Bible


I am an unrepentant, unapologetic Fundamentalist.

Now, when I say that, I realize that we have to clarify terms; the word “fundamentalist” has become a pejorative in modern usage, somewhat due to the bellicose demeanor of those who self-identify with fundamentalism today, but more largely I believe due to the overall hostility of the world (and those within the church who are more world-friendly than is undoubtedly healthy) towards the very idea of Biblical fidelity.

I don’t mean I that I am a fundamentalist in either of those two caricatured ways.

What I do mean is that I am a fundamentalist according to the original denotation of the word.

At the turn of the previous century, in response to the rising tide of Modernism in the church (Modernism is the father of Postmodernism, which in turn is really just Modernism with a new hairdo, spiffy spectacles, and a hep-cat-yo-dog-g-money way of presenting itself; see 1, 2, 3), a group of Biblically conservative scholars from a wide cross-section of current Christendom pooled their impressive intellectual prowess and issued a series of articles dealing with the fundamentals of the Christian faith once for all delivered to the saints, which in 1909 were printed in a daunting twelve volume set of books, and then re-issued in 1917 into a more concise four volume set, finally being re-edited and re-issued in 1958 in a one-volume book (this is the one that Warren Wiersbe was involved in).  That series of articles, when published in their respective editions, were collectively titled The Fundamentals, and it is from this seminal work that the conservatives who opposed the creeping unbelief of the Modernist movement took their name – Fundamentalists.

It is perhaps a very odd irony that those who tend to loudly self-identify with fundamentalism today would not much appreciate either the articles or (and perhaps more especially) the authors themselves; modern “fundamentalists” are almost universally KJV-Only cessationist Arminian Baptists, and though most of those are gracious and honestly convinced, some very prominent voices in modern “fundamentalism” are quite…belligerent.  And are not only very leery of anybody who’s not a KJV-Only cessationist Arminian Baptist, but aren’t too sure even of others who share the same cognomen.  It turns out that not only were a significant portion of the contributors not Baptists, but several were “baby-sprinkling” Presbyterians and Methodists, and even Anglicans!!!  (Note this article’s defense of KJV-Onlyism includes the “baby sprinkling” canard as an argument against modern translations…and conveniently ignores the fact that the KJV translators were Anglicans themselves.  Turns out KJV-Onlyists are as impervious to contravening facts as are most Emergents that I’ve read…).

But it is in the very context of those original articles and the incipient Fundamentalist movement that these articles energized that I lay claim to the title.

I am a Fundamentalist.

I believe that the sixty-six Books of the Bible are the perspicacious, confluent, plenary, verbal, inspired Word of the Living God.  I believe it is, with the indwelling and illuminating of the Holy Spirit, self-interpreting and self-revealing. I believe that it is not to be reconstructed, deconstructed, or redacted in any fashion – only to be read, meditated upon, and obeyed.  It judges uswe do not judge it.  All things, all things entirely, are to be viewed, understood, and interpreted through it’s infallible lens, not the converse.  We may not (indeed; we do not) fully understand it – unsurprising, considering its nature and origin.  But we do not come to it in a heart of doubt and unbelief; we come to it with a heart of humble submission, understanding that it is the infallible voice of the Shepherd.

Because of this, I believe in the Trinitarian nature of the Godhead, in the fallenness of man, in the creation of the universe by God ex nihilo, in the Virgin Birth, in Jesus’ sinless life, in His death in my stead as an innocent, vicarious, propitiatory sacrifice, in His physical resurrection from the grave, in His bodily ascent to the right hand of the Father, in His eventual (and, secondarily, I believe soon) return to judge the living and the dead, in my own eventual bodily resurrection, in a conscious intermediate state between physical death and eventual resurrection, and in the eternal state.

I believe that the best possible hermeneutic (method for interpreting the Text) is through the grammatico-historical exegesis of that Text.

Given all that, the question of what is the Text in the first place becomes somewhat important.

You cannot be a reader of the Bible for long before you encounter the initially unsettling reality that what comprises the Biblical Text is a subject of some debate.  There are thousands of extant manuscripts and fragments of manuscripts of the New Testament Text from ancient times…but no two agree 100% in every particular.

There are many ways that this is understood, explained, and dealt with.  But one consequence of this is the rise of what has been called Textual Criticism.  That’s not saying that dudes sit around and criticize the Bible (though doubtlessly some do); instead, TC is the science of taking the vast corpus of extant New Testament manuscripts, exhaustively studying them, and collating from the available evidence the original readings of the autographs.  This has become an entire science in itself, and like any field of research, there are many competing views and factions.

All methods of Textual Criticism use all available extant manucript evidence, but handle the corpus differently.

The ascendant TC position today is eclecticism.  In eclecticism, certain manuscrips are deemed “better” and “more pure,” and are thus “weighted” differently than others.  It is from the eclectic text that most modern translations of the Bible derive, like the NASB, NIV, HCSB, ESV, and NLT.

Another position, by no means as prominent, is known as the Majority Text position.  This is the collational theory that I personally subscribe to; a brief explanation of the MT position can be found here.

Like any of the other Textual Criticism position, however, the MT has…issues.  It happens to have less than the others and has more explanatory power, in my opinion, but it’s not without its soft underbelly.  So when I read this article by Dr. James White explaining the Byzantine-Priority position, I was fascinated.  After I dig into this further, I may need to adjust my views…

I love learning.

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I find this fascinating. I’m not ready to do this on a regular basis on a Sunday morning – this is a lot more along the lines of what we used to (and will again, once interest in it grows again) do in home fellowships…but it’s sort of what we’re still able to do at CC Lakeshore on occasion being that we’re not much bigger than a typical home fellowship anyway, when I’ll ask questions of the congregation during the study – with the purpose of actually getting answers – for the purpose of encouraging real interaction with the Text.

First, from The Blog Of Which We Do Not Speak, this, and then from Master Chris Elrod (TM), this.

‘S’all I have time for right now. At my day-job-to-support-my-habit, filling out paperwork so that I can hopefully get paid. And then get formula & diapers. Both of which it turns out are worth several orders of magnitude of their equivalent weight in gold. And cost as much.

And are worth it.

Peace out.

Down a bit on this blog, I’ve been interacting with an ECMmer regarding Chris Elrod’s recent series of blogposts. Said ECM individual mentioned that Chris’ writings were entertaining but confused the important issue of the “pre-easter jesus” and the “post-easter jesus” – the PreEJ being the historical Jesus, and the PostEJ being the mythical Jesus.

Among the other things that ECM Mike stated, was this:

It appears that the real core of our disagreement can be traced to a different understanding of the word “myth”.

I’m using the word to mean a story which reveals a truth, but is told through grand symbolic language rather than simply transmitting historical facts. Myth is not a synonym for false. All myths have some history and/or truth behind them and their symbolism brings that truth to life.

This is something I’ve heard more and more from the (liberal wing of the) Emerging/Emergent Church Movement – the idea of “true myth.”

Here’s my question: If the Gospels (and the rest of the Bible – say, Genesis, for example…) are to be regarded as mythical, and that myth is now “not really true but really true in a real sense that has truth but isn’t really true unless you have the super-secret decoder ring…” How is that any different from, say, the claims of Asatru?

Compare ECM Mike’s quote on myth to Asatru’s explanation of myth.

First, ECM Mike’s quote on myth:

I’m using the word to mean a story which reveals a truth, but is told through grand symbolic language rather than simply transmitting historical facts. Myth is not a synonym for false. All myths have some history and/or truth behind them and their symbolism brings that truth to life.

Now, Asatru’s quote on myth:

The myths are stories about the Gods and Goddesses of Asatru. We believe they are ways of stating spiritual truths. That is, we would say they contain truths about the nature of divinity, our own nature, and the relationship between the two. We do not contend that the myths are literally true, as history. Rather, myth can be thought of as “the dream of the race” or “that which never happened, but is always true.”

What is the real, substantive difference? If the Bible is only myth (even “true myth”) then why is it any better than Asatru’s Poetic and Prose Edda? Why is it any better a guide than the Sri Guru Granth Sahib of Sikhism? Or the Upanishads?

If the Bible (whether the whole thing, or the Gospels, or Genesis) is merely myth (even “true myth”) then what possible reason is there to believe that Jesus is God and therefore your only Savior – why is that position any better than the Astatruar’s devotion to the Aesir and Vanir?

Guys: IDEAS HAVE CONSEQUENCE.

I have to get ready for tentmaking. More later.

Okay, looks like I’ve gone and kicked myslef up a hornet’s nest.

For all of my readers (the both of you), to bring y’all up-to-date:

  1. I put up a blogpost commenting on one of the more amusing ongoing discussions over on the super-increasingly-aptly-titled open source theology blog.
  2. Andrew Perriman, moderator of said blog and author extraordinaire, responded here.
  3. I responded back.
  4. He responded to my response.
  5. I responded back.
  6. He responded to my response to his response.
  7. After a few rounds of the same, John Doyle responded…
  8. I responded…
  9. Andrew responded…
  10. …and after several more rounds, John posted his summary of the discussion thus far…
  11. and on it goes.

Yeesh.

Now all my readers (you both, over there) are up-to-speed on the fracas thus far.

To summarize my summary above: The issue really boils down to a question of authority.

In other words, what is the basis for truth? If you jettison inerrancy, you are left with… well, nothing.

Andrew is maintaining that his “trust is not in the supposed perfection of a text but in the God who is revealed through the testimony of the text, through the historical experience of the community.” My contention is… no, he’s not. If that was in fact true, he’d agree with the doctrine of the supposed perfection of a text, since the Church Universal has always believed that (to varying degrees, it is to be admitted) – the point of contention really being a matter of whether or not that Perfect (read: “Inerrant”) Text is self-illuminating, or whether there must also be magisterial authority vested in a separate entity (i.e., the Church). But the perfection of the Text itself is not in question, within the context of the “historical experience of the community.”

Either way, sola scriptura or sola ecclesia, the (liberal wing of) the ECM evaporates. What the (liberal wing of) the ECM really believes is solo mio.

But that’s just my opinion. Which along with $.50… oh, nevermind…

Anybody else care to weigh in…?

It seems to be the hep-cat-yo-dog-g*money-cool thing to do, if you want to be culturally relevant and all Emerging and all that deconstructive jazz, to periodically post a somewhat pretentious cataolog of stuff… and name it something along the lines of “Music Monday,” or “Phriday is for Photos,” or “Wednesday is for Wookies,” or something along those lines.

Sorry, dudes; couldn’t come up with anything snazzy to rhyme with “Tuesday.” Doh.

But, in the interest of keeping up with the ECM Joneses, and given that it’s been a while since my normally loquacious self has posted anything (I have a really good excuse – but more on that later), here’s a smattering of blogposts and newsitems which have caught my attention over the span of the last few weeks, in no particular order…

Well, that’s it for now, kids. It’s late, I have to drive in to Grand Rapids tomorrow for Day Two of my new “day job to support my habit.”

Rock on.

A helpful post on sound hermeneutics (by examining unsound hermeneutics) here by the dudes over at The Sign of Jonah.

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