22 October 2015

Staying ahead of the (scholarly) curve

by Dan Phillips

From 2006 to 2012, PyroManiacs turned out almost-daily updates from the Post-Evangelical wasteland -- usually to the fear and loathing of more-polite and more-irenic bloggers and readers. The results lurk in the archives of this blog in spite of the hope of many that Google will "accidentally" swallow these words and pictures whole.

This feature enters the murky depths of the archives to fish out the classic hits from the golden age of internet drubbings.

The following excerpt was written by Dan back in January 2013. Dan used the life of Adolf Schlatter as an example of how to stand against the academic Zeitgeist.

As usual, the comments are closed.
Hordes about us are desperate to be liked and well thought of by the current age. They seek this approval by trying to fit in, trying to keep up with each moment's swelling wave.

By contrast, I've often written and said that the real way to stay ahead of the curve is stick to what the Bible says. Eventually, in waves, reality has to come 'round and touch home with truth every so often, to avoid becoming completely unhinged.

Part of my morning reading afforded me an example of this from the 1800s. I'm reading Bible Interpreters of the 20th Century as part of my morning fare, and currently am on the chapter introducing Adolf Schlatter (1852-1938). Though little-known today, Schlatter was a voluminous writer and a meticulous student of the text of Scripture.

One of the reasons he was disregarded in his day was his refusal to bow the knee to the Biggest Things in Academics of his day. Rather, Schlatter plodded along with a single-minded focus on the precise wording of the text of Scripture. Schlatter was far from perfect, but where he fell short is where he failed to be true to Scripture.

In some authors, any extra-Biblical writer is treated as (pardon me) Gospel, but the Gospels are treated as necessarily unreliable and secondary. By treating the original texts, by contrast, with respect, Schlatter actually was ahead of the scholarly curve. My, such a simple principle; so many applications.

And yet, once again, the irony: it is those desperate to fit in with the times who doom themselves to pass into irrelevancy with them, while the few who stick with revealed truth remain always ahead of the curve.

Because, as we should never forget, everything — this material universe, human society, as well as all politics and all the sciences — is inexorably and certainly hurtling towards the day when all will be brought up under the headship of Christ (Eph. 1:10) in a universe where righteousness, no longer a stranger, is permanently at home (2 Pet. 3:13).

The great thing is to be on the right side of that curve.