15 July 2010

Two radically different ways of thinking, and their cause

by Dan Phillips


Albert Mohler wrote yesterday about a lady (Anne Eggebroten) who contributed a piece for Sojourner (a magazine for liberals who still want to call themselves "evangelicals"). Mrs. Eggebroten was shocked! shocked! to find men leading at John MacArthur's Grace Community Church.

(I know what you're thinking: "Alert the media!")

Eggebroten provides a horror-struck narrative, in an alien-sociologist tone, about this odd group of pre-Pleistocene throwbacks who think (in agreement with God) that men should lead in the home and in the church. Then, as if thousands of devastating responses hadn't already been launched against Paul Jewett's lame reach for Galatians 3:28 in the last 30+ years, and as if it has anything whatever to do with function, Eggebroten trots it out again. We are all one in Christ. Therefore women can be pastors and needn't subordinate themselves to their husbands.

What of the Pastorals? No problem; they have to be recategorized as sub-Pauline. Other passages? They don't mean what they say, or they're interpolations. Galatians 3:28 — out of context — is Eggebroten's canon. In fact, you could call it The Eggebrotenian Canon.

(Eggebroten doesn't actually cite Jewett, by the way; instead, she reaches for lesbian "Christian" feminist Virginia Mollenkott and a few other Usual Suspects instead. None of which is actually an upgrade.)

What comes through loud and clear is that Eggebroten reveals no doubts that she should be allowed to do what she wants. Eggebroten is insistent on her rights, getting her way; appalled at any talk of submission, subordination, or even "helping." No actual on-the-scene authorities should stand over Eggebroten's wants, her wishes, her desires.  They are all presumed to be holy and good. She is sure of them. So sure, in fact, that she is willing actually to snip out part of the Word of God to accommodate them. Her desires, and her judgment, are superior to the Word of God.

Then comes Professor of Biblical Studies and BioLogos blogger Kenton Sparks, who writes: "I have no interest in preserving Christianity . . . I believe because, as I understand it, it makes sense of human experience. But if it turns out that Christianity fails to do that, I’ll simply turn elsewhere."

Like Ms. Eggebroten, you see that Professor Sparks has absolute confidence in his moral judgment, his personal powers of reason, his spiritual acumen. He announces that Scripture "stands in need of redemption"; and apparently Sparks himself will step in to do the job.

In the words quoted above, Sparks betrays no doubt whatever that he is up to the task. He seems himself as able to judge rightly; in fact, is in no doubt that his judgment potentially superior both to the Bible and thus to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus. The Bible (and Christ) may well be wrong. But Sparks? Never! If the Bible offends Sparks, he'll simply walk away, no big deal. Sparks will follow his own judgment wherever it takes him. It is adequate, sound, whole, sufficient.

It is as Gleason Archer and others warned decades ago: abandon the inerrancy of Scripture, and God's supremacy is replaced by the supremacy of personal human judgment.

In these comments, Mrs. Eggebroten and Professor Sparks together stand over the Word. The Word is in the dock, they are the judges. They will massage, manipulate, torture the parts they don't like (creation, created order). If those parts will not subject themselves to EggeSparks' will, they'll either relegate it to sub-Canonical status (Eggebroten) or call it "broken," and perhaps move on in search of something better (Sparks).

As I have argued elsewhere, the point at which the heart shows itself is that point at which God's will and His truth cross our wills and our biases.

Contrast both of these attitudes with that of men and women on whom the Holy Spirit has effectually done the work of conviction of sin, who have had a glimpse of the living God.

Recall Isaiah 6, the throne room vision. How did the sight of the thrice-holy Yahweh affect Isaiah? Remember: Isaiah was a good man: a holy man, a godly man, an incredibly eloquent man. What did he think of himself, after he saw God?

Did Isaiah say, "Now I really feel empowered! I really have to get after asserting my rights"? Did Isaiah say, "You know, that really wasn't bad — for now. You know, until something better comes along"?

Not so much.

When the Holy Spirit deals with a man, a woman, that person is brought face to face with certain game-changing truths. He sees God in His limitless, vast wisdom and purity, His immensity and holiness, His absoluteness and majesty. And in that same glimpse, he sees himself as he has never before appeared. He feels the depth of the depravity of his own deceptive heart (Jeremiah 17:9). He is overwhelmed with his own puniness and impurity (Isaiah 6:5). He cannot escape the sense of his own inexcusable sin (Luke 5:8), and he repudiates it like a foul and filthy thing (Job 42:5-6). His knowledge no longer looks so impressive (Proverbs 30:1-4). Now, it is God's Word alone that stands out as sure and certain (Proverbs 30:5-6).

This is what the fear of Yahweh means, that fear which is the beginning and sine qua non of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7) and of wisdom (9:10). It is the proper view of God, and of my position before Him.

This is the point at which a man throws himself at Jesus' feet, imploring Him for mercy and life and salvation and forgiveness. This is the point at which a man takes Jesus' yoke on himself (Matthew 11:29-30), counting himself a fool, so that he may become (for the first time) genuinely wise (1 Corinthians 3:18). This is the point at which a man embraces Jesus as Savior and - not partner, not advisor, not sounding-board, but - Lord. It is the issue he settles in principle at conversion, or arguably there has been no conversion.

Make no mistake: sin is not only a moral and spiritual blight. It is a noetic blight, a perversion that effects the way we think and process data (Romans 1:18ff.; Ephesians 4:17-19). That is why we don't need a mere pointer here and there, a bit of advice, and an hour or two with a tutor. No, we need to be done with ourselves and our way of processing information as we were outside of Christ (Ephesians 4:22-24), and become renewed in the spirit of our minds (Romans 12:2).

This is a very different spirit than one sees in the wannabe world-friends, the various compromised "-ists" (evolutionists, feminists). This is the spirit that says something like this:
"Left to my own reasoning and judgment, I will surely go horribly, damnably wrong. I already did! My way of thinking headed me straight away from God and towards Hell. It would do it again in a heartbeat, given the chance. I do not know how to think rightly about anything until God teaches me how to think about it, and He does so through His word alone."
I suggest that it is this realization which utterly parts the two schools of thought. They proceed along lines drawn by two markedly different views of God and of self: that I surely can be wrong, but the God of Scripture cannot; or that the God of Scripture can be wrong, but I surely cannot.

The two views cannot be harmonized.

Don't even try.

Postscript: am I judging the writers' hearts? Of course not. How could I (1 Corinthians 2:11)? All of us say and do things from time to time that do not represent our truest beliefs (Romans 7:14-25). I can only see what they write - and that is what they present to the world for evaluation. Yet these are arguments the writers are making which reveal ways of thinking that, if they are Christians, need to be reconsidered, and repented of. I offer them as cautionary examples.

Dan Phillips's signature

48 comments:

olan strickland said...

Excellent example and explanation for your last post with this one Dan! Everyone is an inerrantist! And without the man being chastened and coming away with a chastened epistemology he will remain in error all the while deceived by his perceived ability to determine truth.

Dan: Make no mistake: sin is not only a moral and spiritual blight. It is a noetic blight, a perversion that effects the way we think and process data (Romans 1:18ff.; Ephesians 4:17-19).

The very reason we all need a chastened epistemology.

The Squirrel said...

I recall hearing an interview with Al Mohler during the time when the Episcopal Church had just nominated Eugene Robinson to the Bishopric. Dr. Mohler said that, once you settle the matter of the authority of the Bible, then these other things just fall into place. But, on the other hand, once you reject the authority of the Bible, then anything goes; since you now have no standard at all.

Smart guy, that Mohler...

Squirrel

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

DJP: "This is a very different spirit than one sees in the wannabe world-friends, the various compromised "-ists" (evolutionists, feminists)."

Great post!

Tackles and rebukes two aberrant doctrines that are among the most destructive poisons to Christianity today: Evolution and Egalitarianism.

P.S. Another aberrant practice is the denial of inerrancy. (Which often means a man-centered embrace of higher criticism or historical criticism).

Beware the 3 E's: Evolution, Egalitarianism, and Errancy!

Instead, choose the 3 C's: Creationism, Complementarianism, and Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.

And while you're at it, add a 4th C in for good measure: Calvinism!

;-)

olan strickland said...

Squirrel: once you reject the authority of the Bible, then anything goes; since you now have no standard at all.

Just like in the book of Judges when every man did that which was right in his own eyes. Each one his own inerrant standard!

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Pastor Mohler: "The answer to that question, as Eggebroten’s essay helps to clarify, depends on your view of Scripture. In order to reach her conclusions, you must accept her evasions of the biblical text. If you are willing to do that on this question, you will be willing to do so on other issues as well. The central issue is, and will ever remain, the authority of Scripture."

Exactly correct.

Declaring that the Bible is errant undercuts the Authority of Scripture (although I have read many arguments to the contrary by Biblical Errantists). And evolution and egalitarianism are "evasions of the biblical text" as Mohler points out.

Titus 1:9 and rebuke errantists, evolutionists, and egalitarians.

Rob Bailey said...

The thing that stands out is the humility and desperation it requires to be able to cry out "Have mercy on me, Son of David!" I try to generate that in myself, but it is not of human origin. Only when I am submitting myself to scripture, and fellowship with the church can I truly say "have mercy on me." It the most important thing I try to teach my kids as well. Their only hope is Christ.

Good reference to Job.
Good job with the Blake plate.

T3 said...

When the Word of God is the standard everything else does fall into place. But if you believe you can simply walk away from it, or change it anytime it makes you feel uncomfortable, then all it leaves is your own personal judgement. I've made enough bad decisions doing just that to know my judgement outside of God's grace cannot be trusted.

Great post!

Lynda O said...

Great post! -- "the point at which the heart shows itself is that point at which God's will and His truth cross our wills and our biases."

It is so true, that the believer will love and embrace the things in God's word and not be offended by any part of it. Also, that left to myself, I would wander off easily enough, but it is God's sustaining hand that keeps me.

That Crazy Christian said...

Wow, Dan . . . that was awesome.

Thank you.

damewood said...

In Eggebroten's world the problem with humanity is persistent Patriarchy. It's a God clothed in male form that tells us it's no good to eat from the tree. If only we could fix that faulty view then everything would be great.

On a secondary note, I'm going to assume her shock at finding a bastion of patriarchy at Grace is purely journalistic license. If it's not she should venture beyond the hallowed halls of CSU Northridge more often.

David said...

Muslims and any number of Hindi families enforce a far-more stricter patriarchal system than what Eggebroten falsely describes. But let me see her critique THEM in the similar vein.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

I have to believe that it is God’s will and desire for Christians to be on the same page in their thinking, instead of having “Two radically different ways of thinking.”

Something is amiss when you can take several texts that are very plain and twist it to mean what you want. And, isn’t that an indication of an unregenerate heart? If we are truly Christians, our thoughts conform to God’s thoughts. We take Him at His Word, and our thoughts eventually conform to His will and desires.

It is hard to believe that you can have fellow Christian’s believe that women should be leaders in the church or the home, when God’s Word is more than ample, plentiful, profuse, extensive, plentitudinous (I borrowed a few synonyms, here) in its approach to this very hotly debated subject.

How much clearer can God be? I don’t believe that TRUE Christians are that dull or hard of hearing. God’s sheep hear His voice. It is that simple. That simple!!!

DJP, this is one of the most moving posts I think you have ever written, it is AWESOME, just AWESOME!!! I particularly loved this part: Contrast both of these attitudes with that of men and women on whom the Holy Spirit has effectually done the work of conviction of sin, who have had a glimpse of the living God.

Recall Isaiah 6, the throne room vision. How did the sight of the thrice-holy Yahweh affect Isaiah? Remember: Isaiah was a good man: a holy man, a godly man, an incredibly eloquent man. What did he think of himself, after he saw God?

Did Isaiah say, "Now I really feel empowered! I really have to get after asserting my rights"? Did Isaiah say, "You know, that really wasn't bad — for now. You know, until something better comes along"?

Not so much.
When the Holy Spirit deals with a man, a woman, that person is brought face to face with certain game-changing truths. He sees God in His limitless, vast wisdom and purity, His immensity and holiness, His absoluteness and majesty. And in that same glimpse, he sees himself as he has never before appeared. He feels the depth of the depravity of his own deceptive heart (Jeremiah 17:9). He is overwhelmed with his own puniness and impurity (Isaiah 6:5). He cannot escape the sense of his own inexcusable sin (Luke 5:8), and he repudiates it like a foul and filthy thing (Job 42:5-6). His knowledge no longer looks so impressive (Proverbs 30:1-4). Now, it is God's Word alone that stands out as sure and certain (Proverbs 30:5-6).

This is what the fear of Yahweh means, that fear which is the beginning and sine qua non of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7) and of wisdom (9:10). It is the proper view of God, and of my position before Him.

This is the point at which a man throws himself at Jesus' feet, imploring Him for mercy and life and salvation and forgiveness. This is the point at which a man takes Jesus' yoke on himself (Matthew 11:29-30), counting himself a fool, so that he may become (for the first time) genuinely wise (1 Corinthians 3:18). This is the point at which a man embraces Jesus as Savior and - not partner, not advisor, not sounding-board, but - Lord. It is the issue he settles in principle at conversion, or arguably there has been no conversion.

Make no mistake: sin is not only a moral and spiritual blight. It is a noetic blight, a perversion that effects the way we think and process data (Romans 1:18ff.; Ephesians 4:17-19). That is why we don't need a mere pointer here and there, a bit of advice, and an hour or two with a tutor. No, we need to be done with ourselves and our way of processing information as we were outside of Christ (Ephesians 4:22-24), and become renewed in the spirit of our minds (Romans 12:2).

I liked all the rest of the article, but the system would not allow all of it to be posted.

DJP said...

Bingo, David. That's a whole different category of "brave," isn't it?

Mike Riccardi said...

That postscript could be its own post. Very well said, Dan. Because you know that any time any serious criticism is levied against someone who claims to be a believer, the judging-hearts-and-motives police come out of the woodwork to judge hearts and motives. Again, very well said.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Because you know that any time any serious criticism is levied against someone who claims to be a believer, the judging-hearts-and-motives police come out of the woodwork to judge hearts and motives."

Now that you mention it, you're right! I've seen this exact phenomenon happen time and time again.

Thanks for putting a name or description to this phenomenon.

Jordan said...

Dan, a quick question for you. When Dr. Sparks said that Scripture needed to be redeemed he said that God was the one doing the redeeming, but you said "apparently Sparks himself will step in to do the job", isn't that a bit different? What do you think Dr. Sparks meant when he used "redeem"?

GrammaMack said...

Mary Elizabeth, I love that portion too, for the way it glorifies God. Thank you, Dan!

DJP said...

Not at all, Jordan. God says His word is true, Sparks says it's adequate, he sets out to fix it. God says we're broken, not his Word. It fixes us, we don't fix it.

Jordan said...

DJP:

But it seemed to me anyway that Sparks was saying God was "fixing it" not he or any person. I can understand (and actually would favor) and argument that says God is not "fixing" Scripture as it is exactly as He intended it to be to begin with. Still, that's a different argument than "Sparks is saying he can/will/needs to fix it" isn't it?

DJP said...

Jordan, I have a one-answer limit on the same question. You've already shot it. Have another?

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Exactly, GrammaMack, it glorifies God sooooooooo beautifully. And to think that I used to elevate Keats, Shelly, Wordsworth, and Frost for their beautiful poetry, when God Himself is poetry.

Thanks again, Dan! So beautiful!

John said...

Jordan, not to subvert DJP's clarity, but the meaning you are ascribing to Sparks's words does not match the content of Sparks's actions. In his "scholarly piece" (not so much) on errancy, he systematically corrects all the Bible's many contradictions. He is actively engaged in redeeming the Scriptures - actually recreating them in his image. Hope this helps.

Jordan said...

DJP:
Hah, OK fine. I just thought you didn't necessarily address Spark's actual argument as much as you could have, but whatever, it's your blog. :-)

So I'll throw out a more specific one that Dr. Sparks used, Matthew 5:31-32:
"It has been said, 'Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.' But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery."

So what is Jesus doing there? Is he adding to the OT? clarifying? "redeeming"? contradicting?

Note, I'm not trying to defend Dr. Sparks here at all, I didn't like his posts much at all to be honest. However, I think it would be good to have some answers to these types of questions.

Jordan said...

John,
Right, but it seems like that could be said of a lot of things God does through the Holy Spirit. I'm just wondering where exactly the qualitative difference is. I guess maybe you would take the Bible to be static in it's inerrancy, leaving no need for the Holy Spirit to work in bringing revelation from it? Is that too strong of a statement?

Rob Bailey said...

Jordan,
In the best manuscripts, Matthew 5:31-32 do not exist.

Jacob said...

Excellent post DJP.

DJP said...

Jordan: did you read my entire post? Did it strike you as being a post devoted to the enumeration and discussion of errors, or of alleged errors, or of interpretive issues, in the Bible?

Hint: the title.

Jacob said...

Rob: "best" meaning what exactly? Best in light of modern society where we want to divorce and remarry? Best in light of supports my way of thinking best? Or best as in the most verifiably authentic/original manuscripts?

Just curious

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Dear Jordan:

If you go to my blog, I have posted something Mark Gaither posted on Shepherd's Fellowship that may help explain the question you asked above/here: "So I'll throw out a more specific one that Dr. Sparks used, Matthew 5:31-32:
"It has been said, 'Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.' But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery."

So what is Jesus doing there? Is he adding to the OT? clarifying? "redeeming"? contradicting?"


I ask you to go to my blog because I do not want to go off topic, out of respect to Dan.

Mark has given me permission, in the past, to use his writings. I would absolutely not do this without his permission.

DJP said...

{ stay-on-topic cop blows whistle }

Rachael Starke said...

For all her intellectualistic posturing, Ms. Eggebroten and her ilk demonstrate a complete lack of understanding about the nature of the Trinity. Was Jesus somehow diminished or downtrodden because He willingly submitted to His Father? Is the Holy Spirit marginalized from the Father and the Son because He is the Helper (John 14)? Submission is a way of reflecting the very nature of God.

That being said, I have to confess it's disappointing that no one Ms. E talked to was able to make a defense of complementarianism from that perspective. (Would she have mentioned it if she did? Hmm, p'raps not.) But to be honest, I have heard of too many churches who teach it from that perspective. They're all about the whats and hows, but not the whys. The whys require things like a holistic approach to studying and teaching the Word, beginning with the One who wrote it and embodies it.

Which is why, BTW, I love you gentlemen and especially posts like this - your compass always points to the true north of God's Word, not the magnetic north of man's opinion of God's Word.

Matt said...

Wow, spot-on, Dan. Fantastic post.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Excellent comment, Rachael, just excellent!

Rob Bailey said...

Jacob-
"best" as most reliable transcripts. But, it is not merely a modern problem.

stratagem said...

Well, at least Dr. Sparks does accept the inerrancy of Dr. Sparks.

DJP said...

Sure. After all, everyone's an inerrantist.

Even Dr. Sparks.

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

After reading Mr. Sparks' article, it seems the only parts of the scripture that are broken are the parts where God is just - and the parts he disagrees with. But, just like Dan pointed out, your view of scripture depends on where you start: God is inerrant, or man is inerrant.

BrettR said...

I think I had Eggebroten at a church potluck once; crusty, tart, no substance...

Dave .... said...

Unflinching. Unshrinking. Lucid. On point. You'll never win this argument because the premise something like, "How could a loving God ..." (fill in the blank from there). Ways of thinking, indeed. Apologetics fails here because there is no defense when they prefer darkness. I'm not judging, I'm just observing their trajectory. Where does that thinking lead?

Nicely done, Dan.

Mike Riccardi said...

Ya know, this whole interaction reminds me of a quote from Augustine that I came across a couple months back in one of my classes. It comes from Against Faustus, Faustus being one of the leader of the Manichees, a heresy to which Augustine had formerly subscribed. He said:

You ought to say plainly that you do not believe the gospel of Christ. For to believe what you please, and not to believe what you please, is to believe yourselves, and not the gospel.

I think that if you replace "gospel of Christ" with "Word of God," it fits entirely with the Eggbroten/Biologos gender/age-of-the-earth issues. I suppose that was precisely your "Everyone is an inerrantist" point. To believe what you please and not to believe what you please is to believe yourself, and not the Word of God.

DJP said...

Oh, that's good.

...me said...

…Scripture "stands in need of redemption"

…Scripture? Redemption from what and to what?

That which is God-breathed, reliable, true, unchanging, pure, trustworthy, right, radiant, joy giving, soul reviving, sure, righteous, precious, sweet, enduring, making the simple wise, able to measure/judge/discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart, and so forth, needs to be humbly received; humbly received with hearts filled with gratitude, reverence, and awe toward our amazing, wonderful, Sovereign God and Saviour...

You are QUITE! right when you note in your post:

"…we need to be done with ourselves and our way of processing information as we were outside of Christ (Ephesians 4:22-24), and become renewed in the spirit of our minds (Romans 12:2)." ...amen!

mike said...

Thanks for the link to Ms Eggebroten's article. I had read Al Mohler's post yesterday and wanted to see what she wrote. Interesting how she dismisses the pastoral epistles when they disagree with her. It looks like she not only wants her own way in her own life, but wants to insist Grace Community Church, the SBC, and everyone else do it her way too.

BTW, I consulted my trusty NA27 andmy J P Green TR interlinear and Matt 5: 31-32 is well supported throughout the manuscript evidence. It is not a disputed text. I know, I know: off--topic.

Chris said...

Wow...a solidly Biblical church in 2010! What a concept! Thank God for men like John MacArthur and the elder board at GCC.
Hmmm...now which church, among those the Lord writes to in Revelation, does Grace Community Church best resemble??? (o:

As for the hordes of "Christian" academics within "Christian" organizations (who are busy reinventing their own brands of Christless Christianity through their false gospels), I believe a more dreadful place in hell awaits such lost souls who devote their lives to using all they "know" to undermine the God of the Bible whom they do not truly know or love at all. I believe theirs will be a judgment far worse than rank pagans, as these men and women are likely church-going pagans with years of acquired head knowledge and exposure to the Word of God.

Larry Geiger said...

Like a hammer.
Like a hammer to the head.
Dan just keeps on pounding and pounding.
And the hammer never misses the nail. Drives the point deeper and deeper.
Thanks Dan

PS-my word verfication below is "foole". Somewhat close to appropriate?

Paul L said...

In Eggebroten's piece she wrote, "In Sun Valley, the sermon by Pastor John MacArthur, comparing the accounts of walking on water in different gospels, is excellent." Does anyone know where I can find that sermon online? I am worried that if Dr. MacArthur ever preached a sermon that did not offend this woman, then he must have been having an off day.

Sir Aaron said...

Mike: I checked too because I thought that Rob might be referring to a part of Mark. I didn't find Matt 5:31-31 in dispute at all not to mention there is a similar teaching in Matt 19.

one busy mom said...

Totally magnificent post Dan!

It's a great illustration of what christianity does and doesn't look like. Many folks seem to want Jesus as Savior - but definately not as Lord. How tragic.