?

ii) His assertion is less than self-explanatory. What was redacted? The MT? The LXX? Or both?

Is he saying that apparent discrepancies are due to various redactors within the MT and/or LXX, or between the MT and the LXX?

In other words, is he saying that books within the Hebrew Bible contract each other due to contradictory redactional agendas?

Or is he saying that the MT contradicts the LXX because LXX redactors have a different agenda than MT redactors?

Or is he saying that the LXX was redacted, but not the MT?

iii) Even assuming, for the sake of argument, the redaction of Scripture, how does that account for apparent contradictions? Wouldn’t we expect a redactor to try to smooth out the apparent contradictions?

“With copyists we often are able to locate and correct their errors, but redactors have modified the texts in different ways and for different purposes.”

Notice, here, that Greg seems to be using a very different argument than William. Greg seems to affirm what William denies: “Hence you should answer these ‘simple’ MT vs. LXX questions.”

Greg’s insinuation, from what I can tell, is that these conflicts arise from differences between the MT and the LXX, and that it’s no simple matter to choose. But William says just the opposite.

Continuing:

“Thus we no longer need to search for this elusive original text.”

How does that follow? Even if you accept the assumption of a redacted Bible, you still have a final text, and the final text is subject to the vicissitudes of textual transmission. So there would still be a need to recover the final text.

“So maybe the ‘original’ language should be dropped?”

Meaning what? That the MT (or Ur-MT or proto-MT) should be dropped?

Is he claiming that the LXX is the final text?

“Unless of course we do not accept that the redactional processes were inspired. But if we adhere to that view then the problems would just be far too numerous and even irreconcilable with orthodox theology and tradition.”

Of course, he has rigged the alternatives, as if the choice is between inspired and uninspired redaction. That takes redaction for granted as the operating assumption.

But the inerrantist would reject the creative redaction of Scripture.

William said...

“Hence you should answer these ‘simple’ MT vs. LXX questions:”

i) Who said that textual criticism is necessarily “simple”? And what bearing does that have on inerrancy?

ii) In addition, differences between the MT and LXX aren’t merely a question of transmission.

“1) Who killed Goliath?”

Archer, in his Encyclopedia, offers a text critical solution (178-79).

On the other hand, Tsumura, in his commentary, suggests that “Goliath” may be titular name rather than a proper name, citing Ugaritic usage (440). And he treats the two accounts has having reference to separate events. So there’s no contradiction.

“ 2) How tall was Goliath?”

Standard commentators regard the MT as more likely to preserve the original height.

“3) Was David the 7th or 8th child in the family?”

This question disregards the numerological significance of some figures in Biblical and ANE usage. In this case, 7 may be a symbolic number, as Arnold notes in his commentary (231), while Tsumura suggests that 8 may be an epic literary convention, citing Ugaritic usage (421).

“4) Did the Israelites cross the Red or Reed sea?”

How is that a question of inerrancy? We try to identify the geographical landmarks in Scripture on the basis of textual place names in conjunction with archeological information. After 3500 years, give or take, it isn’t always easy to pinpoint the geographical referent. Cf. J. Currid, Exodus 1-18 (EP 2000), 1:280-81; J. Hoffmeier, Ancient Israel in Sinai (Oxford 2005), chap. 5.

“Trust me, when I say these are simple issues that affect the overall shape (ideological trust) of the text. In fact, if you took Biblical Studies seriously, you'd discover that the ideology of one text actually refutes the other.”

Why should we trust him when he betrays such a willfully indolent ignorance of exegesis and period conventions?

Ironically, William acts like a parody of KJV-only fundy who thinks that he knows all he needs to know about meaning of Scripture without knowing a thing about how an ancient text would be heard by an ancient audience.

i) What about the ideological agenda of liberal Bible scholars?

ii) And what about William’s ideological agenda?

iii) If he believes that one Scriptural text refutes another, why does he even claim to be a Christian?

“So how could inspiration guarantee meaning of each text?”

It wouldn’t on his assumption, but that begs the question.

“What is so interesting about reading your post is your resemblance to a fundamentalist that I had to deal with. By 'fundamentalist' I mean someone who is dogmatic about preserving his own tradition, even if it means ignoring the evidence.”

William is a liberal fideist. He regards the Bible as uninspired, but clings to the semblance of Christian faith. How logical is that?

“I assume that you will answer my "simple" questions in one of two ways: harmonization or downplay their significance.”

This is another example of his liberal fideism. He asks Andrew some questions, then discredits his answers with a preemptory dismissal before Andrews has a chance to answer them. This is a way of immunizing his compartmentalized faith from falsification.

“Either way, you'll find yourself developing a very complex system of thought that doesn't in any way reflect the conclusions of honest biblical exegesis.”

The limited inerrantist must come up with a very complex system of thought to explain why he believes some parts of the Bible, but not others. Why he believes in certain redemptive events while disbelieving the historical record of those events. Or does he even affirm the historicity of these events?

If he thinks that “honest” exegesis entails the denial of Biblical inspiration, then the honest course of action would be for him to make a clean break with the faith instead of keeping up appearances.

“Why come up with a complex system to preserve your traditions, when the bible is a very human book.”

Does the Bible claim to be a very human book? Or is this an extrascriptural value judgment that goes against the grain of the Scriptural self-witness?

“The only reason why you'd have a problem with it is due the sacred-secular divide, which is also evident in your view of inspiration.”

This is self-defensive sophistry. What he really means is that he can’t believe a lot of what the Bible says because he believes in many other things which, if true, would contradict the Bible. He then dresses up his infidelity in the vestments of mock piety. But William and Greg are like the faithless Exodus-generation whom God condemned to wander and rot in the wilderness because they would never take God at his word.

“Thus, inspiration has to be revised, not refined.”

How can it be “revised.” Either we have a scriptural doctrine of inspiration or an unscriptural doctrine of inspiration. The self-witness of Scripture is static. The self-witness of Scripture hasn’t changed. It cannot be revised, but only denied.

27 comments:

  1. Were you seriously responding to Greg and I, for I had a tough time finding ourselves in there. I'm dead serious.

    Your two statements:

    "Christianity claims to be a revealed religion. A religion of the book. The knowledge of Christianity comes primarily from a text. A verbal, written revelation. That’s a fundamental truth-condition of the Christian faith."

    "How can it be “revised.” Either we have a scriptural doctrine of inspiration or an unscriptural doctrine of inspiration. The self-witness of Scripture is static. The self-witness of Scripture hasn’t changed. It cannot be revised, but only denied."

    What is the scriptural doctrine of the inspiration? I'm pretty sure you're reading a modern definition into a text.

    My favorite quote:

    "William is a liberal fideist. He regards the Bible as uninspired, but clings to the semblance of Christian faith. How logical is that?"

    Did I deny inspiration? As far as i know, I didn't and don't. Then, how do I make sense of your argument? Would be something along the lines of denying your version of inspiration (a presupposed reading of the text), then of course I would be denying inspiration.

    By the way, I loved how you said that Greg and I disagreed with each other. Somehow, we didn't know what to think, after our conversation. If you weren't such an aggressive religious crusader, you would have been respectful enough to represent our positions faithfully--something Fulford didn't do.

    How do my simple questions matter to science of textual criticism? Simple. There are two variations and one wants to know which one is original. But, the originals matter (other than your definition of inspiration) because I want to know which one was the canonical version for the Jesus and the apostles. The NT supports LXX variants against the MT, but for some reason the MT is accepted as the authoritative version. Yikes!

    Furthermore, you say that scholars suggest that MT preserved the original height of Goliath. What scholars? Obviously not E. Tov, P. Kyle McCarter, J. Lust, and F. M. Cross, all prominent scholars in the academy. In fact, the "science" of textual criticism suggests that it's hard to explain why a scribe would reduce Goliath's height, and also add large contradictory junks of material in the text.

    Note: those questions really are "simple." For, the "simple" answer is that Scripture contradicts itself.

    But, since I'm such an "infidel" in your eyes (and probably deserve to rot to death in the wilderness), may I at least ask why redactional emendations can't be inspired? I think this is where a conflict of definition occurs. There's no reason that I have to accept your definition. (If I had to, I would be glad to leave such a fundamentalist religion).

    Lastly, you assumed that I wasn't aware of the fact that liberals have their own ideological agenda. I guess you assumed that the entire academy is uniform on this regard. Somehow, if I say that I've been criticized and look down up because I claim to be Christian, you still wouldn't accept my saying that I know people are biased.

    What I can say is that the academy represents a lot of view points, so how can I be a "liberal fides." Are you just going to say that we're all alike in that regard, regardless of what form it manifests itself? (I'm anticipating your move in hopes that you'll come up with a better argument than that one).

    Have you ever read anything by the distinguished OT scholar, James Barr? After reading his work, I wish I could do a psychological evaluation on fundamentalists. I'm really curious to know where all that aggression comes from. Maybe you just didn't get word that medieval crusades were over.

    Have a nice life, Fundy! :)

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  2. Did I deny inspiration? As far as i know, I didn't and don't. Then, how do I make sense of your argument? Would be something along the lines of denying your version of inspiration (a presupposed reading of the text), then of course I would be denying inspiration.

    Notice that on the one hand, you say:

    “Thus, inspiration has to be revised, not refined.

    and yet to Steve say:

    What is the scriptural doctrine of the inspiration? I'm pretty sure you're reading a modern definition into a text.

    The latter can be answered by you, William, if you'd bother to look in a standard work on the subject, or systematic theology text from the Reformed tradition. If you differ with their presentations, they onus is on you to demonstrate that they are incorrect.

    Yet, you're the one claiming that "inspiration has to be revised." Revised from what? In what manner? Toward the self-witness of the text itself, or toward your own views?

    If the latter is true, then isn't it your view the innovation?

    Which gets us back to you not denying inspiration. On the one hand you claim not to deny inspiration, and on the other, you claim "inspiration needs to revised." So, which is it, William? Clearly, you're denying something in order to make a claim that inspiration needs to be revised. Are you claiming that we conservative, particularly Reformed Christians hold to an illicit and unbiblical doctrine? If so, where's the supporting argument?

    Have a nice life, Fundy! :)

    From the abundance of the heart, the latitudinarian speaks.

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  3. WILLIAM SAID:

    “Were you seriously responding to Greg and I, for I had a tough time finding ourselves in there.”

    In other words, you’re in a state of denial. That’s a common psychological pathology.

    “I'm dead serious.”

    Pity you don’t take the Bible as seriously as you take yourself.

    “What is the scriptural doctrine of the inspiration?”

    You could begin with Warfield’s inductive studies on the subject.

    “I'm pretty sure you're reading a modern definition into a text.”

    You’re the individual who’s captive to the latest academic fads.

    “Did I deny inspiration? As far as i know, I didn't and don't.”

    Let’s see. You said that “that the ideology of one text actually refutes the other.”

    So, according to your faux version of inspiration, one inspired text refutes another inspired text.

    “The NT supports LXX variants against the MT, but for some reason the MT is accepted as the authoritative version.”

    That’s a very simple-minded claim. Since the NT is written in Greek, it frequently quotes from the Greek version of the OT. That does not, of itself, mean that the NT supports LXX variants against the MT. And NT writers often depart from the wording of the LXX.

    “Furthermore, you say that scholars suggest that MT preserved the original height of Goliath. What scholars?”

    To take a few examples, B. Arnold, 1 & 2 Samuel (Zondervan 2003), 254n13.; D. Tsumura, The First Book of Samuel (Eerdmans 2007), 440-41; D. Kellermann, “Die Geschichte von David und Goliath im Lichte der Endokrinologie,” ZAW 102 (1990), 344-57); A. van der Kooij, “The Story of David and Goliath: The Early History of Its Text,” ETL 68 (1992) 118; T. Li, “Goliath,” B. Arnold & H. Williamson, eds. Dictionary of the Old Testament: Historical Books IVP 2005), 356a.

    “In fact, the ‘science’ of textual criticism suggests that it's hard to explain why a scribe would reduce Goliath's height.”

    He might emend the text if he thought his figure was more realistic.

    “And also add large contradictory junks of material in the text.”

    A tendentious assertion on your part.

    “Note: those questions really are ‘simple.’ For, the ‘simple’ answer is that Scripture contradicts itself.”

    Notice that William asked some questions. Then when his questions are answered, he disregards the answers. He does nothing to disprove the answers. So his questions were insincere. This is William’s idea of “honest” scholarship.

    “May I at least ask why redactional emendations can't be inspired?”

    You haven’t made a case for you operating assumption. You need to do that before the question of “inspired” redactions is even in play.

    Once again, your idea of inspiration is that one inspired text refutes another inspired text. So what’s the difference between inspired error and uninspired error?

    “If I had to, I would be glad to leave such a fundamentalist religion.”

    And we would be glad to see you leave.

    “I guess you assumed that the entire academy is uniform on this regard.”

    What you told Andrew is that, “in fact, if you took Biblical Studies seriously, you'd discover that the ideology of one text actually refutes the other.”

    So you implied unanimity of outlook on the part of the “academy”; to wit: all members of the academy take the position that the ideology of one text refutes another.

    If you’re now backtracking from your original claim, that’s a tacic admission of error on your part. Sorry you can’t keep track of your own argument.

    “What I can say is that the academy represents a lot of view points, so how can I be a ‘liberal fides’."

    I gave specific reasons for calling you a liberal fideist—reasons which you’ve made no effort to refute.

    “Have you ever read anything by the distinguished OT scholar, James Barr?”

    Yes, I’ve read quite a few books and articles by Barr, a notorious apostate. Is he your role model? That would explain a lot about you.

    “After reading his work, I wish I could do a psychological evaluation on fundamentalists.”

    I see you suffer from reading incomprehension. Barr’s thesis is that Evangelicals should either be consistently liberal or consistently conservative. He was criticizing the fence-straddlers (as he viewed them).

    So Barr could do a psychological evaluation of your intellectually pathetic compromise.

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  4. Greg Armstrong7/22/2007 11:35 PM

    Well Steve,

    First impressions sure do leave their mark now don't they? Did you think before you responded to the comment I made on my friend Andrew’s blog? Who are you anyhow? We do not know one another, so where do you get off speaking to me that way? Actually, I don’t really care about what you said to me. It’s the fact that you who not only professes to follow and believe in God but you’re even a TA at RTS and this is the way you speak to people? You may think you have your theology and interpretation straight on these issues and others—and maybe you are correct. But there were many teachers of the Scriptures and its interpretive traditions during the time of Christ of whom he spoke, “All that they say to you, do and obey, but do not do according to their actions; for they say, and do not do.” Or maybe you’re too blinded by your love for your doctrines and your traditions that you cannot see your truly hate-filled, ungodly rhetoric. But maybe I am ahead of myself and do not recognize your unwillingness to accept correction. However, I hope for your sake, but more importantly for the sake of those who would look up to you as a model, mentor or teacher that you would be open to correction. These are harsh words on my part, but true and I think need to be said.

    You know, after I read your post I thought you acted rashly with the hostile demeanor of your polemics. I could say to myself ‘I’ve been there’ or ‘I’ve misread situations before,’ but after your comment on your post, I realized this was something much worse than I thought. This was not just some rash, hot-tempered reply with some haughty and condemning language. I now can tell that you truly meant what you said.

    But have you not read the very Scriptures you so adamantly profess to be inspired and inerrant? What possesses you to think that you could separate me from the love of Christ? It certainly is not the love of God!

    Do you not serve a school that professes, “A mind for truth; a heart for God”? I am compelled to ask why you would serve there. Particularly in the capacity of someone who is supposed to help guide students in search for truth. Do you have some itch to scratch? Do you just want to (intellectually) pounce on the next unsuspecting student who doesn’t adhere to the Reformed tradition? Or maybe you’re thinking that I’ve gone too far! You’re thinking I would never do that to a student!

    But would you do it to someone you have never met? Maybe never will meet? You certainly did that to me. And you did that to me without even knowing that I believed something heretical. You may think I deny inspiration and inerrancy but I certainly have never said that regarding either of those issues. And if you’re thinking: 'well he has not yet explained himself or offered sufficient arguments for his claims.' Well, then you’re correct. But that wasn’t the purpose of my comment. Obviously I would at least need to write a lot more. But shouldn’t you have known that? Where do you get off rebuking and even condemning another person you have never met from such a brief comment? You don’t even seek explanation before you condemn someone. Nor do you give people a chance to defend themselves before you do so. But maybe you’re thinking: well here’s his chance; that’s why I wrote this post. But if you were thinking that then you need to go back and read your post again. You would go so far as to say that I am not a Christian before any opportunity is given! You can’t even stand up to the standard of justice in your country let alone the justice of the God that we are to be ambassadors of!

    I am reminded of a rabbinical saying by Hillel, who said, “A bashful person is not able to learn and a hot-tempered person is not able to teach" (Abot 2:6). Obviously the former is not the issue in view here. Now, let’s really think about the truth of what he says here. If we see a student in error or even in danger of falling into error, what should our response be? First, let’s add some definition to the situation. Suppose this student is one you have never met and you overhear him speaking with another student you are acquainted with. What then? Do you reply with haste and force? Even claiming that the student is outside of the faith! I hope this is not your common practice because this is not in accordance with God’s Law, which you profess in your profile to adhere to.

    But maybe you didn’t know that Will and I are students. Maybe you didn’t know that I am only 21 years old—less than half your age I might add. Is that your fault? Yes! You don’t even know us and you would dare claim to have the knowledge and authority sufficient to say that we are not Christians! You don’t even give us an opportunity to respond. You may think you have but from your first response you speak lies and misrepresentations about our beliefs, claims, and even moral and intellectual character! Take a moment and look at it from our perspective—although that may be difficult as you have not allowed opportunity to first get to know us—and step outside of yourself and notice that only a fool would try to supplement his arguments and prove them to someone who is so hostile and insulting. If you give a response like the one you have do not expect anyone to respond to any of your arguments in the systematic way you think they should. That is why I still have not explained myself or given proof of my views.

    Actually, I have yet to state my views on any of these issues except to say that:

    i) Redactional processes are so apparent that they ought to be assumed by any text critic and biblical exegete (this was that operating assumption you accused me of that I did not prove. That is after all what an assumption is, but I didn’t think I would need to because I thought it was so plainly obvious. That does not mean that I would not and will not offer proof. And I certain would speak in a more respectful tone if I was treated respectfully.)

    ii) I also implied that redactional processes should and must be considered inspired in order to hold a properly orthodox view of these issues. (This I also did not give support to, as Andrew pointed out and seemed to ask for. I have yet to have time because I’ve been misrepresented so much and attacked so deeply that I have been brought away from that potentially fruitful discussion.)

    Also, here are only some corrections to the many erroneous claims you made about my views:

    i) I said nothing of either the MT or LXX.

    ii) Therefore, I also claimed nothing even indirectly about whether one or both are inspired or uninspired.

    iii) Moreover, I did not claim that either should be preferred, viewed as authoritative…really I just said nothing about those textual traditions.

    iv) Just because I mentioned “redaction” in a manner that was not via apologetics, but positively, does not mean that you should draw any conclusions that I denied inerrancy, affirmed inspiration of multiple textual traditions, or anything of its kind.

    One thing you ought to learn is not to assume you have figured out your opponent before asking questions and giving more than sufficient room for clarifications. Your questions are more important than your answers. That’s also something you should learn from Jesus. Another saying I like I heard from Ravi Zacharias who said, “Throwing dirt at your opponent not only can get you pretty dirty but it also makes you lose a lot ground” (paraphrase).

    Your brother in Christ (even if you wouldn’t like him to be),

    Greg Armstrong

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  5. "First impressions sure do leave their mark now don't they? Did you think before you responded to the comment I made on my friend Andrew’s blog? Who are you anyhow? We do not know one another, so where do you get off speaking to me that way? Actually, I don’t really care about what you said to me. It’s the fact that you who not only professes to follow and believe in God but you’re even a TA at RTS and this is the way you speak to people? You may think you have your theology and interpretation straight on these issues and others—and maybe you are correct. But there were many teachers of the Scriptures and its interpretive traditions during the time of Christ of whom he spoke, “All that they say to you, do and obey, but do not do according to their actions; for they say, and do not do.” Or maybe you’re too blinded by your love for your doctrines and your traditions that you cannot see your truly hate-filled, ungodly rhetoric."

    My, but we're a bit thin-skinned! I consider myself pretty timid, and even I've maintained a bit of dignity under harsher polemics. Other issues aside, and not to speak for Steve, but he's addressed this kind of thing before:

    "1.There are some people who are typecast to react in a certain way. They get hysterical at the drop of a hat, and the project their own overwrought emotions onto the blogger...they never actually register everything that was said by both sides. Instead, they have their antennae twitching to pick out certain words or phrases which set them into a frenzy of sputtering indignation.

    They react to tone rather than substance, and even then they are conspicuously lop-sided in what they find offensive.

    2.They also operate with Hallmark card version of Christ and Christian ethics, decorated with fawns and bunny rabbits and bare-bottomed cherubs.

    They like to quote Mt 5, but they don’t like to quote Mt 23. They forget that Jesus is also a warrior-king (Rev 19).

    They carry around their Hallmark card notion of how professing Christians are supposed to treat other professing Christians. They never attempt to check this against the detailed practice of the NT.

    3.But one of the leading themes of the NT is a running indictment of false teachers. From false prophets (Mt 7; 24), to Antichrist figures (Mt 24; 2 Thes 2; 1 Jn 2; Rev 13), to Judaizers (Galatians), to false apostles (2 Cor), to Docetic antinomians (1 John), to Nicolaitans (Rev 2:15), to hyperpreterists (2 Tim 2:17), to false teachers generally (Jude, 2 Peter).

    Now, what a lot of critics overlook is that all these false teachers were (or will be) professing Christians.

    The fact that someone calls himself a Christian doesn’t prevent the NT from attacking his theology if his theology is aberrant. Not only attacking his theology, but attacking his character. And the NT is very public in its denunciations.

    So, the popular idea that just because someone calls himself a Christian, it is unchristian for us to “attack” his theology or theological method is, itself, unchristian.

    Some people try to counter this by quoting what the Apostle John has to say about loving the brethren in 1 John.

    But to quote that as if it forbade us from critiquing false theology is to quote it out of context. As D. A. Carson, in his WTJ article entitled “Reflections on Christian Assurance,” pointed out, this is the polar opposite of what John had in mind.

    In 1 John, the Apostle is attacking false teachers. And he is attacking them because they are undermining the faith of the faithful.

    When he talks about loving the brethren, he isn’t talking about false teachers. To the contrary, the false teachers are unloving by the way they undermine the faith of the faithful. And, for that very reason, St. John opposes the false teachers in no uncertain terms."

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  6. As much as you want to accuse me shifting the burden of proof, I do have to say that it is your burden for this reason. When you claim that the bible is inspired--regardless of what definition you use--do you presuppose that in your discussions with the world. Although I raised the objection in your post, the burden isn't on me given the vast amount of religious literature in this world, and the consensus of respectable scientists.

    Like I said to Fulford, it is pointless for systematic theology to formulate the beliefs of the faith based on what the church and scripture have to say about itself. I'm purely only concerned about what actually is true about God.

    You mentioned the Reformed tradition. Is that respectable in the academy? I asked you for your definition of inspiration, because you've never outright said anything. So now I know you're talking about the same old crap started by Warfield. At least I now know what tradition you're so eager to preserve.

    You must be an idiot to ask me what scholars suggest that the LXX was the original reading in relation to Goliath's height. I even listed them for you. Johan Lust, Emmanuel Tov, P. Kyle McCarter, and Frank Moore Cross. And if you've ever heard of William Albright, then you must be acquainted with the last two.

    Oh yes, I'm came across the explanation of that the scribe emended the MT reading of 6 cubits to say 4, as it is listed in the LXX. However, you are right that LXX is a more realistic reading. In fact, I would even say that it is so realistic, based on archaeological evidence of reliefs found, that the LXX was nothing more than an accurate historical retelling of the event--assuming David killed Goliath and not Elhanan. Oh you know, a fuller description of the armor, the inclusion of 17:12-31 (contradicting David's service in Saul's house), and the doublet on 17:50-51, and the inclusion of the scene with Abner. Accepting higher criticism, you are more tendentious than I am.

    Your buddy was right that was denying something, which is clearly your view of inspiration. Since I accept higher criticism, how could I possible accept that your definition of biblical inspiration is correct? Hence, it has to revised. Of course, you can say that these methods are not logically inescapable, but I believe the methods present a more rational understanding of the world around us. Oh, please tell the academy that I'm an idiot for accepting source criticism.

    I love how you say that I'm in some state of denial. If by denial, you meant that denying for your views, damn right I am. I know you did not represent my views fairly. If you want to psycho-analyze me, then I might as well accuse you of projection. For example, when you said that I claimed to know all that I needed to know and was unwilling to listen. Thanks for the straw man, fundy.

    By the way, I thought it was interesting that if I believed one textual tradition trumped another, then why would I want to be a Christian. My answer is simple: contradictory material in scripture doesn't bother me. I'm willing to accept either conclusion. As for you, it clearly bothers you because of the Reformed tradition. So, you keep reading sources that conform to your ideas because the idea that there are contradictions in the text cannot be accepted. It's your loss if you want to be so blind about it.

    I accept that there is always room for debate on textual matters. I see it in the academy all the time. That's okay. I'm willing to accept arguing with you about whether there are contradictions in the text (and to what degree) will take us nowhere. In Bart Ehrman's book, "Misquoting Jesus", he reflects on his first assignment as a Princeton grad student. He was assigned the textual problem of Mark 2:26. He said that he defended the inerrancy of the text, but had to develop a really elaborate argument. (The same kind of tendentious exegesis that I would expect from you). In the end, he was able to offer an explanation, but an explanation is not a proof. His prof responded to his paper saying it would have been easier, less complicated, to say that Mark just made a mistake.

    From what I see in reality, the mistake resembles what I know about human beings, the world around me, and the state of other religious texts. Scribes are scribes, and authors are authors. What I love so much is knowing you can't understand why I'm still a Christian. I guess it must be hard to think if I don't accept your religious terms, I can't be Christian at all. Does God support you? According to you and your tradition, yes. Furthermore, was it the pharisees constantly claimed to the faithful descendants of Abraham and Moses, even to the point they couldn't recognize Christ?

    Do you have anything more to say, or are you going to keep repeating that same old fundamentalist crap? Please don't, for you already know my presuppositions. Try this angle: refute the guild/academy. Refute, Brevard Childs, refute James Barr, and refute all other liberals. I can assure you that there is room for debate, but how far do you think you'll go?

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  7. As much as you want to accuse me shifting the burden of proof, I do have to say that it is your burden for this reason. When you claim that the bible is inspired--regardless of what definition you use--do you presuppose that in your discussions with the world. Although I raised the objection in your post, the burden isn't on me given the vast amount of religious literature in this world, and the consensus of respectable scientists.

    Actually, if you claim to be a Christian, William, and hold a view of a doctrine, in this case, inspiration, that is at variance with the orthodox tradition (and I'd point out that liberals in the early 20th century were quite candid that it was they, and not we, who had chosen to vary with orthodoxy), it is you who carries the burden of proof here; just as it would be you who would carry the burden of proof if one claimed to be a Christian yet denied the Trinity or a Protestant and denied justification by faith alone or Sola Scriptura or a Calvinist and denied the doctrines of grace.

    The issue isn't what "respectable scientists" say, whatever that means, but what Scripture's self-witness itself is. How do you adjudicate between what "respectable scientists" say? What is your epistemic warrant for that?

    Since you claim this doctrine should be revised, it is up to you, not we, to show that the view we hold is exegetically at variance with Scripture's own self-witness, particularly when we point you to a set of inductive studies that will answer that question for you.

    If, however, our view is not at variance, then it is you, not we, who are the innovators.

    Like I said to Fulford, it is pointless for systematic theology to formulate the beliefs of the faith based on what the church and scripture have to say about itself. I'm purely only concerned about what actually is true about God.

    Fine, then, pray tell, how do you know if Scripture is telling the truth about God or not, when you apparently believe in a doctrine of inspiration that allows for error? What is your epistemic warrant for saying x is true about God but not y, since y is or could be
    in error?

    You mentioned the Reformed tradition. Is that respectable in the academy? I asked you for your definition of inspiration, because you've never outright said anything. So now I know you're talking about the same old crap started by Warfield. At least I now know what tradition you're so eager to preserve.

    Actually, yes, it is acceptable, when used as shorthand on a blog. You could start, for example, if not with Warfield, with Volume 2 of Richard Muller's Post Reformation Reformed Dogmatics. It's hardly we who need to spell out a doctrine of inspiration when the orthodox Reformed tradition has provided a lengthy and largely consensus set of doctrinal affirmations on the subject.

    Steve has spoken about inspiration and inerrancy a number of times on this blog. It's not his fault you're too lazy to use the archive function.

    Notice how William continues to write off the answers he's given. Steve points him to Warfield, a Princeton academician no less, and William calls it "crap."

    Out of the heart of the latitudinarian, the mouth speaks.

    It's also slightly amusing read Armstrong's post before this one talking about Steve's attitude only to find William here saying things like this:

    You must be an idiot to ask me what scholars suggest that the LXX was the original reading in relation to Goliath's height.

    Oh, and by the way, William, Steve wasn't asking you this question. He was quoting your question to him, and then he answered it. Will the real idiot please stand up?

    Since I accept higher criticism, how could I possible accept that your definition of biblical inspiration is correct? Hence, it has to revised.

    This, of course, means you have a view of inspiration that is at variance with the self-witness of Scripture. Now, if you'd like to mount an exegetical argument about that self-witness, you're welcome to do so. However, here, by your own admission, you "accept higher criticism." Steve is quite right, you're the one enslaved to the latest fads. Higher critical theories have a habit of changing like the hemlines of skirts. You're welcome to them.

    His prof responded to his paper saying it would have been easier, less complicated, to say that Mark just made a mistake.

    One fails to see how this is a convincing argument for the errancy of Scripture. The "simplest" argument may not be the "correct" argument.

    As for the rest of your post, it's laden with quite a bit of invective. I wonder, is Armstrong's rant only reserved for conservative theologues or is it a two - way street?

    From what I see in reality, the mistake resembles what I know about human beings, the world around me, and the state of other religious texts. Scribes are scribes, and authors are authors

    Notice that William gives no mention to the Holy Spirit or to God's providence. Is there room for God in this equation at all, and if so, then isn't it at least possible for God to inspire the text in the manner that the Reformers or the High Orthodox or Old Presbyterianism or Reformed Baptistery has historically stated?

    You know, one must remark that there is a reason the Reformed Orthodox believe in inerrancy, and that is, in part due to our view of divine providence. In soteriology, we affirm the doctrine of irresistible grace, and so, we know that God brings all the elect to saving faith through the gospel and keeps them from apostasy. He also maintains the cosmos "by the word of His (Christ's) power and His power expressed in the Noahic covenant. The doctrine of inspiration turns on a similar principle.

    But, if William is right, then "authors are authors" and scribes are scribes. The word of God is not God's word to man; it is man's thinking about God. Maybe it's right and maybe it's wrong about justification by faith alone. Maybe it's right and maybe it's wrong about the Trinity. Maybe it's right and maybe it's wrong about the covenants. Maybe God made some promises in history, and maybe He didn't. Maybe it's just all made up.

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  8. We do not know one another, so where do you get off speaking to me that way? ... It’s the fact that you who not only professes to follow and believe in God but you’re even a TA at RTS and this is the way you speak to people? ... Or maybe you’re too blinded by your love for your doctrines and your traditions that you cannot see your truly hate-filled, ungodly rhetoric.

    Among other things, this assumes that a polemical response here is unbiblical.

    Nor do you give people a chance to defend themselves before you do so.

    Um, to state the obvious, the combox is open. And Greg did write a response. And, presuming he doesn't violate the Rules of Engagement, Greg can continue to write further responses if he wishes to do so.

    Or does Greg expect to be able to post debatable views online without debate?

    You can’t even stand up to the standard of justice in your country let alone the justice of the God that we are to be ambassadors of!

    Isn't Greg getting a bit carried away here? Steve can't stand up to the standard of justice in this country! He can't stand up to the standard of the Justice League of America! He can't stand up to the standard of justice in the galaxy! He can't stand up to the standard of justice as set down in the Law of Moses by God! He can't stand up to the justice of Jesus Christ himself! And to top it all off, the worst thing of all is that Steve can't stand up to the justice of Greg Armstrong's standard!

    I am reminded of a rabbinical saying by Hillel, who said, “A bashful person is not able to learn and a hot-tempered person is not able to teach" (Abot 2:6). Obviously the former is not the issue in view here. Now, let’s really think about the truth of what he says here. If we see a student in error or even in danger of falling into error, what should our response be? First, let’s add some definition to the situation. Suppose this student is one you have never met and you overhear him speaking with another student you are acquainted with. What then? Do you reply with haste and force? Even claiming that the student is outside of the faith! I hope this is not your common practice because this is not in accordance with God’s Law, which you profess in your profile to adhere to.

    Even if true, Greg's conclusion is mistaken. It would not *not* be in accordance with God's Law; it would simply not be in accordance with Hillel's rabbinic injunction. Greg has yet to demonstrate that Hillel's injunction is biblically warranted, or that Steve is "a teacher" in the sense Hillel means, or that a polemical response is not in accordance with the Bible, and so on.

    But maybe you didn’t know that Will and I are students. Maybe you didn’t know that I am only 21 years old—less than half your age I might add. Is that your fault? Yes!

    Now Steve's at fault for not knowing a student's age?

    You don’t even know us and you would dare claim to have the knowledge and authority sufficient to say that we are not Christians! You don’t even give us an opportunity to respond.

    Honestly, we hardly need to bring Steve into it. William (and Greg) stands or falls on his own words.

    And I certain would speak in a more respectful tone if I was treated respectfully.

    I'm curious, is Greg living up to his own standard? Is Greg behaving like how he thinks a Christian should behave when he says he'd speak more respectfully if only he were treated more respectfully?

    BTW, I'm glad Sola Fide quoted what Steve has already said on the topic. For people like Greg, it's certainly worth reading. You can also read the post in its entirety here.

    As much as you want to accuse me shifting the burden of proof, I do have to say that it is your burden for this reason. When you claim that the bible is inspired--regardless of what definition you use--do you presuppose that in your discussions with the world.

    Actually, the point is that Steve presupposes it in his discussion with professing Christians.

    Like I said to Fulford, it is pointless for systematic theology to formulate the beliefs of the faith based on what the church and scripture have to say about itself.

    Why would that be pointless?

    You mentioned the Reformed tradition. Is that respectable in the academy?

    Why should it matter whether or not "the academy" respects it? Is the academy the final arbiter of truth?

    I asked you for your definition of inspiration, because you've never outright said anything. So now I know you're talking about the same old crap started by Warfield. At least I now know what tradition you're so eager to preserve.

    Given William's opinion, I'd like to see him interact with Warfield's article here for starters. It should be a piece of cake for the oh-so-wise William to dismiss such "crap."

    What I love so much is knowing you can't understand why I'm still a Christian.

    It's odd how William continues to profess to be a Christian when his own words betray him. Anyway, we understand what makes for a professing but false Christian. Indeed, it may prove ironic for William to have cited Ehrman.

    I guess it must be hard to think if I don't accept your religious terms, I can't be Christian at all.

    First, it's not "our" religious terms. It's how a rational, consistent exegesis of the Scriptures would read.

    And second, it's not as if the Reformed tradition is the only one with a high view of Scripture. Many Arminian evangelicals would approach it from the same or similar perspective.

    Do you have anything more to say, or are you going to keep repeating that same old fundamentalist crap? Please don't, for you already know my presuppositions. Try this angle: refute the guild/academy. Refute, Brevard Childs, refute James Barr, and refute all other liberals. I can assure you that there is room for debate, but how far do you think you'll go?

    Hm, wow, is William issuing a threat? We'd better tuck tail and run!

    Why doesn't William bother to check the past archives for where Steve and others have interacted with liberal scholarship?

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  9. GREG ARMSTRONG SAID:

    “We do not know one another, so where do you get off speaking to me that way?”

    I’m judging you by your words. If your choice of words is unrepresentative of the true you, then you need to choose a more representative set of words.

    In addition, you were speaking in opposition to Andrew’s stated position. So that supplies a further frame of reference.

    “Actually, I don’t really care about what you said to me.”

    For someone who really doesn’t care, you do an excellent impersonation of someone who really does care. Otherwise, why the long, emotive response?

    “It’s the fact that you who not only professes to follow and believe in God but you’re even a TA at RTS and this is the way you speak to people?”

    The Bible doesn’t speak to everyone the same way, so neither do I.

    “Or maybe you’re too blinded by your love for your doctrines and your traditions that you cannot see your truly hate-filled, ungodly rhetoric.”

    “Ungodly” by whose standard? By God’s standard? By the standard of God’s word?

    Actually, the Bible frequently uses much rougher language than I ever did in response to you.

    “These are harsh words on my part, but true and I think need to be said.”

    Nice double standard. If you use harsh words, that’s justified because that “needs to be said.” But if I use harsh words, that’s “truly hate-filled, ungodly rhetoric.”

    “But have you not read the very Scriptures you so adamantly profess to be inspired and inerrant? What possesses you to think that you could separate me from the love of Christ?”

    If you deny the inerrancy of Scripture, then your appeal to Rom 8 is self-defeating. For Paul’s statement in Rom 8 may be erroneous. Only an inerrantist is entitled to invoke Rom 8. So which is it?

    “But would you do it to someone you have never met? Maybe never will meet? You certainly did that to me.”

    You act as if a blog is a private conversation between two friends. It’s not. A blog is a public medium of communication. It goes out to strangers all over the world.

    “Where do you get off rebuking and even condemning another person you have never met from such a brief comment?”

    You’re saying that I shouldn’t take you at your word? That when you write something for public consumption, that I shouldn’t judge you by your choice of words?

    Andrew’s blog is not private blog which is only accessible to subscribers. It is accessible to anyone who wants to read it. That includes perfect strangers.

    “Nor do you give people a chance to defend themselves before you do so.”

    I judge you by what you say at the time you say it, just as you chose to judge Andrew by what he said at the time he said it. Did you email Andrew in private before you posted your comment?

    “But maybe you didn’t know that Will and I are students. Maybe you didn’t know that I am only 21 years old—less than half your age I might add.”

    So what’s your beef? Are you offended that I treated you like a grown man? Would you rather be talked down to as if you were 10 years old?

    “You don’t even know us and you would dare claim to have the knowledge and authority sufficient to say that we are not Christians!”

    You make yourself known to others by our words. You represent yourselves to the world by the words you use.

    I’d add that you have a rather selective notion of charity. You take umbrage at how I respond to you and William, but you don’t take umbrage at how William responded to Andrew.

    When William, for one, makes brazen statements like the following, then, yes, I “dare” to judge him by his profession of faith, or lack thereof:

    “The difference between you and I, as you already stated, is that I'm willing to abandon the faith as long as the evidence leads me in that direction. (Notice that I didn't define what I meant by evidence). My commitment is to proclaiming truth regardless of the immediate or long term consequences it may have on the community of faith. So yeah, I have no qualms about disregarding 2000 yrs of historic Christian belief, if it no longer stands the test of time.”

    You are, of course, at liberty to distance yourself from William’s position. Thus far, however, you’ve done the opposite.

    “You don’t even give us an opportunity to respond.”

    A self-refuting statement since that’s exactly what you’re doing.

    “You may think you have but from your first response you speak lies and misrepresentations about our beliefs, claims, and even moral and intellectual character!”

    You keep using the plural. Are you expressing solidarity with William’s views?

    You *say* I’ve misrepresented the two of you, but you have yet to *show* it.

    “Redactional processes are so apparent that they ought to be assumed by any text critic and biblical exegete.”

    This is very vague, since “redaction” can take many different forms.

    i) An inerrantist like Blomberg or Block may mean that Matthew and Luke redacted Mark.

    ii) Or a liberal may mean that anonymous and/or pseudonymous editors made up speeches (or invented incidents) which they put in the mouths of fictitious characters, and then backdated their pious fiction to a bygone era.

    iii) Or it can have reference to the editorial activity of scribes.

    WILLIAM SAID:

    “As much as you want to accuse me shifting the burden of proof, I do have to say that it is your burden for this reason. When you claim that the bible is inspired--regardless of what definition you use--do you presuppose that in your discussions with the world”

    This is not a discussion with the “world.” This is a discussion with a professing Christian.

    “Although I raised the objection in your post, the burden isn't on me given the vast amount of religious literature in this world, and the consensus of respectable scientists.”

    If you’re appealing to unbelievers as well as non-Christian religious literature, then that, indeed, changes the discussion. But, in that event, you need to clarity that you are coming to this discussion as an outsider to the Christian faith and hostile critic thereof.

    And while that would shift the burden of proof in one respect, it would saddle you with a new burden of proof.

    “Like I said to Fulford, it is pointless for systematic theology to formulate the beliefs of the faith based on what the church and scripture have to say about itself. I'm purely only concerned about what actually is true about God.”

    And if you don’t identify the true God (assuming you even believe in some sort of God) with the God of OT revelation and NT revelation, then you are not a Christian.

    “You mentioned the Reformed tradition. Is that respectable in the academy?”

    Of course, many Reformed scholars and theologians have impeccable academic credentials.

    That said, I’m more concerned with what is true than with what is “respectable in the academy.”

    “I asked you for your definition of inspiration, because you've never outright said anything. So now I know you're talking about the same old crap started by Warfield.”

    Notice that William doesn’t even begin to refute Warfield’s case. He responds with an agricultural adjective. Do agricultural adjectives represent what is respectable in the academy?

    If barnyard dismissals represent William’s ideal of academic rigor, then that would say a lot about his own position and how he got there.

    “At least I now know what tradition you're so eager to preserve.”

    Inerrancy is hardly limited to the Old Princeton tradition.

    “You must be an idiot to ask me what scholars suggest that the LXX was the original reading in relation to Goliath's height”

    William suffers from short-term memory loss, which is alarming at his young age.

    I never asked him what scholars support the LXX reading. He began by asking Andrew whether the LXX or the MT preserved the correct reading. He them asked me what scholars support the MT reading.

    I therefore answered his question. If William can’t remember his own questions, then it would behoove him to refrain from characterizing his opponents as “idiotic” since his inability to recollect his own side of the argument makes him look like an idiot savant minus the savant.

    “The LXX was nothing more than an accurate historical retelling of the event--assuming David killed Goliath and not Elhanan.”

    How could it be “an accurate historical retelling of the event” if the historical event occurred around the 10C BC, and the LXX was produced in the 2-3C BC by translators who had no independent historical information about the event in question?

    “Since I accept higher criticism, how could I possible accept that your definition of biblical inspiration is correct? Hence, it has to revised.”

    i) That depends on what you mean by higher criticism. There are various scholars like Bock, Blomberg, and Carson who subscribe to higher criticism and also uphold the inerrancy of Scripture.

    ii) If “my” definition of biblical inspiration coincides with the self-witness of Scripture, then it’s unrevisable.

    “Oh, please tell the academy that I'm an idiot for accepting source criticism.”

    Send me a mailing address for “the academy,” and I’ll be happy to comply with your request. Will priority mail suffice?

    “I know you did not represent my views fairly.”

    You mean your views are even worse than they seem to be?

    “My answer is simple: contradictory material in scripture doesn't bother me.”

    I wouldn’t expect that conclusion to bother a nominal Christian like you. Thanks for supplying corroborative evidence for my initial allegation.

    “What I love so much is knowing you can't understand why I'm still a Christian.”

    To the contrary, I understand that you’re not a Christian. But you seem to retain some sentimental need to go through the motions and recite the creed with fingers firmly crossed behind your back.

    “I can't be Christian at all.”

    Yes, I’d say that sums up your position quite nicely. Couldn’t put it better myself.

    “Refute, Brevard Childs, refute James Barr, and refute all other liberals.”

    Ironic, since Barr’s critique was directed at fence-straddlers like you.

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  10. I say this as someone whose views on scripture are already clear:

    is it necessary to believe in a fully orthodox doctrine of scripture to be saved?

    I have a hard time answering that with an affirmative, despite how important I think that doctrine is. C.S. Lewis, for example, had a great influence on me toward becoming more consistently orthodox early on my walk; he didn't have an orthodox view of scripture, but I still could certainly not go to the lengths of someone like John Robbins, who condemns him to hell. I could say similar things about NT Wright, and many of my professors at university.

    Perhaps I'm wrong about this, but I don't see biblical evidence to compel me otherwise at this point.

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  11. Greg Armstrong7/23/2007 1:40 PM

    Steve and others,

    If when I spoke of redaction I was being to "vague," as Steve says, then you should have clarified before responding to me the way you did. If you're not sure if I'm adhering to a false or heretical belief then why on earth would you condemn me to rot in the wilderness?

    Now about the character of my response. I never said that defending the faith or harsh language is never justified. But certainly not by Steve to me in this case. I understand your reacting to Will harshly because of his tone in his original comment to Andrew, which was not justified. However, even that did not justify condemning him to the wilderness. Clearly, the Scriptures layout principles for correction and rebuking. They do not, however, lay out principles for anathematizing someone. It is true that you could cite some examples of Jesus or Paul speaking about someone's condemnation, but be careful not to think you have the authority that they have.

    This is why I allowed some "harsh" language in my response because it was warranted and justified. But the amount and severity of it I was not going to let match yours because I knew not to sink to that level.

    I'm sure you can try to justify your response by saying it was an open conversation because it was online and that you were just judging me by my words. But neither of those two points justifies your response. How could you possibly think that they would? Just because it is open does not mean that can condemn me to Hell. It doesn't matter the conversation. That is never warranted unless you are God himself. I'll be willing to consider an argument for the authority of ecumenical councils, but I don't think you're a council either.

    So even though Will's response was rude and unwarranted toward Andrew in the first place that does not justify his condemnation. It certainly doesn't warrant that sort of response to me because I didn't speak to Andrew rudely. So look at my first comment and do judge me by my words as you told me you were. You certainly did not judge me by my words. Instead, I think you judged me by Will's words.

    And if you think that it's logically impossible to believe in the inspiration of redaction (remember you said I was being too "vague," so it was open to being read any possible way you could understand redaction), then by your own judgment of my words it should have been that you sought clarification, not revenge for something you were unsure I even believed. Clearly, you were reading too much into what I was saying. And I hope you will finally admit to that or else I see no point in continuing this discussion.

    And to being given opportunity to respond, I already explained why I would not give my reasons and arguments in my previous comment which everyone indicting me on this issue has not bothered to mention. I tried to explain why it was so important to first ask for clarification before even thinking of responding harshly (let alone with condemnation).

    This also ties into what I said in regards to the Hillel quote I included. I did not grant him authority as a teacher of the faith. I only claimed that his statement was true. Moreover, I would have thought it clear that your response was morally unjustified. And no, not by my own standard but by God's standard. I didn't think I would need to get proof texts for you because I thought you would have been familiar enough with Scripture to know this, since that is how you portray yourself. Do you not know that the Scriptures teach to be slow to anger, to not be quick to condemn (if even to condemn at all), etc? These are clear enough teachings.

    So about my views now.

    Well, I do affirm inspiration and inerrancy. But neither in the sense that any of you affirm them. I am close in my views to Will, but I'm quite sure we would differ on some aspects. So when I used the plural at times I was willing to associate myself with much of his views. But I did not associate myself with his tone towards Andrew. I noticed that you have already categorized me as a limited inerrantist, but that's not correct. Don't you guys think that there's maybe more views out there than the typical 3 or 4 views written about in systematics? It makes me wonder if you ever take the time to read views outside of your tradition for reasons other than defending your tradition.

    One issue that I think you guys should really consider is something that Will said about the biblical texts being "very human." Your response was that they were not--no, they are divine! But your response doesn't even evidence your own tradition's view let alone other possible views. Your own tradition speaks of the text as being both authored by God and by humans. So it is a human work! But human does not mean 'not divine.' Clearly, they do not contradict one another. Or do you also think this is the case in christology? Maybe you guys are all kenoticists, who deny Christ's full divinity? I don't really suspect that you are. If you're not kenoticists, then why do you respond the way that you do to Scripture being a human work? Actually, I think that one aspect of the doctrine of inspiration that should be "revised" is that it should not just be viewed as "a human and divine work" but "a fully human and fully divine work" just as Christ is fully human and fully divine. (I'm sure you guys probably already know of the distinction that Morris makes about merely and fully in his seminal work "The Logic of God Incarnate.")

    Do you remember his discussion of Christ's temptations? We know that Christ, as being fully human and fully divine, would be unable to sin as this would contradict God's nature. But if he was unable to sin, then how could he be tempted? His response was to say that in Christ's human mind he thought he could sin or at least did not know that he was unable to sin. Thus, Morris is known for his argument that there was at least an "epistemic possibility of sinning." This he contrasted to, "A broadly logical, or metaphysical, or even physical possibility that is conceptually linked to temptation" (147). I remember discussing this passage in my Metaphysics of Theism class and how my professor responded by dismissing the view because it allowed for the possibility of Christ to hold a false belief (i.e. 'that he could sin') in his human mind. My professor also belongs to the Reformed tradition, so maybe you guys will want to follow suit with her view on the matter.

    But her response didn't take into consideration Jesus' ignorance in his human mind. We know that Jesus learned. So could he not have been able to hear and accept a false belief about something? I think he could have, especially when I think of everyday sort of situations and issues. But I don't even think I need to accept her assumption anyway. Did Jesus need to belief that false statement that 'he could sin'? I don't see the need to think that he had to hold an affirmative believe. He could have just been ignorant on the matter. I think it's more than likely that Jesus did not know (in his human mind) the particularities about how his natures related to one another. This would be sufficient for him to not understand that he was unable to sin.

    Now this relates to inerrancy and inspiration issues because I believe that the Scriptures were a fully human and fully divine work in an analogous sense as Christ is both fully human and fully divine. Have you ever considered how these two doctrines are so closely related? I suspect someone will just try to dismiss the notions I've raised by saying that Morris' two-minds theory is wrong or heretical in some way. But if you think so, I challenge anyone to come up with another view that is consistent with orthodoxy. If anyone thinks that kenoticism is they are sorely mistaken because, even putting aside the obvious rejoinders to the christological flaws, it would also imply that an analogous view of kenoticism could be taken with Scripture. For if God can choose not to be omnipotent or omniscient, then why must we assume that that he is not putting aside his omniscience in the case of authoring the Scriptures so that it would be both a divine and human work? Notice that this approach will most certainly conflict with your views of inspiration and inerrancy that are taught in the Reformed tradition. So kenoticism is not an option. And if you deny Morris' solution of epistemic possibility, then you also will be disregarding the two-minds theory, which will leave you with a view of your own invention if you can come up with one.

    Now if you do accept the epistemic solution you will have to either accept that the human authorship of Scripture could consist of ignorant humans and those who held false beliefs. Which maybe if you accept you probably will try to argue just did not happen to affect (or infect?) Scripture's integrity. Can you offer an explanation of this?

    Or maybe you will not grant me the analogous status of the doctrines of inspiration and inerrancy to christology. But if you will not, then I would like to hear a good rejoinder.

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  12. Greg Armstrong7/23/2007 2:09 PM

    PS: I should add that I am not intending to defend Will on the matter of Scripture being a human work. It's just an issue that I think is important and is something I believe. I can see how it can be read that I was trying to defend his view but that was not my intention.

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  13. This has been one of the most interesting comboxes in a while. I'm not sure if it's a comedy or tragedy. I won't say much, but I did see this comment (which really made me laugh).

    Greg said:
    ---
    If when I spoke of redaction I was being to "vague," as Steve says, then you should have clarified before responding to me the way you did.
    ---

    So if you're vague, we have to clarify? I like this standard!

    I'm thinking Greg Armstrong for President (in 2024, of course).

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  14. The common tread in all your responses is that you presuppose that Scripture self-affirmation is Warfield's definition of inspiration. However, when I challenge that notion, I get this response that this is how a rational exegete would approach it. (You probably say the same thing if I said that being true don't mean that I need to subscribe to Warfield's definition).

    But, I don't see how you can disregard my exegetical claims by saying that buy into the latest fads of the academy, when you only presuppose that you done solid exegetical work. I know you believe that your exegesis is rational, but do liberals. Why should I accept your claims? What's your epistemological standard?

    Is is age? Is it traditional use? (Just like the KJV-only camp). You appeal to the former when you say the burden of proof is on me because I'm making a 'new' claim about the faith. In terms of tradition, you say that the academy changes it mind all the time.

    With regards to your appeal to age and tradition, did you accept the burden of proof during the Reformation? Is scripture alone explicitly mentioned in Scripture, or did you extrapolate that from whatever historical sources, views, or practices you appealed to? It's quite obvious that the Reformers did not fully convert that Catholic to what they believed be the faithful representation of Christ's intention for the Church. In the same way, the burden of proof is on you every time you speak to Jew regarding who actually obeyed the law: the Pharisees or Christ?

    You're probably asking why I even bother bringing this up. I believe in these two great debates that there is continuity on both parts. So, I can say that the Jews were following the law, and so what Christ. The issue there was matter of emphasis (priorities): is literal observance to the regulations of the Sabbath a faithful representation of God's intention for the command? In regards to the Reformation, you elevated the importance of Scripture because that's what you "interpreted" as being inline with the original intentions of the Church.

    So what do liberals bring to the table? They downplay the primacy of scripture in place of the free thinking (the right to challenge the established institution) that they inherited from the Reformation. So who is really out of line with orthodoxy, and how do you know? You keep appealing to the use of exegesis, but everyone uses exegesis to support their positions. By the way, everyone says that other is doing it incorrectly.

    No liberal/'new' movement (whether it be Christ, Medieval Catholicism, the Reformation, and the many others so-called 'reforms' that I missed to mention never entirely refuted the previous position. They only elevated certain points, while diminishing others.

    So, why do I need to address Warfield? You say that it's presupposed in the faith and that I need to convince you. Did you convince the Pope that papal infallibility was wrong? In your mind your did, but only through a questionable elevation of Scripture's authority, which you is at best what you believed to be God's intentions.

    By the way, why should I read your archive section? Do you read mine? Did you read all or most of liberal scholarship? The request is irrelevant. Am I lazy for ignoring Warfield? Depends on who you ask. But, since you hang your faith on that particular version of the doctrine, then of course I'd be lazy. To a lot of the later Princeton scholars, reading Warfield's work--as anything other than another historical artifact--is frivolous.

    I actually don't believe that Scripture says anything that explicitly denies or affirms any of these historical movements. You accused me of leaving out the Holy Spirit. Have I? Did I explicitly say it? Or, are you reading that into my words by your choice of categories, and not mine? I guess you failed to read my mind, because I do believe that the Holy Spirit guides the course of history, but I'm not saying what way.

    Your time will come to pass whether you like it or not, whether you believe your position was adequately addressed or not. If I accept your claim of the primacy of your tradition, then I might as well return to caves for their position is the original form of religious life in world history.

    Currently, the Reformed tradition isn't making any advances in society. You don't see Reformers making an impact for Christ and his kingdom. You remind me of the Pharisees, who were desperately holding on to their traditions, which they not understand, for the purpose of maintaining their identity during the changing times. So, they resorted to legalism and hostility.

    I guess I will too, when I get your stage of life. Whatever you say about me, the Jews, Christ, the Catholics have said about you. So, I'm doing what I'm supposed be doing, which is letting history take its course. Good-bye.

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  15. Good Riddance7/23/2007 6:12 PM

    You know you could have just spared us all the frivolous whining and just said "Goodbye." It would have served the purpose just fine.

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  17. The common tread in all your responses is that you presuppose that Scripture self-affirmation is Warfield's definition of inspiration.

    Not necessarily. Warfield has done significant work on the topic, such as in the article on theopneustos I linked for William above, but we recognize he's not the end all and be all with regard to inspiration.

    But the fact that William refuses or perhaps can't interact with Warfield's article is itself indicative of the weakness of what he espouses.

    However, when I challenge that notion, I get this response that this is how a rational exegete would approach it. (You probably say the same thing if I said that being true don't mean that I need to subscribe to Warfield's definition).

    Actually, since William originally called Warfield's stuff "crap," I gave him a link to one of Warfield's article for him to interact with. So, if William doesn't think what Warfield said is "how a rational exegete would approach it," then why doesn't he interact with Warfield's article?

    But, I don't see how you can disregard my exegetical claims by saying that buy into the latest fads of the academy, when you only presuppose that you done solid exegetical work.

    No, we don't presuppose this. We offer arguments against William's position and we have offered arguments supportive of ours in the past. And, again, since William brings up Warfield, we refer William to Warfield so that William might interact with Warfield. But has he done this? Nope.

    I know you believe that your exegesis is rational, but do liberals. Why should I accept your claims? What's your epistemological standard?

    Whether the exegesis is sound is based in large part on the supporting argumentation, isn't it? But William apparently either refuses or can't interact with the argumentation.

    If William is looking for a more philosophical perspective, he might start with The Divine Revelation by Paul Helm.

    With regards to your appeal to age and tradition, did you accept the burden of proof during the Reformation?

    What makes William think we're appealing to age and tradition in the first place? Just because I cite an article by Warfield (since William dismissed his writings as "crap") doesn't mean I'm citing it simply because it happens to be in the Reformed tradition.

    Is scripture alone explicitly mentioned in Scripture, or did you extrapolate that from whatever historical sources, views, or practices you appealed to?

    It sure would be nice if William would interact with Warfield because Warfield addresses this point as well as others.

    It's quite obvious that the Reformers did not fully convert that Catholic to what they believed be the faithful representation of Christ's intention for the Church. In the same way, the burden of proof is on you every time you speak to Jew regarding who actually obeyed the law: the Pharisees or Christ?

    Since we're not addressing Catholics or Jews, but rather William, a self-confessed "liberal" Protestant Christian, what does this have to do with anything?

    You're probably asking why I even bother bringing this up.

    Indeed.

    I believe in these two great debates that there is continuity on both parts. So, I can say that the Jews were following the law, and so what Christ.

    "and so what Christ..."? Is there something more to this statement?

    The issue there was matter of emphasis (priorities): is literal observance to the regulations of the Sabbath a faithful representation of God's intention for the command?

    So, William is saying the issue with the Jews (and Christ?) following the law was a a "matter of emphasis (priorities)," viz. is a "literal observance to the regulations of the Sabbath a faithful representation of God's intention for the command"? Um, actually, the issues (plural) are much broader in scope, to say the least. Has William actually read the Gospels and in fact the NT in its entirety? If he has, he evidently didn't comprehend it. Even liberal scholars know better than to simplify things as William just did.

    So what do liberals bring to the table? They downplay the primacy of scripture in place of the free thinking (the right to challenge the established institution) that they inherited from the Reformation.

    Actually, let me back up from what I just asked William. Is William even familiar with what occurred during the Reformation? For example, one of the rallying cries of the Reformation was ad fontes.

    So who is really out of line with orthodoxy, and how do you know?

    I suppose if we redefined orthodoxy as William does, we would be as confused as he apparently is.

    You keep appealing to the use of exegesis, but everyone uses exegesis to support their positions. By the way, everyone says that other is doing it incorrectly.

    William omits whether one side has the stronger or weaker argumentation, etc.

    No liberal/'new' movement

    Why does William consider the liberal movement "new"?

    (whether it be Christ, Medieval Catholicism, the Reformation, and the many others so-called 'reforms' that I missed to mention never entirely refuted the previous position. They only elevated certain points, while diminishing others.

    Although one could make a case for historical continuity in orthodoxy, historical orthodoxy is not the bedrock of the Christian faith.

    So, why do I need to address Warfield?

    Maybe for his arguments regarding the inspiration of Scripture, which William called "crap"?

    Did you convince the Pope that papal infallibility was wrong? In your mind your did, but only through a questionable elevation of Scripture's authority, which you is at best what you believed to be God's intentions.

    It sure is odd how William asks us about "convincing" the Pope whether papal infallibility is wrong, and, without skipping a beat, responds for us: "In your mind your [sic] did..." Among his other superpowers, I guess William is also able to read minds.

    Plus, "convincing" the Pope that papal infallibility is wrong would primarily depend on the Pope, not on us. We could have perfectly sound, biblical reasons why papal infallibility is wrong, but the Pope could reject our reasons for things which have little or nothing to do with reason. He could hold onto the doctrine because, for instance, he has a purely emotional attachment to it. Or because it grants him authority over certain pronouncements. Or whatever.

    Speaking of which, the tone William sometimes adopts is reminiscent of *ahem* the Pope speaking ex cathedra.

    By the way, why should I read your archive section? Do you read mine? Did you read all or most of liberal scholarship? The request is irrelevant.

    Well, on one level, we responded by asking William to read the archives because we'd rather not have to reinvent the wheel.

    Does William have an argument in his archives that he thinks we should consider? If so, let us know, and we'll consider reading it. But the reason we haven't read his archives is because he's never mentioned he has an argument there we should consider.

    Imagine William saying, "The earth is flat." We respond with, "No, it's not," and give some reasons why we are persuaded the earth is not flat. We go back and forth. At some later point, because we've interacted with previous flat-earthers, we then refer William to our previous archived discussions. But William responds with, "Why should I read your archive section? Do you read mine?" Would such a response be relevant?

    And, actually, yes, Steve and others have read and interacted with a fair proportion of liberal scholarship and argumentation on the topic.

    Am I lazy for ignoring Warfield? Depends on who you ask.

    The bigger problem is that this in turn undergirds William's intellectual superficiality and sloppiness, alongside his arrogance. Ignorance and arrogance find their nexus in William's behavior.

    But, since you hang your faith on that particular version of the doctrine, then of course I'd be lazy. To a lot of the later Princeton scholars, reading Warfield's work--as anything other than another historical artifact--is frivolous.

    Perhaps it's true that a lot of later Princeton scholars would think of Warfield's work as nothing more than a historical artifact. But is the point which Princeton scholars agree or disagree with what Warfield said? Shouldn't the point rather be whether Warfield's writings are sound in terms of what a professing Christian ought to believe as truth, etc., since that's what William claims to be? Isn't this how the discussion has been framed thus far?

    On the plus side, in light of William's label for Warfield's work as "crap," at least the later Princetonians had a higher opinion of Warfield than William does -- according to William.

    I actually don't believe that Scripture says anything that explicitly denies or affirms any of these historical movements. You accused me of leaving out the Holy Spirit. Have I? Did I explicitly say it? Or, are you reading that into my words by your choice of categories, and not mine? I guess you failed to read my mind, because I do believe that the Holy Spirit guides the course of history, but I'm not saying what way.

    Since, from what I can tell, William appears to take a methodoligically naturalistic approach to the Scriptures, is suggesting that he "leaves out" or at least underdetermines the role of the Holy Spirit in the inspiration of Scripture somehow an unfair characterization of his position?

    Your time will come to pass whether you like it or not, whether you believe your position was adequately addressed or not.

    In addition to liberal, professing Christian, it now appears William has assumed the role of prophet with such oracular pronouncements.

    If I accept your claim of the primacy of your tradition, then I might as well return to caves for their position is the original form of religious life in world history.

    So, I take it William is comparing the Reformed tradition to cavemen believing in superstitious religious beliefs? But, as Steve has said before, this is an argument from analogy minus the argument. How is what and why the Reformed believe analogous to what and why cavemen believe?

    But, again, our position on the inspiration of Scripture is not limited to the Reformed camp.

    Currently, the Reformed tradition isn't making any advances in society. You don't see Reformers making an impact for Christ and his kingdom.

    This in turn demonstrates how socially isolated William is. He must live in a bubble not to know what's happening in the church. Reformed churches and organizations led by the likes of Mark Dever, Josh Harris, James Kennedy, Tim Keller, C.J. Mahaney, Al Mohler, J.I. Packer, John Piper, R.C. Sproul, John Stott, and others have indeed been making an impact for Christ and his kingdom.

    And this is to say nothing of the past, with men like C.H. Spurgeon and Dr. David Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

    By the way, making advances in society is not the same as making an impact for Christ and his kingdom. We could be making an impact for the kingdom of God without necessarily influencing society -- which could be due to society refusing to be influenced.

    Not to mention that the Reformed tradition's view on Scripture is similar to contemporary's evangelical views on Scripture. We also share many other important similarities. And, for the most part, we'd have no problem considering evangelicals brothers and sisters in Christ. And in case William hasn't noticed, evangelicals have had quite a lot of impact on American society, and beyond, even to the point where our current President claims he's a born again believer, and the socially liberal former Prime Minister of the U.K., Tony Blair, invokes God in his correspondences via the media -- which, to British ears, would not exactly be well-received. It sounds almost as if he's being insincere or trying to pull a fast one over his constituents.

    I guess I will too, when I get your stage of life. Whatever you say about me, the Jews, Christ, the Catholics have said about you. So, I'm doing what I'm supposed be doing, which is letting history take its course. Good-bye.

    Given that William has called Warfield "crap," yet refused to interact with Warfield, or in fact that he's failed to provide any serious objections to what Andrew, Steve, and others have said, or in fact that he's only resorted to blusterous invective and self-important pronouncements, it's not like we've had a whole lot of substance to address. So I hardly think parting with him will be such sweet sorrow.

    And, at the end of the day, it's not so much what we've said about William that'll be significant, but rather William has already shown his true stripes based on his own words.

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  18. Currently, the Reformed tradition isn't making any advances in society. You don't see Reformers making an impact for Christ and his kingdom.

    Also, contrast this to liberal Christians' "impact" for the kingdom of God and on society. Have men like John Dominic Crossan or John Shelby Spong benefited society or the kingdom of God by undercutting Scripture? What will be Bart Ehrman's lasting contribution to society or for the kingdom of God by publishing the sorts of books he publishes (not that he believes in God)?

    If the Scriptures are not true, or at least not reliable, depending on how far one takes untruth and unreliability, it's possible to denude the gospel of its power. If one takes it so far as to deny the miraculous, including the resurrection of Christ, then if Christ is not raised, then we are still in our sins. Of all men, we are most to be pitied. What's the use of believing in the Bible if, for instance, the resurrection did not take place? Or if the historical Jesus is anything but the Jesus of the Gospels? What's the point?

    Why believe in an unreliable, untrue Bible over, say, the power of crystals to change lives, if personal happiness is what's most valuable?

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  19. Now about the character of my response. I never said that defending the faith or harsh language is never justified. But certainly not by Steve to me in this case. I understand your reacting to Will harshly because of his tone in his original comment to Andrew, which was not justified. However, even that did not justify condemning him to the wilderness. Clearly, the Scriptures layout principles for correction and rebuking. They do not, however, lay out principles for anathematizing someone. It is true that you could cite some examples of Jesus or Paul speaking about someone's condemnation, but be careful not to think you have the authority that they have.


    No, the Scriptures do talk about putting somebody out of the church - anathematizing them and instructions for marking out false teachers; and Scripture employs harsh words as a means to prevent apostasy, as in Hebrews. These do not require apostolic authority or the authority of elders, for the elders do not act without the authority of the local church as well.

    I'd remind you, Mr. Armstrong that William is the one who stated :
    “The difference between you and I, as you already stated, is that I'm willing to abandon the faith as long as the evidence leads me in that direction. (Notice that I didn't define what I meant by evidence). My commitment is to proclaiming truth regardless of the immediate or long term consequences it may have on the community of faith. So yeah, I have no qualms about disregarding 2000 yrs of historic Christian belief, if it no longer stands the test of time.”

    This is about as good a confession of current or coming apostasy from the faith as can be had. Now, if you'd like to justify this statement as acceptable on exegetical grounds, by all means, make your case that this is a laudable, good, and commendable stance for a professing Christian to take. Otherwise, take head from those of us who are twice your age and evidently more mature in the faith than you. I've seen far too many people over the years come to this same conclusion and then utterly apostatize, so, while it may offend your tender young ears, Mr. Armstrong, speaking for myself, there is a time when harsh words are needed, and when they are employed it is not out of "revenge" etc. but out of a heart of love. You and William are now grown men, and that means that you will be treated like grown men, and that includes employing harsh words if necessary to keep you from apostatizing. If God uses those words to harden you, that isn't my problem.

    Your response was that they were not--no, they are divine! But your response doesn't even evidence your own tradition's view let alone other possible views. Your own tradition speaks of the text as being both authored by God and by humans. So it is a human work! But human does not mean 'not divine.' Clearly, they do not contradict one another. Or do you also think this is the case in christology? Maybe you guys are all kenoticists, who deny Christ's full divinity? I don't really suspect that you are. If you're not kenoticists, then why do you respond the way that you do to Scripture being a human work?

    Mr. Armstrong, speaking for myself, here is what I actually stated:

    Notice that William gives no mention to the Holy Spirit or to God's providence. Is there room for God in this equation at all, and if so, then isn't it at least possible for God to inspire the text in the manner that the Reformers or the High Orthodox or Old Presbyterianism or Reformed Baptistery has historically stated?

    You know, one must remark that there is a reason the Reformed Orthodox believe in inerrancy, and that is, in part due to our view of divine providence. In soteriology, we affirm the doctrine of irresistible grace, and so, we know that God brings all the elect to saving faith through the gospel and keeps them from apostasy. He also maintains the cosmos "by the word of His (Christ's) power and His power expressed in the Noahic covenant. The doctrine of inspiration turns on a similar principle.

    But, if William is right, then "authors are authors" and scribes are scribes. The word of God is not God's word to man; it is man's thinking about God. Maybe it's right and maybe it's wrong about justification by faith alone. Maybe it's right and maybe it's wrong about the Trinity. Maybe it's right and maybe it's wrong about the covenants. Maybe God made some promises in history, and maybe He didn't. Maybe it's just all made up.


    You've reduced what I stated to "our response was that they were not--no, they are divine! But your response doesn't even evidence your own tradition's view let alone other possible views." That isn't at all what I wrote, and neither does it reflect anything else Steve or Patrick wrote in reply. I specifically pointed to a confessional tradition and the archives. That should be enough.

    Further, you too seem to suffer from short-term memory loss. What are college students coming to these days? My response was pegged to William's words:

    From what I see in reality, the mistake resembles what I know about human beings, the world around me, and the state of other religious texts. Scribes are scribes, and authors are authors.

    William left out the "divine aspect" and in this thread defined his views apart from reference to God, providence, et.al. He defined his views, rather, according to what he knows about human beings, the world around him, and the state of other religious texts, so my response was indexed to his own statements.

    Do, in the future, try to follow the argument.

    The common tread in all your responses is that you presuppose that Scripture self-affirmation is Warfield's definition of inspiration. However, when I challenge that notion, I get this response that this is how a rational exegete would approach it. (You probably say the same thing if I said that being true don't mean that I need to subscribe to Warfield's definition).

    But, I don't see how you can disregard my exegetical claims by saying that buy into the latest fads of the academy, when you only presuppose that you done solid exegetical work. I know you believe that your exegesis is rational, but do liberals. Why should I accept your claims? What's your epistemological standard?


    Our standard is the self-witness of Scripture. You've been pointed to more than one resource, and you have yet to interact with those resources.

    Our view of inspiration is not the one on trial here. Your is on trial. You profess to be Christian but hold a position at variance with both the exegetical witness of Scripture and tradition - and it isn't as if the Reformed are the only ones holding to the orthodox view of inspiration.

    Is is age? Is it traditional use? (Just like the KJV-only camp). You appeal to the former when you say the burden of proof is on me because I'm making a 'new' claim about the faith. In terms of tradition, you say that the academy changes it mind all the time.

    Yes, it does, and the liberal academy, as one thumbs through their commentaries has a nasty habit of not interacting with conservative scholarship while our side regularly interacts with theirs. It's like watching the good-ol' boy club pat themselves on the back.

    You're the one proposing the innovation, so, yes, William,the onus is on you to justify your assertions.

    With regards to your appeal to age and tradition, did you accept the burden of proof during the Reformation?

    Yes, actually, the Reformers did do that. There were numerous debates on the issues and they are in the historical records; they were very concerned about indexing their views to the Ancient Church too; and they argued from Scripture as well. Do you think that Bellarmine and others were just talking to nobody in their defenses of Catholicism?

    Is scripture alone explicitly mentioned in Scripture, or did you extrapolate that from whatever historical sources, views, or practices you appealed to?

    We have, on this blog, discussed Sola Scriptura many times, and there is a plethora of information on it addressing it from Scripture as well as tradition. If you're looking for a representative work from the Reformation age, then by all means look to William Whitaker's work on the subject. The sixth question in particular goes into some detail from Scripture itself. For a look at the Protestant doctrine of Scripture in historical relief, I've already pointed to Volume 2 of Richard Muller's work, Post Reformation Reformed Dogmatics.

    So, I can say that the Jews were following the law, and so what Christ. The issue there was matter of emphasis (priorities): is literal observance to the regulations of the Sabbath a faithful representation of God's intention for the command?

    As usual, William doesn't bother to give us any exegetical foundation. In point of fact, they Pharisees were following the letter of the Law as seen through their "hedges" around it. It isn't about "priorities," it's about the actual fountain from which the Pharisees were drawing their practices.

    In regards to the Reformation, you elevated the importance of Scripture because that's what you "interpreted" as being inline with the original intentions of the Church.

    A partial truth at best, given the history of the doctrine of Sola Scriptura.


    So what do liberals bring to the table? They downplay the primacy of scripture in place of the free thinking (the right to challenge the established institution) that they inherited from the Reformation. So who is really out of line with orthodoxy, and how do you know? You keep appealing to the use of exegesis, but everyone uses exegesis to support their positions. By the way, everyone says that other is doing it incorrectly.


    A. The liberals did not inherit "free thinking" from the Reformation and the High Protestant era. They inherited "rationalism" from the Enlightenment.

    B. How do I know who is out of line with orthodoxy? Well, I don't even need to appeal to exegesis, I can show it from your own side of the aisle:

    It is a mistake often made by educated persons who happen to have but little knowledge of historical theology, to suppose that fundamentalism is a new and strange form of thought. It is nothing of the kind; it is the partial and uneducated survival of a theology which was once universally held by all Christians. How many were there, for instance, in Christian churches in the eighteenth century who doubted the infallible inspiration of all Scripture? A few, perhaps, but very few. No, the fundamentalist may be wrong; I think that he is. But it is we who have departed from the tradition, not he, and I am sorry for the fate of anyone who tries to argue with a fundamentalist on the basis of authority. The Bible and the corpus theologicum of the Church are on the fundamentalist's side.

    This is from Robert L. Saucy, Scripture: its Power, Authority and Relevance.

    Saucy's footnote cites this from Kirsop Lake's The Religion of Yesterday and Tomorrow (Boston: Houghton, 1926). (Emphasis mine)

    By the way, why should I read your archive section?

    Once again, you can't follow your own argument:

    You said: I asked you for your definition of inspiration, because you've never outright said anything.

    That's what you asked. You can find many discussions in the archives. So, referring you there is shorthand. We haven't considered yours because you haven't pointed us to yours.

    To a lot of the later Princeton scholars, reading Warfield's work--as anything other than another historical artifact--is frivolous.

    Yes, apostates rarely think otherwise. You did, by the way, dismiss it as "crap," but where did you interact with that material?

    You accused me of leaving out the Holy Spirit. Have I? Did I explicitly say it? Or, are you reading that into my words by your choice of categories, and not mine? I guess you failed to read my mind, because I do believe that the Holy Spirit guides the course of history, but I'm not saying what way.

    How do you know this apart from Scripture? You're the one denying the foundation from which this belief can be stated with any sort of certainty, and you chose your words. "Say what you mean and mean what you say." I can only reply to you on the basis of the words you present, and those words were naturalistic words, not words about the Holy Spirit and providence. If this does not reflect your position, then you're welcome to add them and explain them, but at present, please forgive me if my powers of telepathy are not fully functional. I'm only a human being. I'm not Vorlon.

    Currently, the Reformed tradition isn't making any advances in society. You don't see Reformers making an impact for Christ and his kingdom.

    Scripture has doctrine of the remnant. Further, in your statements, it seems to me that you are defining "Christ and His kingdom" without reference to anything conservative, since you've dismissed "fundys" and called Warfield's work "crap" and apparently agree that it is a "frivolous" historical artifact. However, if you'd open your closed universe, you'd find out that the Reformed tradition is increasing in its influence. The SBC lost its Reformed roots in the 20th century and they have resurged so much in recent years that they're calling a conference on it in November in NC. Many of our SBC missionaries are Reformed or Sovereign Grace Baptists as well. We have an Amyraldian in charge of Lifeway and another in charge of SEBTS. SBTS is known by many as a "Calvinist" seminary. Then we have the growth of the PCA. I believe they're growing at a rate of something like 40 percent a year.

    Reformed churches tend to keep their members in church too. While the average Arminian church in the SBC can't get 40 percent of its people in church on Sunday, the worst performing Reformed/Sov. Grace church I know in the Convention has a 75 percent average attendance rate.

    And it's no secret that the liberal denominations are in great and continuing decline, and you're throwing your lot in with them. What "impact for the kingdom" has John Shelby Spong made?

    So, they resorted to legalism and hostility.

    You, sir, are no Christ.

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  20. GREG ARMSTRONG SAID:

    “I understand your reacting to Will harshly because of his tone in his original comment to Andrew, which was not justified.”

    No, I’m not responding “harshly” to Will because of his “tone.” I’m responding “harshly” to Will because of his content. Substance, not style, is the problem.

    I seek a pleasing tone in an opera singer, not a Christian theologian. I don’t judge John Calvin’s tone by Joan Sutherland’s timbre, or Sutherland’s tone by John Calvin timbre.

    “However, even that did not justify condemning him to the wilderness.”

    Indeed it would. Why was the Exodus generation condemned to wander in the wilderness until every last one of them died (save for Joshua and Caleb)?
    Due to their persistent refusal to take God at his word. Will exemplifies the very same sin.

    “Clearly, the Scriptures layout principles for correction and rebuking. They do not, however, lay out principles for anathematizing someone.”

    To the contrary, NT writers like Paul (1 Cor 10) and the author of Hebrews (Heb 3-4) take the wildering wandering as a cautionary example for Christians. Paul explicitly tells us to treat this episode as exemplary (in a negative sense) for his Christian audience. So we are commanded to analogize from OT episodes like the wilderness wandering to situations in the church.

    “This is why I allowed some ‘harsh’ language in my response because it was warranted and justified. But the amount and severity of it I was not going to let match yours because I knew not to sink to that level.”

    Yes, we wouldn’t want you to sink to the level of Scripture. What a comedown!

    “How could you possibly think that they would? Just because it is open does not mean that can condemn me to Hell.”

    Which, of course, I never did. Greg doesn’t bother to explain his inference. Historical judgments aren’t interchangeable with eschatological judgments—although the former typify the latter.

    “You certainly did not judge me by my words. Instead, I think you judged me by Will's words.”

    I’ve spelled out the basis on which I judged you by your own words.

    But, assuming for the sake of argument that I judged you by Will’s words rather than your own, you subsequently admit that you are “close” in your “views to Will”, so that when you used “the plural at times” you were “willing to associate” yourself “with much of his views.”

    Hence, even if I were judging you by his words, you yourself have substantively identified your own position with his—you just don’t like his “tone.” Therefore, even if I were doing what you accuse me of, why shouldn’t I judge your stated position by his stated position when you identify with his stated position?

    “But I did not associate myself with his tone towards Andrew.”

    So your disagreement with Will is stylistic rather than substantive. Big deal. That was never the basis of my comparison.

    “I noticed that you have already categorized me as a limited inerrantist, but that's not correct.”

    Can you quote me on that? I’ve attempted no formal classification. However, if you want a label, then “liberal” will do.

    “Don't you guys think that there's maybe more views out there than the typical 3 or 4 views written about in systematics?”

    The variations of error are infinite. But once you abandon the only true position, then what shade of error you choose for your wardrobe is a fashion statement.

    Whether a lifeline is too short by an inch, a foot, or a yard, the swimmer will still drown.

    “One issue that I think you guys should really consider is something that Will said about the biblical texts being ‘very human.’ Your response was that they were not--no, they are divine!”

    Can you quote me on that? No.

    Will as opposing the human to the divine. That’s the problem.

    Of course, it’s also possible that you and he have such an adulterated concept of the divine that there’s no qualitative or categorical difference between humanity and divinity.

    “But your response doesn't even evidence your own tradition's view let alone other possible views. Your own tradition speaks of the text as being both authored by God and by humans.”

    Which I’m on record as affirming.

    “So it is a human work!”

    A misleading conclusion. Man is a creature. God is his Creator. God is the source of man’s humanity. Therefore, the “humanity” of Scripture also goes back to divine agency. God and man are not cofactors in the production of Scripture.

    “If you're not kenoticists, then why do you respond the way that you do to Scripture being a human work?”

    Maybe you’re really too clueless to grasp the issue. The obvious problem is the tendentious way in which Will misrepresents the humanity of Scripture.

    “Do you remember his discussion of Christ's temptations? We know that Christ, as being fully human and fully divine, would be unable to sin as this would contradict God's nature. But if he was unable to sin, then how could he be tempted?”

    In my Christology, Christ is impeccable. Your definition of temptation is implicitly libertarian, which I, as a Calvinist, reject.

    “Now this relates to inerrancy and inspiration issues because I believe that the Scriptures were a fully human and fully divine work in an analogous sense as Christ is both fully human and fully divine.”

    This is an argument from analogy minus the argument.

    “Have you ever considered how these two doctrines are so closely related?”

    This is a stock liberal ruse. Moth-eaten from overuse.

    “But if you think so, I challenge anyone to come up with another view that is consistent with orthodoxy.”

    Do you now. Greg just said he thinks “it's more than likely that Jesus did not know (in his human mind) the particularities about how his natures related to one another.”

    But although he doesn’t think that even Jesus, in his human consciousness, understood the hypostatic union,” he challenges you and me to come up with come up with a philosophical model of the hypostatic union.

    Sorry to disappoint you, pal, but I don’t think that Tom Morris has a better grasp of Jesus’ theanthropic psychology than Jesus’ had of his own theanthropic psychology—to grant your operating assumption (of Jesus self-ignorance) for the sake of argument.

    “Or maybe you will not grant me the analogous status of the doctrines of inspiration and inerrancy to christology.”

    Why should I grant an argument *from* analogy absent an argument *for* the analogy?

    “But if you will not, then I would like to hear a good rejoinder.”

    Because it’s a diversionary tactic on your part. I don’t need to filter my doctrine of inspiration through philosophical Christology. The Bible has many direct (and indirect) statements about the nature and scope of its inspiration. If you want to formulate a Scriptural doctrine of Scripture, the logical place to start is with what Scripture says about its own inspiration.

    But if you wish to persue the topic for your own recreational entertainment, D. A. Carson has a number of trenchant observations about this move:

    The controlling analogy that Enns advances is the incarnation: the title of the book is not accidental. In choosing the incarnation as the fundamental way to think about the nature of Scripture, Enns is adopting a path diametrically opposite to what Webster judges to be appropriate. We have already seen that there is at least a superficial parallel to be drawn between, on the one hand, confessing Jesus to be God and a human being, and, on the other, confessing that Scripture is both God’s word and human word—not least when the Scriptures themselves can speak of the Jesus as the Word made flesh. Enns, of course, is not the first to draw attention to the parallels between Christ and Scripture. Yet this is the place where Enns’s discussion becomes disturbingly inadequate, not to say seriously slanted. Three things stand out.

    First, Enns offers no discussion whatsoever of what the doctrine of the incarnation actually looks like. If the incarnation is to become the controlling model for our understanding of the nature of Scripture, then are we not owed some exposition, however brief, of what "incarnation" means to Enns? The word is thrown around in contemporary discussion with an enormous array of meanings; it is entirely unclear what Enns means. But let us suppose, for charity’s sake, that he stands roughly in line with Nicea and Chalcedon.

    That brings up the second problem. The only thing that Enns draws from the doctrine of the incarnation is that Jesus is truly a human being; he does not merely appear to be a human being. In other words, for Enns an adequate affirmation of the incarnation entails the abolition of docetism, and the parallel with Scripture entails the abolition of a kind of scriptural docetism, in which Scripture only appears to be human, but is not truly human. So far, so good. But the doctrine of the incarnation was used to fight off multiple errors, not just docetism. For instance, it equally fights off Arianism, in which Jesus is not truly God, but at most an inferior god, or perhaps merely godlike. If incarnation is to serve as the controlling model for how Scripture is to be understood, why does not Enns use it to refute the voices that confess the Bible to be only a human document, or a collection of human documents? In what sense is the Bible God’s Word, or, as we have noted in biblical usage, a collection of God’s words? And how do the human and the divine dimensions of Scripture cohere? Is there some point where we appeal to mystery, as we appeal to mystery when we are talking about the divine nature and the human nature cohering in the one person, Jesus the Messiah? Without ever discussing the nature of the incarnation, Enns is using the incarnation as a positive "buzz" word to fight off his opponents to the right, but he never develops the doctrine, or the argument, to warn against dangers at least as great on the left (if we may resort to that old left/right spectrum). Nor is it merely a question of balance which could be remedied by another book treating the other side. The doctrine of the incarnation is powerful and central to Christian confessionalism not only because it counters "left" and "right" alike, but because it carefully formulates what it means to confess Jesus as the God/man. If the incarnation were deployed only to fight off docetism, pretty soon we would have a thoroughly human Jesus, but nothing more; if it were deployed only to fight off Arianism, pretty soon we would have a thoroughly divine Jesus, but nothing more. The doctrine of the incarnation tries, with appropriate caution, hesitation, and adoration, to get it right. But the only way it functions in Enns’s analogical argument is to confirm that docetism is bad, and therefore a failure to confess the truly human nature of Scripture is bad. Enns adduces all the evidence he can for the Bible’s humanness, and reflects on it at length; he does not attempt to adduce all the evidence he can for the Bible’s rootedness in God himself, and reflect at length on that—not even the very sketchy bits of evidence I mentioned in discussing Webster’s book. It is not just that the view of Scripture that Enns paints is lopsided, but that the heart of the issue is side-stepped, i.e. how it must all cohere. Think "incarnation" in any historic, confessional sense of "incarnation," and you are never far away from mystery (in the modern sense of that word); apply it as Enns has done to the nature of Scripture, and there is very little that is mysterious at all. Apply it to Jesus, and you think "God/man"; apply it to the Bible in the way that Enns does and you think "not docetic; thoroughly human." True, Enns repeatedly concedes that the Bible is God’s Word, but because he does not tie that confession to incarnation, or warn against a kind of scriptural Arianism, or probe the difficulties inherent in Scripture’s dual nature, the result is remarkably distorted.

    Third, whenever one makes an entire argument turn on analogy, it is imperative to explain in what ways the two poles of the analogy are alike and unlike. In Christology, for instance, we speak of two natures and one person; we cannot deploy exactly that terminology in talking about the Bible. When we speak of Jesus as truly human, as truly a man, we carefully insist that he is a perfect man, i.e. a man without sin, and that there is nothing intrinsic to humanness that requires that humans be sinners. In that sense, Jesus is thoroughly like us, human; he is also thoroughly unlike all of us, since he alone is sinlessly perfect. If the incarnation is to be our model for how we think of Scripture, or even of Scripture’s humanness, how do such elementary distinctions as these play out? What might it mean to say that Scripture is composed of thoroughly human, but perfect, documents? Or does the analogy break down? If so, why and where? None of this is discussed. "Incarnation" is merely a rhetorically positive word to approve Enns’s argument; it is not a word with real substance that can clarify or illuminate the nature of Scripture by really careful analogical argumentation. Thus, when Enns writes (his italics), "It is essential to the very nature of revelation that the Bible is not unique to its environment. The human dimension of Scripture is essential to its being Scripture" (20), the statement is formally true and hopelessly muddled. Using the incarnational analog, the "human dimension" of the God/man not only places him in the human environment, but leaves him unique in that environment since only he is without sin. And even more strikingly, of course, what makes Jesus most strikingly unique to the human environment is that, without gainsaying his thorough, perfect, humanness for an instant, he is also God, and thus the perfect revealer of God, such that what Jesus says and does, God says and does. But when Enns speaks of "the very nature of the revelation of the Bible" as "not unique in its environment," he looks only at its "human dimension" and integrates nothing of what else must be said if we are to understand what the Bible is in this "human environment." I hasten to add that I am as rigorously opposed to what he thinks of as a docetic understanding of Scripture as he. But I am no less suspicious of an Arian understanding of Scripture—or, if we may get away from the incarnational analog, I am no less suspicious of assorted non-supernatural and domesticated understandings of the Bible, understandings of the Bible that are far removed from, say, that of the Lord Jesus. Methodologically, Enns gets himself into these problems because he has spelled out neither what he understands of the doctrine of the incarnation, nor how well analogical arguments work in this case, and what limitations might be applicable.

    http://reformation21.org/Past_Issues/2006_Issues_1_16_/2006_Issues_1_16_Shelf_LIfe/May_2006/May_2006/181/vobId__2926/pm__434/
    WILLIAM SAID:

    “But, I don't see how you can disregard my exegetical claims by saying that buy into the latest fads of the academy, when you only presuppose that you done solid exegetical work.”

    I didn’t “disregard” your exegetical claims. To the contrary, I responded to your exegetical claims with exegetical counterarguments.

    In fact, you ended up conceding my point, in a backdoor fashion. For you said: “In fact, I would even say that it is so realistic, based on archaeological evidence of reliefs found, that the LXX was nothing more than an accurate historical retelling of the event--assuming David killed Goliath and not Elhanan.”

    So, at the end of the day, after your pretentious name-dropping (Lust, Tov, McCarter, Cross) you are forced to admit that the MT does, indeed, preserve the original reading, whereas the LXX is, by your own reckoning, a secondary editorial gloss on the original account in the original language.

    Once again, you can’t keep track of your own argument. But if you don’t believe your own arguments, why should anyone else?

    “I know you believe that your exegesis is rational, but do liberals.”

    You suffer from intellectual befuddlement. There are two distinct issues here:

    i) What does the Bible say about itself?

    ii) Should we believe what the Bible says about itself?

    A liberal can affirm Warfield’s inductive case regarding the self-witness of Scripture. Where a liberal parts company with Warfield is not over his exegesis, but over the authority of Scripture. A liberal doesn’t believe what Scripture says about itself.

    Liberal exegesis is often identical with conservative exegesis. You keep throwing around the term “fundy” and invoking the name of James Barr. But Barr interprets the Bible in much the same way a fundamentalist would. The difference is that Barr rejects the inspiration and authority of Scripture.

    “Why should I accept your claims?”

    What’s that to me? It’s your funeral, not mine—although I might send a bouquet.

    “What's your epistemological standard?”
    God’s word.

    “Is is age? Is it traditional use? (Just like the KJV-only camp). You appeal to the former when you say the burden of proof is on me because I'm making a 'new' claim about the faith. In terms of tradition, you say that the academy changes it mind all the time. With regards to your appeal to age and tradition, did you accept the burden of proof during the Reformation?”

    Once again, you can’t follow your own argument. You were the one who tried to caricature Warfield’s position as a theological innovation. So we are simply answering you on your own grounds.

    On the one hand, there’s nothing innovative about Warfield’s view of Biblical inerrancy. On the other hand, you’re the one whose has a ring nose chained to the latest academic fad.

    “Is scripture alone explicitly mentioned in Scripture, or did you extrapolate that from whatever historical sources, views, or practices you appealed to?”

    I’ve answered that question many times in reply to Roman Catholics. You’re way behind the curve.
    “In the same way, the burden of proof is on you every time you speak to Jew regarding who actually obeyed the law: the Pharisees or Christ?”

    It is? Are you saying the NT writers weren’t Jewish? And what about modern Messianic Jews?

    “So what do liberals bring to the table?”

    Rubber checks and maxed out credit cards.

    “They downplay the primacy of scripture in place of the free thinking.”

    What they put in place of primatial Scripture is radical chic groupthink.

    “So, why do I need to address Warfield?”

    You don’t. You’re free to be an intellectual slob. But if you’re going to say his position is “crap,” then you need to refute it.

    “Which you is at best what you believed to be God's intentions.”

    Is this your version of Ebonics?

    “You accused me of leaving out the Holy Spirit.”

    At this point we might say the Holy Spirit left you out.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I have a few more questions:

    In one sense, since God has told us he is authoritative in matters of morality, and since he has promised us that obedience to him is always what is best for us, wouldn't any sin be a failure to take God at his word?

    But surely not every sin merits the punishment of death in the wilderness (which, as applied by Hebrews, is tantamount to damnation in the New Covenant).

    Further, it seems to me that what the people in the wilderness were punished for was not lack of trust in God's word per se; Hebrews seems to imply, at least, that they were punished for their disobedience/unbelief in response to the "good news" they received. The analog for us, in the new covenant, would be disbelief in the Gospel, I think.

    In which case, I'm not sure it is a helpful analogy to say that believing in limited inerrancy (which I still believe to be a false position, and one which has bad consequences) is equivalent to what the people in the wilderness did. I don't think we can say, for example, that failing to take God at his word regarding Goliath's height is morally equivalent to failing to take his word about Jesus Christ. Granted, failing to take God at his word at all is a moral failure, but I think wrongness of believing in limited inerrancy can be mitigated morally in ways that believing the gospel cannot. Someone might reason like this: God is always truthful, but scripture is false in matters of detail not significant to the truth of the Gospel; therefore, the scriptures are not God's words. The second premise and the conclusion might be false, but I don't think this is morally equivalent to what the people in the wilderness did, which was more like: God promised to bring us to a good land, but we're not yet in a land to our satisfaction, so God must be a liar or be evil. In the face of all the goodness God displayed to them, including his faithfulness and trustworthiness, there was no comparable excuse for believing those things about God, as there might be for believing the things that limited inerrantists believe about scripture.

    I'm open to criticism here, but I think I'm right.

    ReplyDelete
  22. P.S.:

    I should clarify one point: I guess in one sense it would be right to say that every sin merits damnation, but I should have said that God, in his mercy, does not treat every sin in this way; many he overlooks out of grace, though there are a small few, the most heinous (e.g. apostasy), which he does not. And, still, as someone who believes there are gradations of punishment in hell, I think the point still applies.

    ReplyDelete
  23. P.P.S:

    Following the last point: I would also say that I think it is pretty clear in scripture that we, as people/Christians, are not to treat every sin equally, as deserving of the same condemnation.

    ReplyDelete
  24. In one sense, since God has told us he is authoritative in matters of morality, and since he has promised us that obedience to him is always what is best for us, wouldn't any sin be a failure to take God at his word?

    But surely not every sin merits the punishment of death in the wilderness (which, as applied by Hebrews, is tantamount to damnation in the New Covenant).


    Hebrews is a group letter, as such, the writer can't write particular individuals who are already in the New Covenant and those who are not yet in it.

    And he's writing to a group of Jews. The gist of the message is 2fold:

    1. For those in the New Covenant already, persevere in it to the end.

    2. For those who are professors and are looking back to Judaism itself, be warned, for a consistent Jew will enter into the New Covenant if he has not done so already and he will persevere in that covenant if he has.

    3. So the issue isn't so much as "believing (or disbelieving) the gospel but persevering to the end.

    Specifically, the point of reference is that which makes for consistent Jew. It is the inconsistent Jew that returns to Judaism. It is the consistent Jew who enters and perseveres in the New Covenant.

    In fact, to enter and persevere in the New Covenant, for the Jew of that time in particular, was, in fact, to persevere to the end in the existing covenant in which he was taught that he stood by virtue of being a Jew. On the one hand it's true that the Old Covenant had ended and signs and shadows had come to fruition in the New Covenant, but, from the readers perspective that only meant, since s/he was Jewish, that to continue being a pious Jew meant to enter the New Covenant by faith and persevere to the end - which, in point of fact, was always the way God dealt with the Jews in terms of salvation.

    Now, a belief in "limited inerrancy" is schismatic in terms of the criterion of salvation. One does not need to believe in inerrancy in order to convert, just as one doesn't have to believe in the Trinity in order to convert. The gospel is very simple in that regard.

    However, certain items are indicative that a person may have made a false profession, and if that occurs after a lengthy time of having offered that profession of faith, they become guilty of failure to persevere to the end, eg. apostasy.

    For example, if a person denies a fundamental article of the faith, like the Trinity, out of plain ignorance, we can, I say should, "cut them some slack." On the other hand, if they cultivate their rejection of the Trinity and go over to a Unitarian, Arian, or modalistic view, then that indicates that they could be and likely are a false professor.

    To a certain extent this question goes to the difference between a credible and saving profession of faith.

    In Reformed theology, we draw a distinction between a credible profession of faith and a saving profession of faith. For purposes of church membership, cooperation with other denominational entities, etc., since we cannot know of a certainty who is or isn't saved, we only require a credible profession of faith. A saving profession of faith lies solely between an individual and God.

    For example, a Catholic that affirms the current dogmas of Rome cannot offer a credible profession of faith to a consistent Protestant. But whether a Catholic can offer a saving profession of faith is a different question. The answer varies on a case-by-case basis. It is easier to say who isn't saved than to say who is.

    To be a Christian is to be, among other things, a Christian believer. One must believe certain things, and not believe certain other, contrary things. On the one hand, some dogmas are damnable dogmas. On the other hand, the Bible lays out certain saving articles of faith. This is God's criterion, not ours. We did not invent it. By the same token, how God applies that criterion in any individual case is up to God, not to us. We are not the judge, God is the Judge. To take a concrete example, Scripture teaches Sola Fide (faith alone) (Romans; Galatians). An individual is saved by faith in Christ and saved by the sole and sufficient merit of Christ.

    However, in Catholic dogma, one is saved by the merit of Christ plus the merit of the saints plus one's own congruent merit. And this results in a divided faith. That is why a Catholic cannot give a consistent Protestant a credible profession of faith. In fairness, Protestants are more prone to give a Catholic church member a pass on the credible profession of faith than they do a Catholic bishop or the Pope or some of their lay apologists, because they very clearly have bought into the full range of Catholic dogmas.

    Any of the following creeds/confessions could supply the basis for a credible profession of faith:

    1. The Thirty-Nine Articles of the Christian Religion

    2. The Formula of Concord

    3. The Baptist Faith & Message (any version)(http://www.sbc.net/bfm/bfm2000.asp)

    4. The C&MA statement of faith
    (http://www.cmalliance.org/whoweare/doctrine.jsp)

    5. The JFJ statement of faith (http://www.jewsforjesus.org/about/statementoffaith)

    6. The EFCA statement of faith (http://www.efca.org/about/doctrine/)

    7. The Campus Crusade statement of faith (http://www.ccci.org/statement_of_faith.html)

    8. The AG statement of faith (http://www.ag.org/top/beliefs/truths.cfm)

    These are all broadly evangelical affirmations of faith. Notice, not all are Reformed. Some are Lutheran; some are Arminian. By contrast, Trent or Vatican II does not supply the basis for a credible profession of faith. Still, it is possible for a Catholic to be saved, unlike a Muslim or Mormon or other suchlike.

    Likewise, the further one gets from Orthodox doctrine, the less credible a person's profession becomes. This is true no matter what communion to which one belongs, unless that communion is teaching antinomianism.

    Now, what we have here in this thread and on your blog isn't a case of ignorance. Rather, these persons have cultivated their views and, indeed, are in the process of doing so. One has taken a kinder and gentler approach stylistically but he's identified his position substantially with the other. Of the two, I'm seeing more fruit from the former than the latter. From the latter, I'm reading:

    “The difference between you and I, as you already stated, is that I'm willing to abandon the faith as long as the evidence leads me in that direction. (Notice that I didn't define what I meant by evidence). My commitment is to proclaiming truth regardless of the immediate or long term consequences it may have on the community of faith. So yeah, I have no qualms about disregarding 2000 yrs of historic Christian belief, if it no longer stands the test of time.”

    That's about as close to a profession of apostasy as one can get. With all due respect, brother, you've not be dealing with a simple case of objections to the height of Goliath. Rather, in at least one of your interlocuters, you're dealing with somebody who is ready to jettison the whole of orthodox doctrine.

    I've seen this before in the real world too. What happens is that these individuals often begin here, and they leave behind the epistemological foundation of their profession of faith.

    If not from Scripture, then how can they know "truth about God?" If not from Scripture, then how can they know how to be saved?

    Now, the irony here is that I've seen them go one of two ways at this juncture. On the one hand, some will, if they don't abandon the faith altogether, concoct some rather interesting and acrobatic ways of holding onto their faith and answering these questions. Often, Neo-Orthodoxy becomes their guide, and they see the Bible as a channel of revelation, so they try to remove the lack of their objective foundation for their faith with a new, subjective mode of revelation.

    On the other hand, the latitudinarian will run to the Ancient Creeds and Councils. Since they've come to believe that Scripture lacks perspicuity and often sufficiency, they'll turn to another standard. The problem here is that the Ancient Creeds and councils also have to be exegeted. For example, whose definition of "person" does one use to interpret Chalcedon? Also, the councils and creeds are all addressed to counter specific heresies, so their effect is really cumulative. However, are they inspired or not? If not, then why is this any better than the Bible? Further, they don't actually answer the question "How must one be saved, eg. justified?" The gospel, according to Scripture, isn't' just facts about Jesus (for the locus classicus for that view is 1 Cor. 15, where Paul is addressing the error that there is no Resurrection), rather it is also the surrender of all human merit and self-effort, as in the case of the Galatian letter. So, in going this route, they are undercutting their credible profession of faith.

    A saving profession is thus between that person and God, but we can only go by a credible profession of faith. If a person does these things and comes at the Word of God with the attitude I'm seeing out of your interlocutors, I'm seeing the beginnings of cultivated error, and that signals apostasy - the very thing about which Hebrews is warning, and that is why they need to be, as grown young men, spoken to in a harsh manner, if only as a means to grab their attention. God will use this to either harden them and confirm them in their error and apostasy or soften them and cause them to repent.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Gene:

    I suppose, if my friends were to end up in Neo-Orthodoxy or latitudinarianism, I would not consider that apostasy. And knowing what I do about them, it is far more likely they would end up there than in complete rejection of the faith.

    I too was troubled by William's statement, for what it implies about his ultimate commitments. But we should not forget that he never actually said he was contemplating leaving the faith; there are many philosophical/evidentialist types who might discuss things in a similar way, though have no inclination whatsoever to leave Christ. Greg certainly has given no indication that he is even close to apostasizing, in my mind, unless you take the rejection of orthodox doctrine about scripture as an indicator of that. I think it could be in some circumstances, but isn't necessarily. Definitely, in this case, I think it is far more likely Greg would end up neo-orthodox in his doctrine of scripture than that he would apostasize. And, again, I obviously don't think those two things are equivalent.

    Just to affirm: I do share some of the concerns that those of you who have responded to Will and Greg share; I think the orthodox view of scripture is important. But, I guess, given that I know of at least one remarkable Christian who has served as a godly example to many people, who did not hold to an orthodox view of scripture (C.S. Lewis), I don't think that holding to heterodoxy about this necessarily implies one is on the road to apostasy. It does signal such a movement in many cases, but not out of absolute necessity.

    ReplyDelete
  26. P.S.: For the sake of bringing closure to what already seems like a waning conversation, I think this will be my last post on this matter. Besides, it is your blog, you deserve the last word!

    :)

    ReplyDelete
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