Saturday, October 04, 2014

Can an inspired Bible contain errors?

http://files.wts.edu/uploads/images/files/WTJ/Beale%20-%20Inspired%20Errors.pdf

Missionary medicine in Africa

http://mereorthodoxy.com/medical-missionaries-role-evidence/

“Jason Stellman’s Unmitigated Disaster”

Jason Stellman’s Unmitigated Disaster, by Dr. James White.

Here is Stellman’s original article. One comment, from a member of his former church, is particularly noteworthy:

As a member of Exile Church I can tell you this, it was a strange thing to go through your pastor leaving and abandoning the denomination. It was sad, strange and betrayal when he immediately went PUBLIC to attack the denomination. The arrogance and smugness was astonishing. I had to reflect on the 4 years being in my church with Jason as my pastor and wonder… was I duped?

I still remember him standing before our congregation the night he left with crocodile tears, it was the first time I questioned if he was saved. From that point on I have visited this blog periodically, reading those that defend him yet learning so much from those Protestants that maintain their grace and the truth in debating him/them.

For some of the followers on this site, you rally around him like groupies to a guru/celebrity. Jason is a sinner. Just like the rest of us and he suffers from indwelling sin like the rest of us.

From my experience with Jason, he is reaping what he himself has sown.

My prayer is that God smite him real good because unless God does, he is going to continue in his blindness, sin and folly. Jason has the craftiness and manipulative-ness of Jacob, but look what God did with Jacob!

To Jason’s credit he once led a Sunday school with the John Owens book Mortification of Sin. It was a great series he did and I would encourage him to dust it off and dive in!

For the record:

* I was raised in the Catholic Church for 19 years, was steeped in New Age for 8 years, 2004 God called me out of both of those paths and to the reformed church where I opened a bible for the first time.

I have danced with Satan.

*Our church Elders did exactly what they were ordained to do, protect the flock from a wolf.

Our church was generous, supportive and provided well for him and his family after he left. We spiritually and emotionally support his wife and kids in the church now and continually pray for his family.

Its been 2 years and that is what I wanted to say.

The Influence of Patristic Literature upon the Reformation

The Influence of Patristic Literature upon the Reformation

Relatively unknown is the fact that by the beginning of the 17th century, over 1600 volumes had been printed that contained the writings of the church fathers of both the west and the east. It is these works that provided the content for Jacques Paul Migne’s (1800-1875) massive 386 volume Patrologiae cursus completes. But even more startling, by delving into the question of the publication of just the collected-works editions of the church fathers that appeared between the years of 1460 and 1570, the distinct impression is made that the works of the church fathers in their entirety must have been much more influential in the Reformation period than has up until now been acknowledged. Simply an awareness of the common availability of the writings of the ancient church in the 16th century thus affords a new vista from which the theological developments of the period can be assessed.

Alien DNA

It's amusing to see urban legends in the making. The tactic is to create a damaging narrative of the opposition, and hope that catches on. Since, moreover, you're playing to a sympathetic audience, they are likely to assume the worst about the opposition. So the pejorative memes and urban legends stick. 

On example is the "toxic" environment meme. Under the new regime, WTS has a "toxic environment." I've seen several critics try to popularize that part of the new narrative. And there are other plot devices in the WTS narrative:  

https://www.facebook.com/chris.fantuzzo?fref=nf


Fantuzzo Chris Emily Hi Linda, Yes, I think alumni who are using this phrase have in mind their training under 80s-90s faculty like Dillard and Longman, Silva, Conn, Gaffin and Ferguson (and certain students of theirs) before the inauguration of Peter Lillback in 2005. It appears to many that the new Westminster admin. and board is rolling the clock back before Dillard, utilizes Machiavellian tactics to achieve its ends, and has redefined WTS so narrowly and militantly that it has become an embarrassment to serious Christian scholarship.September 30 at 7:23pm · 1

I understand that Fantuzzo is bitter about his experience. And I'm certainly open to the possibility that he was treated shabbily. Given mixed signals. Hung out to dry.

In addition, it does indeed appear to me, as an outside observer, that the current regime is turning the clock back to before Dillard. And I'm glad they are resetting the clock–after the doctrinal power outage. 

Is Fantuzzo saying the exegetical work of Duguid, Beale, and Poythress is an embarrassment to serious Christian scholarship? 

Fantuzzo Chris Emily Linda, I'm indebted to a friend for the following way to see the movement at WTS. Early Westminster was all about authority/inerrancy (faculty symposium called Scripture and Confession). Middle Westminster was all about interpretation/hermeneutics (with earlier contributions from Kline and Murray), while building on earlier interests in authority (the 80s faculty symposium was called Inerrancy and Hermeneutic). New Westminster has returned to a focus on authority, sadly without much reflection on what was learned about interpretation during the middle Westminster years. This can be seen in the Confession regulating document "Affirmations and Denials," and in recent faculty publications, esp. by Lillback, Garner, and Beale, which many alumni think reveal an alien (DTS) DNA. Only a few of the current faculty and Lillback board members were actually trained at middle WTS. And for many alumni who were trained during its salutary middle period, what was most positive and constructive about it has died with Peter Lillback's presidency and must be sought elsewhere.October 1 at 5:16am

There are some stubborn fact that get in the way of Fantuzzo's relative chronology. Take the false dichotomy between authority/inerrancy and interpretation/hermeneutics. E. J. Young represents "Early Westminster." And he was certainly strong on inerrancy. Yet he also wrote major commentaries on Isaiah and Daniel, as well as a devotional commentary on Ps 139. 

Murray represents "Early Westminster." Yet his systematic theology was an exercise in exegetical theology. 

Conversely, O. Palmer Robertson represents "MIddle Westminster." The "salutary" period. He taught there during the 70s. Yet he's a critic of Dillard/Longman. So Fantuzzo's very schematic version of Westminster history suffers from too many serious anachronisms. 

I will address the "alien DNA" meme in a moment. 

But this also tells us something about why Westminster is changing in the direction it is hermeneutically. Bruce, Peter and Greg and others (notice that this celebration is being co-sponsored by others from Dallas) are all part of a group that were associated with Dallas seminary forty or so years ago (Dave Garner also has a DTS background).Their spiritual leader was S. Lewis Johnson of Believers Chapel. This group departed from their DTS background by rejecting dispensationalism, but they maintained a more literalist understanding of interpretation which includes a commitment to meaning found in the conscious intention of the human author.Without question, this theology stands behind their rejection of Christotelic and affirmation of something that they call a Christomorphic reading of the New Testament use of the Old Testament. 
https://www.facebook.com/tremper.longman/posts/830513933634569

Could it be, as some of us who support Dr. Green have recently surmised, that the dispensational background of some of the key players at WTS is significant here? Of course, I’m not at all saying that Professors Beale, Lillback, and Garner (all of whom have degrees from Dallas Theological Seminary) are dispensationalists. Far from it. But with dispensational literalism comes a rather narrow grammatical-historical hermeneutic, and with that a focus on the human author’s intent as decisive for interpretation that has been influential far beyond the confines of dispensationalism itself. Even when people leave dispensationalism proper they often retain that hermeneutical orientation.I sense that, in drawing our attention to the Believers’ Chapel connection, Dr. Longman is on to something quite important here.  I can easily imagine how people with that grammatical-historical bias who came to WTS with its conviction that Christ is pervasively present in the OT, and who were strongly opposed to the view of the NT’s use of the OT presented in Peter Enns’ Inspiration and Incarnation, would think it necessary to say that the OT writers had those NT Christological ideas in mind.  But these imported hermeneutical ideas simply don’t sit well with the Old Princeton heritage of WTS. 
https://theecclesialcalvinist.wordpress.com/2014/09/30/dallas-and-the-dutchman-trying-to-make-sense-of-the-christotelic-controversy/

Fantuzzo, Evans, and Longman are all recasting the issue in terms of "alien DNA." The rejection of the christotelic hermeneutic is driven by the "literalism" of their residual dispensational hermeneutic. And that "simply don’t sit well with the Old Princeton heritage of WTS."

Unfortunately, that allegation has to cut and tailor the facts to fit the theory:

i) Poythress, Duguid, and Trueman don't have a DTS background. I notice that Fantuzzo, Evans, and Longman simply ignore that conspicuous piece of counterevidence.

ii) But even on its own terms, dispensational DNA was part of the original gene pool of Westminster. Allan MacRae was one of the founding faculty members of WTS. Yet he was an ardent premillennialist. Indeed, he later became an editor of the The New Scofield Reference Bible. Here's a sample of his approach to prophecy:


Presumably, Machen was aware of MacRae's eschatological outlook. Yet he hired him anyway, and promoted him after Wilson's death. 

Beale's amil hermeneutic is far less dispensational than MacRae's premil hermeneutic. 

iii) Compare Dillard/Longman's OT introduction to E. J. Young's OT introduction, and ask yourself which one doesn't sit well with the Old Princeton heritage of WTS. 

iv) In addition, is Evans claiming that Old Princeton espoused a christotelic hermeneutic? The leading exegetes of Old Principle were Charles Hodge, J. A. Alexander, and Geerhardus Vos. Is it Evans' contention that they utilize a distinctively christotlic hermeneutic? Is so, I'd like to seem him present the documentation. 

Friday, October 03, 2014

Shallow atheism


Similarly, when Holy Writ ostensibly says, in all apparent seriousness, that it is OK to commit genocide, or that children should be mauled by wild animals if they mock a prophet, or that a son should be stoned to death for defying his parents, then it is rational (and prudent) to take such passages, at least prima facie, to say what they seem to assert. My claim, and, I think, Jeff's is that much of the Bible is prima facie atrocious, and, as such, should be taken as actually atrocious until and unless apologists can meet the heavy burden of proof of showing that the apparently atrocious is not. We then add that they way they seem to attempt to avoid the apparent conclusion is by intellectual and moral contortionism that only exacerbates the problem. 
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularoutpost/2014/09/26/books-like-this-should-be-a-warning-signal-to-inerrantists/

This is a typical specimen of Parsons' muddleheaded thinking. He fails to draw a rudimentary distinction between meaning and morality, exegesis and ethics. To classify these examples as "atrocious" (i.e. atrocities) isn't a descriptive interpretation but a moral evaluation. 

I don't have a problem with taking the passages as "saying what they seem to assert"–although Parsons' misrepresents some of the examples in question. The deeper problem is when Parsons' conflates his moral characterization of what they assert with what they assertion. What's his objective basis for value judgments in the first place? Quoting Thomas Paine's colorful rhetoric begs the question. 

Parsons is yet another example of an atheist who has never come to terms with atheism. He stops short of where it logically leads. He begins and ends with his gut-reaction. 

Are Biblical commands right and good?


And does scripture always command what is “right” and provide us with what is “good?” What exactly does that even mean? Especially in light of well known commands in the Bible that neither Jews nor Christians would normally consider right and good, such as stoning rebellious sons or adulteresses, beating slaves to death, and treating virgin women as property? - See more at: http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2014/09/29/christians-stop-defending-bible-scholar-thinks/#sthash.Sz8k7w52.dpuf

Here's a dandy illustration of how demagogical Peter Enns has become:

i) Since all his examples come from the OT, it's self-refuting for him to deny that Jews would normally consider these "commands" to be right and good. These "commands" hail from the paradigmatic book of Judaism. 

ii) The punishment for adultery was egalitarian. It didn't single out the woman. A man was subject to the very same penalty. So why does he say "adulteresses," but omit to mention adulterers? He knows that's deceptive. But he does that to foster the misimpression that the OT command was sexist or misogynistic.

iii) There's no command to beat slaves to death. There's no command to beat slaves, much less beat them to death. To the contrary, there's a penalty (quite possibly capital punishment) if a master beats his slave to death. So the passage is actually the polar opposite of Enn's insinuation.

You'd think from his statement that the passages authorizes masters to beat their slaves to death, when–in fact–it warns them of the legal repercussions (quite possibly the death penalty) if they kill their slaves. 

iv) He doesn't even bother to say what verse or verses he's alluding to when he alleges that the Bible "commands" ancient Israelites to treat "virgin women as property." 

This isn't about accuracy or exegesis. This is about planting a prejudicial view of the Bible in the minds of Biblically-illiterate readers of the interview. 

Medical missionaries


This article, by an atheist, skirts an obvious issue:


Why are medical missionaries doing what many secular physicians avoid? Well, if you were an atheist, would it be rational for you to risk your life to save the sick? Atheists keep telling us that this life is all there is, so we better make the most of it. 

I'm sure there are atheists who take big risks to save others. That's not the point. The point is whether it's rational to hazard the only life they will ever have for someone else's benefit. On a related note, I'm reminded of a post by Pruss:


And it's not just a question of endangering yourself. It's about lifestyle as well as life. Medical missionaries sacrifice a western lifestyle to work in wretched Third World countries. That reflects Christian priorities. 

Resident Evil


I've seen some pundits make fun of concerns about a possible ebola outbreak, as if that's wild-eyed alarmism. As I've said before, we need to distinguish between a low risk of a grave danger and a high risk of a minor danger. We take special precautions in some cases, not because it's likely to happen, but because, if it does happen, the consequences are catastrophic.

You can get lucky 99 times out of a 100, but whether or not something is worth the risk depends on whether you can afford to lose if your luck runs out. I'm reminded of a TV show about bear-hunters on Kodiak Island. As a rule, hunters with high-powered rifles have the advantage. However, hunting Kodiak bears (which are Grizzly bears on steroids) is hazardous. You have to get lucky every time you go into the woods. The bear only has to get lucky once. If the bear catches you off-guard, if you miss, if your gun freezes, you're a goner. 

When some people warn about the danger of an ebola outbreak, and that doesn't materialize, I think other people take that as vindication. "See, I told you so! The danger was hyped."

But that misses the point. I don't expect any particular case of ebola to trigger an epidemic. The issue is taking unnecessary risks with potentially catastrophic consequences.

When we talk about risk, there are two different risk factors to consider:

i) What's the risk that X will happen?

ii) What is the risk if X happens?

We need to counterbalance these two risk factors. (ii) may outweigh (i). As my grandfather used to say, "Don't gamble if you can't afford to lose."

I'm no expert on infectious disease, but to my knowledge, this is the problem: although it may be unlikely for some infectious disease to secure a foothold, if it does secure a foothold, then it can spread exponentially. If 1 infected person infects 5 people, if 5 infected people infect another 5 people each (25), if 25 people infect 5 people each...

Obviously, that's schematic. The real situation could be better or worse. A lot depends on the type of infectious disease, naturally. 

It can spiral out of control very rapidly, especially since there's no way of tracking their contacts. You don't know who's infected until it's too late. Their contacts are so random. Kinda like those zombie apocalypse flicks like 28 Weeks Later. 

That's why authorities must resort to mass quarantine. And that's radical surgery. It protects everyone outside the perimeter by essentially condemning everyone inside the perimeter to become infected. For quarantine forces the hitherto uninfected populace into contact with the carriers. If you weren't a zombie before, you're bound to be bitten if you're in lockdown with a bunch of zombies, viz. Resident Evil

Now, authorities may try to set up a quarantine within a quarantine, but I assume their ability to discriminate depends on the scale and rapidity of the outbreak, the location, and their resources on the ground. 

Keep in mind, too, that official statements often downplay the real risk to dampen panic. 

My point is not confined to ebola. The current regime is very cavalier about exposing the general public to potential contagion:



The Medieval Biblical Canon Revisited

Protestants are frequently treated to the unworthy accusation that their “interpretive paradigm” (“IP”) produces “merely human opinion” whereas the Roman Catholic “IP” actually provides [the mere possibility] of providing a hard, clean line between “mere human opinion” and “divine revelation”.

For example:

the Protestant has no way, other than fallible arguments, to secure his account of what belongs in the canon, which account, in the case of the OT, runs counter to what the older traditions of Catholicism and Orthodoxy eventually concluded. Therefore, he has no way, other than the use of fallible arguments, to show how the canon should be identified. And if he doesn’t have more than that, then he has no way of making certain that the way he identifies the norma normans for the other secondary authorities is correct.

[For Roman Catholics] there is a principled as opposed to an ad hoc way to distinguish the formal, proximate object of faith from fallible human opinions about how to identify it in the sources. And that is the way in which the Catholic can distinguish the assent of faith from that of opinion.

Well, the Medievals, it seems, were in the same boat as the post-Tridentine Protestants, because the “infallible Church” with the “unbroken succession” during those centuries really hadn’t ruled authoritatively what the “infallible canon” was to be. In fact, the claim was, they didn’t need one.

So the “Catholics” of that day had the same problems that the Protestants had. As Richard Muller relates:

No honor among thieves


Critics of Westminster have made a big deal about how the board/administration (allegedly) mistreated Christ Fantuzzo and Doug Green. They insist that this isn't just an issue of hermeneutics, but ethics. How we treat people we disagree with. People come first. They accuse WTS of engaging in "political machinations" and the like. 

That's the rhetoric. In that regard, it's been revealing to see how the critics treat Bruce Waltke. Now, in general, you might think they'd view hin as a sympathetic figure. A fellow victim of the Reformed purges. He was pushed out of WTS, then pushed out of RTS, by the same faction that went after Enns, Green, and Fantuzzo. 

But it turns out that the critics have other priorities, and when crunch time comes, people are not the priority after all. It boils down to power politics.

You see, WTS is hosting a retirement party for Waltke. When the critics saw that, they saw an opening. They could accuse WTS of hypocrisy. Longman even has a full-blown conspiracy theory. He assures us that the retirement party is a decoy to throw people off the scent. 

However, for the critics to exploit this opportunity, they had to sacrifice Waltke. After all, since the party is in his honor, they can't attack the party without implicating Waltke. So Longman has indicated that Waltke is complicit in the diversionary tactic. He's an enabler of the wicked WTS regime.

The retirement party was just too tempting an opportunity for the critics to resist. So they treat Waltke like a pawn on their chessboard. To win, you must sometime sacrifice one of your own pieces to secure a positional or tactical advantage. And as the critics have now revealed, it's all about winning. Winning at any cost. 

To take advantage of this opening, they must do their best to discredit Waltke. It's striking to see how ruthless they are in pursuing their aims:


  • Pete Enns
    I hesitate to comment here, but for the record, BKW strongly and enthusiastically endorsed and backed I&I publicly and TO THE ADMINISTRATION when the book was released (6/05). He also spoke at my inauguration as full professor the following spring (3/06) and cited the book in his comments, and even at one point gently chiding WTS for not "taking the incarnation seriously enough" (i.e.,applying it to a doctrine of Scripture as I do in I&I). 
  • By June of that year he had made a 180 degree about face without offering an explanation to me, only calling me to insist his name be removed from all endorsements at Baker and counseling me to "recant" or he would take proper steps with the administration (I refused, obviously). To this day I can only speculate why he made this sudden change--though I understand the dynamic perfectly. The reason he has given me and others since has never succeeded in laying to rest my profound disappointment.
    Yesterday at 9:07am
    · Edited · 1

  • Tremper Longman
    Yes, Pete I have never understood it either though I have tried to get an explanation from him. It was a dramatic and unexplained shift.
    Yesterday at 11:05am

  • DebeDave Harris
    But maybe you could comment briefly on this, Dr. Enns?
  • "A theory that entails notions that holy Scripture contains flat out contradictions, ludicrous harmonization, earlier revelations that are misleading and/or less than truthful, and doctrines that are represented as based on historical fact, but in fact are based on fabricated history, in my judgment, is inconsistent with the doctrine that God inspired every word of holy Scripture."
  • -- B. Waltke
  • I'm not sure what you are alluding to when you say he called for you to "recant," but maybe you could hazard a guess? From my limited experience with Dr. Waltke, I gather he takes time to make up his mind about some things, but when he does, he is very firm.
    Yesterday at 11:07am

  • Tremper Longman
    I would say this that the point is that Bruce had made up his mind when he endorsed the book. I am assuming he did not do it mindlessly or without reading it or coming to a thoughtful conclusion. That is not Bruce's style. If that quote represents his mature reading of I and I he has unfortunately misunderstood it. He certainly misrepresents it.
    Yesterday at 11:13am
    · 1

  • Pete Enns
    I also responded in writing to Bruce's later views of the book.
    Yesterday at 11:56am

  • John Davis
    I would rather believe in Bruce Waltke's integrity that perhaps his initial public comments were based on a casual reading and confidence in a friend and colleague, whereas a careful reading led to his written comments.
    Yesterday at 12:10pm

  • Pete Enns
    I would have rather believed that, too.
    Yesterday at 12:35pm

Transparency for thee but not for me


Critics of WTS have lambasted the board/administration for lack of transparency in the Green/Fantuzzo affair. I'd simply point out that confidentiality cuts both ways. It can be used to shield the innocent or the guilty. It can be used to cover up institutional wrongdoing. Or it can be used to protect a student or employee who's been falsely accused. So there's nothing inherently suspect about confidentiality. If a student or employee is accused of wrongdoing, it's entirely appropriate to begin with a private, internal investigation. That spares his reputation in case he's exonerated. 

In addition, I can't help noticing that the critics have a rather–how shall we say?–one-sided notion of transparency:


To see posts on Chris's timeline, send him a friend request. 
https://www.facebook.com/chris.fantuzzo?fref=ts

Tremper Longman Randy, all I can say is that Bruce and I have been in contact. I cannot share the substance of that interchange. 
https://www.facebook.com/tremper.longman/posts/830513933634569

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Thursday, October 02, 2014

The Daring Heart of David Livingstone

http://jamesbradfordpate.blogspot.com/2014/10/book-write-up-daring-heart-of-david.html

Dan McCartney & Peter Enns


Some ardent defenders of christotelism complain that opponents are tarring christotelism with the broad brush of Peter Enns. However, I'd point out that Dan McCartney and Peter Enns coauthored an article on prophecy and hermeneutics:


That makes it difficult to drive a wedge between McCartney and Enns on prophecy and hermeneutics. At that juncture, they were joined at the hip. Have they now undergone separation surgery? 

"Keep gov't out of our bedrooms!"


Maybe I'm getting forgetful in my dotage, but I distinctly remember liberals denouncing historic anti-sodomy laws on that grounds that we should "keep gov't out of our bedrooms!" But I must be misremembering, for surely they can't be that blatantly self-contradictory–can they?

“Scripture interprets Scripture” through the centuries

In his work “Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith, Volume II (“An Historical Defense of the Reformation Principle of Sola Scriptura” Battle Ground, WA: Christian Resources ©2001), William Webster notes that there were a number of “General Principles of Patristic Interpretation” (pg 193). He notes:

While there was disagreement among the Church fathers over the practical application of the interpretation of Scripture, it is important to note that there was general agreement on a number of fundamental exegetical principles which we will examine in some detail.

He lists these principles as follows:

Rereading the OT


Christotelic interpreters (e.g. Doug Green, Dan McCartney, Tremper Longman) like to illustrate their hermeneutic in the following way:

Imagine reading the OT first, apart from the NT. What would it mean to you on a first reading? Then, after reading the NT, go back and reread the OT. What would it mean to you a second time, in light of your exposure to the NT?

Taken by itself, this is a fairly innocuous illustration. Indeed, this illustration is so generic that I doubt it singles out christotelism. Surely critics like Beale could easily co-opt that illustration. 

But now I'd like to make a different point. The illustration is deeply misleading. That's because it's so one-sided. For, if you think about it, we could turn this around.

Imagine if all you had was the NT. Suppose the OT was long-lost and forgotten. Just consider how bewildering the NT would be absent the OT. Commentaries would be written, rife with ingenious speculation about how to explain this baffling, incomplete story. You see, knowing the ending without knowing the beginning or the middle is just as confusing as the reverse. 

In fact, I expect many of us have switched on the TV, and seen a movie in progress. We started watching it about halfway through. As a result, there's a lot we don't follow. If we like what we saw, we may rent the movie to catch the beginning. To see what we missed. Just as what comes later may be crucial to understanding a story, what came before may be crucial to understanding a story. 

Suppose the OT was rediscovered. Imagine reading the NT first, apart from the OT. What would it mean to you on a first reading? Then, after reading the OT, go back and reread the NT. What would it mean to you a second time, in light of your exposure to the OT?

You see, there's a deceptive asymmetry to the christotelic illustration, for the two Testaments are mutually interpreting. The NT helps us understand the OT, yet the OT helps us understand the NT. 

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Pray For Gretchen Passantino Coburn

I just saw this on Ken Petty's Facebook account:

"Many of my friends may know of Gretchen Passantino-Coburn. Cindee Martin Morgan has posted a very urgent prayer request. Gretchen has suffered a major heart attack and is currently in a hospital, unconscious, and doctors are still assessing the extent of any possible damage to brain and possibly kidneys. Please pray for Gretchen. She is a very well known apologist for the Christian faith and she, with her late husband, Bob, were very active in assisting Dr Walter Martin establish the Christian Research Institute, now headed up by Hank Hanegraaff. She and Bob have deeply touched many of our lives, including mine, and we are very concerned for her and her husband, Pat. Thank you all very much in advance."

With the clouds of heaven

http://www.dennyburk.com/an-iconoclastic-approach-to-daniel-hint-he-really-does-predict-the-future-drjimhamilton/#more-28966

Walton on typology


I'm going to comment on this article because it's germane to the current controversy over Christotelism:


BTW, it's striking that this article was published in the Master's Seminary Journal. Surely Walton's dismissive approach to prophetic or apocalyptic symbolism is wildly at variance with dispensation hermeneutics. It's also ironic that this was published in the Master's Seminary Journal a year after he published his commentary on Genesis.  

By “objectivity” we do not refer to absolute objectivity that allows the interpreter to repress or subordinate culture and perspective totally. We only refer to the procedures that assume that the author is a competent communicator and capable of being understood. In recent terminology we might refer to author orientation (objective) or reader orientation (subjective) with a text orientation able to go in either direction.

i) This involves a false dichotomy. It's true that reader-response theory is radically subjective–where the text means whatever any given reader imputes to the text. For the reader's duty is to ascertain what the author meant, not substitute his own meaning for the author's. It's not the reader's prerogative to create meaning, but discern meaning.

ii) That, however, doesn't mean we can eliminate audiencial understanding. Authors normally write to be understood. Communication involves predicting how your words will be taken. An author writes with a particular kind of reader in mind. He has expectations for the reader. Authors try to write in terms comprehensible to the reader. 

That's why hermeneutics concerns itself with the implied reader. What the author meant is intertwined with what he meant it to mean to the implied reader. In the nature of the case, communication is a two-way street. 

Typology is closest to allegory and perhaps should be treated first. Typology is the identification of a relationship of correspondence between New and Old Testament events or people, based on a conviction that there is a pattern being worked out in the plan of God. Since this correlation is not identifiable until both type and antitype exist, typology is always a function of hindsight. One thing is never identified as a type of something to come. Only after the latter has come can the correspondence be proclaimed. As a result, one will never find confirmation of the typological value of the type in its initial context. This creates a real problem for hermeneutics which maintains that achieving the results of typology depends on an analysis of the context.

i) To begin with, the past/future relation isn't confined to typology. You have the same past/future relation in reference to prophecy.

ii) In addition, it concerns a spatial as well as temporal relation. What is the text about? The world outside the text. A nonfiction text as real-world referents. The text refers to things outside the text. 

Walton is treating Scripture as if it's a fictional, self-referential narrative. For that matter, even historical fiction has some real-world referents. It's only certain types of fantasy or science fiction (e.g. Perelandra) that have no objective, referential dimension. And even Perelandra is somewhat allegorical. 

Identifying the objective referent is something the reader must do whenever interpreting a nonfiction text. You don't stay inside the text. You ask yourself what it corresponds to. 

The Bible was never intended to be a self-contained text, uncontaminated by readers or referents. The reader has a duty to correlate textual descriptions with extratextual realities. 

How should the interpreter come to a conclusion that one thing is a type of another? Since typology involves the identification of a relationship, the interpreter must detect some similarity between the proposed type or antitype.

Once again, that process applies to any nonfiction text. 

The first observation we must make is a very significant one. The NT typologists did not get their typological correspondence from their exegetical analysis of the context of the OT. Hermeneutics is incapable of extracting a typological meaning from the OT context because hermeneutics operates objectively while the typological identification can only be made subjectively. 

That takes for granted his arbitrary disjunction. 

A second observation that needs to be made is that the NT authors never claim to have engaged in a hermeneutical process, nor do they claim that they can support their findings from the text; instead, they claim inspiration.

To the contrary, they often give supporting arguments. That's why they engage in prooftexting. And sometimes they explain how their prooftext supports their claim. 

Prophetic literature, especially of the apocalyptic variety, is replete with symbols. Here the problem is somewhat different from that which we just addressed. We do not have to deal with NT authors interpreting the meaning of symbols that occur in OT apocalyptic. Nevertheless, many interpreters of prophetic literature assume that it is their task and indeed, their mandate, to identify what each symbol in the text stands for. Again we must notice immediately that hermeneutics is of little use in this endeavor. If the text identifies what a symbol stands for (e.g., horns = kings) then no interpretation along those lines is called for. If the text does not identify what a symbol stands for, then hermeneutics provides no basis for arriving at a conclusion unless it can be demonstrated that the symbolic reference was transparent or self-evident in the culture or literature.

Does he apply his strictures to the interpretation of poetry, viz., Dante, Shakespeare, T. S. Elliot? 

The speculation that often characterizes interpretation of symbols has no place within the historical-grammatical method. Rather than assuming that interpretation requires us to identify the meaning of symbols we need to be content to focus our attention on the message of the text, itself identifiable by means of hermeneutical principles and guidelines. Some would find it unthinkable that God would include these symbols in His revelation if He did not wish us to interpret them. An alternative is to understand that the revelation God intended to convey is in the message of the prophecy rather than one found in the symbols. If the text does not reveal the meaning of the symbols, I would assume that the message can be understood without unearthing what the symbols stand for.

This disregards symbolic communication. Symbolism is, itself, communicative. Telling by showing. He drives a wedge between symbolism and the message, as if symbolism is not in itself a mode of messaging or signaling. 

One does not have to be an experienced exegete to notice that Hosea 11:1 in its context appears to have little connection to the use Matthew puts it to when he identifies Jesus as fulfilling it. 

It's an analogy. You have to wonder how he developed such a cramped understanding of communication theory. 

As I have written elsewhere,14 I believe that it is essential for us to see clearly the distinction between the message and the fulfillment. The message of the prophet was understood by the prophet and his audience and is accessible through the objective principles of historical-grammatical hermeneutics. Fulfillment is not the message, but is the working out of God’s plan in history. There are no hermeneutical principles within the grammatical-historical model that enable one to identify a fulfillment by reading and analyzing the prophecy. Like types, symbols and role models, fulfillment is often a matter of making a subjective association. As a result, we need not be concerned with adjusting our concept of Hosea’s message so that it can accommodate Matthew’s idea of fulfillment. Biblical authority is not jeopardized when the message and fulfillment are not the same. They are different issues and are arrived at through different means. One can gladly accept Jesus as the fulfillment of Hosea 11:1 without seeing any more in the message of Hosea than Hosea and his audience saw. Hosea is proclaiming a message, not revealing a fulfillment. Matthew is not interpreting the message, he is identifying fulfillment. 

God, the human author, or the prophet, intended the audience to make that association. The association isn't extraneous to prophecy or typology. Rather, that's the aim of prophecy and typology. That's intrinsic rather than extrinsic to the function of prophecy and typology. 

Hosea,however,could not anticipate how, when, or in what ways his words would find fulfillment in the outworking of God’s plan. His message did not include any information about fulfillment. That was to be unveiled in later revelation.

True, but that doesn't prove his point. 

Planting evidence


Tremper Longman and William B. Evans are contending that opponents of Christotelism (e.g. Greg Beale) are working with a Dispensational hermeneutic. Although there's nothing wrong with raising that issue, I'd simply point out, at the risk of stating the obvious, that their objection cuts both ways. How did the secularists at Harvard and Yale Divinity schools impact Longman, Green, and Enns? 

Now I'd like to turn to an article by McCartney:


I want to suggest a third answer: The New Testament writers were not doing grammatical-historical exegesis nor did they consistently interpret according to original historical contextual meanings, but we should follow their exegetical lead anyway.

This imposes a false dichotomy on McCartney's opponents, as if we must choose between apostolic exegesis and grammatico-historical exegesis. But people like me reject the way he frames the issue in the first place.

So far as I can tell on the basis of the New Testament texts themselves, when the apostles used the Old Testament they never asked questions like “what did this text mean in its original historical context of several hundred years ago.” 

i) One problem with that claim is that it fails to take into account what the apostles or NT writers are trying to do on any given occasion. Much of the time, what we get in the NT is analogous to sermons rather than commentaries. We get their conclusions rather than the process by which they arrived at their conclusions. To take a comparison, a studious pastor will do serious sermon prep. But in preaching, he may simply give his interpretation, rather than sifting through the alternatives–even though he had to do that himself. 

It depends on the audience. It depends on the occasion. What are you trying to accomplish?

ii) There are, however, polemical situations where an apostle or NT writer will take the time to argue for his position. To present his process of reasoning. He will do that to show why his opponents are mistaken. When that happens, we find apostles/NT writers doing the very thing McCartney denies they do. Carson gives some illustrations:

But when Paul as a Christian and an apostle reads the same texts, he insists on preserving the significance of the historical sequence. Thus in Galatians 3, Abraham was justified by faith before the giving of the law, and the promise to him and to his seed similarly came before the giving of the law. That means that the law given by Moses has been relativized; one must now think afresh exactly why it was given, "added" to the promise. Again, in Romans 4 Paul analyzes the relation between faith and circumcision on the basis of which came first: it is the historical sequence that is determinative for his argument. Nor is this approach exclusively Pauline. In Hebrews, for instance, the validity of Auctor's argument in chap 7 turns on historical sequence. If Psalm 110, written after the establishment of the Levitical priesthood at Sinai, promises a priesthood that is not tied to the tribe of Levi but to the tribe of Judah, and is thus bringing together royal and priestly prerogatives in one person, then the Levitical priesthood has been declared obsolete in principle. Moreover, if this new king-priest is modelled on ancient Melchizedek, himself a priest-king, there is also an anticipation of this arrangement as far back as Genesis 14. In other words, where one pays attention to links that depend on historical sequencing, one has laid the groundwork for careful typology. The argument in Hebrews 3:7-4:13 similarly depends on reading the Old Testament texts in their historical sequence: the fact that Psalm 95, written after the people have entered the Promised Land, is still calling the covenant people to enter into God's rest, demonstrates that entry into the land was not itself a final delivery of the promise to give them rest. Moreover, the reference to "God's rest" triggers reflection on how God rested as far back as Genesis 1-2--and thus another typological line is set up, filled in with a variety of pieces along the historical trajectory. Ultimately, this insistence on reading the Old Testament historically can be traced back to Jesus himself. 
- See more at: http://www.reformation21.org/shelf-life/three-books-on-the-bible-a-critical-review.php#sthash.WW2stQJ4.dpuf

Back to McCartney:

The few times they come close to doing so, they sometimes reject the original historical context as not particularly relevant. (e.g. 1 Cor 9:9, “Is God concerned with oxen? Does it not speak entirely for our benefit?”)

I'm struck by how many people trip over this verse. I don't think that's Paul's interpretation of the verse, but Paul's inference from the verse. It's not as if Paul is denying that the verse refers to oxen. I don't think he's saying the verse is not about oxen–that it's really about people. 

It's not a question of what the verse means, but what it implies. (Of course, the implication is grounded in the meaning.) He's drawing an analogy. Hounting an a fortiori (a minore ad maius) argument. Paul is reasoning from the lesser case of animals to the greater case of humans. If God even cares for animals, how much more for humans. If God makes provision for animals, he will surely make provision for Christians or ministers of the Gospel. 

Evidently, McCartney doesn't see it that way, but he gives us no reason to agree with him. 

Typology is not grammatical-historical...Typological interpretation sees an ancient historical/textual item as a symbol for a recent and more significant historical item...Both typological and allegorical are taking the historical meaning of a text as symbolizing something else.

How is that contrary to grammatico-historical exegesis? Take poetry. Take metaphors, where one thing symbolizes something else. Is poetry unsuitable to the grammatico-historical method? We when interpret Dante, do we not take his medieval Italian Catholicism into account? 

Typology is a theological construction based on a conviction that two events in history or an event in history and a (separate) event in a text are somehow actually related (not just comparable or similar, nor just literarily related) in that the meaning of the former event (or the written record of such) only becomes fully manifest in the later event. Such a construction cannot be derived purely from the events themselves. Historical meaning indeed provides a tethering point for typology, but what drives typology is the fulfilment in Christ, not the historical meaning itself.

That principle isn't confined to typology. Prophecy has an analogous principle. Both prophecy and typology involve a relation between past and future. Both have prospective and retrospective vantage-points. 

Grammatical-historical exegesis is only a very limited method, which doesn’t always get us where we need to be, because grammatical-historical interpretation is strictly interested only in what may be derived from original historical human meaning.

One problem with this objection is the equivocation. What does he mean by the "original historical context"? Does he mean within the lifetime of the writer/speaker and his immediate audience?

If so, that fails to make allowance for genre. Take prophecy. Prophecy is inherently future-oriented. The fulfillment may skip over the first-generation audience. The fulfillment may take place long after the prophet's death. In the case of long-range prophecy, the original historical setting isn't necessarily the primary interpretive context. By the time the prophecy is fulfilled, the situation may change. It's not as if time stands still from the proclamation to the realization. The historical conditions in which the oracle comes to pass may be quite different from the historical conditions in which it was given. It's almost inevitable that the passage of time with alter the circumstances–although the future situation may sometimes be analogous. 

Typology is similar. If prophecy employs predictive words, typology employs predictive events. Historical precedent. Like prophecy, typology is inherently future-oriented. Although the original historical context marks the starting point, that was never the intended endpoint. 

Grammatical-historical method does not, and by its very nature cannot, deal with the special hermeneutical considerations of a divine text. A text written by several individuals from different cultures over the course of several centuries, which is at the same time authored by One who knows where history is going before it gets there, is inherently unique. Grammatical-historical interpretation proceeds on the assumption of the similarity of its text to other texts. The Bible is indeed a text like other texts, but it is also in certain ways sui generis, and thus requires something more.

i) This objection suffers from an obvious oversight: he's discussing how NT texts interpret OT texts. But even if you grant his assertion that "grammatical-historical interpretation proceeds on the assumption of the similarity of its text to other texts," NT texts are, in fact, similar to OT texts inasmuch as both sets of texts are "divine texts." Therefore, by his own logic, the grammatico-historical method is applicable to Scripture. 

ii) Having said that, he fails to explain, much less defend, his contention that "grammatical-historical interpretation proceeds on the assumption of the similarity of its text to other texts." But that's not self-explanatory. 

“Pure” grammatical-historical method in Old Testament study does not give us the gospel. 

I suppose that depends on how we define our terms. Obviously, the Mosaic covenant is not the new covenant. There are discontinuities as well as continuities. However, salvation in OT times involves faith in the one true God. Contrition for sins. A sacrificial system. And divine forgiveness. That may not be the "gospel" in the full, progressive revelatory sense of the word, but it's a difference of degree rather than kind. 

But then we are, after the fact, able to see how the Old Testament is as a whole, moving toward the gospel. A second reading, a re-reading of the Old Testament from the standpoint of knowing its eventuation in Christ, manifests what God was doing all along.

The question at issue is whether the "second reading" finds something in the OT that isn't really there. Is it like a crooked detective who plants evidence, then "discovers" the evidence he added after the crime. 

Unity Before The Reformation

Then the Protestants came along and ruined it.

"But when the attitude of our foes against us was changed from one of long standing and bitter strife to one of open warfare, then, as is well known, the war was split up in more ways than I can tell into many subdivisions, so that all men were stirred to a state of inveterate hatred alike by common party spirit and individual suspicion. But what storm at sea was ever so fierce and wild as this tempest of the Churches? In it every landmark of the Fathers has been moved; every foundation, every bulwark of opinion has been shaken: everything buoyed up on the unsound is dashed about and shaken down. We attack one another. We are overthrown by one another. If our enemy is not the first to strike us, we are wounded by the comrade at our side. If a foeman is stricken and falls, his fellow soldier tramples him down. There is at least this bond of union between us that we hate our common foes, but no sooner have the enemy gone by than we find enemies in one another. And who could make a complete list of all the wrecks? Some have gone to the bottom on the attack of the enemy, some through the unsuspected treachery of their allies, some from the blundering of their own officers. We see, as it were, whole churches, crews and all, dashed and shattered upon the sunken reefs of disingenuous heresy, while others of the enemies of the Spirit of Salvation have seized the helm and made shipwreck of the faith. And then the disturbances wrought by the princes of the world have caused the downfall of the people with a violence unmatched by that of hurricane or whirlwind. The luminaries of the world, which God set to give light to the souls of the people, have been driven from their homes, and a darkness verily gloomy and disheartening has settled on the Churches. The terror of universal ruin is already imminent, and yet their mutual rivalry is so unbounded as to blunt all sense of danger. Individual hatred is of more importance than the general and common warfare, for men by whom the immediate gratification of ambition is esteemed more highly than the rewards that await us in a time to come, prefer the glory of getting the better of their opponents to securing the common welfare of mankind. So all men alike, each as best he can, lift the hand of murder against one another. Harsh rises the cry of the combatants encountering one another in dispute; already all the Church is almost full of the inarticulate screams, the unintelligible noises, rising from the ceaseless agitations that divert the right rule of the doctrine of true religion, now in the direction of excess, now in that of defect. On the one hand are they who confound the Persons and are carried away into Judaism; on the other hand are they that, through the opposition of the natures, pass into heathenism. Between these opposite parties inspired Scripture is powerless to mediate; the traditions of the apostles cannot suggest terms of arbitration. Plain speaking is fatal to friendship, and disagreement in opinion all the ground that is wanted for a quarrel. No oaths of confederacy are so efficacious in keeping men true to sedition as their likeness in error. Every one is a theologue though he have his soul branded with more spots than can be counted. The result is that innovators find a plentiful supply of men ripe for faction, while self-appointed scions of the house of place-hunters reject the government of the Holy Spirit and divide the chief dignities of the Churches. The institutions of the Gospel have now everywhere been thrown into confusion by want of discipline; there is an indescribable pushing for the chief places while every self-advertiser tries to force himself into high office. The result of this lust for ordering is that our people are in a state of wild confusion for lack of being ordered; the exhortations of those in authority are rendered wholly purposeless and void, because there is not a man but, out of his ignorant impudence, thinks that it is just as much his duty to give orders to other people, as it is to obey any one else. So, since no human voice is strong enough to be heard in such a disturbance, I reckon silence more profitable than speech, for if there is any truth in the words of the Preacher, 'The words of wise men are heard in quiet,' in the present condition of things any discussion of them must be anything but becoming. I am moreover restrained by the Prophet’s saying, 'Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time, for it is an evil time,' a time when some trip up their neighbours’ heels, some stamp on a man when he is down, and others clap their hands with joy, but there is not one to feel for the fallen and hold out a helping hand, although according to the ancient law he is not uncondemned, who passes by even his enemy’s beast of burden fallen under his load. This is not the state of things now. Why not? The love of many has waxed cold; brotherly concord is destroyed, the very name of unity is ignored, brotherly admonitions are heard no more, nowhere is there Christian pity, nowhere falls the tear of sympathy. Now there is no one to receive 'the weak in faith,' but mutual hatred has blazed so high among fellow clansmen that they are more delighted at a neighbour’s fall than at their own success. Just as in a plague, men of the most regular lives suffer from the same sickness as the rest, because they catch the disease by communication with the infected, so nowadays by the evil rivalry which possesses our souls we are carried away to an emulation in wickedness, and are all of us each as bad as the others. Hence merciless and sour sit the judges of the erring; unfeeling and hostile are the critics of the well disposed. And to such a depth is this evil rooted among us that we have become more brutish than the brutes; they do at least herd with their fellows, but our most savage warfare is with our own people." (Basil of Caesarea, On The Holy Spirit, 30:77-8)