Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Cult-Like Tendency in Modern Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism, part two

The faith was once and for all delivered.  Some will depart from the faith, not all. The gates of Hell will not prevail.  Certain doctrine could be better explained or better defended, but at this point, it shouldn't be new.   Cults are characterized by having the new teaching, you know, like Jesus came to North America, and that's what He meant when He said 'He had other sheep that were not of this fold.'

Some might think or say, "What about dispensationalism, that's new?"  No, it isn't new.  It's just an explanation for premillennialism, which is biblical and has been believed in the past.

In part one, I explained that evangelicalism and fundamentalism (E & F) have a tendency now to change things and create new doctrines to adapt to the new world and its philosophies.  I think I'm being nice in calling it a tendency.   E & F should be called for what they do, but they've got willing accomplices.   In the first edition of this series, I talked about the changes in bibliology that have been accepted.  This post will just accentuate the first one, with hopes of getting to new examples in the future, based on a post that was written recently by Dan Wallace at his blog, entitled, Fifteen Myths about Bible Translation.

King James Version supporters must get under Wallace's skin, because 8 of his "myths" relate to King James Onlyism (numbers 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11).  I should probably write a whole post just answering the myths about the myths, but I'm going to deal with only one of his list here, because it fits this series and what I wrote about in the first offering, and that is his number 11:

11.    Essential doctrines are in jeopardy in modern translations. Actually, no doctrine essential for salvation is affected by translations, modern or ancient—unless done by a particular cult for its own purposes. For example, those Englishmen who signed the Westminster Confession of Faith in the seventeenth century were using the KJV, yet it is still a normative doctrinal statement that millions of Protestants sign today even though they use modern translations.

His first statement is rather loaded, with its "no doctrine essential for salvation," implying and admitting that doctrines do change, just not ones essential to salvation.  This is untrue in major fashion.  Doctrine is affected.  We have a whole chapter on that in our book Thou Shalt Keep Them (See Order Buttons on Right).  Many doctrines, including the doctrine of salvation, are changed by the introduction of the changes in the new versions.  However, I'm not talking about that in this post---I just thought it needed to be pointed out.

Wallace is attempting to make some kind of a historical point in the second sentence in a very subtle way.  If you read the first section of the WCF on Scripture, you'll have a hard time finding exactly that to which Wallace refers.  Where in that statement is a point made about doctrines being what's important to have preserved in a new translation?  I can't find it anywhere.  You've got various concepts in there, that if pieced together just like Wallace wants them, you could read his point into the WCF.  The point he's making though is not in fact in there anywhere.

You would have to piece it together like the following.  In Roman numeral VII. of the section on Scripture, the divines wrote that the Bible will be able to be understood at least as it pertains to salvation.  Since what was a priority for plain meaning and understanding is the doctrine of salvation, then all that matters in word alterations is if you still have the doctrine of salvation.  Other doctrinal changes in a translation do not contradict the WCF.  Therefore, somehow modern translation supporters can sign off on all the doctrine of this section of the WCF, even if they don't believe Scripture has been preserved word-for-word even to the extent that they really think that certain doctrines, exclusive of salvation, have been changed.

Here's another flow of his argument.  The Westminster divines used the KJV.   The Westminster divines taught something in the WCF about the preservation of Scripture.  People who sign the WCF today use modern versions.  Therefore, the Westminster divines and those who sign it today believe the same way on the preservation of Scripture.  They wouldn't have signed off on it if it meant something that would forbid them from accepting a modern version!!

Wallace presents a very weird way to approach historical doctrine.  Your goal in historical theology is to understand what the historical figures were writing.  You don't get an understanding of what they were writing by studying the people who agree with them today.  You understand what they meant by looking at other writings that they wrote in their day.  This is also how we are to interpret the constitution as a historical document. We want to know original intent, not read into it what people today want it to mean.  That is a form of liberalism, that takes a loose constructionist view.

So would the historical bibliology of the Westminster divines result in the acceptance of modern versions, if they were available to them in that day?  No.  Of course not.  They wouldn't want to change Scripture.  They believed that they had received all the Words.  The WCF teaches perfect preservation of Scripture in the language in which it was written.  That doesn't parallel with believing in more than one and varied bibles, which have different words from a different textual source.

Just because men both use modern versions and sign off on the WCF doesn't mean that the use of modern versions is buttressed by the WCF.  Reading into the WCF something that isn't even there is the way that doctrine is altered.  This is the cultic tendency I was talking about.  If the WCF doesn't even mean what Wallace says, that's OK.  If you sign off on it, even though you don't even believe it, he's saying that it now counts as meaning the same thing as you believe.  It's magical.  That's the leap we've got to take to believe Wallace.  It's too big a leap for me.  It really should be too big a leap for anyone with a cerebrum.  There is no ladder that will span the chasm Wallace wants us to cross.

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