Over-Committed to the Bible?

J. P. Moreland is a respected evangelical scholar and Christian apologist. Now he has roiled the Christian world by a paper he delivered at the recent Evangelical Theological Society conference entitled How Evangelicals Became Over-Committed to the Bible and What Can Be Done About It.

Dr. Moreland affirms the inerrancy and the authority of Scripture, but he is decrying the way conservative Protestants tend to make the Bible the ONLY source of spiritual and moral knowledge. He thinks Christians should also consider, for example, the natural law known by reason as being a legitimate source of truth; also extra-biblical evidence for demons; also other possible sources of revelation, such as dreams, visions, prophecies, and “words of knowledge.”

I know the kind of narrowness Dr. Moreland is referring to, but I deny that the problem is being “over-committed” to the Bible. I have found that the Bible opens up my mind–even blows my mind–rather than constricting it.

As a Lutheran Christian, I do believe in natural law, the proper use of reason, the authority of our confessional heritage, but I do so BECAUSE I believe them to be Biblical. As a Lutheran Christian, though, I deny that dream, visions, prophecies, and “words of knowledge” can be thought of as authoritative revelations from God. This is what our confessions condemn as “enthusiasm,” the source of every false religion.

As for the charge of “bibliolatry” that Dr. Moreland warns of, I am almost willing to admit to the charge. The Bible can never be honored enough. Do I worship a book? Well, I worship the God who is located in the book, so you might say that. The pagan believes that his deity is localized in his graven image. I believe that the true God is localized in His Word, namely, the incarnate Son of God. That same Word is manifest in human language, written down in ink and paper on the pages of the Bible and proclaimed in sound waves that travel through the air. I hold not to an image but to the Word, not to a word that I hear inside my head but to a Word outside myself.

The Word of God is God’s voice, His communication of Himself. The Word cannot be separated from Christ, the Incarnate Word, from the Father, who inspired it, and the Holy Spirit whom it conveys. The Word is sacramental, a physical, aural thing–no less physical than water, bread, and wine–that God employs to reach us and in which He is living and active.

Perhaps the source of some of the narrowness that Dr. Moreland complains about is that Christians today often neglect the sense in which the Word is a means of grace and not just a record of facts. But the problem is surely not being committed to the Bible nearly ENOUGH.

Read Dr. Moreland’s paper and tell me what you think.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Matt L

    The problem is that when we fought that battle for the Bible in the 70s we aligned ourselves with the Evangelicals. In doing so we traded one set of problems for another. Now we force ourselves into proof-texting everything we do, the problem is that sometimes our prooftexts have nothing to do with the stance we take.

    For example, take our position on closed communion. We immediately run to 1 Cor. 11:27 to justify our practice of withholding communion from Grandma Betty who is Roman Catholic, Auntie Sue who is Baptist, or cousin Joe who is in the ELCA. Now don’t get me wrong, I completely affirm the practice of closed communion (as AC 25 and Ap. 24 both touch upon this), but according to our confessions themselves (FC. Ep. VII.18-20), I’m not sure that we can apply unworthy reception (in the way 1 Cor. 11:27 speaks) to any of these people. I don’t buy that line of argument, and I do think it is right in line with some of the criticisms which Moreland calls “Bibliolatry.” It is about time that Lutherans be Lutheran in their exegesis, not Campbellites.

  • Matt L

    The problem is that when we fought that battle for the Bible in the 70s we aligned ourselves with the Evangelicals. In doing so we traded one set of problems for another. Now we force ourselves into proof-texting everything we do, the problem is that sometimes our prooftexts have nothing to do with the stance we take.

    For example, take our position on closed communion. We immediately run to 1 Cor. 11:27 to justify our practice of withholding communion from Grandma Betty who is Roman Catholic, Auntie Sue who is Baptist, or cousin Joe who is in the ELCA. Now don’t get me wrong, I completely affirm the practice of closed communion (as AC 25 and Ap. 24 both touch upon this), but according to our confessions themselves (FC. Ep. VII.18-20), I’m not sure that we can apply unworthy reception (in the way 1 Cor. 11:27 speaks) to any of these people. I don’t buy that line of argument, and I do think it is right in line with some of the criticisms which Moreland calls “Bibliolatry.” It is about time that Lutherans be Lutheran in their exegesis, not Campbellites.

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  • jayfromcleveland

    Well I made it through only three pages before feeling compelled to post.

    One could make an effort to either take Dr. Moreland’s large point, or else snag up on the picky stuff. I’ll try to take his point.

    For one thing, while the Bible clearly is the ultimate source for fundagelicals, it is *not* the sole source, practically speaking. Take Republican politics — some people hold gun rights and a flat tax as points of doctrine.

    In another example, many Christians are wrapped up in conspiracy theories and “fakelore” such as Hislop’s “Two Babylons” that presume to make unsupported claims about history and “pagan influences” in the modern world, especially deepest antiquity from the time after the flood. Now that Christmas is here, we can enjoy another season of unsubstantiated allegations of how the perennial boogiemen “Nimrod” and “The Emperor Constantine” excerted pagan influence over our holiday traditions.

    On the other hand, the same conspiracy theorists are overcommitted to the Bible in that they become very dogmatic over a micro-literal reading of certain verses. Take for example Psalm 104:5

    “Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever. ”

    Some people read this and other similar verses to say that the Earth is the center of the universe, and that heliocentric cosmology is some pagan conspiracy to subvert the truth of Scripture. However, a similar micro-literal reading of Ecclesiastes 1:5 points to a flat earth and the dimensions of “the molten sea” in 1 Kings 7:23 suggest a value of “pi” equal to 3.

    I would agree with Dr. Moreland that such instances represent an overcommittment to the Bible.

    As for other relying on sources of authority, what about prayer and getting an answer to prayer? Does God answer prayer and if so, is this a “special relevation”? Christians say all the time “God told me this and that.” Does He “speak” to us, or does He only speak through the Word? Does “speaking” mean audlibly, or can His voice be found in the unfolding of unlikely circumstances? If I’m praying for answers to a problem and receive them, does the answer come directly from the LORD or is it just an illusory artifact of a mind informed by Sola Scriptura? We hear testimonies all the time of how someone was low on cash and they miraculously received exactly the amount they needed, just in the nick of time. Is that actually divine intervention in someone’s life, or is it a coincidence? Is it an “enthusiam” to be disparaged by your confession?

    Sorry for not slogging through all nine pages before posting, hope I didn’t contaminate the thread too badly.

  • jayfromcleveland

    Well I made it through only three pages before feeling compelled to post.

    One could make an effort to either take Dr. Moreland’s large point, or else snag up on the picky stuff. I’ll try to take his point.

    For one thing, while the Bible clearly is the ultimate source for fundagelicals, it is *not* the sole source, practically speaking. Take Republican politics — some people hold gun rights and a flat tax as points of doctrine.

    In another example, many Christians are wrapped up in conspiracy theories and “fakelore” such as Hislop’s “Two Babylons” that presume to make unsupported claims about history and “pagan influences” in the modern world, especially deepest antiquity from the time after the flood. Now that Christmas is here, we can enjoy another season of unsubstantiated allegations of how the perennial boogiemen “Nimrod” and “The Emperor Constantine” excerted pagan influence over our holiday traditions.

    On the other hand, the same conspiracy theorists are overcommitted to the Bible in that they become very dogmatic over a micro-literal reading of certain verses. Take for example Psalm 104:5

    “Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever. ”

    Some people read this and other similar verses to say that the Earth is the center of the universe, and that heliocentric cosmology is some pagan conspiracy to subvert the truth of Scripture. However, a similar micro-literal reading of Ecclesiastes 1:5 points to a flat earth and the dimensions of “the molten sea” in 1 Kings 7:23 suggest a value of “pi” equal to 3.

    I would agree with Dr. Moreland that such instances represent an overcommittment to the Bible.

    As for other relying on sources of authority, what about prayer and getting an answer to prayer? Does God answer prayer and if so, is this a “special relevation”? Christians say all the time “God told me this and that.” Does He “speak” to us, or does He only speak through the Word? Does “speaking” mean audlibly, or can His voice be found in the unfolding of unlikely circumstances? If I’m praying for answers to a problem and receive them, does the answer come directly from the LORD or is it just an illusory artifact of a mind informed by Sola Scriptura? We hear testimonies all the time of how someone was low on cash and they miraculously received exactly the amount they needed, just in the nick of time. Is that actually divine intervention in someone’s life, or is it a coincidence? Is it an “enthusiam” to be disparaged by your confession?

    Sorry for not slogging through all nine pages before posting, hope I didn’t contaminate the thread too badly.

  • Bror Erickson

    It was in Dr. Marquart’s “Anatomy of an Explosion” in which he quotes a line by Sasse to the effect of “how can they believe the Bible is authoritative, they don’t believe it when it says ‘this is my body… this is my blood.’ What kind of Biblical Authority is that?” That of course is a paraphrase of the quote. The “they” being American evangelical Christians. They won’t believe even in the possibility of Christ’s Body and Blood being present in the Lord’s Supper, despite the most literally spoken words in the Bible. But they will believe literally in the language of Revelation, and refuse to see in there any metaphor.
    Reading Dr. Moreland’s paper, I find a man who smells something rotten. He thinks the man next to him farted, but in reality it is a stale bag of French fries left under the car seat. It isn’t overcommitment that is the problem. It is naivity, and undercomitment that won’t let the Bible interpret itself, on it’s own terms. After reading his paper though, I am bracing myself for an Evangelical Bible College to turn out a cadre of ghost hunters and exorcists. I do not think his chapter on extra Biblical evidence for demons was at all helpful. And that coming from one who believes very strongly that he has encountered demons within his life.
    However, I was reading John Warrick Montgomery’s book “Faith Founded on Fact” last week. It strikes me that he too sees a problem with the idea that the Bible is the sole source of knowledge. Apologetically that idea is disasterous. There is in fact knowledge out there that is common to all. You may not be able to prove the Trinity, or the Divinity of Christ, without the Bible, But you could learn a lot about the human language God employs to tell us about himself. You can learn a lot about the world that God has given us to live in. And you can even learn that there is a god, you just wouldn’t be able to find much more out about Him than that.

  • Bror Erickson

    It was in Dr. Marquart’s “Anatomy of an Explosion” in which he quotes a line by Sasse to the effect of “how can they believe the Bible is authoritative, they don’t believe it when it says ‘this is my body… this is my blood.’ What kind of Biblical Authority is that?” That of course is a paraphrase of the quote. The “they” being American evangelical Christians. They won’t believe even in the possibility of Christ’s Body and Blood being present in the Lord’s Supper, despite the most literally spoken words in the Bible. But they will believe literally in the language of Revelation, and refuse to see in there any metaphor.
    Reading Dr. Moreland’s paper, I find a man who smells something rotten. He thinks the man next to him farted, but in reality it is a stale bag of French fries left under the car seat. It isn’t overcommitment that is the problem. It is naivity, and undercomitment that won’t let the Bible interpret itself, on it’s own terms. After reading his paper though, I am bracing myself for an Evangelical Bible College to turn out a cadre of ghost hunters and exorcists. I do not think his chapter on extra Biblical evidence for demons was at all helpful. And that coming from one who believes very strongly that he has encountered demons within his life.
    However, I was reading John Warrick Montgomery’s book “Faith Founded on Fact” last week. It strikes me that he too sees a problem with the idea that the Bible is the sole source of knowledge. Apologetically that idea is disasterous. There is in fact knowledge out there that is common to all. You may not be able to prove the Trinity, or the Divinity of Christ, without the Bible, But you could learn a lot about the human language God employs to tell us about himself. You can learn a lot about the world that God has given us to live in. And you can even learn that there is a god, you just wouldn’t be able to find much more out about Him than that.

  • jayfromcleveland

    #4 Bror, evangelicals believe the LORD’s supper is emblematic, not actual. Of course there is symbolism and metaphor in the Bible, and we believe this is one example. Having grown up Catholic, I’ve had quite enough of “mysteries” such as transubstantiation based on debunked Aristotelian premises. Not sure exactly what Lutheran “consubstantiation” means in comparison.

    ********

    Anyway, I printed out all nine pages and read them with morning coffee. Dr. Moreland essentially seems to be observing that the Bible is not an exhaustive source for all the information upon which it touches. His “Old Testmanent city” example indicates that, while a city may be mentioned in Scripture, we can learn more actual things about the city if we dig it up. Surely this is true in that God does not many provide details, e.g. of heliocentric cosmology or the day, month and year of Christ’s birth. These are things left for the faithful to fight over.

    Dr . Moreland proposes that spiritual matters can be scientifically studied as psychology and sociology have been studied, to observe trends and correlate with broad generalizations. Such study has been omitted by the modern secular university, which has lost its orginal focus in favor of hard scientific research. He states that evangelicals, in their overcommittment to the Bible, have dismissed outright the “soft” sciences such as psychology and sociology for being tainted by secularist presumptions, and in so doing have “thrown out the baby with the bathwater” insofar as factual, useful generalizations about the human mind and society may have actually been discovered in these disciplines.

    It would seem that Dr. Moreland is trying to form an intellectual patina on the charismatic movement, and I’m very cautious of where that may lead. But his larger point seems to be a good one.

  • jayfromcleveland

    #4 Bror, evangelicals believe the LORD’s supper is emblematic, not actual. Of course there is symbolism and metaphor in the Bible, and we believe this is one example. Having grown up Catholic, I’ve had quite enough of “mysteries” such as transubstantiation based on debunked Aristotelian premises. Not sure exactly what Lutheran “consubstantiation” means in comparison.

    ********

    Anyway, I printed out all nine pages and read them with morning coffee. Dr. Moreland essentially seems to be observing that the Bible is not an exhaustive source for all the information upon which it touches. His “Old Testmanent city” example indicates that, while a city may be mentioned in Scripture, we can learn more actual things about the city if we dig it up. Surely this is true in that God does not many provide details, e.g. of heliocentric cosmology or the day, month and year of Christ’s birth. These are things left for the faithful to fight over.

    Dr . Moreland proposes that spiritual matters can be scientifically studied as psychology and sociology have been studied, to observe trends and correlate with broad generalizations. Such study has been omitted by the modern secular university, which has lost its orginal focus in favor of hard scientific research. He states that evangelicals, in their overcommittment to the Bible, have dismissed outright the “soft” sciences such as psychology and sociology for being tainted by secularist presumptions, and in so doing have “thrown out the baby with the bathwater” insofar as factual, useful generalizations about the human mind and society may have actually been discovered in these disciplines.

    It would seem that Dr. Moreland is trying to form an intellectual patina on the charismatic movement, and I’m very cautious of where that may lead. But his larger point seems to be a good one.

  • http://www.lutheransandcontraception.blogspot.com/ Erich Heidenreich, DDS

    I see an over-commitment to the Bible when people are unwilling to listen to tradition as an important (though certainly not infallible) guide to interpreting the Bible. The “me and my Bible” crowd either believe that the individual can interpret Scripture by his own authority in a vacuum, or that the current majority opinion rules. But, as Chesterton said:

    “Tradition may be defined as an extension of the franchise. Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our father.”

  • http://www.lutheransandcontraception.blogspot.com/ Erich Heidenreich, DDS

    I see an over-commitment to the Bible when people are unwilling to listen to tradition as an important (though certainly not infallible) guide to interpreting the Bible. The “me and my Bible” crowd either believe that the individual can interpret Scripture by his own authority in a vacuum, or that the current majority opinion rules. But, as Chesterton said:

    “Tradition may be defined as an extension of the franchise. Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our father.”

  • Bror Erickson

    jay from cleveland,
    I am very familiar with what Evangelicals believe about the Lord’s Supper. I am also very familiar with the short comings of Transubstantiation. I must however caution you, Lutherans do not believe in “consubstantiation.” That is a position attributed to us. No we believe only very sincerely, that when Christ says “This is my Body… And This is My Blood,” that, Him being God, it is what He says it is. We attach no philosophical extra Biblical explanation of it. We only take Christ at His word, especially those that comprise His last will and testament. (I think it should also be noted that originally Aquinas’es teaching on Transubstantiation, was meant as only an apologetic against the Aristotelianism of Avicena, and Averoes.)

    And though I do agree with Dr. Morelands over all point. I also agree with Veith, that he is attacking it wrongly.

  • Bror Erickson

    jay from cleveland,
    I am very familiar with what Evangelicals believe about the Lord’s Supper. I am also very familiar with the short comings of Transubstantiation. I must however caution you, Lutherans do not believe in “consubstantiation.” That is a position attributed to us. No we believe only very sincerely, that when Christ says “This is my Body… And This is My Blood,” that, Him being God, it is what He says it is. We attach no philosophical extra Biblical explanation of it. We only take Christ at His word, especially those that comprise His last will and testament. (I think it should also be noted that originally Aquinas’es teaching on Transubstantiation, was meant as only an apologetic against the Aristotelianism of Avicena, and Averoes.)

    And though I do agree with Dr. Morelands over all point. I also agree with Veith, that he is attacking it wrongly.

  • kerner

    Ya see, Jay, if you REALLY believed the Bible, you’d be a Lutheran. ;o)

  • kerner

    Ya see, Jay, if you REALLY believed the Bible, you’d be a Lutheran. ;o)

  • fwsonnek

    #6 Erich the tooth-ful

    whoa. what a great quote!

  • fwsonnek

    #6 Erich the tooth-ful

    whoa. what a great quote!

  • fwsonnek

    #4 Bror:

    “You may not be able to prove the Trinity, or the Divinity of Christ, without the Bible”

    Made me think. couldnt “prove” the trinity even WITH the bible. Just could prove that the teaching is, in fact, biblical. We just accept it as so. We Lutherans don´t look in our bibles expecting to find explanations for morality, life´s complexities, how to run government, etc.

    we expect to find Jesus. Period.

    I don´t believe anything because it is biblical. The bible didn´t die and rise again. and didn´t do anything for me so I am not invested.

    I DO believe in Jesus though. He bought me. He came back from death. ok. And He tells me I can trust the Bible to make me closer to Him. The bible is so close to him infact that to doubt it is to doubt him. This is something worthwhile to me. Sold.

    We find any of those other things only as they nudge us to have our life in Him and not of this world. But also to see that he fills ALL things in this world. paradox. but not really.

    I am OVER, SUPER OVER, OVERcommitted to Jesus Christ as THE WORD incarnate. I hope you get this about Frank Sonnek. Not that you should care. DO care about Jesus!

    I don´t do “list theology” as in a comparison chart between me, the bapticostals, catholics etc.

    I ask where the center is. What is that thing that everything is oriented around. Is there something like that for you dear brother JayFromCleveland?

    Because we Lutherans hear Jesus when he says the entire OT exists with its purpose being a testimony to His person.

    Lutherans then read alot of stuff as proclamation of fact, that is ALL, RADICALLY about knowing Jesus. Case in point: This IS my body. We Lutherans simply say amen to that.

    Reformed lack this same intimately organic unifying principal. that is why we can say the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the singular and they have to say Reformed Churches in the plural. How do Lutherans differ on doctrine? We don´t . because we really only have one note that we play. The Gospel. everything else is an article created to sustain that single note.

    So we Lutherans are free to use the redeemed and fully reconciled things of the world, ALL of them.

    So this author just looks like a lost soul to me. He raises issues that don´t affect me as a Lutheran. a big yawn.

    Consider just HOW radical Lutheran thinking is. Our confessions say that the moral system developed by a pagan with no “transcendent authority” is so complete that nothing further need be added. wow. the implications are rather amazing.

    so we can really , as Lutherans, fearlessly learn even from a godless pagan ALL we need to know about civic righteousness. wow again.

    The implications should make Lutherans very very good at apologetics and to be truly salt and yeast.

  • fwsonnek

    #4 Bror:

    “You may not be able to prove the Trinity, or the Divinity of Christ, without the Bible”

    Made me think. couldnt “prove” the trinity even WITH the bible. Just could prove that the teaching is, in fact, biblical. We just accept it as so. We Lutherans don´t look in our bibles expecting to find explanations for morality, life´s complexities, how to run government, etc.

    we expect to find Jesus. Period.

    I don´t believe anything because it is biblical. The bible didn´t die and rise again. and didn´t do anything for me so I am not invested.

    I DO believe in Jesus though. He bought me. He came back from death. ok. And He tells me I can trust the Bible to make me closer to Him. The bible is so close to him infact that to doubt it is to doubt him. This is something worthwhile to me. Sold.

    We find any of those other things only as they nudge us to have our life in Him and not of this world. But also to see that he fills ALL things in this world. paradox. but not really.

    I am OVER, SUPER OVER, OVERcommitted to Jesus Christ as THE WORD incarnate. I hope you get this about Frank Sonnek. Not that you should care. DO care about Jesus!

    I don´t do “list theology” as in a comparison chart between me, the bapticostals, catholics etc.

    I ask where the center is. What is that thing that everything is oriented around. Is there something like that for you dear brother JayFromCleveland?

    Because we Lutherans hear Jesus when he says the entire OT exists with its purpose being a testimony to His person.

    Lutherans then read alot of stuff as proclamation of fact, that is ALL, RADICALLY about knowing Jesus. Case in point: This IS my body. We Lutherans simply say amen to that.

    Reformed lack this same intimately organic unifying principal. that is why we can say the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the singular and they have to say Reformed Churches in the plural. How do Lutherans differ on doctrine? We don´t . because we really only have one note that we play. The Gospel. everything else is an article created to sustain that single note.

    So we Lutherans are free to use the redeemed and fully reconciled things of the world, ALL of them.

    So this author just looks like a lost soul to me. He raises issues that don´t affect me as a Lutheran. a big yawn.

    Consider just HOW radical Lutheran thinking is. Our confessions say that the moral system developed by a pagan with no “transcendent authority” is so complete that nothing further need be added. wow. the implications are rather amazing.

    so we can really , as Lutherans, fearlessly learn even from a godless pagan ALL we need to know about civic righteousness. wow again.

    The implications should make Lutherans very very good at apologetics and to be truly salt and yeast.

  • Bror Erickson

    Frank,
    Without the Trinity, Jesus isn’t Jesus. So to find Jesus and not the Trinity is really a hard thing to do, when reading the Bible.
    But that is aside from the whole point of what I wrote.

  • Bror Erickson

    Frank,
    Without the Trinity, Jesus isn’t Jesus. So to find Jesus and not the Trinity is really a hard thing to do, when reading the Bible.
    But that is aside from the whole point of what I wrote.

  • jayfromcleveland

    I’d really like to visit here more and participate, being an evangelical fan of Dr. Veith from WORLD and his other involvement in the evangelical scene, but I must say, it becomes a bore when every single discussion devolves back into how correct Lutheranism is compared to everything else. I might be more interested in checking out Lutheranism if my dealings with Lutherans inspired me that they were the true keepers of the faith, but to date such has not been the case. Oh well, maybe we’ll see you folks around.

  • jayfromcleveland

    I’d really like to visit here more and participate, being an evangelical fan of Dr. Veith from WORLD and his other involvement in the evangelical scene, but I must say, it becomes a bore when every single discussion devolves back into how correct Lutheranism is compared to everything else. I might be more interested in checking out Lutheranism if my dealings with Lutherans inspired me that they were the true keepers of the faith, but to date such has not been the case. Oh well, maybe we’ll see you folks around.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    My take; Moreland really has a better case against improper exegesis, hermeneutics, and such than he does against an “over-committment” to the Scriptures. More or less, Psalm 24:1 indicates to me that he’s simply confused about the terms he’s using, not a credible case that anyone relies too much upon the Word of God.

    I’d make some wiseacre comments about you Luterns, but living in MN, I’m afraid that someone would bury me in lutefisk or beat me with stale lefse if I did. :^)

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    My take; Moreland really has a better case against improper exegesis, hermeneutics, and such than he does against an “over-committment” to the Scriptures. More or less, Psalm 24:1 indicates to me that he’s simply confused about the terms he’s using, not a credible case that anyone relies too much upon the Word of God.

    I’d make some wiseacre comments about you Luterns, but living in MN, I’m afraid that someone would bury me in lutefisk or beat me with stale lefse if I did. :^)

  • Joe

    JayfromCleveland,

    May I ask what Lutherans you were interacting with? And what made you beleive that they were not the “true keepers of the faith”?

    May be we can be of help on these topics. As you know we all like to talk about Lutheranism.

  • Joe

    JayfromCleveland,

    May I ask what Lutherans you were interacting with? And what made you beleive that they were not the “true keepers of the faith”?

    May be we can be of help on these topics. As you know we all like to talk about Lutheranism.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Jay, at one level I can understand your frustration, and yet I also wonder what you expected from this blog, given its Lutheran-centrism.

    Lutherans are who they are because they believe Lutheranism is correct. This is less tautological than it first seems.

    In contrast with many “evangelicals” (a term I find ill-defined, but hey), Lutherans do not merely believe their church’s doctrine is “close enough”, but correct. Whereas my Baptist friends, for instance, see no problem being members at a church that teaches it’s wrong to drink, even though they know it’s biblically okay, I could not attend a church whose teaching was unbiblical. This is because, as a Lutheran, I equate doctrinal agreement and fellowship, and believe that to do so is biblical. The upshot is that Lutherans will be a little more defensive of their doctrine than many others — if we didn’t agree with the doctrine, we’d find a different church! (This may be horribly confusing, as written — sorry.)

    If your dealings with Lutherans have shown their teachings to be incorrect, I would think that this blog would be a great place to discuss it (perhaps in relevant entries, as it would be difficult to discuss the whole of it in this one post). But, of course, you must expect that people here are going to defend the faith they hold when you do so. Still, I, for one, hope you’ll stick around and talk with us.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Jay, at one level I can understand your frustration, and yet I also wonder what you expected from this blog, given its Lutheran-centrism.

    Lutherans are who they are because they believe Lutheranism is correct. This is less tautological than it first seems.

    In contrast with many “evangelicals” (a term I find ill-defined, but hey), Lutherans do not merely believe their church’s doctrine is “close enough”, but correct. Whereas my Baptist friends, for instance, see no problem being members at a church that teaches it’s wrong to drink, even though they know it’s biblically okay, I could not attend a church whose teaching was unbiblical. This is because, as a Lutheran, I equate doctrinal agreement and fellowship, and believe that to do so is biblical. The upshot is that Lutherans will be a little more defensive of their doctrine than many others — if we didn’t agree with the doctrine, we’d find a different church! (This may be horribly confusing, as written — sorry.)

    If your dealings with Lutherans have shown their teachings to be incorrect, I would think that this blog would be a great place to discuss it (perhaps in relevant entries, as it would be difficult to discuss the whole of it in this one post). But, of course, you must expect that people here are going to defend the faith they hold when you do so. Still, I, for one, hope you’ll stick around and talk with us.

  • texan

    I’ve heard it said recently that today’s evangelicals are tomorrow’s mainliners. My family is mostly Church of Christ and Assem. of God. They thought I was crazy for joining the UMC (they’re so liberal!). The people I go to church with, though, seem to take doctrine more seriously than the people at the charismatic churches I attended before. There has been a bit of a turn around in some of the mainline churches like mine in some places. Are there other prominant conservative scholars who are making statements like this? Could this be more evidence of the Evangelicals following the footsteps of mainliners? Maybe this is an inevitible cycle.

  • texan

    I’ve heard it said recently that today’s evangelicals are tomorrow’s mainliners. My family is mostly Church of Christ and Assem. of God. They thought I was crazy for joining the UMC (they’re so liberal!). The people I go to church with, though, seem to take doctrine more seriously than the people at the charismatic churches I attended before. There has been a bit of a turn around in some of the mainline churches like mine in some places. Are there other prominant conservative scholars who are making statements like this? Could this be more evidence of the Evangelicals following the footsteps of mainliners? Maybe this is an inevitible cycle.

  • Bror Erickson

    jay from cleveland,
    I don’t know what to say. I’ve been conversing with you now for about a year. I’ve appreciated many things you have brought to my attention. Maybe I should get better at mentioning those things I appreciate about your positions, whilst criticizing those things I disagree with. However, it is dialogue. I do expect you to come back to defend your position, when I attack it.
    However, I will not apologize for my Lutheranism. And though I agree with Kerner whole heartedly I was not going to be as blunt as her. (Where have you been any way, kerner?)
    I’ve always known you, jay, to be a little more thick skinned than this. I don’t know what Lutherans you have been dealing with, or what makes you think they are not keepers of pure doctrine. I only know the Lutherans you have had contact with on this board, and they tend to do a good job of professing what it is the Lutheran Church believes, teaches and confesses. So if you have questions, ask.

  • Bror Erickson

    jay from cleveland,
    I don’t know what to say. I’ve been conversing with you now for about a year. I’ve appreciated many things you have brought to my attention. Maybe I should get better at mentioning those things I appreciate about your positions, whilst criticizing those things I disagree with. However, it is dialogue. I do expect you to come back to defend your position, when I attack it.
    However, I will not apologize for my Lutheranism. And though I agree with Kerner whole heartedly I was not going to be as blunt as her. (Where have you been any way, kerner?)
    I’ve always known you, jay, to be a little more thick skinned than this. I don’t know what Lutherans you have been dealing with, or what makes you think they are not keepers of pure doctrine. I only know the Lutherans you have had contact with on this board, and they tend to do a good job of professing what it is the Lutheran Church believes, teaches and confesses. So if you have questions, ask.

  • WebMonk

    Bike Bubba #13 – you echoed my own sentiments. I don’t think he was intending to bash the Bible, but rather an ignorant approach to using the Bible.

    There are also parts of Christianity that holds everything but the Bible to be worthless except as far as it demonstrates the truth of the Bible. Plato? Not to be studied except to show errors! Hegel? Pfft! Marx? Only to better know the enemy! Rousseau? Burn him!

    I think Moreland is also speaking to people of that persuasion.

    Along with Jay,
    as far as Lutherans go, y’all aren’t too bad. (Now, isn’t that a ringing endorsement!!!) Actually, this blog has a fantastic community! Your doctrine has always been explained with grace and skill, even when you’re wrong. :^D (Sorry, just had to stick that in!)

    But far too many other times I get to feeling like Jay, and I don’t even hang around Lutheran blogs all that much. It’s not nearly so much the official doctrines that are held forth in the BoC or Articles – I have a few disagreements, but nothing particularly more dramatic than disagreements I have with most denominational stances.

    Rather, it’s more along the lines of the culture of the Lutheran denominations overall, and the type of Lutherans I run into outside this blog. More attitude than anything else. Most Lutherans I run into outside of here are in the same category as hard-core, double-predest Calvinists, rabid Catholic Internet apologists, and teetotaler Baptists.

    As I said before, everyone has been wonderful here, but unfortunately not all Lutherans are as gracious as y’all.

  • WebMonk

    Bike Bubba #13 – you echoed my own sentiments. I don’t think he was intending to bash the Bible, but rather an ignorant approach to using the Bible.

    There are also parts of Christianity that holds everything but the Bible to be worthless except as far as it demonstrates the truth of the Bible. Plato? Not to be studied except to show errors! Hegel? Pfft! Marx? Only to better know the enemy! Rousseau? Burn him!

    I think Moreland is also speaking to people of that persuasion.

    Along with Jay,
    as far as Lutherans go, y’all aren’t too bad. (Now, isn’t that a ringing endorsement!!!) Actually, this blog has a fantastic community! Your doctrine has always been explained with grace and skill, even when you’re wrong. :^D (Sorry, just had to stick that in!)

    But far too many other times I get to feeling like Jay, and I don’t even hang around Lutheran blogs all that much. It’s not nearly so much the official doctrines that are held forth in the BoC or Articles – I have a few disagreements, but nothing particularly more dramatic than disagreements I have with most denominational stances.

    Rather, it’s more along the lines of the culture of the Lutheran denominations overall, and the type of Lutherans I run into outside this blog. More attitude than anything else. Most Lutherans I run into outside of here are in the same category as hard-core, double-predest Calvinists, rabid Catholic Internet apologists, and teetotaler Baptists.

    As I said before, everyone has been wonderful here, but unfortunately not all Lutherans are as gracious as y’all.

  • fwsonnek

    #11 Bror

    “Frank,
    Without the Trinity, Jesus isn’t Jesus.

    AGREE !!!!!

    So to find Jesus and not the Trinity is really a hard thing to do, when reading the Bible.

    IMPOSSIBLE IN FACT!!!!

    I wasnt clear. sorry. cant separate Jesus from trinity from bible. not even by a hair. Jesus IS the Word. literally. and of course an inseparable part of the unity of the trinity.

    “But that is aside from the whole point of what I wrote.”

    Yes. Your initial comment just set me off on a different tangent. My roots are blonde…. those that i still have left that is.

    I was just saying that I believe all the bible says because I trust Jesus. which is a sort of tautology, because I can only know of that same Jesus from the bible. But my faith is not in the bible. This is an orientation different I suspect than is that of the author of the article that is the subject of this thread. It is an important difference I feel.

    I believe things not merely because the bible says so, but because I trust Jesus and He tells me that the bible is trustworthy and true and is all about Him. It may look the same as a fundamentalist, but it is not at all.

    and the trinity is not something I could “prove” by logical or mathematical propositions. It just is. it makes some sense that the finite could only kinda sorta understand the infinite. that much IS logical.

    Thanks for your patience with me brother Bror.

  • fwsonnek

    #11 Bror

    “Frank,
    Without the Trinity, Jesus isn’t Jesus.

    AGREE !!!!!

    So to find Jesus and not the Trinity is really a hard thing to do, when reading the Bible.

    IMPOSSIBLE IN FACT!!!!

    I wasnt clear. sorry. cant separate Jesus from trinity from bible. not even by a hair. Jesus IS the Word. literally. and of course an inseparable part of the unity of the trinity.

    “But that is aside from the whole point of what I wrote.”

    Yes. Your initial comment just set me off on a different tangent. My roots are blonde…. those that i still have left that is.

    I was just saying that I believe all the bible says because I trust Jesus. which is a sort of tautology, because I can only know of that same Jesus from the bible. But my faith is not in the bible. This is an orientation different I suspect than is that of the author of the article that is the subject of this thread. It is an important difference I feel.

    I believe things not merely because the bible says so, but because I trust Jesus and He tells me that the bible is trustworthy and true and is all about Him. It may look the same as a fundamentalist, but it is not at all.

    and the trinity is not something I could “prove” by logical or mathematical propositions. It just is. it makes some sense that the finite could only kinda sorta understand the infinite. that much IS logical.

    Thanks for your patience with me brother Bror.

  • fwsonnek

    #5 Jay

    You evangelicals just substitute Platonic for the catholic’s aristotelean logic. You are both equally Greeced up on this. You are the same.

    In the Lord´s Supper the Lutherans say the bible says WHAT and WHY but not HOW.

    Evangelicals reject the WHAT because they don´t know HOW that is possible, and so they dont understand WHY the WHAT is such a big deal to Lutherans and why HOW doen´t reallly matter to them.

    I expect this all to make perfect sense to you now Jay.

  • fwsonnek

    #5 Jay

    You evangelicals just substitute Platonic for the catholic’s aristotelean logic. You are both equally Greeced up on this. You are the same.

    In the Lord´s Supper the Lutherans say the bible says WHAT and WHY but not HOW.

    Evangelicals reject the WHAT because they don´t know HOW that is possible, and so they dont understand WHY the WHAT is such a big deal to Lutherans and why HOW doen´t reallly matter to them.

    I expect this all to make perfect sense to you now Jay.

  • Another Kerner

    #18 Web Monk.

    So, guy, where have you been hanging out? Where the confessional Lutherans have “not been so gracious”, I wonder? Where there seems to be an “attitude”?

    We are agreed that this is indeed a fine blog, peopled by intense and most often, thoughtful individuals like yourself, jayfromcleveland and Bike Bubba.

    (Bike Bubba, I think you got it right as regards Moreland. And thanks for not getting too cute about us Luterns.)

    Some of us Lutherans are adult “converts”; which means to say, that we have usually visited many places, read over varied confessions of faith and doctrinal stances, explored many a congregation of Christians (and others), and searched through volumes of learned discourses.

    And then, of course, some of us have that ethnic “Teutonic culture” thing sticking to us.

    Forgive us Lutherans if our attitude sometimes appears to be less than gracious at times.

    We love you right back, mistakes and all.
    :^)

    Stay with us here, please.
    We appreciate you keeping us on our doctrinal toes.

  • Another Kerner

    #18 Web Monk.

    So, guy, where have you been hanging out? Where the confessional Lutherans have “not been so gracious”, I wonder? Where there seems to be an “attitude”?

    We are agreed that this is indeed a fine blog, peopled by intense and most often, thoughtful individuals like yourself, jayfromcleveland and Bike Bubba.

    (Bike Bubba, I think you got it right as regards Moreland. And thanks for not getting too cute about us Luterns.)

    Some of us Lutherans are adult “converts”; which means to say, that we have usually visited many places, read over varied confessions of faith and doctrinal stances, explored many a congregation of Christians (and others), and searched through volumes of learned discourses.

    And then, of course, some of us have that ethnic “Teutonic culture” thing sticking to us.

    Forgive us Lutherans if our attitude sometimes appears to be less than gracious at times.

    We love you right back, mistakes and all.
    :^)

    Stay with us here, please.
    We appreciate you keeping us on our doctrinal toes.

  • Pingback: Books News » Blog Archive » Over-Committed to the Bible?

  • Pingback: Books News » Blog Archive » Over-Committed to the Bible?

  • WebMonk

    Thanks AK, I’m not leaving.

    (I heard those groans!! :-)

  • WebMonk

    Thanks AK, I’m not leaving.

    (I heard those groans!! :-)

  • WebMonk

    Hey! I hadn’t noticed that this board’s software converts smiley faces! Fun!
    :-) :-P :-D :-/ :-( :`-(

  • WebMonk

    Hey! I hadn’t noticed that this board’s software converts smiley faces! Fun!
    :-) :-P :-D :-/ :-( :`-(

  • Christine

    “I must however caution you, Lutherans do not believe in “consubstantiation.”

    As a Catholic with Lutheran family on one side I’m not so sure about that. Lutherans believe that Christ is “in, with, and under” the bread and wine (con-substantiation, “with” the substance of the bread/wine) whereas Catholics and Orthodox believe that the “substance” of bread and wine are truly changed into the Body and Blood of Christ although the Orthodox don’t define it as specifically as the Latin West.

    Seeing as what has happened in the ELCA and some other Lutherans bodies I understand the sometimes near beligerence of the LCMS.

    But sometimes it wouldn’t hurt to seek a little more common ground. Luther, the “Catholic” learned his “catholicity” in the Church that existed long before the Reformation.

  • Christine

    “I must however caution you, Lutherans do not believe in “consubstantiation.”

    As a Catholic with Lutheran family on one side I’m not so sure about that. Lutherans believe that Christ is “in, with, and under” the bread and wine (con-substantiation, “with” the substance of the bread/wine) whereas Catholics and Orthodox believe that the “substance” of bread and wine are truly changed into the Body and Blood of Christ although the Orthodox don’t define it as specifically as the Latin West.

    Seeing as what has happened in the ELCA and some other Lutherans bodies I understand the sometimes near beligerence of the LCMS.

    But sometimes it wouldn’t hurt to seek a little more common ground. Luther, the “Catholic” learned his “catholicity” in the Church that existed long before the Reformation.

  • Bror Erickson

    Christine,
    I read the BOC. So I can confidently say, no we do not believe in Consubstantiation.
    Again I know what transubstantiation is. I know the “in with and under” of Lutheranism. And unfortunately, The “Roman Catholic Church”, failed to understand what it means to claim catholicity.

  • Bror Erickson

    Christine,
    I read the BOC. So I can confidently say, no we do not believe in Consubstantiation.
    Again I know what transubstantiation is. I know the “in with and under” of Lutheranism. And unfortunately, The “Roman Catholic Church”, failed to understand what it means to claim catholicity.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Bror, I half wonder if many Lutherans have heard the claim of consubstantiation so often they believe it’s truly their doctrine, especially in the synods that aren’t terribly up to speed on Luther and Melanchthon’s (amid others) works. (e.g. ELCA)

    I know what the official stance is, I just wonder what the unofficial understanding might be.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Bror, I half wonder if many Lutherans have heard the claim of consubstantiation so often they believe it’s truly their doctrine, especially in the synods that aren’t terribly up to speed on Luther and Melanchthon’s (amid others) works. (e.g. ELCA)

    I know what the official stance is, I just wonder what the unofficial understanding might be.

  • Peggers

    I have also heard that Lutherans believe in consubstantiation, and is it not until after I read the Confessions that I found this was not the case. In fact, my old pastor in our “new member” class taught that Lutherans believe in consubstantiation! I didn’t know at the time that he was wrong, but this is a seminary trained LCMS pastor! How could he not know?

    As far as the Lutheran chatter on this blog, I really enjoy it, because I don’t hear enough of it in the outside world. Although, I agree with others that some Lutherans I have met and interacted with are a little overzealous in the faith. One of these was a pastor who said that Catholics are not Christians in front of my ex-Catholic wife (who still has many Catholic family and friends). Needless to say, that didn’t go over well…

  • Peggers

    I have also heard that Lutherans believe in consubstantiation, and is it not until after I read the Confessions that I found this was not the case. In fact, my old pastor in our “new member” class taught that Lutherans believe in consubstantiation! I didn’t know at the time that he was wrong, but this is a seminary trained LCMS pastor! How could he not know?

    As far as the Lutheran chatter on this blog, I really enjoy it, because I don’t hear enough of it in the outside world. Although, I agree with others that some Lutherans I have met and interacted with are a little overzealous in the faith. One of these was a pastor who said that Catholics are not Christians in front of my ex-Catholic wife (who still has many Catholic family and friends). Needless to say, that didn’t go over well…

  • Christine

    Peggers, if one views consubstantiation as the belief that Christ is truly in, with and under the bread yet the bread remains bread and the wine remains wine, then yes, it fits the bill. The “con-” implies exactly that.

    I grew up Lutheran. I know the teachings well. I love all that was good about my upbringing but having lived with both Catholics and Lutherans I ultimately made the move to Rome for reasons that I won’t bore all of you here with.

    For any Lutheran pastor to claim that Catholics are not Christian is sorrowful, to say the least. Nor would I tolerate any Catholic in my family saying the same about Lutherans.

  • Christine

    Peggers, if one views consubstantiation as the belief that Christ is truly in, with and under the bread yet the bread remains bread and the wine remains wine, then yes, it fits the bill. The “con-” implies exactly that.

    I grew up Lutheran. I know the teachings well. I love all that was good about my upbringing but having lived with both Catholics and Lutherans I ultimately made the move to Rome for reasons that I won’t bore all of you here with.

    For any Lutheran pastor to claim that Catholics are not Christian is sorrowful, to say the least. Nor would I tolerate any Catholic in my family saying the same about Lutherans.

  • fwsonnek

    you might consider that Lutherans labeling their doctrines as Lutheran is really an attempt at honesty and a certain proper modesty.

    Lutherans do not claim to be the WHOLE church. We thankfully believe that there are many faithful believers in all trinitarian churches that proclaim Jesus as the true Messiah. That is why we accept a name we didnt chose for ourselves : Lutheran. not THE christian church, THE catholic church or even THE evangelical church.

    At the same time we hold that the REST of the church should rightfully think as our little piece of the church does. Because we sincerely believe that what our small part of the larger church believes is the truth, and so everyone should believe that, and in fact many do even if they bear a different denominational label. Our alegiance is to the Holy Gospel. We would all bail so very quickly from Lutheranism if we were not convicted that what that banner stands for is Jesus Christ.

    We sincerely rejoice where we see that same Jesus reign, and are saddened where we don´t . Our joy and our sadness often , to our dismay, do not always reflect well on what aspire for for those who bear the name Lutheran.

    So sometimes the labels betray a certain paradox. Eugene Peterson, a presbyterian, comes closer to true Lutheranism than alot of Lutherans do.

    So keep on being baptist or presbyterian or whatever. But make things all about Jesus we Lutherans say. Let him increase , and let everything else decrease.

    Encourage us to do exactly the same.

    Feel free to scold us when and where we often fail in that single minded and TRULY Lutheran endeavor.

  • fwsonnek

    you might consider that Lutherans labeling their doctrines as Lutheran is really an attempt at honesty and a certain proper modesty.

    Lutherans do not claim to be the WHOLE church. We thankfully believe that there are many faithful believers in all trinitarian churches that proclaim Jesus as the true Messiah. That is why we accept a name we didnt chose for ourselves : Lutheran. not THE christian church, THE catholic church or even THE evangelical church.

    At the same time we hold that the REST of the church should rightfully think as our little piece of the church does. Because we sincerely believe that what our small part of the larger church believes is the truth, and so everyone should believe that, and in fact many do even if they bear a different denominational label. Our alegiance is to the Holy Gospel. We would all bail so very quickly from Lutheranism if we were not convicted that what that banner stands for is Jesus Christ.

    We sincerely rejoice where we see that same Jesus reign, and are saddened where we don´t . Our joy and our sadness often , to our dismay, do not always reflect well on what aspire for for those who bear the name Lutheran.

    So sometimes the labels betray a certain paradox. Eugene Peterson, a presbyterian, comes closer to true Lutheranism than alot of Lutherans do.

    So keep on being baptist or presbyterian or whatever. But make things all about Jesus we Lutherans say. Let him increase , and let everything else decrease.

    Encourage us to do exactly the same.

    Feel free to scold us when and where we often fail in that single minded and TRULY Lutheran endeavor.

  • David Sessions

    I read the paper, and I see no real disagreement between his argument and yours. His phrase “overcommitment to the Bible” is extensively qualified to mean only that Scripture is often used as an excuse to ignore/write off external, generally-revealed facts. Perhaps it’s a bad term, as a believer cannot technically be “overcommitted” to the Bible itself. But we are far too often, as I think Moreland means, too attached to the notion that the Bible contains all the necessary knowledge for every area of life.

  • David Sessions

    I read the paper, and I see no real disagreement between his argument and yours. His phrase “overcommitment to the Bible” is extensively qualified to mean only that Scripture is often used as an excuse to ignore/write off external, generally-revealed facts. Perhaps it’s a bad term, as a believer cannot technically be “overcommitted” to the Bible itself. But we are far too often, as I think Moreland means, too attached to the notion that the Bible contains all the necessary knowledge for every area of life.


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