I recently learned that a group of bloggers of the egalitarian persuasion ran across the teaching ministry of my pastor and were quickly overwhelmed by the vapors.
They were so troubled by what they heard regarding our womyn enslaving ways, it led to a vigorous and passionate discussion on their web forum.
During the course of the
inquisition discussion a member made the following recommendation for the purpose of “learning” about our “tribe mentality”:
Marg and anyone else who wants to do more reading may find Hip and Thigh blog https://hipandthigh.wordpress.com/ a good place to do some reading. the blogger is on McArthur’s [sic] staff and has been associated with him for many years (i [sic] believe something like 20)
The blog has some very useful articles which clearly layout the McArthur [sic] paradigm. I found the articles dealing with Apologetics very insightful.
We don’t really understand McArthur [sic] and his tribe (which is quite influential in some circles) until we understand their presuppositional approach. It runs something like this – the Bible is our only source and the Bible can be clearly understood, there is only one correct interpretation of any text. Unbelievers are spiritually blinded and can’t be expected to understand spiritual truth. For example: old earthers, Christians who believe in the evolutionary process are blinded by thier [sic] sinfulness and are kept from understanding biblical truth.
When I occasionally run across those type of comments about me, my pastor, and my church, they always put a smile on my face. I have likened them in the past to a group of bewildered anthropologists, in this case, quasi-religio-anthropologists, who accidently stumble down a hill only to find themselves tumbling out of the jungle into a village of previous undiscovered naked pig spearers.
Wow. Imagine that? It;s a group of Christians who genuinely believe the Bible and *gasp* believe and act like Christians! AND, (as goosebumps raise on the arms of my readers and they clutch the proverbial pearls around their necks) proclaim their faith with unyielding certainty and conviction IN PUBLIC! OUT LOUD! TO OTHER PEOPLE!
I do appreciate the recommendation, but I thought I would break down the comment.
The blog has some very useful articles which clearly layout the McArthur [sic] paradigm.
Thanks. I’m glad I could be useful. I’m like the Thomas the Tank Engine of the blogosphere. Just so everyone is clear: I don’t speak for MacArthur in any official capacity. My blogging is my own. However, seeing that both John and myself are Bible-believing, God-fearing Christians, of course our “paradigm” will be synced together in many places. By “paradigm” I take it the guy means our “Christian worldview.”
We don’t really understand McArthur [sic] and his tribe (which is quite influential in some circles) until we understand their presuppositional approach.
You have to give the guy kudos for carrying on as if he transcends all of this “tribe” and “presuppositional” stuff. But I have news for him: he is speaking for his own “tribe” that operates according to their own set of “presuppositions” when it comes to reading the Bible, interacting with others, talking about God, etc.
It runs something like this – the Bible is our only source and the Bible can be clearly understood, there is only one correct interpretation of any text.
It would have been helpful if our commenter had defined what he meant when he wrote “the Bible is our only source…” Only source for what? “Truth” maybe? If that is the case, let me provide some clarity. Speaking for myself here, I wouldn’t say the Bible is the “only” source of truth. “Truth” can be found in math books or even in the Yellow Pages.
It would be better to say – and again, speaking for myself here – that the Bible is the only source of infallible revelation about God. God has revealed Himself in its pages. God is the creator of our world and the ultimate “definer” of what is true, and Scripture lays out the revelatory framework on which we, His creature, are to evaluate His “truth.” That idea of “truth” is basic Christian theology 101 and is not unique to John MacArthur, nor is it an exclusive conviction among the members of our specific “tribe.”
Now, zeroing in on the next clause, “the Bible can be clearly understood,” is my detractor saying that the Bible CAN’T be clearly understood? I am only assuming that is what he means, which begs the question then, why can’t the Bible be clearly understood?
I means, if God, being our creator, made man uniquely for the purpose of giving us dominion over the earth, then wouldn’t He want to communicate with us? Seems logical, right? Even more, mankind is the object of His redemption through Christ. Certainly he would want to be understood with that? Certainly he isn’t comparing the Bible to the oracles of some “mystery religion” that requires its followers to jump through a series of “spiritual” hoops in order to obtain.
But then the commenter states, “there is only one correct interpretation of any text.” Well, yes, that is true. Why would God take a schizophrenic approach to revealing Himself? I anticipate his response then to be, “Okay, if there is only ‘one correct interpretation’ then why are there so many interpretations, denominations, etc.?”
A couple of thoughts. First, his statement is exaggerated. There aren’t many “interpretations.” I know the guy wants people to think that there exists many interpretations because he sees so many different denominations and traditional expressions, but in reality, those denominations and traditions are for the most part united in their understanding regarding the fundamental principles that shape the Christian faith. Presbyterians will have a different “interpretation” on the recipients of baptism than say Southern Baptists, but both groups agree as to the interpretation of who Jesus is and that salvation is not earned.
Now, I of course don’t want to ignore the presence of “Christians” who, let’s say, question the authorship of the Pauline epistles or engage in endless searches for the “historical” Jesus or have a radically feminized view of the Bible as a whole. Certainly those individuals have their “interpretation” of Scripture, but it is not the historic, Bible-believing interpretation of Scripture. They represent a narrow-minded niche, or I would say, a severe departure from the faith. They don’t honestly represent an viable, worthwhile “interpretation” of the Bible.
And then second, the problem with many “interpretations” has more to do with man in his limited, fallen state than it is with whether or not the Bible is understandable and has one correct interpretation. Multiple interpretations exist because men fail at understanding God’s Word, not because the Bible is confusing to the point of resulting in many interpretations rather than one correct one.
Unbelievers are spiritually blinded and can’t be expected to understand spiritual truth.
Yes, I do believe that because it is what the Scriptures proclaim. It is what we call the noetic effects of the fall. Man’s sin so separates him from God that it impacts his ability to understand spiritual truth. But that is not to say an unbeliever can never comprehend what the Bible teaches, as if the Bible is nothing by a big code book to him until God zaps him. I would say an unbeliever can understand spiritual truth. The issue, however, is that the unbeliever refuses to affirm spiritual truth and submit to the implications of that spiritual truth on his life.
For example: old earthers, Christians who believe in the evolutionary process are blinded by thier [sic] sinfulness and are kept from understanding biblical truth.
Here we have presented for us a strawman fallacy and one that is ignorant. There are a variety of “old earthers” but not all of them believe in the evolutionary process, at least as it is articulated by the typical, secular Darwinian. Greg Koukl would fall in that category, for instance; I would never question his salvation. The active promoters of theistic evolution pushed by the Biologos crowd, on the other hand, is akin to atheism and I have wondered about their salvation.
Now, having said all of that, amusingly, a number of fellow members read his comment and must have clicked the supplied link to my place. After a brief, surface level overview of my front page and sidebar links, they went away disturbed with what they saw. So much so that a few questioned why the first commenter would scandalize everyone else by exposing them to me.
They first comment then responded by saying how he doesn’t endorse my blog, but it is for the purpose of understanding our “MacArthur tribe.” He goes on to say how he went a few rounds with a TMS grad who was impossible to dialogue with and condemned him as a “false teacher.”
He then wraps up by offering this pious sounding remark: These guys tend to be brilliant but at the end of the day are incredably [sic] predictable. and they are our brothers and we need to love them.
I’m confused. If TMS grads and GTY staff are “predictable” how exactly are we “brilliant?” What is commendable about being the same over and over again with our writing, arguments, and ministries, that we are predictable? That really isn’t “brilliant” at all because that implies we never interact with critics of our “tribe” and supply any thoughtful answers in response. In such a case, wouldn’t any “love” be fake? Because you don’t really mean it. We are that estranged weirdo uncle everyone in the family hopes doesn’t show up for the reunion because he’ll make an embarrassing spectacle of himself.
I, on the other hand, take “predictable” in a more complimentary fashion. I see it as speaking to faithfulness. Having a steadfast, unmoving conviction in God and His Word and living it out in sanctification every day.