Friday, March 02, 2007

Rob Auld's Objections Answered

I'm overdue on this. I recently had an Emergent get really mad at me for the evangelization tips I published for witnessing to Emergents. His name was Rob Auld. I had to censor him because his remarks were at times just insults and not arguments. I gave him a lot of chances. The only comment I censored had a number of good objections that I would like to answer. So I promised Rob I would. I want to answer these objections because they are substantial. Christians ought to have an answer for them and Emergents ought to have these objections to historical orthodoxy answered in order for them to come to the truth, as well. So here are his objections sans a number of schoolyard insults:

ROB: I'm arguing that the Bible is to be believed, perhaps not literally in all cases (Genesis, Abraham's boosom (sic) Jonah, Job etc)...

ANSWER: What in Genesis is not true? Moses presented all of it as true. He did not say, "Here is a parable. In the Beginning God created..."

Logic 101--There are only three possibilities for the veracity of a statement proposed as true by the speaker/writer. It is a mistake. It is a lie. It is true.

There are no other possibilities. Moses presented Genesis as true. If your position is true and Moses is wrong, he was either a deluded fool or a liar. Paul used the Genesis account as the reason for gender roles. If creation is wrong, so are the epistles. Check out his use of the rib-to-Eve story and the story of the fall. He took them as literal. Jesus used the same stories to justify the permanency of marriage. If you do not take Genesis literally as true, you deny Christ.

ROB: ...but hyperbole and story is the way God has chosen to communicate.

ANSWER: God uses a number of literary genre, forms, and devices, including hyperbole and story. However, you miss four important things here.

First is the simple fact that we Christians are aware of that. Since I was old enough to understand language, I knew what a parable was. Assuming Christians don't know this almost seems as though you are purposely making a straw man. In fact, I have never known anyone who read the Bible at all who did not realize this.

Second, you mention "story." You are making another wrong assumption here. Narrative in Scripture is meant to give real history. It is not an imagined story. Every writer of Scripture has recognized this. As I pointed out, the writers of the Pentateuch, the Chronicles, Samuel, the Kings, Esther, Ruth, the Gospels, etc. do not say, "This is just a story." They are relating what really happened. Hence the geographical references and the genealogies. The contemporaries of the writers realized this, too. Ask yourself this question: "If I follow Jesus and Jesus is told of in the Gospels and if I do not believe the Gospels, what do I really know of this Jesus and how can I follow Him Whom I cannot surely know?" Your assertion that you are a follower of Christ is now meaningless, because the terms of your own views render such a claim untestable. That is to say your doctrine and behavior could be anything and still fit the claim. In a word "Repent!" is now meaningless because you cannot tell what doctrines and behaviors are approved or disapproved of by your "Jesus," whoever he may be.

Third, while God has used hyperbole and parable, these forms do not stand alone. Entire books of the New Testament are doctrinal theses--Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews for starters. Hence, to simply wave your hand and erase all we can know of God on the basis that the Scripture has these two forms ignores the rest of Scripture, even if one concedes (and I don't) that we cannot know much through these two forms.

Fourth, even with the literary devices of hyperbole and story, communication is accomplished. "I could eat a horse." That's hyperbole. Yet it communicates a truth.
And only ONE TRUTH. It is not up to interpretation. It communicates with clarity. No one will ask, "Are you hungry?" They already know that. And no one will think "I could eat a horse" means "I can't hear." Everyone knows it means "I'm hungry."

So appealing to hyperbole, even in those passages where it is used, it is not an excuse.

ROB: THE BIBLE IS NOT A SCIENCE BOOK,

ANSWER: No one I know has ever said it is. It has little to say about science. However, it is not in error, either. If it errs in science, it is not the word of God. Read Deuteronomy 18.

ROB: ...AND (the Bible) IS A VERY ONE-SIDED HISTORY BOOK.(This is where the nuance and thinking comes in).

ANSWER: Bias is quite a flaw. Obviously, it is not accurate in your view. That goes far beyond nuance. To really answer this in a more specific way, you will have to tell me exactly what the bias is. At any rate its views are suspect in your schema.

ROB: The Bible tells us about the Character of God. It also tells us about the original plan God had for His creation.

ANSWER: Well, that's nice, but as I have already said, since the Bible is flawed, what is the key by which we ascertain the true and the false? If you cannot give us the key, the Bible is useless. It tell us nothing, especially since it's biased.

ROB: It (the Bible) tells us that we are sinful and need God. God wanted to reconcile and sent his Son as a Perfect example. To die for humanity so we didn't have to reap the consequences of our choices. Did we need to know more to be a Christian?

ANSWER: Yes. A lot. For starters, Jesus did not come primarily as an example, but as the Lamb of God. And it is not what we know alone. Jesus said, "Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."

ROB: It may be helpful to know what specific issues people writing the book were dealing with. Otherwise, you can completely misinterpret what God is saying.

ANSWER: This is basic hermeneutics. We Christians use this method. The goal is to ascertain the intent of the author. Assuming we don't know this is wrong. In fact, Emergents like Robert Webber, John H. Armstrong, and Brian McLaren deny this method. And liberals like Karl Barth deny it also. So you're pointing the wrong direction on this one.

In Christ,
Phil Perkins.

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14 Comments:

Blogger gump said...

right on bro, simply reading about the emergent movement is enough to make me want to gag myself.

8:25 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

just a question. but is jesus telling literal stories when he tells parables? he does not say that they are merely parables, so by your standard, he is either, lying, mistaken, or the story is true right? just curious.

9:05 AM  
Blogger Phil Perkins said...

Gump,
Yes, thanks for the encouragement. Pray for them and for those they might infect. Pray for me, too, as this road is not an easy one. Be willing to confront and evangelize them. If you haven't already, read my tips for evangelizing Emergents starting with the link in this article.

In Christ,
Phil Perkins.

9:18 AM  
Blogger Phil Perkins said...

Chris,
No, your logic is wrong. If the parables are fiction, Jesus is not lying because He presents them as fiction. This is just like a novelist. I read The Old Man and the Sea by Earnest Hemmingway. He didn't lie. It was presented as a novel.

A proposition is presented as true. Fiction is not, though both will be constituted of declarative sentences primarily.

Think it through. This illustrates how we are now paying a price for not teaching critical thought and logic at the junior and senior high levels.

In Christ,
Phil Perkins.

10:01 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

where does he present it as fiction? in the preface? how do you know that the creation story was not presented as metaphorical, or the fall presented as metaphorical? that is the real point i am drawing.
i am very appreciative of your condescending tone, however. this just shows how we are no longer teaching that people should live a life of kindness if they follow one that teaches it.
you missed my point entirely when i asked about jesus speaking in parables.

7:31 PM  
Blogger Phil Perkins said...

Chris,
You said, "where does he (Jesus) present it (the parables) as fiction?"

ANSWER: First, this is the arguemnt-by-silence fallacy. The gospel writers knew they were parables, even in cases in which they did not record Jesus actually saying so. Parsimony requires us to believe the writers had ample reason to believe this. Else they were mistaken or lying. For instance, we have no record of Shakespear telling anyone that King Lear was fiction. Yet, we know that it was taken as fiction from the beginning by those at the time. Thus we know it was fiction, because all the primary sources say so. In the case of the life of Jesus, the closest primary sources we have are the gospel writers.

Can you cite sources for your hyothesis? Who are they? How do they know what they claimed? How were their documents preserved for these two millenia?

Second, don't assume that just because something is a parable that it's fiction. At least some of the parables were true, and some believe all were. The parable of the soils is a parable that would almost have to be true whether or not Jesus had a particular sower in mind. I am not currently taking a position on whether or not the parables were true or fictional because I don't know and it seems to make little difference since the point of the parable is the doctrine or ethic it teaches.

You said, "in the preface?"

ANSWER: The gospels had no preface.

You said, "how do you know that the creation story was not presented as metaphorical, or the fall presented as metaphorical?"

ANSWER: Two ways. First, Jesus and Paul used both of those passages as proofs for theological points. Paul said because of creation and the fall, women are to submit to their husbands and take no authority in the church over men. And Jesus cited the creation story as proof of the permanency of marriage. So Jesus thought the stories were true. If you believe what Jesus believed, you will believe the creation story.

Second, the literary form is historical narrative. By using that form, Moses claimed it as history.

You said, "i am very appreciative of your condescending tone, however."

ANSWER: I did chew you out real hard. You deserved it. You lied to me and you know it. You pretended to be "just curious" and ask "just a question." Well the question was a set up and now you have admitted and you were not "just curious." You were up to something.

You said, "this just shows how we are no longer teaching that people should live a life of kindness if they follow one that teaches it."

ANSWER: Biblical love exhorts. You lied. I exhorted.

You said, "you missed my point entirely when i asked about jesus speaking in parables."

ANSWER: Disagreeing with you does not constitute missing your point.

In Christ,
Phil Perkins.

11:53 PM  
Anonymous Justin said...

AMEN PHIL! To your post and to your comment responses. I will try and remember to pray for you for now on!

Love in Christ,
Justin

10:29 PM  
Blogger Richard Boyce said...

Phil, we need more men like you that have the patience to continually submit yourself to circular arguments that seem to have no resolution.

I wrote a 15 page blog about the emerging movement, Mclaren and Bell, and the presence of emergents on the campus of my school. I know what it's like to go toe to toe with a person or persons that just seem to have no clue what the true gospel really is.

Just want you to know I appreciate you and look forward to more of your blogs.

Your bro in Christ,

Richard Boyce

11:15 AM  
Blogger Phil Perkins said...

Richard,
Actually, I kind of enjoy the mental chess. My blogging has slowed down and will continue to be less of a priority for about two months. I'm in a bit of a career transition. As to arguing with Emergents, you may wish to read my tips on evangelizing Ebergents. That is the link in this article.

Anyway, thanks for the encouragement. I was actually fired from a local Bible college. I was being too vocal about the Emergent coming into the Southern Baptist Convention and naming names. But that is one of the best things that could have happened as it has opened up a number of new outlets for me. Tried to find your blog, but couldn't through blogger.

In Christ,
Phil Perkins.

11:30 AM  
Blogger Richard Boyce said...

Saw in the paper today the president of one of the SBC seminaries has said that homosexuality is close to being proven to be a biological disorder that can be 'cured' with hormonal treatments. Wonder if they can cure rapists, murderers, drunkards...?

So anyways, needless to say I am not surprised to see that you've been fired for speaking the truth, especially from a Bible college. 11 of the 12 apostles were killed for preaching the truth...consider it a badge of honor to be persecuted. Easier for me to say, I know. I'm not in your shoes. I only hope it doesn't discourage you.

It takes courage to confront/mention the presence of emergents within Baptist circles to the head of the convention. I think it's fairly obvious that you're not out to impress people or appear 'holier than thou'. Anyways, I'm rambling. Again, I enjoy your blog and am looking forward to the next. God bless, and take care.

By the way, the magazine I write for is found at www.runderground.blogspot.com

The article in question is the latest "Random Thoughts From a College Christian".


R. Boyce

3:36 PM  
Blogger Phil Perkins said...

xRichard,
I read the ninth part of the article you wrote, called "Random Thoughts of a College Christian." You had some great quotes from Rob Bell. I am planning to make a flyer about Bell, stand outside one of our local "Christian" book stores, and pass them out. I don't know how long it will take to get thrown off the parking lot, but I will get out at least a few flyers. Then I will go over to another where I can do the same from the public sidewalk.

I'm doing this because, the book stores are currently pushing him hard. So I'll be trying to alert as many customers as possible. Thanks for the useful info.

As to the SBC seminary president, that was probably Al Mohler to whom you referred. He's orthodox and his first article on the subject was misunderstood and poorly reported by a number of secular and Christian outlets. He responded to get it right here:
http://almohler.com/blog_read.php?id=901 .

As to my firing getting me down, no. It did for about 2 weeks. Since then, I have found Christ closer than ever before and I am starting out big in new endeavors that are actually broader.

Now, in your writings and in the current thought in most of the Evangelical church there seems to be a tension between rebuke and love.

This tension is nonsense. It doesn't exist in the Bible. Go read I John 5:2-3 in the Greek. Then II John 6. In both passages, love is defined as obedience to God and in the first, love of brother is tested by, not how smarmy we are to our brothers and sisters, but by whether or not we obey God.

I bring this up because you obviously have a heart for holiness in life and doctrine. And like anyone who concerns himself with that sort of thing, you have been accused of not caring for or loving your fellow Christians. Be encouraged. You are doing the right thing. Don't change. You are the loving one. The one who excuses sin is the hateful one. He loves himself and proves it by seeking his brother's approval, not his brother's repentance and forgiveness from God.

Go read in the Hebrew Leviticus 19:17-18. If you don't know Hebrew yet, the best translations are the NIV, ESV, or NKJV for that particular passage. (I was disappointed in my old standby NASB.) There you will read that it is the job of the righteous to confront a brother in sin. And in the Hebrew the "reprove" part is very emphatic. More so than any of the translations I just recommended, but the do the best of all I have read. If you know of sin in the assembly and say nothing, you are sinning yourself.

Then notice vs. 18, where we are told to love our neighbors as ourselves. Now, if there is a tension between real biblical love and reproof of sin, God hasn't figured it out.

For a little more on that, I wrote a couple of articles in my other blog here: http://dontadddontsubtract.blogspot.com/2007/01/out-of-abundance-of-heart-mouth-speaks.html

and here: http://dontadddontsubtract.blogspot.com/2006/05/pharisees-of-luuv.html

Be encouraged and keep your zeal. Remember, God is love. Jesus is God. So, how did Love respond to sin and false teaching when He encountered them in the gospels? Well, he was direct, asked for repentance, and occassionally got quite angry over the sin. Yes, Love insists on repentance and gets upset over sin. Quite a foreign thought to modern Evangelicals, huh?

In Christ,
Phil Perkins.

9:12 AM  
Blogger Grant said...

i have a question about your logic statement. you stated that all premises are either mistaken, true, or a lie. you then said what moses wrote was true and to assume it of a different nature, i.e. metaphor, would be to make it a mistake or a lie. i think i followed you here? anyways, dont you think truth entails more than just being literal? it just seems like a very biased definition of truth pointed to a particular angle in the manner by which you defend your/offend the emergent position.

11:56 AM  
Blogger Grant said...

i have a question about your logic statement. you stated that all premises are either mistaken, true, or a lie. you then said what moses wrote was true and to assume it of a different nature, i.e. metaphor, would be to make it a mistake or a lie. i think i followed you here? anyways, dont you think truth entails more than just being literal? it just seems like a very biased definition of truth pointed to a particular angle in the manner by which you defend your/offend the emergent position.

11:57 AM  
Blogger Phil Perkins said...

Grant,
Truth is not communicated by literal statements alone. I never claimed that. (See my illustration of hyperbole about being able to eat a horse and see my discussion of parable.)

However, Moses used a literary form that was construed by his contemporaries (and most of all who followed in history) to be literal. So if it is not literal, he was pulling one over on his people (and us) or he was wrong. That form was historical narrative. Even things within the text indicate this strongly. For instance, covenants were made and referenced later by Moses and later writers for enforcement. The prophet who seeks to enforce a fictious covenant is a laughing stock. The same can be said for genealogies, geographical locations and individual stories in the account of Genesis. The later folks that took all these things as literal were the prophets, apostles, and Jesus Himself. So all those folks were fooled by Moses, or it was indeed literal as Moses strongly indicated.

Furthermore, the characters in the story of the Pentateuch are real historical figures recognized by those closest to the story. Isaac was a real man. Israel was the father of Reuben through Benjamin and so the nation bore his name and the tribes were formed and organized according to the genealogies in Genesis, Exodus, and Numbers.

As to a definition of truth, I haven't here given one. That has been assumed. If you would like to see my definition of truth, go here: http://dontadddontsubtract.blogspot.com/2006/04/theology-of-truth-information-and-love.html .

I think what you meant by my "definition of truth" is the tripartite schema used here to express an evaluation of the veracity of a proposition by the categories truth, lie, and mistake. That is not my paradigm. It is logic 101. To be precise, any proposition is either true or false. And I here have broken the false down into purposely false (a lie) and accidental error (a mistake.) And I am not the first to dichotomize the false this way. See C. S. Lewis and Josh McDowell, or simple common sense for that matter.

So there is no bias here in the choices. This is simply logical. If this does not let you go where you wish to go I don't know what to say.

In Christ,
Phil Perkins.

4:57 PM  

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