Friday, November 30, 2007

Dumping Sola Scriptura

[The problem is] "the idea that the Bible is the sole source of knowledge of God, morality, and a host of related important items. Accordingly, the Bible is taken to be the sole authority for faith and practice.”

J.P.Moreland quoted in "Postcard from San Diego:Fighting 'Bibliolatry' at the Evangelical Theological Society,"
by Ted Olsen, Christianity Today, 11/14/07.
We don’t need less commitment to the Bible we need more – a lot more. We need a fresh reverence, love and respect for the Bible. It should not be the basis of speculation and debate but rather of obedience and practice. We need preachers who will unreservedly commit to the Bible, the whole Bible and nothing but the Bible. We need men who will “preach the word” (2Timothy 4:2) without fear or favor. We need Christians who are humble enough to believe God’s Word, no matter what others say or think. And we need churches that are committed to actually expect their members to live according to the Bible. In short – we need to get back to the Bible. Heretics like Moreland should be excommunicated publicly. Schools, and the products of the schools, that harbor such unbelievers should be shunned. Churches should not accept preachers that have studied under such men or in such seminaries. [bold mine.]


Christinewjc said...

Hi Mark,

Thanks so much for sharing Moreland's paper with me. I agree with your analysis! I really got worried when I read:

"Today, I am more convinced of inerrancy more than any time in my Christian life, but the charge of bibliolatry , or at least a near, if not a kissing cousin, is one I fear is hard to rebut. To be more specific, in the actual practices of the Evangelical community in America, there is an overcommitment to Scripture in a way that is false, irrational, and harmful to the cause of Christ. And it has produced a mean-spiritedness among the over committed that is a grotesque and often, ignorant distortion of discipleship unto the Lord Jesus."

Everything after the word "but" sounds so similar to what the gay christian movement would claim in order to continue in its rebrobate theology! Doesn't it?? It also sounds "emergent-church-ish."

Perhaps I could be misinterpreting Moreland's meaning when he wrote:

"...a mean-spiritedness among the over committed that is a grotesque and often, ignorant distortion of discipleship..."

To me, it sounds eerily similar to what gay christians often use as an excuse to lay claims of "hate" against orthodox, biblical, Christian believers...doesn't it?

This can be very dangerous.

Dare I mention that he almost sounds like he is countering what Isaiah says here?

Isa 42:1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, [in whom] my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.

Of course, that portion of Scripture is talking about Jesus. Judgment belongs, ultimately, to Him alone. However, as followers of Jesus, aren't we supposed to share the entirety of the Gospel (including the bad news of judgment) and point to Him? We are supposed to point out that His judgment will befall all of those who do not repent and accept Christ as Savior and Lord of their lives!

As Matthew Henry states in his commentary on Isaiah 42:1 -

"Let our souls delight in Christ, rely on him, and rejoice in him; and thus let us be united to him, and then, for his sake, the Father will be well pleased with us."

I don't think that Moreland is a false teacher in this. I just think that he is in error about this particular opinion that he holds. Fellow Christians will let him know about it, too!

As I read through the article I have to admit that he revealed the history of what has transpired in the educational realm at the university level (e.g. away from God, the Bible and teachings of Jesus Christ towards secular humanism) quite well.

However, I don't think he made his case for his initial premise very well at all. The accusations (in that quoted paragraph above) were not, IMHO, addressed correctly nor proven to be true. Maybe I need to read it again. But my first impression was, as you so correctly pointed out Mark, "him making a mountain out of a molehill."

My first thought regarding blogging about this was to be hesitant. Sometimes, it's just not smart for a female "layperson" to counter a well-educated male, Christian scholar who is so highly regarded in most Christian circles. But it appears that he has raised the ire of many people. Ted Olsen for example.

This is good. It goes to show that when a person attempts to trump the wisdom and knowledge of God's revelation to us through the Scriptures with his/her own, fleshly and prideful form of education; the Holy Spirit's guidance upon our hearts, minds, souls and spirits will not allow us to be fooled.

Plus, other Christian brothers and sisters can (and should!) call us out on such errors in thinking.

I am always grateful when people correct me! None of us are perfect.

However, God's Word IS PERFECT!. It is the plumbline of Scripture that allows imperfect Christians to share HIS PERFECT WORD with an imperfect, sinful, rebellious, and evil world!

What was missing from Moreland's analysis, was that he should have said that if Scripture is not used as the sole source of knowledge and authority on any given topic, it should still remain as the "plumbline" to determine the ultimate source of relevant knowledge and authority. In other words, the additional sources that one might want to use (which, in some cases, like the archaeological finds case) which doesn't appear to need Scripture to determine what the find reveals, none-the-less, should not go against what is written in Scripture. If it does, then the person doing the interpretation is in error; not Scripture.

The Bible informs us that the Holy Spirit of God reveals the infallibility of Scripture to the mind of the believer. Therefore, what we, as Christian believers preach and teach should never counter what God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit reveals in said Scripture.

Again, it is that plumbline that keeps us straight and out of the error realm of interpretation (which can happen at times because we are fallible whereas God and His Word is infallible).

It's just my opinion, of course, but on this subject, I think that Moreland may be relying more on his fleshly thinking rather than on the mind of Christ that Paul speaks of in Scripture.

1Cr 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Mark said...

Many blessings Christine! I shared the the same response to the statement you quoted. In fact, as much as I value Moreland's many contributions to the faith, this statement is wrong and very misleading to say the lest. It sounds exactly like the reprobate emergent theology that is a direct attack on the authority and suffieciency of scripture in ALL matters of truth.

The problem is, after reading the paper, which I only read once, I was left thinking, what his real problem? In fact, archeological evidence has 100% of the time confimred scripture. For anyone, Moreland included, to say there is an over commitment to scripture is absurd. What world is he living in? Maybe he needs to leave the halls of the university and get some fresh worldly air, eh?

Lastly, he just joined some fairly unsavory company using the word bibliolatry. I hope he sees the error and I dare say I hope this was not a 'tag' to get attention.