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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 25, 2012

Mike Horton on the "Myth" of the Inspired Bible

The following is a quote that shows how far the Van Tilian theology of the neo-Calvinists is willing to go in compromising with postmodernism and rejecting the special revelation of the plenary verbal inspiration of Scripture.  Mike Horton states plainly that he does not believe the Bible is literally true but is instead "inspired myth", which is nothing more than neo-orthodoxy restated:

We do not have to say that Christianity is a metanarrative to affirm that it is true.  C. S. Lewis pointed out that Christianity is the true myth--the myth that actually became fact.  "It happens--at a particular, in a particular place, followed by definable historical consequences.  We pass from a Balder or an Osiris, dying nobody knows when or where, to a historical Person crucified (it is all in order) under Pontius Pilate.  By becoming fact it does not cease to be myth." 7  In other words, it is still a story, even though it is true.  Not even the resurrection is a metanarrative; its meaning cannot be read off of the surface of historical events but is defined by its intratextual context as part of an unfolding plot.  Mike Horton.  The Christian Faith:  A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way.  (Grand Rapids:  Zondervan, 2011).  Page 18.
In other words, for Horton the Bible is not necessarily narrative history.  It is an inspired myth that happens to be "true", whatever that means.  Since for Horton the Scriptures are at no single point the same knowledge God and man knows on man's level, then it follows that Scripture is not really God's revelation since God cannot possibly reveal anything to man on his level "at any single point."  The Bible is not really God's words after all, according to Horton.  This is the legacy of Cornelius Van Til:  skepticism pretending to believe.  And inspired "myth" is still a "myth" or a "story" and not the literal truth in the very inspired words of God Himself--words spoken through the prophets and the apostles.

Addendum:  It looks like Mike Horton is now promoting evolution as a viable option for Christians on The White Horse Inn.  Why am I not surprised?  See: Out of the Horse's Mouth: Myths about Christianity:  Anglicans Ablaze

25 comments:

Jack Miller said...

Charlie,

I think you are misconstruing Michael Horton's words. He nowhere states the position that you claim is his, i.e. Mike Horton states plainly that he does not believe the Bible is literally true but is instead "inspired myth". You put quotes around those last two words. They aren't in the passage you cite, neither does he state plainly what you claim he does.

Rather, Horton uses the Lewis quote in order to make a point:

In other words, it is still a story, even though it is true. Not even the resurrection is a metanarrative; its meaning cannot be read off of the surface of historical events but is defined by its intratextual context as part of an unfolding plot.

What he plainly says is that Christianity and thus the Bible, in its own context, is a story and at the same time is a true story, meaning literally true.

You are drawing your own conclusions (right or wrong) and then attributing them as Horton's stated position. Not fair.

Thomas Keningley said...

Where does Horton say any of the things you claim he said? In particular, no phrase about "literal truth", or "inspired myth" (the latter of which you put in quotation marks yet where is it found?)

I don't believe your claim is a reasonable exegesis of Horton. He is not denying the historicity of Christianity, but rather he is questioning whether it is metanarratival (like Marxism or Freudian psychology, for example). He's saying that it is a particular story which may look like others, just one narrative amongst the rest (whether he thinks that it does look like that is hard to discern from this short quotation) but is distinguished by being historically true ("Its meaning cannot be read off of the surface of historical events"- implication that it was a historical event).

The point of it being a story or a myth is that the significance of the events is only comprehensible within the entire narrative (the Bible). This is a very important contention of presuppositionalism (Clarkian or Van Tillian)- so-called facts don't speak for themselves, but require interpretation on the basis of worldview/axiomata.

I'm not saying I agree with Horton and Lewis, just that I don't think your reading of them is fair.

In fact, this passage doesn't even seem to be concerned with the inspiration or otherwise of the Bible, but rather textual/genre questions. I really don't know how you justify your conclusion based on this quotation.

Charlie J. Ray said...

I refer you to my review of Horton's book, The Christian Faith. It's scattered around in various parts.

My beef with Horton is his slim pretense of being in agreement with the old school Princeton theologians. However, he only briefly mentions B.B. Warfield and even then not one word about plenary verbal inspiration in relation to the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture. Clearly Horton's view is meant to accommodate to the "theory" of theistic evolution and other nonsense. The framework theory of Genesis 1-11 is another cop out. Basically, if you reject the univocal nature of Scripture as propositional truth the door is wide open to an Evangelical form of neo-orthodoxy.

Charlie J. Ray said...

The "facts" do not speak for themselves, according to Gordon H. Clark. The special revelation of Holy Scripture is logical and rational and reason and faith are not opposed to one another. Faith precedes reason but faith seeks understanding and God can be known through the logical propositions and truth claims of the Scriptures.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Jack, the logical implications of saying that the Bible is an inspired "story" speaks for itself. The Bible is either factually and historically true or it is not. The idea that the Bible is "inspired myth" is a neo-orthodox doctrine. Barth could claim that the "facts" of the Bible are true. But Barth redefined salvation history as an existential encounter and not as literal history. Cornelius Van Til opened the door to skepticism when he attacked Scripture as "at no single point" the same knowledge that God knows. Logically God can and does lower Himself to speak to man on our level and when God speaks in simple terms at that point of contact what God knows and what we know is univocally the same. For God and us 2 + 2 = 4 is the same knowledge, although surely God knows much more about mathematics than we do. When we teach a child the alphabet the child and we share the same knowledge of the letters a b c. But adults know much more. Although God is incomprehensible in His secret being and nature, what God reveals is by definition no longer secret AND what God knows and what we know is precisely the same knowledge where we understand properly the logical propositions of the Scriptures. If not, then we can know nothing about God whatsoever and skepticism is the only result.

Judging from the condition of the OPC and the PCA and other "conservative" Reformed denominations these days the charge is justified.

I've been reading through Horton's systematic theology and it reads like something Donald Bloesch wrote. Barthianism.

Charlie J. Ray said...

The Bible is not a "story" or a "fable" or a "myth". It is THE inspired Word of God and everything it records in every detail is the inspired and inerrant Word of God. Genesis 1-11 is narrative history, not "inspired" saga or "story".

Thomas Keningley said...

That the "facts" don't speak for themselves is exactly what Horton is also contending! And if we require the Bible to understand these events, as Horton says, then one can only assume that he believes it to be God's explanation thereof, which implies an orthodox doctrine of Scripture. You might say that an analogical doctrine of Scripture leads to neo-orthodoxy, but to accuse Michael Horton of neo-orthodoxy has no basis in the passage you quote.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Well, NO, that is NOT what Horton is contending. Horton on every other page of his systematic theology attacks the theology of Carl Henry and Gordon H. Clark as "rationalist". The charge is untrue but Horton's attack is meant to be a smoke screen for his capitulations to neo-orthodoxy. Scripture is univocally THE Word of God and is not an analogy of God's Word. Neither is Scripture a "frame" for God's revelation. Scripture does not "contain" the revelation of God. Scripture IS the Word of God.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Search Results for Horton's Book

Thomas Keningley said...

"John, tell them the story about the time you accidentally poured custard all over our neighbour's elderly mother." Is the "story" in question necessarily false? To say so is to abuse the word.

The word "myth" is clearly being re-figured here by Lewis and Horton. Once again, it's not fair to accuse them of neo-orthodoxy on this basis. They are using postmodern language that should be understood in its context.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Again, I refer you to Horton's book. And by the way, I am not the only one criticizing Horton. Lane Tipton was critical of Horton's application of speech-act theory to Scripture. After reading Horton's book I have to agree that there are problems with that theory, namely that Horton strips Scripture of practically all rational content and makes God's speech some sort of mystical elocutionary force.

Thomas Keningley said...

Horton may, quite possibly does, misrepresent Carl Henry and Gordon H. Clark. Doesn't make him neo-orthodox, I think it more likely means he hasn't taken the time to properly understand them.

Horton's attack is meant to be a smoke screen for his capitulations to neo-orthodoxy.

How do you know what his motives are?

Charlie J. Ray said...

Logic. It doesn't take a genius to figure out when someone has an agenda. It is not that Horton and other advocates of Van Til's theology do not understand Clark. It's that they refuse to accept the final authority of Scripture.

Why else question the fact that Scripture IS God's univocal Word. Horton continually asserts that trying to understand God's Word through logical propositions is prying into the secret being of God. Nothing could be further from the truth since what is revealed in Scripture is by definition revealed and not hidden. To say that at no single point is the Bible in contact with the same knowledge God has on our creaturely level is to endorse skepticism.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Reminds me of Pentecostals telling stories or anecdotes about miracles. Of course most of them are speaking evangelistically. Benny Hinn can "raise the dead." It's an inspiring story and it's true. Depending on how you define truth, that is. Von Rad called Genesis 1-11 an inspired "saga". But he certainly didn't believe the world flood happened or that Adam and Eve were literally created the way Genesis 1-2 describes the creation of man.

C.S. Lewis was not only not an Evangelical but he was also an Anglo-Catholic. His move from atheism to papist-lite is supposed to be inspirational? What is so great about C.S. Lewis?

The fact is the Bible is not a fable, a myth, or a story. It is the inspired Word of God. It's not an inspiring drama like Shakespeare or some other literary genius. The Bible is literal history and the the history of salvation.

KJV 1 Timothy 1:4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.
7 But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.
KJV 2 Timothy 4:4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
KJV Titus 1:14 Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.
KJV 2 Peter 1:16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

Charlie J. Ray said...

See also the comments of Dr. David Engelsma here: Genesis 1-11: Myth or History?

Thomas Keningley said...

There is no logical necessity which leads from the premise of their espousal of Van Tillianism to the conclusion that they want to deny the authority of Scripture. That is unjustified speculation. They might, for example, want to protect God's transcendence and just be misguided in what that should mean.

C. S. Lewis is a good writer and I believe some of his books contain valuable spiritual insight. No one's saying he was anything more than a man though.

You keep carrying on about fables, myths and stories, but "fable" is a word introduced to the discussion by you, "myth" is clearly being used in an unconventional way by Horton and Lewis and "story" doesn't necessarily mean true or false.

Charlie J. Ray said...

The logical "implication", Thomas, is that if at "no single point" God's knowledge and our knowledge coincide or make any direct contact univocally, then we cannot know anything whatsoever. If 2 + 2 = 4 for us and something else for God then God must be irrational or illogical. In which case, that would lead to skepticism. I would suggest that you re-investigate the Clark/Van Til controversy.

To over-emphasize the transcendance of God so that revelation is impossible except by "analogy" is tantamount to saying that Scripture is not revelation at all. The implication is that Van Til's view is Barthianism restated in hidden and equivocal terms. If Scripture is only analogy and not the very words of God, then what we have is a "framework" of revelation and not revelation itself. The only conclusion to be logically deduced is that the theory of analogy is an existential and ineffable encounter and not the logical and rational revelation of God in verbal/plenary inspiration. Either the Bible IS God's Word or it is merely an analogy of God's Word. You can't have it both ways. The law of contradiction forbids it. God reveals Himself in logical propositions in Scripture and those who deny it open the door to relativism and skepticism. It's as simple at that.

Charlie J. Ray said...

I would further add that the case with C. S. Lewis is much worse than you intimate. Lewis was unregenerate and promoted what can only be called "papist" like doctrines. Anglo-Catholism, Lewis' preferred religion, denies all five of the solas of the Protestant Reformation, including justification by faith alone. It is therefore highly misleading for Horton to quote Lewis as if he were a leading authority on anything whatsoever.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Thomas said:

"You keep carrying on about fables, myths and stories, but "fable" is a word introduced to the discussion by you, "myth" is clearly being used in an unconventional way by Horton and Lewis and "story" doesn't necessarily mean true or false."

That would be odd because the Greek word used in the verses I quoted above is "muthos".

3542 mu/qoj
mu/qoj, muqou, o`, from Homer down;

1. a speech, word, saying.

2. a narrative, story; a. a true narrative. b. a fiction, a fable; universally, an invention, falsehood: 2 Pet. 1:16; the fictions of the Jewish theosophists and Gnostics, especially concerning the emanations and orders of the aeons, are called muqoi (A. V. fables) in 1 Tim. 1:4; 4:7; 2 Tim. 4:4 ; Titus 1:14. (Cf. Trench, sec. xc., and references under the word genalogia.)*


While it is true that the word is used in classical Greek to refer merely to historical narratives and such, the word is always used in the NT in a negative sense, particularly in 2 Peter 1:16. Therefore, when Horton equivocates by quoting C. S. Lewis the ambiguity and relativism is pronounced. That's true especially in the light of Horton's endorsement of Van Til's embracing of paradox and analogy while pretending to outright reject Barthian neo-orthodoxy.

Thomas Keningley said...

I think you've misconstrued what I was talking about with regard to logical necessity. You said you figured out their motives by logic, and I was saying that you could not get from their espousal of Van Tillianism to that knowledge of their motives by logic alone. The fact is, they may not see the implications of their view. People are frequently inconsistent, it doesn't mean they didn't believe in the inspiration of Scripture.

He didn't quote Lewis as an authority. He affirmed the quotation, not Lewis. How do you know Lewis was unregenerate? Furthermore, where does he personally, not just anglo-catholicism in general, disavow justification by faith alone?

And a combination of the word-concept fallacy and the root-word fallacy doesn't prove your case against Horton. He was not using the word in the sense you are ascribing to him through quoting those passages.

Charlie J. Ray said...

How do I know C. S. Lewis was unregenerate? Because he believed a false gospel of works. How do you know a Mormon is unregenerate? Or a Buddhist? Do you see into their hearts/minds? OR do you judge by the doctrine they believe? Perhaps you believe that salvation is not based on doctrine but on some mystical experience??? Sorry, but mysticism isn't my theology. Salvation depends on assenting to the Gospel. Sola Fide.

Cf. Galatians 1:6-9; 2 Corinthians 11:3-4; Galatians 3:10

Charlie J. Ray said...

Thomas,since I reviewed Horton's book as a whole, it follows that I based my views on the knowledge I have of his basic theology from a Van Tilian perspective and not just on one teeny weeny word. You seem to think that Horton's views are not generally known or that he hasn't given himself away many times over.

Thomas Keningley said...

Re: C. S. Lewis- where does he disavow or deny justification by faith alone, or affirm the contrary?

Charlie J. Ray said...

Thomas, that question is general knowledge and therefore I do not need to do research or provide footnotes to justify my position. Anyone who has read Mere Christianity and is familiar with the Anglo-Catholic emphasis on the Lambeth Quadrilateral knows that Lewis never even mentions the doctrine of Sola Fide or even Sola Scriptura in that book. It's brand X Christianity.

But to satisfy you that I'm not talking off the top of my head I offer you the following links:

Was C.S. Lewis an Anglo-Catholic?

and:

Did C. S. Lewis Go to Heaven?

I have read Mere Christianity and several of Lewis' novels. I also read his commentary on the Psalms. I read a couple of his other books, including Surprised by Joy, Miracles, and The Problem of Pain.

I often wondered in those early years why Lewis seemed so different. I now know that it was because of his papist tendencies via the Anglo-Catholic connection.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Was C.S. Lewis An Anglo-Catholic?

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