Mainline evangelicals and New Perspectivists: Can't we all just get along?

If you, good reader, are a New Perspectivist, I think you'll find this and this quite helpful.

'Peace' is certainly a pleasing word; but cursed is the peace that is obtained at so great a cost that there is lost to us the doctrine of Christ, by which alone we grow together into a godly and holy unity. -Calvin on Acts 14:2

This may come as a shock, but evangelicals who are impressed with the piety of practicing sodomites and talk about how much those sodomites love Jesus don't seem that far removed from other evangelicals who say Martin Luther and the reformers were wrong, that Galatians is not about justification by faith alone, and that they know many Roman Catholics who are pious and love Jesus just as much as Protestants do.

Of course, fans of Bishop N. T. Wright would protest that this comparison is unfair, that those who claim Luther is wrong about Galatians are making a theological statement grounded in exegetical arguments that have gone through a careful process of peer review and are, therefore, to be taken utterly seriously.

But the same can be said by those seeking the normalization of sodomy. They also have their exegetical, hermeneutical, and theological arguments, and arguably, those arguments have as much academic respectability as the arguments Bishop Wright and his disciples have.

"But," my readers might sputter, "you can't honestly be proposing that sodomites and New Perspectivites are to be taken equally seriously? They have nothing in common other than both making their case from Scripture!"

Alright, I'm not ready to say that the only thing proponents of sodomy and the New Perspective have in common is that the foundation of their exegesis and hermeneutics is their having been bamboozled by sweet-talking guys, but I have no doubt this is the simple explanation behind some I know, and I do wonder if it isn't more broadly applicable to those holding these errors than I've thought previously?

The explanations are amazingly similar and it does seem like we ought to take these men at their word. For instance, Stephen Baker and I were at a conference recently where one of the plenary speakers who used to be a respected member of the reformed Baptist world, and is now well down the road to Roman Catholicism or (more likely) Eastern Orthodoxy, justified the sea-change in his convictions...

and his complete embracing of Good Bishop Wright with many statements such as...

I've prayed with Roman Catholics and it's clear to me that they love Jesus just as much as we do. Many of my former supporters don't' like what I'm saying, but it's become clear to me how nasty, rigid, and legalistic that community is. Ever since I've taken this new path, former supporters have attacked me and accused me in the most vile way. Standing for truth has shown up the hatefulness of my former friends and I don't think I can ever go back.

Now of course I know twenty centuries of church fathers can be wrong on the proper interpretation of Scripture. And if twenty, certainly four centuries. But speaking forthrightly, when reform leads in the direction of rapprochement with the most aggressive political lobby in America (sodomites), or the largest communion of Christians in the world (Roman Catholics); and when those advocating the rapprochement place a heavy emphasis on their personal relationships with those with whom they formerly disagreed, I smell a rat.

In our fat and rich evangelical complacency, who in his right mind wouldn't wish for a truce with the sexual anarchists we live among? And who wouldn't be relieved to learn that twenty centuries of biblical scholarship had been wrong and sexual sins including fornication, adultery, and sodomy were really no big deal? Think of how much calmer our lives would be if we no longer had to shepherd God's flock in any area of sexual sin. Speaking only for myself, I've been ready for quite a few years, now, to lay down the cudgel that I've long used to battle feminism, egalitarianism, and serial polygamy within the church.

But again, this peace with Rome that Bishop Wright and his disciples are selling us, is it really faithful to the Apostle Paul's letter to the Galatians and the doctrine of justification the Holy Spirit deposited there?

No.

Grant me a wish and here's my request: that every man who believes practicing sodomites are good Christians would honestly announce he is no longer a Christian because the name 'Christian' must be defined by Scripture and the twenty centuries of fathers in the faith who have gone before us, all of whom trembled when they read the Holy Spirit's warning:

(D)o you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9,10)

Another wish: that every man who believes Luther was wrong and Galatians does not proclaim justification by faith alone would honestly announce he is no longer a Protestant Christian, but on his way back to home sweet Rome.

And since the sodomy lobby and the Bishop Wright crowd so frequently accuse their opponents of prejudice and malice, I want to head them off at the pass by stating that our church has both men and women who were effeminate and homosexual, but now have been washed and sanctified by the blood of Jesus Christ. They're neither pariahs nor second-class citizens, but dearly loved brothers and sisters in Christ who live in fellowship with our families and us. Similarly, a large proportion of my reading each week is Roman Catholic authors and publications on the ultramontane end of the Roman Catholic spectrum--men such as E. Michael Jones, Richard John Neuhaus, and Joe Sobran.

So the seedbed of my opposition to the normalization of sodomy is not homophobia, nor is my rejection of Bishop Wright's revisionist view of Galatians Angliphobia or a hatred for Rome.

Rather, in the power of the Holy Spirit I stand upon my study of Scripture and my gratitude to twenty centuries of faithful fathers who have spoken with one voice against all forms of sexual immorality; and also upon my study of Galatians and love for our Reformation fathers God used to lead us back to His Word and the truth of salvation there deposited--that the just shall live by faith alone.

Whether the error is sodomy, serial polygamy, or sacramentalism, turning a blind eye to the error because of a longing for peace is to purchase present comfort at the terrible expense of future judgment on that day when all shepherds will give an account to the Chief Shepherd Who requires faithfulness, particularly from those He has delegated the responsibility of guarding His little ones. Leading one of His little ones astray is no small thing.

And if that's not enough to lead us back to God's Word, think about what the church today would be if men such as Athanasius and Arius, Luther and Erasmus, Calvin and Servetus or Cardinal Sadoleto, Knox and Queen Mary, Machen and Harry Emerson Fosdick, Lloyd-Jones and J. I. Packer, John Stott or Billy Graham had been sitting around asking each other, "Can't we all just get along?"

...there is a certain distinction between civil magistrates and leaders of the Church. For although corrupt, yet the Lord wishes submission to it to remain unaffected. But when the spiritual rule degenerates, the consciences of the godly are released from obedience to an unjust domination, especially if impious and profane enemies of holiness make a false pretence to the title of the priesthood to destroy the doctrine of salvation, and arrogate to themselves a lordship by which God Himself is reduced to order. Thus today it is not only permissible but also necessary for the faithful to shake off the yoke of the Pope, since they can only obey his laws if they revolt from God. -John Calvin on Acts 23:5
Tags: 

Comments

Amen and double amen. I think this is one of the things that has irritated me the most about these issues. Rather than base our view on Scripture and 20 centuries of church history, we base it today on warm fuzzies, self esteem and comfort. Rodney King theology. You know, the phrase, "can't we all get along?"

No, we can't. I have no desire to get along with heretics and false teachers. Those in the EC-postmodern camp make much of "the conversation" and "dialogue." They will dialogue you to death. I don't want dialogue with heretics and false teachers. I want them to repent or get out.

"..I smell a rat."

Yep. I'm glad I'm not the only one.

If Luther was wrong, we owe Rome an apology. But then, what could justify Protestantism?

Tim,

Thanks so much for this. You are right to see the similarity here.

Why does it surprise us that, if Satan can masquerade as an angel of light, that those who would introduce error into the church are kind, winsome, charming, humble, diffident, seemingly lovers of Jesus, and a host of other good attributes?

And, that is particularly effective in our world that prizes relationships over truth.

We must always measure teachings by their adherence to or deviance from the Scriptures, irrespective of the decency or lack thereof of the advocates of those teachings.

Once you have questioned and weakened the absolute authority of Scripture, it opens the door to any deviation from truth. The Emergent types love to say things like "Jesus is the word of God NOT the bible." If you open the way we know about Jesus to doubt you are almost certainly going to end up with a false Christ that reflects the sinful Adamic nature; a god made in man's image. This can be in the form of a works religion approach to God that pleases man's pride and ego or one that endorses all manner of sinful behaviour. Roman Catholicism on the one hand and Sodomy on the other.

Yes, Ken, the scripture about Satan posing as an angel of light is one the most despised texts in scripture. Why? It forces us to have to make judgments about nice people based on God's criteria. As Paul writes elsewhere: "If anyone preaches a different gospel to you, then he is to be accursed." Tim, your teaching on Galatians has been a garland gracing my head and a chain adorning my neck. Keep up the good work and good fight.

"If Luther was wrong, we owe Rome an apology. But then, what could justify Protestantism?"

My sentiments exactly, David. :)

It's like I said in my letter to the editor the other day.

By condoning sodomy, "tolerant" Christians are not practicing love; they are practicing hatred. When someone is practicing a destructive sin that God finds abominable, the loving thing to do is to show them the wrongness of that behavior and to help them overcome the sin. Embracing, ignoring or "tolerating" sin does not help anyone except for the person who wishes to avoid conflict, loving comfort more than he loves others.

Very well said, Tim! The substance of the acceptance of sodomy in the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. has been the substitution of the "my experience with them" category as authority in place of Scripture.
Oddly, though, we have not yet heard that robbery or homicide (except, of course, for abortion) are also acceptable because of "all the nice killers I have prayed with." But stay tuned.

This post makes a good connection, because the underlying problem is one of exalting works over faith. The implicit premise is that the way to answer the question, "Is this person a true Christian?" is to answer the question, "Is this person a nice guy?"

Tim.

Your broad generalizations don't really help much.

First, the men in Reformed churches who have learned something from NTW or any other "New Perspectivist" don't want peace with Sodomites or mainline liberals or especially with those who deny justification by faith alone. What conservative Reformed men who have signed Presbyterians and Presbyterians Together, for example, want is not some vague "peace," but honest, gracious debate about exegetical and theological issues that deserve careful, scholarly attention.

http://presbyterianstogether.org/home.html

For liberals to want peace with Sodomites is something entirely different than conservative Reformed Presbyterian ministers wanting a peaceful debate with other Reformed Presbyterian ministers who share common conservative commitments. Lumping them together is irresponsible.

Second, these men (again, to keep this concrete, signers of the P&T doc) don't deny justification by faith alone or the Reformation doctrines of grace. There's no compromise with the teachings of Rome on justification. By framing the issues like this you are being uncharitable and pugnacious.

If you want to engage those in our circles (conservative Reformed Presbyterians) who are interested in further Reforming the church, then you really should deal with their biblical and exegetical arguments. After all, these are men who believe in the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture. And our own confessional documents make it clear that "the Holy Spirit speaking in the scripture" is the "supreme Judge" by which all controversies of religion are to be determined. Exalting the formulations of Luther or Calvin or any other historical figure as infallible seems to outdo the traditionalism of Rome. I've never understood this. We claim to be "Reformed" (according to the Word) Christians, but then in practice out romanize Rome herself in our traditionalism. If anyone dare suggest that traditional Reformed formulations need to be corrected, that person is hounded out of the tribe as if he were a heretic. When we should be exegeting the Bible we are making absolutist claims about the traditional views of Luther and Calvin. I suggest a careful reading of John Frame's essay "Traditionalism":

http://tinyurl.com/o3vo7

Third, it's not all or nothing when it comes to Luther or Calvin on Galatians or any other biblical book, for that matter. I recently preached through Galatians and concluded that Luther was often wrong about his exegetical conclusions. He reads his own battles into the text. He's not sufficiently aware of redemptive historical issues and comes close to being Marcionite at times in his understanding of the Old Covenant. There's a lot we have learned about the "Old Testament," the covenants, etc. since Luther's time. Someone who wants to update and correct the exegesis of Luther is not automatically a "New Perspectivist."

And correcting Luther does not mean denying justification by faith alone. Your claim that those who think Luther was wrong need to announce that they are on their way back to Rome needs to be qualified. I believe Luther was wrong about a great deal in his exegesis of Galatians, but I don't deny justification by faith alone. I know many, many men who share the same convictions.

Fourth, not everyone who benefits from reading N.T. Wright or Hays or any other modern exegete buys into the entire theology or practice of these men. This is just common sense, or better, common Christian courtesy. I'm reading through John Stott's commentary on Romans now, and I like a great deal of it. If I learn something from Stott and then publicly say so, will I be accused of being Anglican, or worse, of denying eternal punishment in hell? Why can't we mine NT Wright, for example, for his good insights into various biblical texts (like Romans, for example) and yet avoid his more egregious ecclesiastical and theological errors.

Fifth, believing that there are many Roman Catholic Christians who will be justified by faith alone even if they cannot articulate the *doctrine* is fairly common in traditional Reformed circles. I don't know what the problem is with this? Is it wrong for us to pray with Roman Catholics? To work with them in our communities together as Christians? Surely we can sympathize with these common Christians. They've been deprived of the benefit of biblical teaching by their priests and teachers. The Lord will judge these pastors. But he will have compassion on those who have a simple trust. Indeed, they will be justified by FAITH not by knowledge.

Dear Pastor Meyers,

Please don't lump critics of Bishop Wright together, assuming the arguments made by some are made by all.

For instance, nowhere have I, personally, written that Roman Catholics who aren't able to articulate the teaching of Scripture concerning justification by faith alone are lost, nor have I ever said it's wrong for Protestant believers to pray with Roman Catholics. It's John Gerstner who made that argument and even he admitted he was inconsistent in the matter.

Concerning the possibility that Bishop Wright should be read where he's right but not where he's wrong, maybe. But I think the parallel with Stott far-fetched. Stott's failures are anomalous, whereas Wright's seem to be of a fabric and to strike near the core of the doctrines of revelation, anthropology, soteriology, and so forth.

Honestly, there's so much wisdom from fathers in the faith who are strong where these men are weak that I wonder why I'd decide to feed from their hands? Maybe just because all the young dudes will think I'm a curmudgeon if I don't?

So you won't be surprised to hear that I don't read Stott much, although I've quoted him a few times, recently. A good Anglican pastor who knows Stott quite well personally warned me that he believed Stott is now a universalist, so I'm not grazing in his pasture. After all, there's no shortage of priceless books and God-honoring authors, is there? (Still, I'm much more inclined to read dead men who are heterodox than living ones who are still actively seeking to lead God's little ones astray.)

Finally, you seem not to want to acknowledge the words and sentences and arguments of your fellow New Perspectivist I noted, and so you push me to engage others you think more respectable. None of us, though, is entirely able to choose the company we keep. I'm sorry to report that what I wrote was not a generalization, still less a broad generalization, but almost direct quotations of one of the more prominent New Perspectivists in America today.

You may not like his arguments, but they are his arguments.

Concerning replacing Scripture with traditionalism, why would you think I disagree? Again, I'm afraid you're not reading what I have written, but instead assuming it's safe to lump me in with others. I've often quoted from Frame's essay and have worked to get his wise counsel in this area (as well as his and Vern Poythress' wisdom in many other areas) as broadly distributed as possible. FramePoythress.org is one result of that work.

As for being pugnacious, it was not my intent to pick a fight with false shepherds but to warn God's sheep to stay away from them.

Under His mercy,

Tim Bayly

Tim,

When at the end of the last post you said, "As for being pugnacious, it was not my intent to pick a fight with false shepherds but to warn God's sheep to stay away from them," can you please be clear? Are you saying that Rev. Jeff Meyers is a false shepherd?

Also, he never claimed to be an advocate of the New Perspective (you said to him "...your fellow New Perspectivists..."). Rather, he said that he could learn from them.

Please clarify. Thanks, Tim W.

Pastor Meyers was not the subject of my post. He's Presbyerian, not Baptist, and I've never met him. But based solely upon the few comments he just left on this blog, if he isn't a New Perspectivist, maybe I am?

Perhaps Tim could define what a "New Perspectivist" might be. The tag is not self-defining. Maybe I am one of these critters? After all, I have learned a great deal from N.T. Wright. And I have admitted that I find Luther on Galatians to be inadequate. (BTW, NT Wright does not deny that Paul taught justification by faith alone, so he doesn't need to fulfill your wish and head to home sweet Rome). Oh, and I've called for charity and honesty in this rancorous FV/NPP/AAPC debate. I guess I ought to lumped in with Sodomite lovers, too. I think Tim has painted himself in a corner with this kind of rhetoric.

You wrote:

>Please don't lump critics of Bishop Wright together,
>assuming the arguments made by some are made by all.

I don't understand this comment. I was critiquing your comments, your rhetoric, not someone else's.

>Honestly, there's so much wisdom from fathers in the faith >who are strong where these men are weak that I wonder why >I'd decide to feed from their hands?

Hmm. Precisely what Luther and Calvin's 16th-century ecclesiastical critics said about their novel work. "Why listen to these young turks when we have the venerable tradition." Remember, Luther and Calvin exegeted biblical texts in ways that had never been done before. Their doctrinal formulations were rooted in the catholic tradition, but quite new. Augustine's doctrine of grace, for example, is not the same as the Reformation doctrine of justification. But, of course, Luther and Calvin, while learning from tradition, did not feel bound to it. They were biblical theologians. Would you deny that it is possible that we might still learn from Scripture?

>Still, I'm much more inclined to read dead men who are >heterodox than living ones who are still actively seeking to >lead God's little ones astray.

At least your refusal to read Stott is consistent. It's sad, but consistent. Do you consider N.T. Wright one of the "living ones who are actively seeking to lead God's little one's astray"? If not, perhaps you could name some of these "living ones" who are "actively trying to lead God's little one's astray."

>"Why listen to these young turks when we have the venerable tradition."

But of course that is not what Pastor Bayly is saying. He appears to be saying why turn to work rife with error when there are others without those widespread shortcomings. Not the same thing.

Not answering for Tim (whom I've only met briefly, once), but I'll jump in and say I for one definitely believe N. T. Wright is one "living one" who is "actively leading God's little ones astray" (I'll leave out the word "trying," as I can't know his intent), as I believe he makes remarkably and extraordinarily bad, in fact outrageous and flagrant ecclesiastical and theological errors.

Jeff Hutchinson
Sr. Pastor, Trinity PCA
Asheville, NC

Jeff Meyers writes: "I guess I ought to be lumped in with Sodomite lovers, too."

Actually, "sodomy advocates" is a better way to put it since every Christian loves (or should love) sodomites. As for my thoughts about you, Jeff, the truth is that I hadn't given any thought to you at all in what I'd written--that is, not until you began making comments here. Until then, your name had never entered my mind.

Jeff Meyers writes: "I was critiquing your comments, your rhetoric, not someone else's."

Actually, Jeff, you were dealing with straw men, largely--not with what I had written.

Jeff Meyers asks me, "Would you deny that it is possible that we might still learn from Scripture?"

Why yes, Jeff, that's precisely what I'd deny. Learn from Scripture? How could you even propose such a thing? If I were a betting man, I'd say you're going to propose even worse, next--say that we rule with elders or baptize with water.

Your interlocutory remarks remind me of Lyndon Johnson saying that you might not be able to prove to the electorate that a man was a notorious sinner, but you sure could get the man to deny it.

Okay, so you had a little fun with my poorly worded question. Man, this is only a comment section for a blog entry, not a formal theological essay. You can isolate that badly phrased question and poke fun at it, but surely my larger point is pretty clear from the context. Do you think that the 16th-century Reformers discovered everything there is to know about the biblical doctrine of justification? Or any other biblical teaching, for that matter? And do you think their precise doctrinal formulations are secure world without end? Might there still be something NEW to learn from the Scriptures?

Besides, there are a half a dozen points and questions I made in my two comments that you did not come close to answering.

Dear Jeff (Meyers), I guess I'd respond by saying that a number of your questions strike me as the equivalent of asking a man if he believes in apple pie and motherhood? Of course he must answer, "Yes and yes."

Still, here are two straightforward answers: no, I don't believe the reformers finished the work of reform; and yes, I do believe there is much we have yet to learn from Scripture.

Jeff, I'm not Tim, and he and I are as far apart theologically as two Christians can be. However, I feel like your questions need answering.

Do you think that the 16th-century Reformers discovered everything there is to know about the biblical doctrine of justification? Or any other biblical teaching, for that matter? And do you think their precise doctrinal formulations are secure world without end? Might there still be something NEW to learn from the Scriptures?

Nope, the Reformers didn't discover anything about justification. In fact, I'm inclined to believe they made up much of it from whole cloth. But your question at the end is much more significant:

"Might there still be something NEW to learn from the Scriptures?"

No, there is not. What there is to learn is how the Christian Church as a body has interpreted what has been in the Scriptures all along. If there were anything new, somebody in fifteen centuries before the Reformation would have noticed it, and even if you accept the stereotypical stipulation that nobody before 1517 had read the Bible, that's still five centuries and only 73 (or 66) books. Believe me, there is nothing new under the sun, let alone between the leather covers.

Which I believe is Tim's point. The truth is not evolving. Either a thing is orthodox or it isn't. And orthodoxy - or heterodoxy - is not dependent on the person expressing it.

Tim: Okay, your last post was helpful. I think what it means is that we have a lot more in common than the rhetoric we have used against each other might suggest to an outside observer. I thought that might be the case. Of course, now the more difficult problem is how to have a productive, charitable discussion/debate about the precise issues, especially exegetical conclusions, involved in the FV/AAPC/NPP controversy.

I don't know how that can be done in the comments of a blog entry. I really wish our seminaries and presbyteries would sponsor genuine, in-depth debates and discussions about these issues. But I'm not holding my breath. We don't seem to have the stomach for real debates anymore.

Anyway, I still think the rhetoric of your original post went too far in identifying without qualification men who want peace and charitable discussion among brothers with liberal sodomite advocates.

Also, there's still the outstanding question of whether you consider me among that group? You talked about the arguments of "my fellow New Perspectivist" ("my"=JJM). But I'm not sure who that is and why I am his "fellow." I requested that you give us a simple definition of a "New Perspectivist," so that we all might know who you are talking about. You've refused to name names and so I can only guess. It would help me and your readers if we knew what and who you were talking about.

The Lord bless your ministry!

Tim: sorry, but in my last post I said, "you refused to name names. . ." but that language was too strong. I just meant to say that you haven't named names, except for NTW. There are so many labels and tags being thrown around these days.

It's hard to know what is meant by them. Is a New Perspectivist anyone who thinks Luther was wrong at points in his Galatians commentary? Is it someone who thinks that the Reformation doctrine of justification might be enriched by further biblical study? Is it anyone who has benefited from NTW's work? Help us out here.

"Is a New Perspectivist anyone who thinks Luther was wrong at points in his Galatians commentary?"

I would call such a person a Very Old Perspectivist. :)

Tim,

Would you please let us know what you have read by Bishop Wright? If you don't want to list all of the books and articles, could you tell us if you have read 3,000 or more pages?

I'm asking this question because the logic of your post implies that you don't want to waste your time reading such men (also John Stott). Yet I'm wondering how you could offer an honest critique of someone as prolific as N.T. Wright without reading at least a few of his major works.

I have personally been quite critical of some points in Bishop Wright's theology but have also benefitted enormously from his work. He is without any serious doubt one of the most brilliant contemporary New Testament scholars.

It is quite possible to be entirely orthodox while producing nothing of value for the broader church. It is also possible to be wrong about some things, yet incredibly insightful regarding the interpretation of numerous passages of Scripture. I believe that Bishop Wright is in the later category.

Back to my question: Would you kindly be specific as to what you have read by Wright as this will aid the discussion.

Respectfully,

David

Dear David,

I'm afraid I'm going to suggest Tim not respond to your comment. I have no idea how much Wright Tim has read. I couldn't even speculate on how many pages I've read.

But in the end amount read makes no difference. I don't ask those who differ from me to read everything I've written on a topic. It would be a ridiculous request. Nor can you ask this as proxy for Wright.

Whether Tim is right or wrong (and he's right enough for me) has nothing to do with how much he has read or how bright Wright may be. Arguments aren't decided by number of pages read but by logic and truth. I could demand of Wright's defenders an accounting for the number of times they've read and preached through Galatians. Yet that would prove nothing other than my desire to base my argument on an appeal to authority.

Frankly, I'd rather know how much Galatians a man has studied in this debate than how much Wright. If I were to take this tack I'd ask you if you've studied Christ's dealings with the Pharisees.

But in the end, those are meaningless questions--appeals to authority rather than appeals to truth.

If you think Tim is wrong in his basic understanding of Wright or his portrayal of him in this post, the floor is yours. But, to quote someone you probably remember, "Gentlemen, I paid for this microphone...."

Yours in Christ,

David Bayly

Mr. Booth,

If you'll go back and read this post again, you'll note that it's focussed on fans of Bishop Wright, not Wright himself. And I quoted the words those fans--one in particular--used to articulate their theological changes. You and others want to drive the issue back to Wright himself, but it's worth asking why men are allowing him such a profound influence among the people of God? That's the question I here addressed.

On the other hand, you'll note that when I've addressed Bishop Wright himself, I've used direct quotes.

It is interesting to me how often words such as "brilliant" and "profound" and "perceptive" and "prolific" and "incredibly insightful" are used to describe Wright and his work. To me, these are no commendations although I realize they are meant to be.

I'll bet the Apostle Paul's "super apostles" were also said to be brilliant and incredibly insightful. Meanwhile, this is what they had to say about Peter and John: ""Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus" (Acts 4:13).

I feel foolish, and maybe even patronizing, to quote Scripture in this context. But you're the one who commended Bishop Wright's teaching by saying he's "brilliant." So here goes:

* * *For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 * * *

And this, from Kierkegaard:

* * *Folios and folios have been written to show again and again how one is to recognize what true Christianity is.

This can be done in a far simpler way.

Nature is ... acoustic. Only heed what the echo answers, and thou shalt know at once what is what.

So when in this world one preaches Christianity in such a way that the echo answers: "Glorious, profound, serious-minded Christian, thou shouldst be exalted to princely rank," etc., know then that this signifies his preaching of Christianity is, Christianly, a base lie.

It is not absolutely certain that he who walks with fetters on his legs is a criminal, for there are instances when the civil magistrate has condemned an innocent man; but it is eternally certain that he who--by preaching Christianity!--wins all things earthly is a liar, a deceiver, who at one point or another has falsified the doctrine, which by God has been so designed, in such a militant relation to this world, that it is eternally impossible to preach what Christianity is in truth without having to suffer in this world, to be repudiated, hated, cursed.

When one preaches Christianity in such a way that the echo answers, "He is mad," know then that this signifies that there are considerable elements of truth in his preaching, without its being, however, the Christianity of the New Testament. He may have hit the mark; but presumably he does not press hard enough, either by his oral preaching or by the preaching of his life, so that, Christianly speaking, he glides over too easily, his preaching after all is not the Christianity of the New Testament.

But when one preaches Christianity in such a way that the echo answers, "Away with that man from the earth, he does not deserve to live," know then that this is the Christianity of the New Testament.

Without change since the time of our Lord Jesus Christ, capital punishment is the penalty for preaching Christianity as it truly is: hating oneself to love God; hating oneself to hate everything in which one's life consists, everything to which one clings, for the sake of which one selfishly would desire to have God's aid to get it, or to console one that one did not get it, console one for the loss of it--without any change capital punishment is the penalty for preaching this in character.

Soren Kierkegaard, "Attack Upon 'Christendom,'" (Boston: Beacon Press, 1956), pp. 278-79.* * *

Bishop Wright's echo doesn't bode well for his doctrine or the souls under his care. Sadly, my echo shows my sin, also. Please pray for me.

Dear David:

Thank you for your note.

Obviously it is vastly more important to know Galatians than to know Wright.

Nevertheless, my question isn't pointless. There are many gifted Bible scholars that I haven't read - but I also refrain from commenting on them.

My question is actually a very simple and basic question. If you asked me such a question I could glance at my book shelves and name several books that I had read.

Also, my question didn't arise from a long list of disagreements with Tim. It came up because he wrote: "Honestly, there's so much wisdom from fathers in the faith who are strong where these men are weak that I wonder why I'd decide to feed from their hands? Maybe just because all the young dudes will think I'm a curmudgeon if I don't?

So you won't be surprised to hear that I don't read Stott much, although I've quoted him a few times, recently. A good Anglican pastor who knows Stott quite well personally warned me that he believed Stott is now a universalist, so I'm not grazing in his pasture. After all, there's no shortage of priceless books and God-honoring authors, is there? (Still, I'm much more inclined to read dead men who are heterodox than living ones who are still actively seeking to lead God's little ones astray.)"

I can fully understand someone making this choice. For myself, I would rather have all of my toenails pulled out with pliers than to do all the work that N.T. Wright has done in, for example, "The New Testament and the People of God" to show how wrong the critics of the historical accuracy of the Gospels are. On the other hand, I can recognize the value of someone doing this work.

I can also appreciate the value of someone spending a great deal of time working through N.T. Wright's work for the sake of pointing out where he might be leading the church astray. But isn't it necessary that someone actually spend that time before they conclude that he is?

As to what you could demand: (1). Yes, I have preached through Galatians in the past 6 months. (2). I wrote a short paper within the past 6 months that sharply criticized Sanders, Dunn, and Wright regarding what I believe are their misunderstandings surrounding sin and justification. You can see a simplified version of this paper here: http://davidabooth.blogspot.com/2006/05/remnant-theology-and-new-perspective.html

Yet, even though I am critical of Wright - he is in a different class than Sanders and Dunn. The liklihood that Sanders will help anyone understand the Bible better is, in my judgment, very remote. The liklihood that Wright will help someone read the Bible better is very high.

Yes, you "paid for this mike". I am not trying to cause any trouble on your site. I only came here through a link from another blog. But if you hope to be taken seriously - you should be able to directly answer simple questions like the one I asked.

Respectfully,

David A Booth

Mr. Booth, David and I have heard you, but reject the premises underlying your "simple questions."

The two most obvious ones we reject are that this blog post addresses the work of Bishop Wright. It does not. Rather, it addresses the stated conclusions of Bishop Wright's fans.

The second premise we reject is that spiritual warnings given by pastors about other pastors are to be "taken seriously" only if the one doing the warning has spent hundreds or thousands of hours studying that spiritual leader's individual expression of heterodoxy or heresy.

Were I to do so with Bishop Wright, I would neglect other things God has called me to. But I'm thankful He has raised up men like you and given you this calling.

As for whether anyone will take us seriously, this is always in God's good hands.

Tim,

Thanks. Have a great Sabbath.

David

For what is worth, the last two posts at my blog have addressed issues relating to the ecumenical trajectories of the Federal Vision, New Perspective, etc., and on the issue of the imnportance of sola fide.

http://mongrelhorde.blogspot.com (added by Tim)

Add new comment