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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Are Reformed Scholars, Ministers, and Celebrities Beyond Critical Examination?

Someone recently questioned my analysis of one of Michael Horton's questionable positions. While I greatly admire the work Horton is doing to promote the Gospel and to inform the public about the scriptural basis of the Protestant Reformation, I have found at least three areas where I disagree with Horton and in the future there could be more areas of disagreement. Does that mean I'm throwing Horton and the White Horse Inn out altogether? Absolutely not!


However, if we fail to examine any ministry or the doctrines/teachings of any public Christian ministry, we are essentially granting that person a license to operate above scriptural authority. Anyone who thinks we should not call Horton to account when he goes beyond the scriptures is actually taking a similar position to the pentecostal/charismatic view that we should "touch not" God's anointed prophets.


One of Horton's ideas I objected to last year during the elections was his view that Christians should return to the old line fundamentalist and dispensationalist withdrawal from public debate over political issues. Not only is this against the views of Calvin and the other Protestant Reformers but it goes against the principle of the freedom of religion. Christians have as much right to fight against abortion and gay rights as any atheist has to fight for those positions. In a democratic republic the majority rules. If Christians sit back and do nothing then atheists, socialists, and the politically liberal crowd will most certainly continue to erode scriptural values from the public and to take away religious liberties like the freedom of speech in the church. Already we see in Canada that it is against the law to publicly write or speak out against homosexuality because that is "hate" speech. A minister in Canada was jailed and fined for daring to say that homosexual behavior is a sin. Imagine what they would say if a Calvinist had the audacity to say that God "hates" homosexuals and trans-sexuals? Of course, God does hate those who are unrepentant whether they be homosexuals, atheists, adulterers, child molesters, pornographers or murderers. The list could go on. The essential doctrine of the Christian faith is that all sinners are under the wrath of God. As Jonathan Edwards put it, we are "sinners in the hands of an angry God."



Horton, however, laughed at the idea that laws against homosexual behavior could help curb the wicked. The laws of the land can discourage evil by external means, thus keeping the peace and protecting the traditional family model established by God at creation (Genesis 2:7, 18, 22). We must always be careful to distinguish between Calvin's principle of general equity and the extremes of theonomic and reconstructionist views of church and state. But we should also be careful to reject the idea that there is a total and absolute disconnect between Christianity and the state. The constitution advocates that there should be no one denomination or church supported or enforced above others. That, however, does not mean the exclusion of religion from participation in the politics of a free democratic republic.



Another point where I strongly disagree with Horton is his idea of "many rooms" where Christian denominations are free to teach their own doctrinal distinctives. While that part of the analogy works fine the trouble lies in the idea that in the main room, the public room,we need only believe in 1) the trinity and 2) biblical inerrancy. This would essentially mean that Horton's main room is no different from evangelicalism's big tent which he criticizes.



If Horton wishes to be taken seriously, then he needs to explain how his lobby or auditorium with many side rooms is any different from the many roads to heaven of liberalism? How is it different from the pelagianism espoused by the big tent model he criticizes in Christless Christianity?



And even more disappointing, Horton has had guests on his program who personally advocate the amalgation of denominations and churches and compromising the principles of Scripture and the Protestant Reformation. One example of that is Os Guinness, who signed the Evangelicals and Catholics Together document. That document was severely criticized by Horton and others who responded with The Cambridge Declaration. Yet, when Horton had Guinness on the radio program not a word was mentioned about the ECT or CD! Why is that? Is this not a legitimate subject or topic of discussion?



Another questionable guest was William Willimon, a bishop of the United Methodist Church. Willimon's theology is tied to the wesleyan-holiness tradition. Willimon is also a supporter of Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. On the surface this sounds good. But having studied at Asbury I can tell you that Asbury does not uphold biblical inerrancy any more but in fact has professors who advocate that Genesis 1-11 is "myth." (Lawson Stone). A professor of NT at the time, Dr. John Walters (1995), suggested that the Bible "contains" theological concepts which are infallible and inerrant but the text itself could contain errors. These two views are clearly a step away from biblical inerrancy and infallibility and away from Asbury's own statement on the inspiration and authority of Scripture, which says that Scripture is "the only written Word of God, without error in all it affirms. The Scriptures are the only infallible rule of faith and practice." (See Statement of Faith: Scripture). And another seminar directed by Robert Mulholland at the time said that the sacraments were borrowed from the mystery religions.



Willimon himself identifies himself as a liberal when he is speaking with liberals and an evangelical when speaking with evangelicals. One has to wonder what Willimon's true position is?



Another well publicized stumble on the part of Horton was his invitation to Anne Rice to his program. Rice was an atheist who converted to the Roman Catholic Church. So Horton seemed to be indirectly endorsing the Roman Catholic Church, which the Protetstant Reformation strongly opposed. (See: The White Horse Inn: Nonsense on Tap).



In view of these observations, it would do us well not to be too hasty to jump on the bandwagon with reformers who are willing to compromise their own message in order to appeal to a wider audience. Horton has in the past criticized the emergent church movement, the pentecostal/charismatic movement, and the church growth movement. However, he seems to allow that some emergent churches are not that bad. Mars Hill and its pastor, Mark Driscoll, do seem to be on the more conservative side of the emergent church movement as opposed to Brian McClaren. But Horton wants to have his cake and eat it too. Mars Hill models itself on the same old same old tried and true megachurch model of the shopping mall and many campuses. The very church growth model Horton supposedly opposes is in fact endorsed. If you don't believe me, go to the White Horse Inn blog and surf around a bit. (See: The Archbishop, the Reformation, and the Theology of the Cross, by Eric Landry). If you click on Landry's "friends" at the Mockingbird NYC, you will find all sorts of postmodern, emergent church ideas which undermine the Reformation and instead compromise the Gospel with popular culture, the very thing Horton and The White Horse Inn are supposed to be critiquing!




Maybe I'm just being paranoid. However, it seems to me that if you're going to take a stand, then be careful who you associate with and at least make some disclaimers before inviting guests on your program. That is particularly true when one of the guests, Os Guinness, signed a document (Evangelicals and Catholics Together) that you originally opposed.

8 comments:

Charlie J. Ray said...

John Walters

Lawson Stone said...

Charlie
I want to say without hesitation that I do affirm biblical inerrancy and I have never said that Genesis 1-11 are, or contain, "myth." I doubt it is fruitful to try to engage you in this conversation because you seem unable to see things other than in your own categories, but you do me an injustice in what you say. I doubt you can be persuaded, but I wanted to be on record with you as rejecting completely your characterization of me. You have confused the obvious fact, observable to anyone, that the OT interacts substantively with the religious literature of antiquity, with claims that it is myth. You have also confused the suggestion that prose texts do not have to be documentary journalistic description to be true. That's not about inerrancy, it's about literary genre--a distinction you likely find distasteful, but it's real all the same. In effect, you are commanding God, demanding that He only inspire scripture in the genres that you permit Him to use. It is the job of interpretation first to discern, through grammtical, historical, and literary exegesis just what the author was saying, which includes what genre, what semantic level, he spoke and wrote. Claims of inerrancy make no sense when applied to a text that has not been interpreted aright.

God bless you in your continued service to him.

Charlie J. Ray said...

I find it odd that you would deny that you understand Genesis 1-11 from a neo-orthodox perspective. It is even more odd since your preferred reading texts were Von Rad and Wellhausen, etc. with no critical response to those views. You taught that the OT is essentially composed by means of the documentary theory, etc., etc.

Your clever evasion of the REAL issue is basically an outright lie. Your view sells out to higher criticism, which is essentially to sell out to liberalism.

Neo-evangelicalism is code for "neo-orthodox" these days. I would not recommend many "Evangelical" seminaries these days, most especially Asbury.

Asbury is more concerned with defending Arminianism than with defending the authority of Scripture. The seminary is rapidly going from bad to worse and I would be willing to bet its founders would not be happy with the direction the seminary has taken either.

If Genesis-Deuteronomy is merely pieced together by editors rather than primarily authored by Moses, then we might as well pack it up and go home.

Call me a "fundamentalist" but adopting the views of higher criticism "uncritically" is to sell the authority of Scripture down the river. This might be another reason Asbury has not critically debated the many liberals scholars it invites to speak instead of presenting them as if they were born again, Bible believing Christians.

Academics need not sacrifice a solid polemics and apologetics against such views. Asbury is basically a huge disappointment to any neo-fundamentalist looking for tools to fight liberalism and defend the Christian worldview. Asbury's answer seems to be to side with the enemy so they can appear respectable to the world.

Charlie J. Ray said...

The one thing I can say about Asbury, however, is it pushed me to think for myself instead of selling out to the company party line so I could gain employment with the "company."

I for one refuse to be a "hireling."

Charlie J. Ray said...

Redefining inerrancy so that it can embrace "inspired" myths, legends, and sagas is really to embrace higher criticism which undermines inerrancy and biblical authority. If the Penteteuch and other major books of the OT are merely pieced together documents by "inspired" editors then Jesus must certainly have misunderstood who wrote the OT.

Asbury is the "Mike Warnke" of neo-evangelicalism. Very "inspirational" but in the end the story is just a story.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Lawson Stone issued a protest on another post I made in this regard where he denies that he has compromised biblical inerrancy or that he teaches that Genesis 1-11 is "myth." But this is simply dissimulation and double talk. I fail to see how adopting the radical view of the documentary theory can be characterized in any other way except as a compromise of biblical inerrancy, particularly when the OT is portrayed as inspired "story" rather than primarily an historical account of the people of Israel, particularly in the Penteteuch. Of course there are different kinds of literature in the OT such as poetry (Psalms, Song of Solomon, etc.) wisdom literature (Job, Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, etc.), historical narrative (the Penteteuch; 1&2 Samuel, 1&2 Kings, 1&2 Chronicles, etc.). But to evade the question by hiding behind vague and general statements in public and making particular statements in classes or in professional settings not open to the public is a form of dissimulation or "covert" misdirection. In plain talk, it is a form of lying.

I have offered the opportunity for Lawson Stone to define what he means by term "biblical inerrancy" and how his view relates or differs from the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. Also, what is his view of the higher critical documentary theory and the use of myth, saga, and legend as explained by Von Rad and other neo-orthodox theologians. So far Stone has not responded.

This is evidence enough that he is not sincere about defending his views in the public arena. He would rather hide in the ivory tower it seems to me.

Sincerely in Christ,

Charlie

Charlie J. Ray said...

For the record, Stone teaches the JEDP theory of the Penteteuch with several other modern variations of the theory. E1, E2, etc., etc.

Charlie

Charlie J. Ray said...

Stone said: "You have also confused the suggestion that prose texts do not have to be documentary journalistic description to be true. That's not about inerrancy, it's about literary genre--a distinction you likely find distasteful, but it's real all the same. In effect, you are commanding God, demanding that He only inspire scripture in the genres that you permit Him to use."

Well, this begs the question. I do not deny that there are many different types of literary genre in the OT and the Bible as a whole. Stone seems to think everyone who disagrees with him is ignorant or something. However, notice carefully that he thinks that "prose texts do not have to be documentary journalistic description to be true. That's not about inerrancy, it's about literary genre." This gives away his position that Stone is the one who does not understand that his arbitrary assigning of texts that are historical narrative are somehow in another literary genre he labels as "legend, saga, and myth." No one is arguing that wisdom or apocalyptic genre in the OT are not true. What we are arguing is Stone says the historical narratives are merely inspired stories or "myth" as he redefines the term "myth." It's not "myth" like Greek or Roman "myth" but biblical myth is an inspired myth.

Well, if this is the way forward as defined by Stone, then we might as well throw out the Bible altogether.

Charlie

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