Friday, May 15, 2009

Well, *some* of My words might pass away...

Eric Reitan has begun what should be an interesting series of posts on his theories of how the Bible can be errant and still authoritative. I call horseapples on that, but we'll see how it plays out. This I address to him directly in response to this initial post.


Hi Dr Reitan,

I understand that these last few weeks are finals week and much grading for you, so don't worry about trying to hurry thru this stuff.

I read most of your book last wknd, just FYI.

I appreciate the way you've laid out the dispute here. My initial impression is that you've laid out the case quite accurately. That is essential to the advancement of any debate, so I am thankful to see it as well.
It occurs to me that these 4 are all based on presuppositions and logical inference. I should think that a very strong case must be made on the evidence found in Scripture itself, especially from the lips of the Lord Jesus Himself.

Matt 4:4 - But He answered and said, "It is written, ' MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'"
Matthew 5:17
"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished."
Matthew 7:12
"In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
Matthew 7:24
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.
Matthew 13:23
"And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty."
Matthew 24:12
"Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold.
Matthew 24:35
"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.
Mark 13:31
"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.
Luke 21:33
"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.
Mark 7:13
"...thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that."
Luke 2:23
(as it is written in the Law of the Lord, " EVERY firstborn MALE THAT OPENS THE WOMB SHALL BE CALLED HOLY TO THE LORD"),
Luke 6:47
" Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like:
Luke 10:26
And He said to him, "What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?"
Luke 16:17
" But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.
Luke 24:44
Now He said to them, " These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled."
John 5:38
"You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent.
John 5:47
"But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?"
John 6:63
"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.
John 8:31
So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, " If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine;
John 8:51
"Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death."
John 10:35
"If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken),
John 14:23
Jesus answered and said to him, " If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.
John 17:17
" Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.


Notice among other things:
1) Christ holds the Law - yes, the barbaric, evil, intolerant Mosaic Law - in highest regard. It cannot be broken, it is not to be invalidated for the sake of human tradition, it is truth, it will never pass away, etc.
2) Christ came to UPHOLD AND FULFILL that law, not to abolish it.
3) Love and keeping the law are held in inviolable connection. This speaks directly to your hermeneutic, Dr Reitan; you would do well to keep close track of this.
4) Same with holiness and purity, like in Jn 17:17.
5) It is the law OF THE LORD, as in Lk 2. Not the law of Moses only. It is divine in origin.
6) Christ Himself often appeals to the Law to settle disputes and answer questions. He quotes it to Satan; why didn't He just "love" Satan, or write (as it were) His own Scripture by speaking His own authoritative words to Satan to defeat him?


Now, few things you said:
-I have argued that a loving God would want us to pay loving attention to our neighbors, and that a so-called “inerrant book” would likely lead many of us to stop listening to those neighbors whose lived experiences were judged to be at odds with the pronouncements of this book.-

I know we need to flesh this out and my response is one of the 4 arguments you outlined above: you don't know love apart from what God has revealed. Besides that, let me say that the whole "lived experiences were judged to be at odds" is the very problem at hand! Over and over again in the Scr we see the sinfulness of man contrasted with the holiness of God. The lawlessness of man contrasted with the holy law of God. What happened in the Garden of Eden? Did man fall UP or something? God sent OT Israel into captivity in Assyria and Babylon b/c they were failing to follow their consciences, or was it b/c they were neglecting the law of God? Did Christ ever call us to figure out the right thing by appeal to our lived experiences, or was it to the law of God?
This is seriously, seriously wrong, quite properly speaking, a damnable heresy - one that will damn you.


-There are several reasons why I think so: first, because relationships with persons teach us more about love than do books-

Relationships with persons also teach us about hate, vengeance, temptation, lust, greed, envy, murder, rape, and theft.


-To discourage idolatry, God would therefore ensure that terrestrial artifacts that testified to Him could not be mistakenly identified with Him. -

I'll let you know the next time I see anyone bowing down before a Bible and offering incense to it. If we didn't believe it was the inerrant word of the all-powerful God, we would pay as much attention to it as we do the Catcher in the Rye - not much. This is a typical liberal canard, and it's beneath you, sir.



A brief word on your personal experience, if I may, though I obviously know few of the details. I too have traveled, and I've lived in France and Japan for extended periods. I have interacted with many diff people of many diff origins and worldviews. My approach to evaluating a worldview is more holistic than yours, apparently - I take into acct the good AND the bad of the worldview and its history and doctrine. How does an honest study of human history reveal anythg other than a highly flawed, deeply screwed up group? Your surrender of a solid grasp of a biblical worldview (if indeed you ever had one) shows that you never took sin and its effects seriously, and that you are indeed your own highest authority. How else can one eat off the buffet table of another worldview? For when one adds this and that from here, this and that from over there, etc, you create your own mishmash. Indeed that is what liberalism is - a mishmash of things that modernists and postmodernists have hodgepodged together to assemble their own horrible monster.
But let me say this - a trembling, ecstatic baptismal experience won't save you from the wrath of God that your sin has earned you.

Finally,
-I endeavor to live my life in the faith that the universe was fashioned by a personal God of love,-

Which you have believed in thru an apparently blind leap in the dark. Maybe 1 John 4:4, etc, is errant.


-this God redeemed the world by living among us and dying at our hands-

But the crucifixion accts are highly contradictory and indicate a God who would put His own son to death for other people, for crimes He didn't commit. This is divine child abuse, you know. Besides, maybe these accts are errant too.


-I take seriously the radical and astonishing love ethic of Jesus, with its call to help the poor and work for justice.-

Which could well be errant.
That should be sufficient. Anyone can see the self-defeating nature of the half-in, half-out liberal stance. I'd much rather Dr Reitan were a Dick Dawk- (or at least Shermer-) type who would reject the whole thing than for him to remain in his self-imposed dark grey world, where he thinks he is God, until death comes for him and he learns to his eternal chagrin how wrong he was.
Revelation 3:14 The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:
15'I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.
16'So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.'

6 comments:

JZ said...

In general I am not in complete agreement with you, but this is by far your best and most generous post on this topic, with your most persuasive argument, and has given me a lot of useful things to think about. I still think you're missing something about how loving others is not valued dependent on how sinless they are, but on what Christ has done in you. Learning from community is done in a redeemed person with the Holy Spirit and a relationship with the one true God, not by blind leading blind. You offer great warnings however about the limits of this.

Ironically (?) it is when you stick to scripture, not "but, if you're right love could be errant" rhetoric where you'll find the most success in communicating your ideas to Christians who disagree with you.

Rhology said...

Hi JZ,

I'm glad you dropped by.

-I still think you're missing something about how loving others is not valued dependent on how sinless they are, but on what Christ has done in you.-

Well, sticking to the topic at hand, if the text is errant, maybe Christ did nothing in me. Maybe loving people is actually wrong. See the problem?


-Learning from community is done in a redeemed person with the Holy Spirit-

If the text is errant, we know nothing about redemption, people, human nature, the Holy Spirit, with any certainty.


-not "but, if you're right love could be errant" rhetoric where you'll find the most success in communicating your ideas to Christians who disagree with you.-

Thanks for the tip. ;-)
That said, McGrath and Reitan are no Christians. Just so we're clear.

Peace,
Rhology

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Rho: "That said, McGrath and Reitan are no Christians. Just so we're clear."

I've seen first-hand McGrath's own statements showing that he's not a genuine Christian.

What's Reitan said or wrote showing that whether he's a Christian is questionable?

Rhology said...

His universalism and denial of the doctrine of Hell, for starters.

Pat O'Leary said...

Listen Rho, where evangelicalism has got us to isn't so great. Centuries of sola scriptura haven't delivered agreement on what the Bible says. But there's hundreds, if not thousands, of independent interpreters who all seem willing to pronounce anathemas on others who hold different views to them. I'm sick of it.

Rhology said...

Centuries of sola scriptura haven't delivered agreement on what the Bible says.

Well, centuries of sola ecclesia didn't do that either.
And it led everyone astray such that very few people knew the Gospel. It actually got it a lot worse.


But there's hundreds, if not thousands, of independent interpreters

What does that mean?
Are you saying that when you read a magisterial statement from the RCC, you don't have to interpret it?


who all seem willing to pronounce anathemas on others who hold different views to them. I'm sick of it.

Then why aren't you calling on RCC to rescind her anathema of Protestants at Trent?