Monday, October 01, 2012

What's Worse? This Kind of Bad or That Kind of Bad

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When I was growing up (yes, I've grown up), my brother would show me the yearbook and then ask which girl I "liked," offering any one of three bad choices.  I know, everybody is beautiful in their own way.  When you've got whatever number of bad choices, you're best off with none-of-the-above.

It's a good thing to agree that something is bad that is bad.  I like reading articles that do a good job of exposing bad things.   They're helpful.  Dan Phillips has written some of these about a particular kind of continuationism, especially focusing on the continuationist contradiction to the sufficiency of Scripture and preference for ongoing special revelation.

The headline of one of Phillips' articles reads:  "What we confess as our sufficient, complete Bible:  what's missing?"  The addition to Scripture that occurs with the continuationists Phillips targets is bad.  Scripture was complete.  We shouldn't add anything.  We should just trust the completion, the sufficiency.  Right?  If you're given the choice of that alteration of Scripture, you don't take it.  You trust God instead.  The very bad thing that Phillips smacks, I have also pounded as it applies to independent Baptist revivalists---it's always bad---no matter who it is that believes it.

Phillips would argue, as would I, that the canon is closed.  We should keep it closed.  Opening it is bad.  God closed it.  What God has brought together, let no man put asunder, so to speak.

Enter textual criticism and modern versions.  Evangelical cessationists fiddle with Scripture.  They play with the closed canon, rearranging the furniture, repainting a wall, putting in a different oven.  Does the Holy Spirit make these decisions to alter a settled text?  No.  On a given Sunday, a pastor decides for the congregation what Scripture is.  So the Bible becomes gumby in his hands.  Phillips would have no problem with this.  He thinks you're stupid of you don't.  Why?  Well, you just are!!  And don't argue with me, because you're just stupid if you do!  How do I know this is Phillips' kind of reaction.  I've read it, and here is an example:

Anytime I’m tempted to think that professed Bible-believing Christianity in America is in good shape — which, actually, is never — all I have to do is remind myself that there are still snake-handlers, and there are still people who would doggedly argue with the title of this post.

The post was an argument for shucking the King James for a modern version in your church.  Phillips' statement was essentially directed toward me.  By the way, they talk like this, so disrespectfully and mean, because that's the best they got---they don't have anything else than scoffing.  Ironically, the kind of mocking that Phillips would reserve for this, his continuationist targets would aim at him.

Historial bibliology treats the text, the very Words, of Scripture as settled.  It wasn't just the books that were canonized.  The Words were.  You can't add or take away from a text that isn't settled.  And adding and taking away have become the norm of the eclectic text folk.

Phillips is presented with the two bad choices and rather than rejecting both of them, and really for the same reasons, he chooses one (falling in right into my brother's trap).  He does.  Both choices have a lot in common.

1.  They add or take away from Scripture.
2.  They contradict historical biblical bibliology.
3.  They are subjective.
4.  They change doctrine.
5.  They take the Bible into your own hands.
6.  They don't have a biblical basis for them.
7.  They both end with different words of a text received by the churches.
8.  They both ignore centuries of the church.

To be absolutely clear, I'm talking about the original text of Scripture, the Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic.  Phillips is fine with his "scholarly" tweaks of textual criticism, which really amount to at least 7% of the New Testament by itself, but he isn't OK with what he sees as emotional ones of these continuationists God continues "speaking to."  Instead of listening to an Elmer Gantry like figure slabber out something he's heard from above, we get a Mr. Chips like character asservate his best guesses.  Both of them harm the biblical doctrine of the Bible.  Both of them are bad choices.  Neither of them should be taken.

 I mentioned bad choices.  Let's talk about another one soon.

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