on being a mouthpiece of satan

on being a mouthpiece of satan September 15, 2014

c bovell 2014Today’s blog is by Carlos Bovell, a frequent contributor here. Bovell is a graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary and The Institute for Christian Studies, Toronto. He is the author of Inerrancy and the Spiritual Formation of Younger Evangelicals (2007)By Good and Necessary Consequence: A Preliminary Genealogy of Biblical Foundationalism (2009), an edited volume, Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Authority of Scripture (2011), and Rehabilitating Inerrancy in a Culture of Fear (2012).

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A disturbingly common response from inerrantists to those who ask historical-critical questions about the Bible is that they are undermining inerrancy and are thus mouthpieces of Satan. Defenders of inerrancy are following Jesus’s lead, while non-inerrantists, who are perceived as denying the Bible, are doing what the serpent did to Eve in the Garden, which is get her to doubt God’s Word by asking, “Has God really said?”

In my last post, I observed that Bob Yarbrough is representative of inerrantists when he suggests that Jesus had a word-that-proceeds-from-the-mouth-of-God view of scripture (see Matthew 4:4), which according to Yarbrough is approximate to modern day inerrancy.

In this post, I observe that while inerrantist writers of this sort pose themselves as the good guys (doing and believing what Jesus did) they also have no qualms about presenting views that “challenge” God’s Word as being in step with the devil’s motives.

I give two examples. First, Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, makes the claim in a 2013 Alumni chapel at Southern Seminary concerning the denial of inerrancy:

There’s always a spiritual element behind it because I think the first recorded attack on the inerrancy of scripture we see is in Genesis chapter 3: “Has God really said?” (41:25)

So, inerrancy is a spiritual issue and to question inerrancy is to follow Satan’s lead.

Second, David Garner, associate professor of systematic theology at Westminster Theology Seminary, adds some heated polemic for good measure in his introduction to Did God Really Say?

When the serpent asks, “Did God actually say?” (Gen. 3:1b), the manner in which he tempts our first parents exposes his consistent modus operandi. God’s Word serves as Satan’s point of attack . . . With the force of spiritual authority itself, we turn the question, Did God Really Say?, right back on those who continue to misrepresent the gospel with serpentine-compatible methods. (p. xxii)

I have devoted quite a bit of time researching and writing in an effort to help Bible-believing Christians come to see that large swaths of American inerrantist culture is taken in by a rhetoric of fear, the sociological effect of which is to keep people from voicing honest and genuine questions concerning inerrancy (see again my last post).

As soon as students begin to think that they may have good reason to become critical of inerrancy, it is suggested they are ceding to temptation and being seduced by “serpentine-compatible methods,” as Garner puts it.

In these examples, commitment to inerrancy is presented as a spiritual obligation: If a student wants to make sure they aren’t following the devil’s lead (and who would ever say that they want to do that?) then they’d better quit asking such critical questions about the Bible let alone entertaining critical answers to those critical questions. Indeed, so long as there remains some solution to a problem that can save inerrancy, one had better accept it since trust in and obedience to God requires it.

This clear-cut, either/or choice–side with Jesus or Satan–poses a troubling dilemma for inerrantist churchgoers and students who begin having genuine questions.

But I am encouraged to see that more evangelical believers are coming to understand that the dilemma posed by some inerrantists is a false one—and in doing so they are actually the ones following Jesus’ lead.

You have heard it said that “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” but I say to you do not resist an evildoer (Matthew5:38-39)

Wait a minute! Is this not in essence what inerrantists claim that the devil was trying to do in Gen 3 in the Garden? But here in Matt 5, it’s Jesus who’s doing it. Didn’t the devil question the meaning of what the Word of God requires from believers? Well, according to Matthew, this is exactly what Jesus did throughout his preaching.

In fact, questioning what God really said appears to be Christ’s “modus operandi.” The main difference is that Jesus claimed that he was fulfilling scripture.

So (Jesus continues) you heard that God said he wants people to love their neighbor and hate their enemy? I tell you that God wants people to love their enemies. (Matthew 5:43-44) If this is not a challenge to God’s word then I don’t know what is, but Jesus explains that it misses the point to see it as a challenge. To understand what Jesus means to say and do by presenting scripture in the way he does, one must accept what Jesus says (and does) as its fulfillment.

Therefore, if we ask, does Jesus challenge people to doubt the popular way of understanding scripture? Or perhaps more provocatively, are Jesus and the devil then not doing more or less the same thing in challenging scripture? We should answer, at least on one level, absolutely.

But on another level, there’s also a world of difference because Jesus’ challenge purports to fulfill scripture, to achieve its purpose, to bring out its full meaning, to re-direct scripture so that it can be put to the service of God’s will.

How does Jesus set out to do this? By tying scripture directly to his mission, by enlisting it in his revelatory message that he is God’s Son and by consistently drawing upon it to support his ministry to the cross.

To support my proposal (and it’s only that, a proposal), I appeal to Matthew 4:1-11 where Satan tests Jesus in the wilderness.

For my part, I think that the scholars who view Jesus’ baptism and temptation as an “apocalyptic journey” or a “visionary experience” are definitely onto something. The heavens opening, the heavenly voice, and the Spirit (and other spirits) guiding Jesus to places throughout the world leave no question in my mind that Jesus underwent altered states of consciousness (and probably regularly did so and taught some of his disciples how to do it too).

Either way, Jesus’ faithfulness to scripture does not lie in a show of his belief in inerrancy (as Yarbrough and others claim) over against the devil’s questioning of it. Jesus’ faithfulness to scripture rather is shown through the dispute over whether now that Jesus has been revealed as God’s Son, he would have what it takes to obey God by carrying out his ministry to the cross.

It is this kind of faithfulness that must prove “according to the scriptures” because it is what God would have Jesus do.

I suggest that this is the aspect of Jesus’ view of scripture that post-inerrantists are trying to emphasize: that the scriptures are to be read in light of Jesus because he is the Son of God and the main way that Jesus showed this is by faithfully carrying out his mission to the cross and folding scripture into that mission.

So it misses the point to suggest that inerrantists are following Jesus while post-inerrantists follow the devil. We are all trying faithfully to follow Jesus—though we have serious disagreements about how best to do this.

Perhaps one important difference between inerrantists and post-inerrantists is that a post-inerrantist may be comfortable saying something like this:

The fact that Jesus is the Son of God is the fact that dictates that the scriptures must now always be read—if they are going to have significance for Christians—with him in mind.

Whereas an inerrantist might feel more comfortable saying something like this:

It’s the scriptures that dictate whether Jesus was right or not, whether he was the Son of God, and it would be mostly on the basis of their authority that we believe.

But, as I see it, this has it exactly backwards. It is Jesus that gives the scriptures meaning (for Christians) in the first place. To ask, “What is the best way to describe this? Should we call it the “authority” of the Bible?” does not make post-inerrantists the devil’s advocate. It’s a believers’ relation to Jesus that attests to this, not how one decides to approach scripture.

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  • Bev Mitchell

    Carlos,

    Thanks for continuing to point out that fear is the fundamental and attitudes and behaviours like literalism, legalism, avoidance of obvious questions and other’s views are just the overtones. As you allude to, the whole thing is also related to how much we trust the Spirit to lead us in all things, including hermeneutics and resulting interpretations of Scripture. So both fear and reluctance to trust in the Spirit are at work. The obvious text shouldn’t be missed by many readers, but it’s worth highlighting just in case.
    Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

    Now if the ministry of death, chiseled in letters on stone tablets, came in glory so that the people of Israel could not gaze at Moses’ face because of the glory of his face, a glory now set aside, how much more will the ministry of the Spirit come in glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, much more does the ministry of justification abound in glory! Indeed, what once had glory has lost its glory because of the greater glory; for if what was set aside came through glory, much more has the permanent come in glory! 2 Cor 3:4-11 NRSV

  • Rick

    “large swaths of American inerrantist culture is taken in by a rhetoric of fear, the sociological effect of which is to keep people from voicing honest and genuine questions concerning inerrancy”

    That should include questions by other inerrantists who hold to a slightly definition of it. They are apparently attacked as well:

    http://www.risenjesus.com/speaking-events-calendar-removed-web-site

    HT: JM Smith

  • Jonny

    You have to misunderstand the start of Genesis 3 to quote it against errantists within this debate. You cannot just read what the serpent says within the first verse; you have to read the next four verses after.

    Although the serpent does say “Did God really say ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”, he’s ultimately persuading Eve to doubt the character of God. He is not persuading Eve to doubt whether the one who spoke to her was God, nor that God didn’t say that they would die if they ate the fruit. Fundamentally, as shown in verse four and five, the serpent is trying to create doubt in Eve by suggesting that God lied about them dying and that he was just trying to stop them from having their eyes opened to good and evil and becoming like him. It’s a slandering of God’s character, not a doubt over who spoke to Adam and Eve and what was said. The inerrancy debate is about the latter, not the former, and therefore quoting that verse is irrelevant.

  • In 1993 one woman sued her pastor for writing a letter to the congregation that connected her with “Satan.” And recently in Africa, Bishop sues pastor ‘for calling him devil’ Religion remains popular partly because it allows people to project their fears, insecurities and frustrations on others. “True believers” even get to use neat names and threaten anyone who does not share their particular beliefs with eternal wrath: “Heretic!” “Apostate!” “Infidel!” “Servant of Satan!” “Lucifer’s lambchop fit to be eternally fried on Beelzebub’s barbecue!” All without it ever going to court, except for the one above.

    http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/entertainment/thenairobian/article/2000123936/bishop-sues-pastor-for-calling-him-devil

  • That last paragraph from Dr. Bovell is perfect. It is a disagreement about authority, but it is a disagreement that matters. That Jesus is the person through whom we approach scripture changes the whole dynamic. I think putting our ultimate authority in our own inerrantist interpretation of scripture is less scary or challenging, because then we can just follow set guidelines which happen to support our own tradition, stay on auto-pilot, and never have to bother thinking and struggling over anything. Whereas Jesus’ way is very difficult and requires us to be as wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matt. 10:16). We just gloss over his many counter-intuitive, difficult teachings most of the time. . . because, hey, after all, he *is* Jesus and, of course, the Son of God would be able to follow his own teachings. Since we deem the teachings impossible for us, we miss that we don’t need to follow them perfectly to be faithful (Mark 13: 31-32).

    One thing concerns me at times, quite apart from the inerrancy vs. post-inerrancy debate. The issue is how a Christian can remain respectful in tone and appreciation for Jewish interpretative traditions, which do not use Jesus as the interpretative lens with which to view all Scripture. I want to make sure I’m being respectful of those traditions when having conversations about Scripture – without implying that the Hebrew Bible is impossible to understand outside of the New Testament and Jesus’ approach to the scripture. I respect the insights of scholars who do not accept Jesus’ claims to fulfillment of Scripture. Yet, I struggle finding ways to voice my belief in Jesus’ centrality without disregarding a great interpretive tradition like rabbinical Judaism. I know that’s a pretty open-ended question, but I’d love to hear any informed insights about that interplay. Any way to build bridges between different faith traditions is something I’m interested in.

    Unrelated: I picked up my copy of The Bible Tells Me So over the weekend. So far, I’m liking it alot – very accessible writing style.

  • Jeff Y

    Very good thoughts. Fear is a killer to open conversation and study. There is no “Come let us reason together” (that often means, ‘Come be convinced of my view or you’ll be labeled.’). To equate the questions being raised by historical-cultural-literary analyses with Satan strikes me as graceless and condescending. It is not really interacting in or with the actually evidence that is offered. Let’s engage that and then we can converse. Where is the “great patience” (1Tim. 2:3-4)? But, I love the point – when we believe in Jesus and his death and resurrection, we can be free and should be free to explore the word and world, confident in God’s grace and power. This opens the door to trust – the kind of trust of Abraham who “went out not knowing where he was going.”

  • In fact, questioning what God really said appears to be Christ’s “modus operandi.”

    Are you aware of Yoram Hazony’s The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture? Here’s a relevant snippet:

    The Bible is often said to advocate an ethics of obedience. But I suggest that this view involves a serious misreading of Hebrew Scripture. Nearly all the principal figures throughout the biblical corpus are esteemed for their dissent and disobedience—a trait the biblical authors associate with the free life of the shepherd, as opposed to the life of pious submission represented by the figure of the farmer. (23–24)

    Examples of challengers to God’s “authority” would be (i) Abraham’s wrangling with God over how many righteous people would save Sodom; (ii) Moses and God’s threat to destroy the Israelites and restart with him; (iii) Jacob’s wrestling with God. A critical examination of scripture would show that God does not want a static culture which never grows [toward God] (arguably this is all the ‘evil’ that pre-Noah Flood people had to be committing), nor does he want “skipping ahead”, taking shortcuts to maturity. Reality punishes cheaters, as it were. Or is it God who punishes them? :-p

    Either way, Jesus’ faithfulness to scripture does not lie in a show of his belief in inerrancy (as Yarbrough and others claim) over against the devil’s questioning of it.

    A friend who just got his PhD in philosophy told me of a culture with a wealth of parables; when an offender was brought into the midst of the village chiefs, they would bring out parables they thought were relevant. Precisely which parables were deemed relevant determined the fate of the offender. This allows for 100% inerrancy, and yet where the parables are said to point is left completely undetermined. What is needed is a telos, which is precisely the word used in Romans 10:4 “For Christ is the telos of the law […]”. My pastor and I were recently discussing this, and he told me of the trend of Christo-telic teaching, as opposed to Christo-centric teaching. It seems like a compelling switch. You might like the random article I found on Rom 10:4: How is Christ the “End of the Law”?

  • Great point Carlos re Matt 5:43-44 – will use that to explain to others!

  • Benjamin Martin

    God and Satan are the same person in earlier Hebrew theology; Satan merely being God’s slanderous, angry side. This is why God and Satan are both depicted as the same person to provoke a census.

    ● II Sam. 24:1 And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.
    ● I Chron. 21:1 And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.

    Only in later times was Satan considered a separate villainous deity with his own diabolical superpowers.

    The term “devil” is a development into English of the Greek word diabolos…Diablos was used to translate the Hebrew word satan…Diablos and its related words denoted something or someone “slanderous.” Socrates declared that the reason he had been condemned at trial was the “slanderers” (diabolai)….

    ~Gregory Riley (2001) The River of God: A New History of Christian Origins. Chapter 4: The Devil, the Demons, and the End of the World. HarperCollins. pp. 95-96.

    And with Jesus questioning God’s Word like Satan himself would, it’s no wonder that Jesus is referred to as a Lucifer, the bringer of light, the morning star, a sort of Enlightenment thinker before his time. [See Isaiah 14:12, Job 11:17, 2 Peter 1:19, Revelation 22:16]

  • Derek

    Didn’t Jesus hold to the reliability and historical accuracy of the Scriptures?

    • Frank6548

      Of course which is why noninerrantists (?) have nothing to stand on.

      • Carlos Bovell

        Thank you each of you for your comments. What do you think “historical accuracy” would have meant to writers in those days? What would “reliability” have meant to them? One suggestion to consider is that what counted as “historically accurate” to an ancient writer would not at all count as “historically accurate” today. Another is that good “storytelling” makes different demands on a writer than accurate historical reporting would make on a modern writer.

        Grace and peace,
        Carlos

        • Frank6548

          Well I usually refrain from speculation but I would image historical accuracy means that what they heard and wrote is true. And reliability would mean they could trust their sources. Exactly what it means to us now.

          • Carlos Bovell

            Frank,

            That’s precisely my point! There’s no reason to speculate when scholars who examine the texts and study the culture have arrived at an answer:

            “Near Eastern texts are sometimes written by different authors and written in different historical periods than the texts claim or imply. While this might suggest duplicity in the ancient author, it must be remembered that ancient authors–like their modern counterparts– sometimes used creative fiction to convey their view of reality.” –Kent Sparks, GWHW, 71-2.

            Grace and peace,
            Carlos

          • Frank6548

            Still not sure what your point is. If you are suggesting anything other than inerrancy you have little to stand on.

          • Carlos Bovell

            Frank,

            I accept that you are committed to inerrancy, but I don’t see why that should keep you from being able to observe that the standard of “accuracy” in ancient times was very different from what we think of as “accuracy” today. A (hi)story-teller was free to make up a story or appeal to the sensibilities of the audience and to traditions familiar to the audience for the sake of re-telling a story as well as adopting a story to make specific points and for political and rhetorical effect.

          • Frank6548

            So what’s not true in the bible?

  • When you brought up the serpent as the “original questioner of inerrancy,” I couldn’t help but think of Jesus’ temptation in the desert – you mention it, but didn’t quite go where I was thinking. In the desert, the devil quotes Scripture at Jesus. If the serpent’s question is meant to prove that questioning God’s word is wrong, then surely the temptation in the desert is meant to show that an uncritical acceptance is also dangerous?

  • Beej Bailey

    I have considered the thesis at hand and have found it wanting. Jesus, reiterating the Fathers’ own words in the OT, states, ‘The heavens and the earth shall pass away, but my words will never pass away.’. And Peter states, similarly, ‘The Word of the Lord endures forever.’ I do not believe it prudent to compare the motives of Satan to that of our Messiah; It is a clear misunderstanding of the motive of the Deity Himself, in the old testament. In the OT, the law was presented ‘because of transgressions’; it’s intention was the punishment of the transgressors, it was not so much geared toward those who were righteous and did righteously. Let me explain.
    If one meditates upon the law, specifically the ten Commandments, you find the laws presented in the negative, more often than not; Thou shalt ‘not’ bear false witness; thou shalt ‘not’ commit adultery. In the NT we find Jesus presenting virtuous acts in the positive; ‘Love the Lord thy God with all thy Heart, all thy soul and all thy strength’ and/also, love your neighbor as yourself. You notice it does not say, ‘thou shalt not hate the Lord thy God’ or ‘thou shalt not hate your neighbor’. Christ came to take away the transgressions which necessitated the giving of the law to begin with. This does not exempt us from obeying them, it merely frees us to please HIM under HIS own guidance and with the aid of the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit. The Word, all of it, is one long instruction, as it were, bundled into the 66 glorious books of the Canon. It does not change, as HE does not change (Cff. Mal. 3;6)
    When I was young, my grandmother and grandfather, both righteous believers, told me, ‘The Word says what it means, and it means what it says’.
    In conclusion I would just like to restate the obvious. What is written in this Holy Book is what we will be judged by; nothing else. Commit yourself to it’s study and to acting accordingly. Believe what HE has said in the WORD, regardless of what others might say…….He said. (Seriously.)

    • Carlos Bovell

      Hi Beej,

      Thanks for commenting. I understand your concern about comparing Jesus and Satan as if they had the same motives. But I think it is safe to say that they are both similarly presented as interpreting scripture and as doing more or less the same thing: vying for their respective interpretations that purport to give the real, spiritual purpose behind scripture. And this is where the key difference shows up: Jesus read scripture as being fulfilled in his ministry and specifically in the cross. This is where the saying “according to scriptures” finds its meaning.

      Grace and peace,
      Carlos

      • Beej Bailey

        The key difference, as it were, is that satan is a created being, an angel as a matter of fact who was cast down. Jesus on the other hand, is Gods’ Logos which, can only be eternal and therefore ‘uncreated’. It’s like comparing an elm tree to the sun. One is not comparable to other as nothing which is eternal can truly be compared to that which is finite.
        One should perhaps do a study on the Word ‘Logos’. I believe it’s Strongs Gr. # 3056. You will find that the Father, could no more live without His Logos, than you could without yours; Therefore verifying Christs’ eternality…that is ‘co-eternality’ with the Father.
        That which is limited and finite cannot, truly, be compared to that which is eternal. In this case, btw you, you have basically compared Light to Darkness which, is just ridiculous as, everyone knows that Darkness, per se’, has no true existence of itself; it is merely the lack of Light.
        satan was created, Jesus was creator. (Cff. Col. 1 start at verse 9 and go!)

  • Michael Mahony

    My contribution to this topic is in Chapter 27 (“Deliberate Divine Disharmonies”) in Book Two (“The Great Collaboration) in my Trilogy on the Word.

  • Daniel Fisher

    Carlos, I fear you may have overstated your case here: “So (Jesus continues) you heard that God said he wants people to love their neighbor and hate their enemy? I tell you that God wants people to love their enemies. (Matthew 5:43-44) If this is not a challenge to God’s word then I don’t know what is”

    Can I humbly point out that the “hate their enemy” thing is NOT found in the OT, and therefore this simply cannot be understood as a challenge to God’s word? Moreover, to be clear, Jesus didn’t say “God said” this, only that “you have heard it said.” Sure, “Love your neighbor” is from Lev 19, but “hate your enemy” is not a quote from anything in the OT, no?. A quick glance at a few free commentaries (from Biblehub) suggests that this was a pharisaic or otherwise contemporary addition or perversion of God’s word that Jesus is challenging, not what was actually in God’s word, no?

    • Carlos Bovell

      Thanks for your comment, Daniel. I admit I’m only making a tentative proposal. Still, I do not think I overstate the case. I’m not sure which “free commentaries” you have in mind, but I regard the point I make to be straightforward:

      “For who does not know that ‘it was said to the men of old’ refers to what God said to Moses at Sinai?” — J. Neusner

      “5.21-48 does not set Jesus’ words over against Jewish interpretations of the OT; rather is Jesus’ “But I say to you” intended to mark a point of contrast to the OT itself.” — Davies and Allison

      And please don’t read the sentence you quoted in your comment apart from the one that comes right after it: “To understand what Jesus means to say and do by presenting scripture in the way he does, one must accept what Jesus says (and does) as its fulfillment.”

      It bears repeating, as Davies and Allison insist, that the main issue on all counts is the fact that who Jesus is and what he had come to do “transcends” scripture on its most basic level. Or as Neusner so memorably remarked: “I am troubled not so much by the message . . . as I am by the messenger.”

      Grace and peace,

      Carlos

      • peteenns

        Let me add to Carlos’s point that although “hatred” of the enemy is not commanded in the OT in the sense of “thou shalt hate your enemy” it is most certainly a theme pervading the OT, and this is hardly an exaggeration. Also, the argument you try to make, Daniel, in 5:43 does not hold for any of the other “you have heard it said” passages in Matt 5. Jesus is not simply correcting here and there where Judaism had gone overboard. He is, as the commentaries I read put it, presented by Matthew as the new Moses.

      • Daniel Fisher

        Gentlemen, thanks for the additional thoughts.

        One observation – in the context of the “you have heard it said… but I say…” teachings, Jesus quite specifically addressed the (faulty) interpretation/application of contemporary Judaism (i.e., the rules of the Sanhedren in v. 22). Thus I find it beyond dispute that at least part of what Jesus is addressing throughout this section has to do with contemporary (mis)understanding of OT principles.

        Most of us have no issue with the idea that Jesus wrestled with, challenged people’s understanding, illuminated new and sometimes surprising applications of God’s law, etc. At the same time, Jesus made such a big deal in his extended qualification about what he was doing, as if to be sure there would be no confusion: “anyone who relaxes the least of these laws will be called least…..” I can’t see that Matthew is suggesting that Jesus himself was then relaxing these very laws that would make him least in the kingdom?

        I realize that the two of you (along with others) perceive that the OT is implicitly teaching that God wants us to hate our enemies. But for what it is worth, that is exactly the interpretation that I (and others) understand to be common with the Jews of Jesus day: The OT tells us to love our enemies, and then look at all the over-the-top judgment and vengeance poured out on God’s and our enemies…. so the conclusion that the OT teaches us to hate our enemies seems not so far-fetched.

        And I understand Jesus to be saying, “No, not so fast” to exactly that (mis)interpretation. Especially given all the times God speaks about people that “hate” him, it wouldn’t have been so strange for the OT to specifically justify “hating” enemies if God had so desired to inspire such.

        As for the commentaries I found, if you’re curious, this was just a quick/informal google search that brought me to biblehub.com, that has a collection. I can’t vouch for how scholarly they are, (I don’t currently have access to much else) but they were pretty unanimous. Point is, there is certainly a very common and pervasive (and I find quite persuasive) perspective out there that Jesus was correcting an abuse of the OT, so I don’t think Matt 5:43 can be used as an open and shut case.
        Those comments I found, if interesting, are below, I copied the relevant lines, these are from Biblehub’s commentaries on Mt 5:43:

        ——-

        Ellicott’s: “the latter clause was a Rabbinic addition to the former; and this is important as showing that our Lord deals throughout not with the Law as such, but with the scribes’ exposition of it”

        MacLaren’s: “but where does ‘and hate thine enemy’ come from? Not from Scripture, but in the passage in Leviticus ‘neighbour’ is co-extensive with ‘children of thy people,’ and the hatred and contempt of all men outside Israel which grew upon the Jews found a foothold there. ‘Who is my neighbour?’ was apparently a well-discussed question in the schools of the Rabbis…”

        Cambridge Bible for Schools and College: “The second clause does not occur in Levit., but was a Rabbinical inference”

        Meyer’s: “The casuistic tradition of the Pharisees, however, explained Leviticus 19:18, as the antithetical….”

        Benson: “the scribes added the latter, abusing, it seems, the commands for destroying the Canaanites, to countenance such an addition, though this was in direct contradiction to many other scriptures”

        Bengel’s: “The Jews abused the precept which had been given in reference to certain accursed nations, as in Deuteronomy 23:7;”

        Jamieson-Fausset-Brown: “To this the corrupt teachers added, and hate thine enemy—as if the one were a legitimate inference from the other, instead of being a detestable gloss”

        Barnes’: “That we must therefore hate our enemy was an inference drawn from it by the Jews”

        Gill’s: “This law has been delivered to them, thou shalt love thy neighbour, with this appendage to it, or false gloss upon it, and hate thine enemy; for the first of these only is the law of Moses”

        Expositor’s Greek Testament: “To an old partial form of the law Jesus opposes a new universal one.”

  • NotSoSilentBob

    I cannot add much to what you say Carlos, other than these are observations I’ve made from time to time. And like some I’ve paid the price for it. I am happily teaching in a nice, safe secular university and have withdrawn from the battle for some time. My faith remains alive because of writings like yours and Enns and others that have given unsustainable American Christianity life past inerrancy. Your courage makes my old scars ache and I think again that some ideas are worth fighting for. Thanks.

  • The Bible is like Jesus himself. Fully a product of man…and of God.

    Where God’s Word is concerned, the finite contains the infinite.

    God uses “earthen vessels”…does He not? (that is what Scripture itself says).

  • Bobby

    Sometimes it’s simply better to be clear than to be right. From my stint in Reformed evangelicalism, it struck me that evangelicals were the sort who believe that it’s ALWAYS better to be clear than to be right. Inerrancy is attractive because of its simplicity, never mind that it’s untenable.

    Evangelicalism is all about providing simple, safe answers to those who don’t want to think too hard about what the right answer may be. Evangelicals fear uncertainty more than they fear being wrong.

    I liked Pete’s description of evangelicalism as the equivalent of sixth grade for the Christian life. Before going to law school, I taught college-level physical chemistry for a few years. As a PhD physical chemist, I knew that the behavior of a gas was best described by determining the various quantum states, and using statistical mechanics to calculate the bulk properties. I knew that the Ideal Gas Law was pure hokum. But when I taught freshman chemistry, I resorted to the Ideal Gas Law, which is pretty good at predicting the properties of a gas in most real-world situations.

    Evangelicalism strikes me as the theological equivalent of the Ideal Gas Law. And just as college freshmen need the Ideal Gas Law instead of quantum mechanical calculations, I needed the simplicity of evangelicalism at one point in my life. I don’t any more. But I wouldn’t be where I am today without a 10-year detour away from the PCUSA in the PCA.

  • qwerty

    Peter, if you’re still reading this, could you explain the parenthetical bit in this line: “Jesus underwent altered states of consciousness (and probably regularly
    did so and taught some of his disciples how to do it too)”