The MB Herald vs. the book of Genesis – round 4

So far, I’ve looked at articles byJ Janzen, Brian Cooper, and Robert J. V. Hiebert’s .  I’ve interacting with their positions regarding the debate about the origin of the universe and Genesis 1 & 2, and we’ve had more than a little spirited interaction.  Next up, we’re looking at the short article by Brian Gobbett entitled Is the rock of ages compatible with the age of the rocks? Religion and science in historical perspective.

As per usual, I’ll provide Gobbett’s arguments and citations in regular font and my interactions in italics.

Gobbett opens his article with a passing reference to the “New Atheists”, which he calls “a small group of Anglo-American intellectuals who argue that all forms of religious sentiment are destructive and that non-belief forms the only acceptable paradigm for building a rational and productive society.”  He comments on how several New Atheists are scientists and “often present science as evidence to confirm, as Richard Dawkins states in The God Delusion, there is ‘almost certainly no God’.”

  • Okay.  Agreed so far…

Gobbet comments on how Dawkins, among many other New Atheists, talk about science and religion with the metaphor of warfare.  He writes “this model for understanding the relationship between religion and science places these two domains in irreconcilable conflict with one another.”

  • Well, I don’t recognize the dichotomy of “science vs. religion” and the New Atheists don’t really use that category either.  The New Atheists see the conflict between naturalism and supernaturalism, naturalism being represented by Darwinian Evolution and supernaturalism is being represented by Evangelical Christianity; it’s a conflict between empirical naturalism and biblical supernaturalism to all of them (Harris, Hitchens, Dennett, Dawkins, Barker, Avalos, Stegner, etc.).  None of them spend time attacking Hinduism, and yet there’s over a billion Hindus in the world.  Sam Harris, one of the “four horsemen, is a practicing Buddhist (and that covers another half a billion people in the world)!  The conflict is not between science and religion (those terms are such amorphous blobs), and never has been and Gobbett should know better.

Gobbett then suggest that Dawkins is hoping to convince his readers that it’s a “science vs. religion” debate, so that any agnostic scientists or theistic evolutionists “will be driven irrevocably toward non-belief”.

  • I don’t agree with Dawkins on much, but I’d agree with him that belief in naturalistic evolution will erode and destroy belief in the truthfulness of scripture, since that’s the inescapable result when methodological naturalism is applied to the question of origins.

Gobbett presents the “warfare” model as a “century-old position first propagated by scientist and intellectual polymath John William Draper and Cornell University founder Andrew Dickson White.”

  • Well, it may be that these fellows were the first people to articulate the idea, but naturalism and supernaturalism have been at odds for far longer than a century…no wait.  It’s not quite naturalism and supernaturalism.  The battle has always been between false religion and biblical Judaism/Christianity.  The Jews were in a constant ideological battle with the false religion of the Amorites, Hittites, Philistines, etc.  Jesus was in a constant ideological battle with the false religion of the Romans and Jews.  Medieval Christians were in a constant ideological battle with the false religion of the Roman Catholic Church.  Modern Christians are in a constant ideological battle with the false religion of Western Culture, which includes but is not limited to, naturalistic evolution.

Gobbett continues on, writing that “the weight of historical evidence stands against the warfare model”.  He comments that the medieval church did not believe that the earth was flat, and Galileo was not imprisoned for his belief in heliocentrism.  He notes how Isaac Newton was both a dedicated Christian and empirical scientist, but then sneakily shifts gears and writes how “most Christian geologists accepted ancient dates for the age of the earth from the 19th century onward; and many evangelical theologians and scientists incorporated evolutionary theory into their disciplines following the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species in 1859.”

  • Just over a century ago, there were thousands of practicing phrenologists in North America and that entire medical field is regarded as worse than shamanism these days.  Around 500 years ago, people were arguing for Sola Scriptura, and that idea is as equally debated today as it was 500 years ago.  Gobbett, as a historian, must know that the historic existence or acceptance of any idea is the worst indication of its truthfulness.  Truth is judged by God, and God is articulately revealed by scripture alone.

Trying to build his case, Gobbett presents Francis Collins and Owen Gingerich as examples of contemporary “scientists who promote concord between their faith and their academic disciplines.”  He quotes Gingerich (the Anabaptist of the two) saying “I also believe that the book of Nature, in all its astonishing detail – the blade of grass, the missing mass five, or the incredible intricacy of DNA – suggest a God of purpose and a God of design.  And I think that my belief makes me no less a scientist.”

  • The “two books” idea (the book of God’s word and the book of God’s world) is one of those ideas that sounds clever because it rhymes, but completely falls apart when you actually try to understand it.   God did not write two books, unless we completely abandon the meaning of “write” and “book” and remove any connection between words and reality.  Does nature have a clear message to all?  Is that message propositional?  Books are propositional and have clarity.  Nature is neither, because images aren’t clearly propositional.  That’s why the constitution of the United States wasn’t a painting.  Scripture even talks about the lack of clarity in nature in Romans 1, and scripture says that nature only tells us that God is eternal and powerful (i.e. whoever made this is older than this and more powerful that this).

Still building, Gobbett writes “”While we need not agree with everything Collins and Gingerich advocate, of course, both have produced popular works that reveal their stature as leading scientists and as testimonies to their Christian faith”.

  • Why need we not agree with them?  Because they don’t consider Adam and Even to actually be people in history?  Because they don’t believe that sin is actually moral rebellion against God’s law?  Because they have a worldview that is utterly inconsistent, apparently accepting historical miracles everywhere in scripture except in Genesis 1 & 2? Because they question whether or not the gospels are accurate portrayals of Jesus of Nazareth? How about I ignore Collins and Gingerich when they’re writing outside their fields of training?  Why is it that when it comes to the questions of origins, an astonishing majority of the ink being spilled is by people writing outside of their field of expertise?

Gobbett makes two observations from this all:

1. The conflict metaphor has been slain, though Dawkins and some Christian authors still use it.

  • Gobbett cannot hold back here, but takes a rather telling stab.  The “Christian author” he has in mind is Henry Morris.  He refers to Morris’ book The Long War Against God as a “deeply flawed work of historical scholarship”.  I’m not a super fan of Morris myself, but judging all of creation science on the basis of Morris is like the medium of television by MTV; it’s not all there is, and it’s definitely not the best there is.  There are many other writers in the creation circles who are better scholars (Kurt Wise or Delvin Lee Ratzsch) and exegetes (William Barrick or Douglas F. Kelly) than Morris.

2. The rise of science in Canada and America has not led to an abandonment of Christianity. Gobbett attempts to prove his point by citing two surveys that are separated by around a century.  The first survey discovered that 42% of the scientists in North America believe in “a God to whom one may pray in expectation of receiving an answer”.  The second survey discovered that almost 40% of the scientists in North America believed in a personal god.

  • I honestly laughed out loud when I read this.  The question on that survey was so general it was utterly useless.  Even people who refer to their religion as “Jedi” pray, and belief in a personal god is just vague theism.  As Christians, it should be important to us whether or not people pray to Donald Duck or the God of the Bible.  Evolution hasn’t impacted the various forms of religion, both true and false, in western society? That’s utterly irrelevant to the question of whether or Darwinian Evolution leads people away from Biblical Christianity.

Gobbett closes his article saying “If history has anything to teach us, we need to approach this subject matter with generous portions of humility, intellectual integrity, and respect for the scientific disciplines involved.”

  • Okay.  Humility and integrity are good, as is respect.  But it seems that Gobbett is getting at humility and integrity and respect in relation to scientists who disagree with the scriptures.  Why is Gobbett, as a historian, not calling empirical scientists to humility, integrity and respect for the science of history since almost all of them are stepping from science labs into Gobbett’s field of expertise?  Why does Gobbett not think that empirical scientists should have respect for the scripture as a historic document, written by the only eyewitness of the events, who just happens to be absolutely trustworthy? I’d say that any intellectual that doesn’t consider divine testimony that directly addresses the issues in question doesn’t have a whole lot of humility or integrity to speak of.

So, Gobbett’s basic case is that science and religion aren’t at war, and most people in history agree that they’re not locked in combat, but he makes a point that the new atheists still utilize the warfare model (and subtly suggests a parallel between them and *others* who use the model…i.e. people who believe in biblical creationism).  Gobbett is a great historian, but he’s not a theologian or a bible exegete.  Gobbett can only build his case from academic liberals who reject an orthodox view of scripture outright (among other things), and though we should ignore and reject some of the other things they say, we should listen to them when it comes to the question of origins.  Finally, Gobbett (in a typical fashion it seems) rightly assumes the moral neutrality of the tools (i.e. the scientific method), but he applies that neutrality to those who use the tools as well (i.e. scientists), as if being unregenerate doesn’t affect how one thinks about questions like “is the Bible true?”  Gobbett, like the previous 3 writers, seems to use the term “scientist” as a synonym for “rationally and morally neutral/objective”.  If Gobbett has a biblical understanding regarding the noetic effects of sin, he sure hasn’t applied that understanding to the question of origins. Once again the anvil of scripture crushes the graham cracker of doubt.

Until Next Time,

Lyndon “The Armchair Anvil Dropper” Unger

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44 thoughts on “The MB Herald vs. the book of Genesis – round 4

  1. If there are two books on creation – one as creation itself and one as the Word, then I have to think that I also did my wedding vows in the manner of how I dressed in my tuxedo at my wedding as well as verbally. The apologetics of a tie versus a cummerbund….vol I.

  2. “Does nature have a clear message to all? Is that message propositional? Books are propositional and have clarity. Nature is neither, because images aren’t clearly propositional.”

    This is naive hermeneutics, pure and simple. It’s as if you are suggesting there is only one legitimate way to communicate – rational propositions. By this assessment, most of the Bible doesn’t cut it since huge sections are not written in language of clear, linear propositions but in the language of narrative (a language that is certainly more ambiguous than you seem to think). I remember a wise mentor once telling me that Christians are very good at turning the Bible into the kind of book they WISH it was rather than reading it as the kind of book it actually is.

    Also, you cite Romans 1 as evidence of the ambiguity of nature while conveniently omitting the fact that Paul seems to think that God has spoken plainly (1:19) and can be seen clearly through the created world (1:20).

    • Okay guest. I appreciate the passion, but let’s get riled up about things I actually wrote, shall we?

      I said nothing about nature not communicating.

      I said nothing about rational proposition being the only legitimate means of communication.

      I had originally commented on how nature is not a book. It is that context that I made the statements that you quoted.

      Nature does not communicate with the same clarity and propositional nature as a book, hence nature is not a book.

  3. Obviously nature is not a “book,” because it doesn’t have two covers and paper. Most people that refer to the “two books” understand (I think) that they are using the word “book” metaphorically.

    My larger questions about your assumptions about what the Bible is and how it should be interpreted remain. If God was primarily interested in giving us “true propositions” I wonder why we didn’t get an encyclopedia. I wonder why we got a book like the Bible with so many strange stories on the side. Are these stories just “containers” for the propositions?

    • So the scripture is a “book” in the sense of being a book, and nature’s a “book” in the sense of what exactly?

      Guest, I’m not sure what “strange stories on the side” you’re talking about. Sounds like we have some misunderstandings on issues of genre. Can you give me a specific example so I can understand what you do and do not mean?

  4. In analysing this post, and your entire “investigation” into the recent Herald articles on creation, you use “proposition” language quite a lot. In this post you suggest that nature can’t communicate clearly because it doesn’t speak in propositions. You say:

    “Does nature have a clear message to all? Is that message propositional? Books are propositional and have clarity. Nature is neither, because images aren’t clearly propositional.”

    My point is simply that books are not univocal – they are not all propositional and they don’t all have the same kind of clarity. When it comes to the Bible, I wouldn’t even say that the majority of it is propositional. And certainly Genesis 1 is not written in the language of clear propositions, it’s written in the form of a poetic narrative. So I’m glad you admit the possibility of “genre confusion” above because, from where I sit, there’s a lot of it in your analysis.

    • Thanks for your thoughts Guest.

      All lanaguage is propositional; it’s an inherent quality of language. It’s not all delivered in an identical form, but all language is propositional. I think you’re associating the idea of being “propositional” with a specific genre (like epistolary literature).

      The communication of propositions (i.e. any specific meaning whatsoever) is an inherent quality of language. That’s what makes the difference between “I feel pain”, or even “ouch/argh!”, and the whistling of the wind in the trees.

      Books don’t all have the same kind of clarity? I agree. I’m not saying that the Bible is all identically straightforward to understand (i.e. the book of revelation is more difficult to interpret than the book of James), but I definitely would suggest that the Bible still has a clarity that is inescapable from the usage of language (and the perspecuity of scripture).

      Speaking of genre confusion, Genesis 1 is not written in “poetic narrative”. There’s no such genre and whoever told you that was either making things up or confused about biblical genres themselves.

    • Uh, let’s see. The one I’ve learned from evangelical Christians?

      Guys like Robert Chisolm, Walter Kaiser, Michael Grisanti, William Barrick, Roy Zuck, Stanley Toussaint, Brent Sandy, Ronald Giese, Robert Thomas, Mark Futato, Tremper Longman, Don Carson, Moises Silva, Albert Mohler, John Feinberg, Trevor Craigen, James Rosscup, etc.

      I can throw in some fellows with rabbinnic training in the mix too like Don Meechin, Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Charles Lee Fienberg, Michael Brown, etc.

      There’s not a whole lot of debate about the genre of Genesis among people that believe, even remotely, that the Bible is actually true. Even guys on the fringe of evangelicalism, like Bruce Waltke and the fellas at BioLogos, don’t have questions there. You need to go from ETS to SBL to start having serious genre disputations…but if you know what those acronyms stand for, you know that SBL means “subverting biblical literature” these days.

      Waw consecutive construction + complete and utter lack of colic parallelism = not poetry.

      Not a lot of question there.

      So, which Hebrew grammar or exegetical handbook even has “poetic narrative” listed as an actual genre (with textual examples outside of Genesis 1)?

  5. I would add Wheaton scholar John Walton to the mix (one of those “Biologos fellas” who also considers himself a conservative evangelical). His Genesis commentary and his more recent work “The Lost World of Genesis One” situate the text in its Ancient Near Eastern context (I gather from other posts that you’re suspicious of this move but many see it as good biblical theology) and point to ways that it both mirrors and departs from other primeval histories.

    My use of the term “poetic narrative” was an effort to indicate that Gen 1 is narrative but not exactly the same kind of narrative as other biblical writings. Likewise there are poetic (or liturgical) features of this text. As you rightly suggest, this does not make it a poem. But f it’s not a poem, neither is it a straightforward, bare bones historical account (if such a thing were possible) because no one is observing God creating and recording the details. Of course God was there and for you there is a very straight line between God’s account of things and Genesis 1. For some of us the line takes a few more cultural/historical detours.

    I have no doubt that you’ll disagree with me here and this might be the point at which further conversation becomes fruitless.

    • I have not yet read Walton’s “Lost World of Genesis One” so I reserve comment.

      If you don’t believe in the inspiration of scripture, then you’re right. Conversation about the nature of scripture is pointless.

      I’m curious as to how you know what cultural/historical detours the account of Genesis took in its development. All we have is the finished text. Where do you get any supporting data for this hypothesis?

    • This is exactly why real conversation on this blog tends to be difficult – the fact that I have a different view of Genesis than you does not mean that I have abandoned biblical inspiration. For the record, I do believe that the Bible is inspired. I’m sure I don’t mean the same thing by that term as you do but this is exactly the kind of “condescension” that an earlier commenter in this series noticed regarding how you tend to argue.

      Basically you seem to think that you have THE correct view of the Bible (including how to interpret it) and if anyone disagrees with you then their view must be corrupted by sin or they must not believe in the inspiration of Scripture. It’s a very convenient (and highly circular) way to argue (also noted by an earlier commenter, one that you have ignored, at least in this public forum).

      I don’t pretend to know all of the cultural/historical factors that went into the writing of Genesis. But the problem is not solved by perspectives like yours that seem to claim that there is NO cultural baggage whatsoever and that Genesis 1 is basically God’s verbatim account of how it all happened. For many of us there are just too many similarities between Genesis and other primeval histories to ignore. There are also curious aspects of the cosmology in Genesis 1 (e.g. the firmament holding back the waters above) that seem to assume ancient views that we would not affirm today. I would encourage you to read Walton, he is very helpful and conscientious in all of these details.

      People who ask questions like these are not out to undermine the Bible. I’ve talked with enough people about this to know that there are sincere, intelligent, Bible-believing, God-fearing Christians who cannot reconcile either consistent biblical interpretation or modern science with what you’re arguing here. Some of these people are the ones you are “investigating” in this series. While you might see these articles as evidence of liberal rot within the MB church, there are many others who welcome the possibility of engaging these issues with a bit more freedom.

      • Ah. And there we go again.

        “if anyone disagrees with you then their view must be corrupted by sin or they must not believe in the inspiration of Scripture”

        So you DO believe in inspiration, but just not like I do. I get it. It’s my opinion versus your opinion. So you get to decide what theological terminology means?

        God defines his terms, not you or me.

        So what does GOD say about inspiration in the book he wrote? Let’s get away from my opinion and let’s get to God’s opinion. What does the Bible teach about it’s own inspired nature?

        I’m ignoring the circular reasoning comment right now, as well as the “there are good people who ask questions” comment. We have a theological divide that needs some foundational connection before we can touch that stuff.

        Let’s dig through the nature of the scriptures. You tell me how the Bible defines and explains inspiration and I’ll change my theology to conform to the scripture.

  6. The very fact that you can so casually say “God defines his terms, not you or me” as if the meaning of terms in an ancient text are completely obvious to any literate person indicates that you are either unable or unwilling to admit that biblical interpretation is a very complex and very HUMAN business. And human beings are sinful, fallible creatures who are very prone to finding what they want to find in the Bible, especially when it lends THEIR voice more authority.

    Re: the nature of the Scriptures, it seems to me that you claim far more for the Bible than it claims for itself. For example, in an earlier comment you used a whole slew of adjectives in an effort to prop up your understanding of the Bible: perfect, inerrant, infallible, efficacious, perspicuous, divinely inspired etc. The irony of course, is that none of these words with the exception of “inspired” is used by the biblical writers (and even that word is not used with reference to the finalized canon).

    You can, of course, go through the Bible and conflate every occurrence of “God’s Word” or “the Word of God” with “the Bible as we have it” but that would be based on a theological choice that you have made, not a conclusion that leaps off the pages of Scripture itself. No biblical writer had the finalized canon in mind as they wrote. For you, it seems, there is only one author of the Bible – God himself. Again, that would be a theological decision YOU have made as a fallible human interpreter of Scripture (just like the rest of us).

    I hope this shows that I actually have reasons for what I believe and that I do not advocate the shallow “opinionism” that you accuse me of. Of course my opinions are part of the picture. This is probably at the heart of our many differences. You seem to think you can abstract yourself from the business of biblical interpretation and get at “what God unambiguously thinks” about any issue. I’m not nearly so confident.

    • “biblical interpretation is a very complex and very HUMAN business”

      Sure, there’s a human component, and everyone recognizes the same rules of grammar and syntactical elements. Interestingly, that’s never where the real debates rise. The debates always rise when the question “what does this mean” comes up.

      What does the Bible say about understanding it?

      One thing it says is that “the natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” – 1 Cor. 2:14.

      Just from this one text, we get the idea that truths of God are inaccessible to the one without the indwelling Spirit because the indwelling Spirit is necessary for accepting them.

      So is the interpretation of the Bible a very human business?

      No. It’s not.

      It’s not about sorting out every historical element, or every circle of context. You’ll keep doing that your entire life, just as I do. Not having all the details clarified doesn’t limit you from believing what you know. Sin is what limits you from believing what you know, and that usually manifests in unbelief or arrogantly picking and choosing which scriptures you’ll listen to.

      If you hear this as “I have the spirit and you don’t”, you’re not hearing me at all.

      If you hear this as “If you agree with me then you have the spirit”, you’re not hearing me at all.

      If you hear this as “I’m more Christian than you”, you’re not hearing me at all.

      Knowing every infinitesimal point of language, history, grammar and syntax doesn’t bring you any closer to believing the Bible. Knowing those things are factors to a deeper understanding of the text, but they’re not the crucial element to belief.

      Biblical interpretation is VERY spiritual business, and it’s not terribly complex. Sinful men make it more complex than it needs to be.

    • Where to even start? Let’s just leave at it one simple question: I gather you’re a pastor. What solution would you propose if two people who both claim to be indwelt by God’s Spirit and disagree on the meaning of a text? Just for fun, let’s say one of them is you.

      • Well, can two divergent understandings (that read the text in a similar way) of any text be correct?

        Can a TV guide say that a program is on at 8pm and have that have a multiplicity of meanings?

        Can a history book have a name and date that are both true and untrue at the same time and in the same way?

        Of course not. The whole notion of reader-response hermeneutics/hermeneutics of humility brings up some legitimate ideas (i.e. refraining from dogmatism outside of the facts given in a passage of scripture), but pleading “hermeneutical humility” is far too often a rhetorical smokescreen made to avoid the moral implications of the clear meaning of the text of scripture. Most of the people I hear blowing the “hermeneutical humility” trumpet do so to prevent anyone from saying anything that shines the light of the scripture on their own unbiblical theology. Whenever I get down to dealing with the actual text of scripture, I hear very little exegetical discussion and boatloads of philosophical or political agenda with big brass bells on. A perfect example of this is the relatively recent MB Conference talk regarding the atonement. Whole lot of chatter with precious little tackling of the scripture (beyond simple proof-text citation).

        So, let’s say Kim Riddlebarger and I are two intelligent, regenerate men of god who disagree upon the meaning of “Israel of God” in Galatians 6:16. Kim says that it’s talking about the regenerate Jews & Gentiles and I say that it’s talking about regenerate Israel alone.

        We’re both writing in our fields of expertise, and we’ve both written on the topic at length. We both know our biblical languages and think we’ve comprehensively addressed the question, yet we still disagree. How do I sort through this disagreement? Do I simply dismiss him because he disagrees with me or doesn’t show favor to my theological camp? Do I reject the argument because I don’t like the man, or agree with him because I do like him?

        I know far too many people who do that, and do so somewhat openly. I don’t want to do that, though it’s very easy to do. I want to understand the word of God and be corrected in my misunderstandings.

        How do I know who’s rightly understanding Galatians 6:16?

        Well, I need the facts, my mind and the Spirit of God.

        I utilize the rational tools at my disposal and consider Riddlebarger’s exegetical arguments and how he understands the text. I look at how Riddlebarger understands the circles of context, and I examine all of what he says, trying to attack each idea and destroy it and see what’s still standing when I’m done.

        For this to work properly, I need to be humble, honest, consistent, do the necessary hard study and have integrity. These things are a work of the Spirit in my heart, and I cannot bring these things around in my own heart. I need to sit under the text of scripture and not above it. I need to come to the word of God to learn from it, not to use it as a rational weapon for my theological camp or personal hobby horse doctrine. The same sin that lurked at the door of Cain’s heart lurks ever-present at the door of my heart, and it’s the main foe I have against understanding the text of scripture.

        The culprit for unbelief and the suppression of truth in unrighteousness, even in the oldest and most mature believer, is still sin.

  7. Thanks for your response. It’s well-worded, thorough and full of passion but unfortunately full of the same problems I’ve been trying to observe throughout this thread.

    I fully agree that the text cannot have an endless possibility of meanings. I’ve never advocated anything like “reader-response” hermeneutics. All I’m suggesting is that getting at the “one true meaning” of a text might not be straightforward and might require something like the “hermeneutical humility” that you so casually dismiss. And that humility is not ONLY needed because of our sin, but also because of the historical distance between ourselves and the Bible.

    Interestingly enough you indicate that you would have to examine “circles of context” in order to get at the true meaning of the text. That seems odd to me, given your distaste for any “contextualization” of Genesis 1.

    In the end, your language is quite indicative of why I (and others) find your approach so troubling. If I had a disagreement with a pastor who saw it as his duty to “attack each idea and destroy it and see what’s still standing when I’m done,” I think I would be looking for another church. Maybe you were just packing some extra rhetorical punch in that statement. But it’s precisely that attitude that is evident in nearly every post on this blog.

    I wouldn’t look for another church because I can’t handle truth, nor because I am some weak-kneed liberal trying to justify my sin, nor because I can’t discern spiritual matters. No, I would be truly frightened of a leader who combined your level of aggression and dogmatic certainty with the authority that comes with the words “the Bible says.”

    This has probably gone on long enough. I’ve read enough of your series on this blog to suspect that we’re not going to make much progress. The foundational convictions that we hold are just too far apart. I’ve made some pretty direct observations on how I see your view of the Bible as theologically motivated. This is not, in itself, wrong. What is most frustrating is that you seem quite willing to diagnose theological/philosophical agendas in other people’s ideas and completely blind to your own. As long as that hurdle remains, I don’t see a true dialogue being possible.

    • “What is most frustrating is that you seem quite willing to diagnose theological/philosophical agendas in other people’s ideas and completely blind to your own. As long as that hurdle remains, I don’t see a true dialogue being possible.”

      Feel free to straighten me out.

      I’m all ears.

      • Well I made some pretty specific claims about the problems I see with your views on Scripture (Feb 26, 3:33 pm). You could always address those.

      • So, for clarity, your problems are:

        1. None of the adjectives I use are used in the Bible of itself.
        2. The “Word of God” is not the Bible that we have.
        3. No biblical writer had the finalized canon in mind as they wrote.
        4. I’ve made God the one author of the Bible.

        Is that an accurate representation of your problems with my view of scripture?

      • My quibble is not with your adjectives – it’s your whole theology of Scripture and revelation. The fact you hold views on Scripture that are not derived from Scripture is the larger issue.

        Other than that, I’m OK with your summary. As long as you recognize that my concerns are far deeper than the source of your adjectives.

      • “The fact you hold views on Scripture that are not derived from Scripture is the larger issue. ”

        Ah. I understand the problem with adjectives; this argument is wide spread in MB circles. It’s not that the word “inerrant” doesn’t appear in the Bible. It’s that the Bible actually has errors in it.

        So what now?

      • No, I think you’re dodging the issue here by trying to point to a “common argument in MB circles.” It would be just as easy for me to dismiss your view of the Bible as being “common among fundamentalist circles” but at the end of the day you still have to account for your theology of Scripture.

        My claim is very simply that you claim more for the Bible than it claims for itself. If I’m wrong, I’m very open to correction.

      • Well, it’s been a long time and I’m guessing you’ve moved on. I’ve not been to worried about this thread, knowing full well where we’re headed. Either way, I’ll toss down a thought or two before bed.

        What does the Bible claim for itself?

        Well, it claims that it is propositional revelation (1 Cor. 2:11-13; Eph. 6:17), all of which finds its source in God (2 Tim. 3:16) and not man (1 Thess. 2:13; 2 Pet. 1:20-21). The Bible is truth itself (Ps. 19:7-9; Prov. 30:5; John 17:17), and actively produces spiritual fruit in believers (John 17:17; Col. 1:6; 1 Thess. 2:13). The Bible speaks with divine authority (Is. 55:9; Jer. 23:28-29) and is entirely sufficient for the Christian to be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:17).

        That should be enough for you to throw stones at.

        I didn’t include any theological language for you (i.e. “inerrancy” or “inspiration”), assuming that you’d simply suggest that those terms don’t appear in the verses I referenced. If you desire, I can simply just stick to original languages for “biblical” terminology.

  8. Guest + Lyndon

    I’ve observed these on-line posts between Guest/Lyndon and wonder if I might make a few comments. Guest seems to have had a pastor/parishioner type relationship in mind with his question. At least that’s what seems to come out in his last post (internet postings can be difficult). It’s unfortunate that Guest didn’t make that explicit in the question.

    Lyndon I wonder how you might have framed your answer had the question been more clearly framed along the lines of pastor/parishioner relationship. I’m wondering if pastors allow their parishioners to hold views divergent from their own or should those views be attacked. Do pastors teach people what to think or help them learn to think?

    Lyndon indicates he needs “the facts, my mind and the Spirit of God” as well as humility and an understanding of personal sinfulness. An Anabaptist perspective would also want to add that the wisdom of community.

    Lyndon, I’m wondering how far you extend the perspicuity (or clarity of Scripture) and if you tie perspicuity to our ability to get to the one true meaning of every text. I’m thinking of terms like “Israel of God” (Gal 6.16), or the words “day” or “head” or the issue of spiritual gifts (tongues, healings, prophecy). Please understand that I’m listing some issues in short-hand. We can see the various conclusions that others have come to recognizing the strengths / weaknesses of each argument and realize that good honest Christians having studied these issues come to sincerely held conclusions which are different from one another. Each believing they are faithful to the Bible. Of course we are going to come to our reasoned conclusions. But we may well be wrong in our conclusions. And the issues may not be quite as clear as we’d like to think.

    Lyndon, I’m asking /making comments about perspicuity quite sincerely. I’m seeking to understand not wishing to engage in vitriolic internet postings.

    Finally, I truly wish you well in ministry in Marpole. It sounds like a challenging task. May your wife and the group with whom you minster be truly blessed.

    Larry

    • Larry, I hear what you’re saying with the pastor and the parishioner. I definitely deal differently with the sheep for which I’m responsible than I do with random agitators on the internet.

      Guest isn’t my parishioner; he’s a random agitator on the internet and gets treated as such. I engage his arguments and interact with them with respect and seriousness.

      Pastors teach their people what to think and help them think. Sheep need shepherding; this involves gaining both the theological/rational tools to engage the world and the foundation that makes any of those tools useful.

      I agree that community is important in the understanding of the scripture. Community starts with the local body of believers and expands outward.

      I extend the perspicuity of scripture to every aspect of the scripture. All the examples you give are relatively straightforward. The “Israel of God” is only misunderstood when we override common hermeneutical practices. “Day” and “head” aren’t hard to figure out unless we let our emotions and confusion rule the text of scripture. The issues of spiritual gifts, again, aren’t difficult issues unless we let people’s experiences override the meaning of the scripture. I can interact and evaluate the strengths/weaknesses of arguments and realize that good and honest Christians disagree, but it’s never because of a lack of clarity in the scripture.

      Jesus never chalked up theological misunderstandings of the Pharisees and Sadducees to a lack of clarity in the scripture. When they brought up a theological conundrum about the resurrection in Matthew 22, Jesus responded with “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God” and “have you not read”. Jesus chalked up their “good people disagree” issue to a lack of reading the scriptures closely enough and missing the clear point of the scripture.

      Again, in Matthew 12:1-8, when the Pharisees were offended that Jesus healed on the Sabbath, twice his response was “haven’t you read…” Jesus didn’t think that there was any legitimate misunderstanding of the law and chalked the problem up to the Pharisees’ lack of paying attention to the text of scripture.

      Again, in Matthew 19, when Jesus was questioned on divorce his response was “haven’t you read?” (19:4). Jesus didn’t think there was legitimate misunderstanding or disagreement.

      Again, in Matthew 21 when Jesus gave the parable of the tenants, he condemned the Pharisees for rejecting him and said “have you never read…”. Jesus was pretty clear; the Pharisees and Sadducees didn’t understand the scriptures because they didn’t read the scriptures carefully enough. They didn’t pay close enough attention and missed the meaning.

      Jesus condemned the Pharisees and Sadducees for their unbelief of the Old Testament. In John 5:31-47 he talks about how his identity should be unavoidably known from studying the scriptures and paying close attention to what they say. Jesus didn’t chalk up their confusion to a lack of clarity in the scripture, since he said “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me” (John 5:45-46). The scriptures weren’t to blame for their confusion regarding Christ; unbelief was to blame.

      Jesus extended the perspicuity of scripture to the entirety of scripture, and I am a follower of Christ.

      Good and honest Christians disagree, but it’s because of inconsistency or sin. Confusion in the meaning of the scriptures is never the fault of the scriptures themselves.

      Good and honest Christians can have their theological ducks partially lined up and still be good and honest Christians. God saves us in spite of our inconsistencies and sinful disobedience to various texts. I don’t want to make excuses for my inconsistencies and disobedience, and I’m sure you don’t want that either.

      • Interesting – I challenge your ideas and I’m a “random agitator.” Seems a little disingenuous to put it mildly.

        My tone is nowhere near as dismissive and condescending as nearly every post in this whole “expose” of the MB Herald that you’re posting here. I can only assume I gained this title because of my anonymity and not because of the fact that I’m actually challenging you to name your assumptions and admit that the theological baggage that you’re importing into the conversation.

      • A little disingenuous?

        Buddy, I’ve been online enough to spot people who try drive-by re-education. I’m a tiny part of the online community at Alpha and Omega ministries, but they get a thousand people a day trying to do what you’re doing and I’ve seen it dozens of times. I’ve shamefully attempted that myself on the MB Herald board in the past, and it worked as well for me then as it will work for you now.

        Coming down from Mount Olympus and throwing out a few choice thoughts to chew on is simply a mark of pride and a complete misunderstanding of what posting anonymously on a blog will ever accomplish.

        I don’t know you. I have no vested interest in you. Why should I?

        Are you a friend? A congregant? Do I have a biblical directive to be shepherding you, or should I refute your various attacks on the scripture openly because friends and congregants are watching and I have a biblical directive to demonstrate the tennacity of the truth in the face of wolves?

        You’re a nameless smart alec who hides behind rhetoric.

        That’s called a random agitator.

        Your tone is nothing. I do everything I can to not read tone into what you write, because I know that I sinfully import tone into your words. I’ll engage your arguments straight forwardly and with as much gentleness as you seem to need.

      • “Coming down from Mount Olympus and throwing out a few choice thoughts to chew on is simply a mark of pride and a complete misunderstanding of what posting anonymously on a blog will ever accomplish.”

        This is rich, really rich. You have openly admitted to not being part of the MB church anymore; you’ve recently said you’re too busy to be expected to respond to people who post on your blog (especially, I assume, people who disagree with you). Yet you still have time to post a five part series of lengthy critiques (or, one might say, “a few choice thoughts from up high on Mt Olympus”) on the MB denominational magazine.

        Do you know all the people you are attacking in these posts? If you don’t, it’s hard to see how you occupy any kind of moral “high ground” here. Especially when 90% of what you write is aimed out rooting out what you perceive to be “heresy” within the MB church, a community that I happen to belong to and care about.

        This is a blog. You’re putting your thoughts out there for public consumption. When you do that, you have to be willing to stand behind what you say, especially when so much of what you say is so critical. I happen to know many of the people that you’re talking about in these articles. I have no interest whatsoever in scoring cheap points in anonymous online “conversations.” But I DO have an interest in challenging theologically suspect and irresponsible attacks on people whose commitment to Christ and the MB church I know to be authentic.

        It is utterly laughable that you retreat behind this rhetoric of “demonstrating the tenacity of truth in the face of the attack of wolves” rather than actually addressing the legitimate questions that I have asked you. You can call me what you like: “smart alec,” “random agitator,” or even “wolf” but name-calling won’t reinforce your argument.

      • Sure thing Ralph… (I’ve decided to name you Ralph, since you won’t share your real name. I find Ralph to be a friendly, Seasame Street kind of cuddly name. It makes you sound more fun!)

        Be patient. I’ll get around to you on my timeline, not yours. How about I do a post sometime on the nature of scripture? I can maybe help you understand that guys like me actually realize that the word *inerrant* doesn’t appear in the Bible, and yet still believe it.

        *gasp*

        (of course, not a single adjective you use of the scripture is in the scripture either…but we won’t split hairs…)

        Until then, feel free to speculate on my motivations, life and ministry and use your imagination to fill in the blanks.

      • I know nothing about you or your ministry so I’m not trying to speculate about anything. All I know is that you devote a lot of your time to criticizing MBs and the main stick that you use to beat them is a particular understanding of how the Bible should be interpreted.

        So I look forward to that post on the nature of Scripture. Just a clarification – my concern is not with your use of the word “inerrant” or any other particular adjective. My questions have to do with your entire theology of Scripture and whether that can be supported on the basis of the Bible alone.

      • You can always feel free to share your theology of scripture instead of simply hiding behind questions and accusations and not producing anything of actual exegetical substance.

        So is the source of the scripture God or man?

        Show me from the text of scripture.

  9. Pingback: The MB Herald vs. The Book of Genesis – 5 Part Series « Menno-lite

  10. Thanks for your reply Lyndon. I hope you and yours have a great Sunday.

    “Jesus extended the perspicuity of scripture to the entirety of scripture, and I am a follower of Christ.” Of course when Jesus interacted with 1st century Jewish religious leaders he was doing so by referring to the Hebrew Scriptures.  I get your point. “The Bible is a plain book” I think that was Hodge quoted by Pettergrew in his paper. Since receiving your response I’ve read Pettergrew (The Perspicuity of Scripture http://www.tms.edu/tmsj/tmsj15i.pdf).

    Inconsistency or sin is the grid through which to understand any difference between Christians. Following this approach would I as an Anabaptist say that every Christian soldier fighting for the Americans in Iraq are either inconsistent or sinful? It seems quite clear that Jesus is blunt about us loving our enemies. Although tempted I’m not quite ready to make that blanket judgment of every Christian who would disagree with an Anabaptist understanding of Jesus. (Prior to the Americans going into Iraq, I remember hearing an American radio preacher (Stanley) speaking to his American audience saying that if Christians didn’t line up behind WW Bush we were being disobedient to God’s will.)

    Overall, and after reading Pettegrew, as I reflect on that little list of issues I listed (day, head, Israel and tongues) I’m still staying with my earlier post. I look at the various models, methods and their strengths/weaknesses and choosing one I think most adequately reflects the biblical materials. In some ways this isn’t too much different than what you said to “Guest” about your method although, I’m not out to destroy the other guy’s ideas. For example: I skimmed McArthur’s pamphlet on gifts/tongues (I recognize he’s written way more than a little handout on this subject), I’m not ready to say that charismatics like Dr. Fee or Dr. Watts off being emotional or confused about the text.

    There is a phrase in your post to me which I think may also help to get to a core issue. In discussing Israel of God you mention “common hermeneutical practices.” This may be the source of many differences between Christians – who gets to decide what these common practices are? For example: reflecting on the dialogue between you and James. You appeared to stay within the grammatical meaning of the word ‘day.’ James seemed s willing to allow information from outside the text into his method. And in this regard, Guest was referring to John Walton. Another example: if you / I were to engage in dialogue (or debate) about gender, you would quickly learn that my method is influenced to some degree by historical cultural 1st century studies.

    Upon reflection this may be why discussions (especially internet posts which can quickly become dueling posts) can be lost in translation (for example: I think Piper/Wright talk past one another. I think Piper is quoted saying that Wright is too interested in the 1st Century). If I’m correct, from your perspective the “Sola Scriptura” or sufficiency of Scripture means that the data on the page can’t be influenced by an outside source.

    Well I do believe I’m starting to ramble. So I’m off to church…….. blessings

    • Larry, I have no idea why any soldier would be inconsistent or sinful. I, as an Anabaptist, need to subject my hermeneutical grid to more than the Matthew 5:43-48. As Anabaptists, we need to repent of the exegetical sloth with which we’ve treated the issue of pacifism. Again, that issue can be sorted through and a person can have a biblical position that doesn’t involve simply ignoring large swaths of the Old Testament or invoking some sort of “Red Letter” type of hermeneutic. Just because it’s an issue that involves a large amount of exegtical work (as opposed to a small amount of exegetical work) doesn’t mean that the perspicuity of scripture is compromised.

      when I say “common hermeneutical practices”, I basically mean “consistent hermeneutical practices”. Even MacArthur and Pettegrew have issues where they’re inconsistent in their hermeneutics. We simply labor to minimize those inconsistencies and re-work them when they’re shown to us.

      If you and I were to dialogue about gender, I’d hold you to the scripture. I’ve done a fair amount of 1st century studies too. The rope that hangs most intellectuals is the question of “exegetical significance”. Knowing a ton of details is useless unless you can sort through what is important/relevant and what is not. That’s a lifetime learning project.

      Thanks for your thoughts.

  11. Lyndon a bit earlier today based on what I see in your blog, the last few bits with ‘guest’ and in particular your exchanges with James, I’ve tried to distill your method and came up with the two paragraphs. Do the next two paragraphs represent your methodology fairly? I’m sure they could be tweaked a bit but I tried to be clear and precise. In trying to understand one another we need to be able to represent one another’s views fairly.

    ————————————————————————————–

    The Bible is perspicuous, propositional and teaches doctrine. Any doctrinal difference between two Christians is always due to one or both of those parties’ inconsistency or sinfulness.

    In regards to any doctrinal issue, there is true doctrine which can be understood via the Spirit, humility and “common hermeneutical practices.” These hermeneutical practices are the historical grammatical method. It is not necessary to extend study beyond the Bible in order to determine the meaning of a word. The Bible is sufficient (sola scriptura). The Bible provides the meaning and context of the biblical text. The Christian’s study is not to be influenced by extra-biblical historical (or extra-biblical scientific) study.

    ————————————————————————————–

    Prior to reading your last post I thought the basic difference was between the historical-grammatical method and the historical-critical method (with you only using the historical-grammatical method). However, after reading the third paragraph of your last post I’m not sure I have fully understood you. I quite agree with that paragraph. I copied something I found on the web that seemed like a useful overview about the two methods:

    “The historical-grammatical method has sometimes been compared and contrasted with the historical-critical method. Both methods seek first to understand the original meaning of the text. There are two main differences:

    1. The historical-critical method is a standard set of techniques for understanding ancient texts. The historical-grammatical method is used only in Bible study.
    2. The historical-critical method includes looking at other texts from the same time period to understand the meanings of words and phrases. The historical-grammatical method looks strictly at other biblical uses of the word or phrase.

    Both of these differences in method stem from historical-grammatical proponents’ belief that the Bible is not like other texts, and should not be treated like them.”
    http://www.bookrags.com/wiki/Historical-grammatical_method

    I’d like to respond to your paragraph about the Anabaptist view on the very clear teachings of Jesus regarding loving enemies. My question about deciding if a Christian soldier fighting for the Americans in Iraq was either inconsistent or sinful presupposed your familiarity with the Anabaptist view. I’m surprised that you can write that you have no idea. The work you outline in the first paragraph has been done by folk far more intelligent and Christian than I. Here are some thoughts outlined in very reader’s digest form:

    Anabaptist, along with other Christian branches of the Church claim a Christocentric approach (hermeneutic principle). Jesus didn’t set up a theocracy. Yes secular governments have their role but since Jesus is Lord, Cesar isn’t and Cesar doesn’t get to define to Christians who our enemies are or tell us how to respond to enemies.

    This doesn’t ignore the OT but recognizes that we (Christians/Church) are part of the new Humanity (the New Israel) and we have a higher calling. By the way, I am not entirely satisfied with how far to push non-retaliation. I suspect Bonheoffer was right in his actions against Hitler. My big thing would be seeing his action as more of a private response. The US Iraq example is clearly the state defining who the enemy becomes. I suspect I’m not entirely consistent in this.

    It’s been a long day. Enough, take care.

    by the way, how is Marpole treating you?

  12. Lyndon, I’d like to revisit one of your paragraphs.

    Lyndon wrote: “If you and I were to dialogue about gender, I’d hold you to the scripture. I’ve done a fair amount of 1st century studies too. The rope that hangs most intellectuals is the question of “exegetical significance”. Knowing a ton of details is useless unless you can sort through what is important/relevant and what is not. That’s a lifetime learning project.”

    I’m thinking about the second sentence: “I’d hold you to the scripture.” Perhaps you can clarify just what you meant when you said that if we were to have dialogue about gender you would hold me to the scripture. Does this mean that you ask me to accept your understanding of the perspicuity of the Bible or the sufficiency of the Bible (Sola Scriptura)? If that were to be the case it seems as though I might be held to your set of philosophical or systematic constructs.

    I suspect that my understanding of ‘perspicuity’ is different than yours. It is more along the lines of Dr. Stackhouse (see this blog thread: http://stackblog.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/i-tim-215ff-gender-and-just-obeying-what-scripture-clearly-says/) and his book: Finally Feminist. To further complicate matters in any gender conversation I might have, 1 Cor. 14:34,35 may not actually be part of the original text. Those sentences could well be a scribal gloss.

    By the way, I get that you are busy in your ‘real life.’ Depending on how things are going in mine my responses could well be several days also.

    Blessings to you in your week.

    • 1. Larry, in In the official MB commentary and pastoral application (pages 144-147) and Family Matters (page 44-52), it works out what a Christocentric hermenuetic looks like. Those are the two books assigned to every MB pastoral candidate to understand the MB position on the issue. You’re free to disagree, but you’re not speaking for the MB conference.

      In Family Matters, it addresses the question of the Old Testament and war, and explores how the entire OT seems to contradict a broad reading and application of Matthew 5:43-48. Lynn Jost writes

      “For some, God’s commands to destroy Israel’s enemies seems an ironclad objection to the Anabaptist interpretation of Jesus’ words. If God orders war in the Old Testament, isn’t Jesus simply referring to personal relations? God surely has not changed His mind about war, has He?

      First, as MBs we begin with Jesus, not the Old Testament. We understand that Jesus speaks the clearest word from God and we interpret the rest of Scripture in light of what he said and did. Jesus clearly calls us to love out enemies.”

      So the MB Christocentric hermeneutic recognizes perspicuity, but it pits the perspicuity of Jesus against the apparent ambiguity of the Old Testament and says that Jesus wins by default. That not Christocentric in the slightest. That pits Christ’s words in the New Testament against his words in the Old Testament. That is a lot of things, but it’s not honoring to Christ or the scripture.

      2. So again, I have no idea why any soldier would be inconsistent because the Bible fully allows him to kill as an agent of his country and still be in good standing with God, and be a pacifist. The Old Testament is clear that killing is not murder, and national conflict and personal vengeance are two completely different issues. You may want to refer to the post I wrote on that issue.

      3. When I said I’d hold you to the scripture, I mean I’ll hold you to agree with what the Bible says and refrain from importing hypothetical context or content into the scritpure. Historical grammatical and historical critical methods both utilize information from history to aid interpretation. In practice, historical grammatical folk consider the Bible as inspired and therefore authoritative above other ancient literature where as historical critical folk don’t. An example of this would be in how intellectuals in the Jesus Seminar elevate the gospel of Thomas above the canonical gospels. A proper historical grammatical hermenute would never filter canonical writing through the lens of a non-canonical gnostic work and cast out the canonical content.

      4. Regarding Stackhouse and the feminist stuff, I don’t have much to say. Stackhouse is someone I’m fairly unfamiliar with, but he sure sounds like the typical liberals I’ve engaged. Anyone who says “if you REALLY took the bible literally, you’d actually pluck out your eye and cut off your hand” is someone who I no longer take serious. That’s an idiotic argument that pits the naive literalism of some of the desert fathers against more balanced hermeneutics that recognize things like figures of speech. Arguments from absurdity aren’t powerful arguments.

      5. You’re free to believe whatever you want, but 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 appears in every Greek manuscript of 1 Corinthians that we have; the question only comes with order of the verses. The only people I know of who think it’s a non-Pauline interpolation are Gordon Fee, Philip Payne, Bart Ehrman, all of whom have been thoroughly rebutted by Curt Niccum, Edward Miller and Dan Wallace. You’re free to suggest that 1 Cor. 14:34-35 was not part of the original reading of the text, but you’ve got a colossal case to make seeing that we don’t have a single Greek New Testament manuscript without the verses. You’re going to have to establish that the verses were interpolated EARLIER than the second century, and do so without a shred of manuscript evidence. Good luck with that.

      Beyond that, anytime an evangelical is agreeing with Bart Ehrman on anything, I am immediately on amber alert. Ehrman is essentially a supervillian in the world of Biblical studies; he loathes Jesus, has tons of money, and is openly out to destroy Christianity by any means necessary.

      Now, back to sermon prep for me.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

  13. Lyndon, thanks for your response;

    1. Regarding Anabaptists and non-resistance (or redemptive love i.e. binding wounds rather than causing them. You appear to be cartooning the Anabaptist view. That kind of caricaturing is usually done by someone who hasn’t done a deep study of the view they are critiquing. BTY, Praise God, I am not speaking for the MB conference (nor have I presumed to do so). But I think I understand the Anabaptist view fairly well.

    Just from the extract of Dr. Jost you’ve presented, I can argue that MB’s don’t “pit Jesus” against the OT. There is a reason Christians call the Hebrew Scriptures the Old Testament. It has to do with New Covenant. Cesar doesn’t get to define to New Covenant followers of Jesus who our enemies are or how we are to respond to them.

    2. On the holding me to scripture matter. You wrote: “When I said I’d hold you to the scripture, I mean I’ll hold you to agree with what the Bible says and refrain from importing hypothetical context or content into the scripture.” Do you get to dictate the rules of engagement? Is that dialogue or even debate? Would you rather not seek to understand the person’s method/model? Then, having understood the point being presented and being able to demonstrate that you have understood; you then provide reasons why you agree or differ. That is respectful dialogue. You may actually win me over.

    3. Regarding Stackhouse. It appears you actually have “much to say.” You dismissively labeled Stackhouse as one of those “typical liberals” making “an idiotic argument” “from absurdity.” I’m surprised Lyndon. You present yourself as an academic on par with Dr. Kim Riddlebarger. You’ve made the kind of mistake a first year undergrad might make. Read Stackhouse in context. Read the paragraph directly after the cut your hand off/pluck your eyes out example and try to understand what he is actually saying.

    4. Regarding 1 Corinthians 14:34-35. It would be helpful if you didn’t jump to conclusions and interact with what I actually wrote. I’ve written nothing definitive about what I believe regarding those sentences. I do thank you for listing Curt Niccum, Edward Miller and Dan Wallace. I see that Dr. Wallace has an article http://bible.org/article/textual-problem-1-corinthians-1434-35 that looks interesting. Thanks. However, it does seem like your Amber Alert System might be a tad hyper sensitive. I hope Bart Ehrman doesn’t like strawberry ice-cream or good single malt scotch because I like both.

    Enjoy and be blessed in your sermon preparation! Take care! And when you get time, do give us a Marpole update.

  14. Lyndon, thank you for the work you are doing in defending the creation account and other topics you have tackled in your blog regarding error in the MB Conference. I believe it (creation) is an issue of great importance in the MB Conference with far-reaching implications. The story of creation is simple and must be taken at face-value. I believe that the articles in the MB Herald do not serve to clarify what Scripture teaches about the creation of the universe, but rather muddy the issue and create doubt and confusion in the hearts and minds of the readers. I do not see how this can be honoring to God. If there are MB’s who believe in evolution or some combination of creation/evolution, that is on their conscience, but I believe they should keep it to themselves. The simplicity of the creation account is enough and we need not add to it or subtract from it. Understanding and believing it is one thing, but these articles are going far beyond this, and it is problematic.

    Regarding your method of defending God’s Word however, I agree with the 2nd point made by Larry S. in his last comment, where he says: “Do you get to dictate the rules of engagement? Is that dialogue or even debate? Would you rather not seek to understand the person’s method/model? Then, having understood the point being presented and being able to demonstrate that you have understood; you then provide reasons why you agree or differ. That is respectful dialogue. You may actually win me over.”

    I don’t believe any of us can change another person’s mind on a particular issue. Only God can change the heart of another. It is fine to present the points of your argument, but in general I have found a prevailing attitude of superiority in your arguments, which is why I chose to refrain from getting into a debate with you over Calvinism some time ago. I very much appreciate that you are well-studied and express your thoughts clearly, but that does not mean that you alone get to decide what the ground rules of communication are. There is no mediator in this type of online debate, which creates a lot of problems for those trying to engage others in this manner, and no one wants to dialogue with someone who is trying to dictate the rules of engagement without regard to the others method or style. I am not saying that Scripture can be interpreted any way we like, quite the contrary. But the *attitude* with which we do it often undermines our arguments. I have been finding this out the hard way myself recently. We all have our weaknesses, and Scripture tells us we are to bear with one anothers weaknesses. We should not, be shutting/putting one another down just because we disagree on an issue. Not everyone is as skilled at the art of debate as you are, but that does not mean that you should use those skills to try to demean others just because they disagree with you or your methods. I personally have found you rather intimidating when I tried to dialogue with you, so I urge you to check your spirit on this issue. It is for this very reason that I have stopped allowing comments on my own blogs. The facts and the truth speak for themselves, especially in such an impersonal setting as the internet. It is your blog, and you may operate it any way you choose, but these are some thoughts I would hope you would consider in the future.

    Once again, I thank you for tirelessly defending against the errors that have entered into the MB Conference. I agree that the real issue is sin/rebellion when it comes to a correct understanding of Scripture. Satan’s question, “Hath God said?” seems to be a prevailing one behind many of the issues here. God’s Word is clear in what it teaches, and it contains everything we need to know for life and godliness. Through our self-effort and pride much spiritual damage is done as we try to add to God’s Word. So many of the “Christian” books or papers written these days are man’s attempt to make a name for themselves and/or to line their own pockets. After all, they don’t want all the money they spent on their education to go to waste; they want a temporal return on their investment. Those who continue to increase their education must constantly be on guard against the danger of intellectual pride, which is what I suspect is behind much of the nonsense which goes on in the churches and seminaries these days. May we ever be mindful that our intent is to magnify Christ, and not ourselves.

    May God continue to lead and guide you in the way He would have you go!

    Bonnie

    • Interesting.

      1. So how should I defend God’s word?

      2. Where was the attitude of superiority in my response to your rather lengthy engagement on Calvinism? I read the articles you referenced and then openly challenged the truthfulness of the claims in those articles.

      If you put forth a historical argument that does not contain actual facts of history and I point that out, how is that an attitude of superiority?

      If you present an argument that misrepresents the position that is being argued against and I point that out, how is that an attitude of superiority?

      3. How can you even begin to know my attitude from 10 point text?

      4. Author, you said “So many of the “Christian” books or papers written these days are man’s attempt to make a name for themselves and/or to line their own pockets. After all, they don’t want all the money they spent on their education to go to waste; they want a temporal return on their investment. Those who continue to increase their education must constantly be on guard against the danger of intellectual pride, which is what I suspect is behind much of the nonsense which goes on in the churches and seminaries these days.”

      Are you trying to suggest that’s the problem here? Am I trying to make a name for myself with a blog pointing out the abdication of God’s word in my own church conference? Doesn’t that look more like suicide for my reputation? How am I trying to line my pockets or pay off my education by putting the fruits of my study on the internet for free?

      If I wanted to make a name for myself, I’d write a book on “The heavenly perfect marriage” (or something like that) and I’d be charging $20 per book.

  15. Answer to #1: I think that was explained clearly enough in the point made by Larry S. so I am not going to add anything to that.

    Answer to #2 and #3: I was referring to a private email you sent me after I asked you to continue the discussion on Calvinism through email if you so wished, which I would rather not elucidate here on your public blog. Although I composed a lengthy reply to your email, I decided not to send it. From your email I got the distinct impression you were wanting to impose your personal ground rules on me (which I didn’t happen to think were fair), and I decided I did not have the time to get into a long drawn out debate with you. (I also have chronic health issues that sometimes keep me away from the computer, and this ended up being one of those times). It appeared to me that your mind was already made up on the issue and that any discussion would be unproductive.

    This doesn’t mean I don’t have a great deal of respect for what you have to say about many things. I’m just saying that sometimes your interaction seems rather antagonistic and overly-aggressive. I understand that you are passionate about the issues you defend (so am I), but I am not convinced that you are always gracious towards those who may disagree with you. I say this not as an enemy, but as someone who has respect for you and your abilities, and agrees with your stance on so many issues. This (being overly aggressive and ungracious) is a problem that I struggle with myself, and it may partly be a reaction to putting oneself in the position of vigorously defending the truth of God’s Word against error. One of the checks I have put in place for myself as a cautionary measure is to ask someone I trust to read some of the things that I have written before I publish them to see if it really sounds the way I think it does, because sometimes I don’t realize that I am being aggressive or demeaning. All I am *suggesting* is that you check your spirit for an openness to correction in this area. You don’t need to answer to me. Take it before the Lord and consult with Him and He will show you whether I am right or whether I am wrong. It could very well be I have misjudged you, since I have never met you in person, but it is just the impression I get in reading many of your interactions online and the little interaction I have had with you. (I find the internet a very messy place to deal with these things, but I guess we put ourselves in this position by opening our blogs to the public).

    Answer to #4: In speaking of people wanting to make a name for themselves or lining their pockets, I definitely wasn’t referring to you. I was referring to people who teach false doctrine, and I was referring specifically in this case to those involved in promoting the concept of evolution who claim they are Christians. There are some errors which do not shipwreck a person’s faith, but those that do are the ones I was referring to. There are many authors who are out to try to create novel interpretations of Scripture or impose their philosophies on it, and it seems to me that it is for the sake of novelty itself (which builds up their egos and lines their pocketbooks when these ideas are accepted).

    Lyndon, I feel like you have ignored everything good I have said to you so far. Please take ALL of what I have said seriously. I meant every word of appreciation I have expressed to you. Once again, I am not your enemy. All I have asked you to do is consider some things I have said, but I feel like you are just about willing to go to the ends of the earth to defend yourself (methinks thou dost protest too much!), when there can be times when it is ok to simply consider an observation someone makes about you and say you are willing to think about it and take it before the Lord and leave it at that.

    Proverbs 25:5 & 6 “Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”

    Blessings, Bonnie

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