what biblicism is and why it makes baby Jesus cry

what biblicism is and why it makes baby Jesus cry June 8, 2015

openphotonet_Red KJV Bible2Here is my definition of “biblicism.”

Biblicism is the tendency to appeal to individual biblical verses, or collections of (apparently) uniform verses from various parts of the Bible, to give the appearance of clear, authoritative, and final resolutions to what are in fact complex interpretive and theological issues generated by the fact that we have a complex and diverse Bible.

Put another way, biblicism is a tendency to prooftext–where the “plain sense” of verses are put forth as final and incontrovertible “proof” of a given theological position.

In The Bible Tells Me Sowhen I talk about a “rule book” or “owner’s manual” way of reading the Bible, I’m talking about biblicism.

Save your breath, folks. I am not saying that the Bible doesn’t shape, give guidance, and/or directives for matters of faith and life.

I am saying that discerning how the Bible does that is more than lifting verses from the Bible and laying them out on the table.

That’s because the Bible was written by different people, under different circumstances, for different reasons, spanning more than a thousand years. It was written during times of peace and war, in safety and exile, in Israel’s youth and chastened adulthood, and then under Roman occupation. Its writers were priests, scribes, kings, and simple folk, separated by time, politics, and geography, not to mention Myers-Briggs personality types.

Any claim to what the Bible “teaches” us has to go beyond the amassing of verses and move toward a deeper engagement with:

  1. The immediate literary/theological context of the verse(s).
  2. The place of any verse(s) in the context of the biblical grand narrative (the “canonical context”).
  3. The self-evident and theologically vital diversity, differences, and various transformations that we see throughout the Bible.
  4. The various ancient contexts out of which any and all biblical utterances arise.

These 4 are related and play off of each other. For example: 4 is at least one of the reasons why we have 3; the fact that we have 3 alerts us that weTBTMS need to keep in mind 2.

These 4 issues are not steps to follow that insure proper interpretation. They do not end hermeneutical conversations; they allow them to happen.

I can’t think of a single point of theology or Christian doctrine that can keep these 4 factors at a distance and still maintain hermeneutical, theological, and doctrinal integrity.

But biblicism:

  • is a power move, a rhetorical bullying tactic for claiming God’s support for our ideas.
  • relieves us of the responsibility of respecting the Bible enough to struggle with it and what it means to read it well–which is what Jews and Christians have been doing for over 2,500 years.
  • sells the Bible short by taking the easy way out of reading the Bible like it’s a phone book or line-by-line instructional manual, rather than what it is: a complex, diverse, intermingling of wise reflections on life with God, written by the faithful for the faithful.

Biblicism isn’t biblical–and I’m happy to allow the apparent contradiction of that statement stand as is.


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  • HZD

    I think one of the essential elements of biblicism is the assumption that there are “clear” parts of the Bible that illumine the “unclear” parts. This creates a hierarchy of meaning, where parts of the Bible are superimposed on other parts of the Bible in an effort to give a uniform picture. This easily degenerates into a self-affirming system, since all challenges to the dominant theology are relegated to the category of the “unclear” passages and then explained away by appeal to the supposedly clear passages.

    • Curiously enough, I just read a section in John Milbank’s Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason, in which he criticizes sociologists for starting out with ‘the social’ as the ‘clear and distinct idea’, from which we can describe what ‘religion’ is:

      … universally, something ‘questionable’ is reducible to something else which is ‘unquestionable’. Hence in retracing the genesis of sociology I have opened the way, not to denying ‘reduction to the social’, but rather to casting doubt on the very idea of there being something ‘social’ (in a specific, technical sense) to which religious behaviour could be in any sense referred. (102)

      So, this pattern of having a sure, unquestionable foundation, is quite pervasive. Indeed, one might go as far as to say that when such a foundation is ‘clear and distinct’, it is an idol. After all, God, while wanting to be known ever-better, is ultimately unfathomable: let down your sounding line further and further and it will never hit bottom. God can always put us into question, can always show us a higher standard; it is so much more comfortable to tie ourselves to safe systems which never ask too much of us.

    • David Pitchford

      Well said–it is not at all “clear” which parts of the Bible are “clear”. Your answer to this probably depends on your preexisting theological convictions.

      • Mark K

        Ricoeur pointed out regarding Freud’s “Moses and Monotheism” that Freud only discovered in the end what he knew in the beginning. Goldingay calls this Looking down the well and seeing ourselves. This resonates with the decades I was intertwined with biblicists. “Bible study” was not really that at all; it was “let’s use the Bible to show ourselves all the things we’re right about” study.

        • Which makes those sort of of devotional/therapeutic Bible study sessions frustating to those who are actually interested in understanding the text, its origins, etc. without privileging any theological preconceptions or systematic framework. I can look back now and appreciate what the biblicist Bible studies did for people in the churches I’ve attended, but until I found community that were actually interested in wider understanding and allowed for diverse interpretation, I was alienated from those sorts of “Bible studies.”

    • As a blogger, those who disagree strongly with me often inform me of what ‘the Bible clearly says’. They are usually heavy proof-texters as well, nearly always without reference to the context of the passage or the culture in which it was written.

      Sometimes they simply post the scripture reference (or several of them together) without even quoting the passage. A few refer to the doctrine of perspicuity.

      I don’t even try to argue with them; I simply share with them (or not) why I disagree. But I do not argue–there is no point in it.

    • This became especially true to me in noticing how modern day complementarians treated Deborah or any women in the OT or NT who did not fit the mold that they were interested in maintaining. Suddenly, all the verses indicating women who had real power over men became “muddy” and “contextual” in order to privilege verses that supported a hierarchy of men over women.

      • I remember back in the day when the OPC was debating over issuing a statement on “women in combat.” Someone brought up the example of Deborah, and the response was that she didn’t count because she didn’t actually kill Siserak in battle.

      • Scott

        The argument I have heard is that Deborah demonstrates how depraved Israel had become to allow a woman to be in a position of authority over a male.

  • One of the challenges I run into in discussing this with other evangelicals is the doctrine of the perspicuity of scripture – the idea that the Bible has to be clear enough that at least the essential matters can be understood by anyone.

    But like inerrancy, this is an assumption that comes from outside the Bible and controls the way it’s read. I think I must have said, “We don’t get to tell the Bible what it has to be,” a dozen times last week. Well, maybe more like two. It felt like a dozen.

    But also like inerrancy, this issue has strong emotional and security ties to it for most people.

    • Victor

      I hear you on this one, and I want to agree. But, I have this nagging problem in the back of my head. Nowadays, everyone can read, understand grammar, and can look all sorts of things up. But, what about the person in 827AD, or 1409AD, or 338BC. They couldn’t read, didn’t have any books, and generally pooped in a hole outside of a tent.

      Yet, we are saying that the Bible is something that requires great study – we need to understand genre, culture, history, etc. If that is the case, could someone then argue that we are saying the Bible can only be understood by someone after, say, 1865? It almost seems that we are saying it isn’t until now, that we smart guys can really understand the Bible.

      Also, how do the serfs who can’t read study anything? And, back then, virtually nobody was doing any historical criticism – they just read the text. So, are we just the lucky ones to have come along after Wellhausen?

      Was the Bible true misunderstood by everyone until the Enlightenment?

      Or, is there something mystical about it that allowed pre-enlightenment people to read/hear and apply it?

      • A great deal of the need for study of the Bible comes from our distance from its world. If you’re an illiterate fisherman in Galilee in the first century, you probably understand Jesus much better than your typical 21st century American pastor with his seminary degree (although, granted, even they had their struggles).

        Also, the closer you get to the timeframe of the Bible, the fewer theological controversies have arisen that people have felt the need to define themselves against, which also complicates the matter.

        I guess what I’m trying to say is that any particular biblical writing is at its most straightforward to the original audience and it gets less straightforward the more distant we get from that chronologically, geographically, or culturally.

        But even with that in mind, the biblical writings even at the time can be complex and difficult to understand, as Peter says about Paul’s writings, but I’d guess Peter had a much easier time understanding Paul than I do.

        Scholarship is a tool which allows us to make progress in bridging that gap. If that gap didn’t exist, we wouldn’t need it. We would be immersed in the same world that produced the writing and it would be easier to digest. A farmer could understand the humor in Shakespeare’s plays when they were first performed, but now I need someone with a degree to explain it to me.

        • Well said.

        • Phil, I really agree with you about the distance from the world of the Bible authors. Sometimes I try to explain by saying that the Bible wasn’t even written for us–the various writing were addressed to the people of their day, in their particular culture, and to specific issues in their particular place and time.

          No one can understand any passage in the Bible as well as the original hearers. In the telling of the story of Jesus, people were informed by the oral preaching of the earliest followers, which was then passed on generation to generation. Of course, they did not have a ‘Bible’ at all.

          As the oral tradition began to be removed from the original cultures in which they originated, the Bible began to be a substitute for those oral traditions. And the further removed from the original time and place, the further remove became the ability to understand the stories both oral and written.

          Today, we must learn as much as we can of the original cultures, but I cannot see how we will ever understand completely. (I know this is rather obvious to most readers here).

          • Bill Barman

            No one can understand any passage in the Bible as well as the original hearers. In the telling of the story of Jesus, people were informed by the oral preaching of the earliest followers, which was then passed on generation to generation. Of course, they did not have a ‘Bible’ at all.

            According to your argument, those who listened to Jesus first hand should know the best what Jesus was talking about. But passage after passage — in all four gospels — show they were incapable of understanding Jesus. It is only after the resurrection — when Jesus, with help from the Holy Spirit, “explains” the scriptures to his apostles (i.e. through His Spirit and His Word) — do things become understood. And the last of those apostles was Paul, to whom an even greater revelation was given. So even Jesus relied on the Bible to give them an understanding of who He is, and what He has done for us, and what He is going to do. And He continues to do so, for those who believe it. If not the Bible, what other source can you possibly base your understanding of the LORD Jesus Christ?

          • How did people become followers of Jesus prior to the Resurrection?

          • Bill Barman

            How did people become followers of Jesus prior to the Resurrection?

            I’m not sure I know what you’re getting at, but be that as it may, the gospels indicate many of His followers liked the miracles. Some thought He was a prophet. But those who believed He was the Messiah, according to Jesus, it was revealed to them by the Father. (Matt 16:16-17)

          • That’s interesting that you extrapolate from Peter’s confession to everyone who believed Jesus was the Messiah. On what grounds would you do that?

            But even that aside, you’ve just established that people understood these things prior to the Resurrection. Look at Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus in John 3. Why is Jesus taken aback that Nicodemus doesn’t understand these things? Why does he get frustrated with the disciples when they don’t understand? Why is he so angry with the Pharisees? Doesn’t he know they can’t understand him until after the Resurrection?

            What about the centurion who asks for healing for his servant? What about the centurion at the foot of the cross? What about the woman who washes Jesus’ feet with perfume and tears? What about the crowds who wave palms as he enters Jerusalem riding on a colt?

            Could it be that the picture is more complex than a citation from Matthew 16:16-17 can capture?

          • Bill Barman

            If you reread what I wrote at the start, you will see that I was arguing against the notion that “NO ONE can understand any passage in the Bible as well as the original hearers.” I was ineptly trying to make the point that we on this side of the Resurrection understand better than the original hearers. They certainly didn’t understand that Jesus would die for our sins, according to the scriptures, that he would be buried, and that he would be raised again the third day, according to the scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) even though Jesus plainly told them about the death and resurrection part several times prior to it happening. (I’d look up the verses for you on that but I don’t want to be labeled an extreme biblicist)

            That’s interesting that you extrapolate from Peter’s confession to everyone who believed Jesus was the Messiah. On what grounds would you do that?

            “And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”

            If flesh and blood did not reveal it to Peter, how could it reveal it to anyone?

            Could it be that the picture is more complex than a citation from Matthew 16:16-17 can capture?

            Are you assuming that Bible believers who cite a Bible verse don’t realize that the picture is complex? On what grounds would you do that?

          • A martyr dying for the sins of the nation of Israel on their behalf as well as resurrection being a vindication for the dead faithful was well-established during the intertestamental period. Certainly not all Jews held to this belief (as time goes on, I think it’s about as impossible to construct a unified picture of first century Jewish belief as it is to construct a unified picture of twenty-first century Christian belief), Take, for instance, 2 Macc. 7.

            In it, the seven brothers martyred by Antiochus Epiphanes hope that God will accept their suffering as an offering to redeem and deliver Israel from the tyrant, and they contrast their deaths that will gain them eternal life with the eternal destruction of the tyrant.

            Jesus did not come dropping these huge mysteries onto Israel that confused them all until after the Resurrection. He was an apocalyptic prophet acting consistently with their eschatological hopes. Did they all get this? Well, no, of course not. And each individual had their own cares, concerns, and expectations that Jesus may or may not have met. Peter, especially, seemed to struggle with this both before AND AFTER the Resurrection (Gal. 2:11-12).

            Did they all look kindly on this even if they did get it? No, in fact, much of the Temple’s power structure seems vitally aware of what Jesus’ claims imply, and this fuels their desire to destroy him.

            You can’t take one verse about Peter momentarily getting a flash of revelation (that he immediately rejects and begins rebuking Jesus for saying the Christ has to suffer) and draw out a universal truth that nobody can understand Jesus is the Christ without the kind of supernatural revelation that was available after the Resurrection. Except for Peter who received it before the Resurrection. And still didn’t understand it after the Resurrection. Or fifteen minutes after he confessed it. That’s Peter’s journey of faith.

            And yes, I assume that the vast majority of the time, Bible believers who try to establish an authoritative point by citing one passage often do not understand the complexity of what they are neutering to marshal for their support. I assert this on the ground of overwhelming personal experience. I mean, you did it just now. It doesn’t make you a bad or stupid person. It means it’s endemic. I do it, too, hence the importance of having our consciousness of the issue raised.

          • James or Not

            Interesting to see just how open to interpretation and misunderstanding the bible truly is, in apparently any age, especially amongst those who profess to believe in its divine nature. Did Jesus not foresee how divided and confused his followers would be without his constant presence? I know the Holy Ghost was supposed to ameliorate that, but how successful has that truly been?

            If one were to look objectively at any other institution suffering from such confusion, what with schisms and reformations and ongoing divisions, how would it look? Like it was of God, or of only humans? How could ‘God’ be said to preside over such?

            It doesn’t really matter whether or not you are a bible literalist, a bible scholar, a proofer, or a casual bible dipper – if this were the word of a God, would not God be able to speak in ways that would be crystal clear to all? It should be good news that anyone can fully understand and apply without reference to extraneous and conflicting ‘scholarship’ or isms. But it clearly is not, and unlikely to be sourced from anything but mankind.

          • Bill Barman

            A martyr dying for the sins of the nation of Israel on their behalf as well as resurrection being a vindication for the dead faithful was well-established during the intertestamental period. Certainly not all Jews held to this belief (as time goes on, I think it’s about as impossible to construct a unified picture of first century Jewish belief as it is to construct a unified picture of twenty-first century Christian belief), Take, for instance, 2 Macc. 7.

            In it, the seven brothers martyred by Antiochus Epiphanes hope that God will accept their suffering as an offering to redeem and deliver Israel from the tyrant, and they contrast their deaths that will gain them eternal life with the eternal destruction of the tyrant.

            Very interesting back story, but why would I clutter my head with it when God already set Israel aside for their unbelief and placed them in darkness until the light of Christ appeared?

            Jesus did not come dropping these huge mysteries onto Israel that confused them all until after the Resurrection. He was an apocalyptic prophet acting consistently with their eschatological hopes. Did they all get this? Well, no, of course not. And each individual had their own cares, concerns, and expectations that Jesus may or may not have met. Peter, especially, seemed to struggle with this both before AND AFTER the Resurrection (Gal. 2:11-12).

            Did they all look kindly on this even if they did get it? No, in fact, much of the Temple’s power structure seems vitally aware of what Jesus’ claims imply, and this fuels their desire to destroy him.

            Now you raise an even more interesting question in my mind. Why would I even clutter my head with the writings of the gospels if (in relying on the whole context of the situation) Jesus obviously was sent just to the whole house of Israel and not to gentile dogs like myself? Or why even rely on the scriptures between the Genesis flood and the 9th chapter of Acts, for that matter. Wouldn’t it be even better if I relied solely on the writings of Paul, whom Jesus sent to turn those without Abraham’s Y chromosome to the light of Christ? That would certainly make things easier. Only eight or nine letters to conform to, instead of the whole Bible and all this other extra Biblical stuff you trust in.

            You can’t take one verse about Peter momentarily getting a flash of revelation (that he immediately rejects and begins rebuking Jesus for saying the Christ has to suffer) and draw out a universal truth that nobody can understand Jesus is the Christ without the kind of supernatural revelation that was available after the Resurrection. Except for Peter who received it before the Resurrection. And still didn’t understand it after the Resurrection. Or fifteen minutes after he confessed it. That’s Peter’s journey of faith.

            I can and I did. If you have some superior knowledge that refutes my claim (actually – I believe it was Jesus’ claim.) don’t hold it back. Edify me. I certainly would you, if I had the opportunity.

            And yes, I assume that the vast majority of the time, Bible believers who try to establish an authoritative point by citing one passage often do not understand the complexity of what they are neutering to marshal for their support. I assert this on the ground of overwhelming personal experience. I mean, you did it just now. It doesn’t make you a bad or stupid person. It means it’s endemic. I do it, too, hence the importance of having our consciousness of the issue raised.

            We can’t even agree on a single point? But I am a bad and stupid person. But praise the Lord, (let me assert this without giving proof) — He saved me by His grace through FAITH!

            i.e. FAITH = believing God

            e.g.

            Gen 15:6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

            Gal 3:6-8 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.

            Jas 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

        • Andrew Dowling

          Right. Ironically, we know a lot more about 1st century Judaism than Greek Patristic theologians did in the 4th century, let alone the Reformers who engaged in some of the worst biblical exegesis one could possibly do.

          • I almost said this, but you know how I hate to ruffle feathers.

      • Daniel Merriman

        Comment removed.

        • There’s a big difference between having faith in Jesus Christ and understanding the Bible. People can and did have faith they were willing to die for before there even was a Bible. I would say that, in order for the church to exist, we barely even -need- a Bible for that and could probably take it out of circulation for a while and get along ok. The object of our faith is a resurrected Jesus, not a book, and he is a draw for educated, uneducated, poor, oppressed – every category.

          But that’s not what Pete is talking about; he’s talking about making authoritative statements on what the Bible teaches. If your Nigerian friends started writing commentaries on Ephesians, that would be more apples to apples.

          • peteenns

            Exactly, Phil. Thank you.

          • Daniel Merriman

            Comment removed

          • peteenns

            Daniel, thanks for your comment but…I’m not a dope. This is focused blog post with a clear context. I am certainly not setting up an eternal, absolute dichotomy. Sheesh.

          • Daniel Merriman

            I have removed my comments. I read your post twice before posting the first comment. I failed, and still fail, to see the focus, but whatever.

      • Mark

        First, not everyone “in 827AD, or 1409AD, or 338BC” was illiterate. There were plenty of learned people who understood the importance of context, and there was much diversity of opinion over such things as the Trinity, Universal Salvation, etc. among those biblical scholars.

        Second, the serfs who couldn’t read weren’t really any different from the common man who could read. The Bible wasn’t widely printed – indeed, many were killed for daring to print or otherwise circulate copies of the Bible, because the religious leaders didn’t want just anyone reading the scriptures and making their own conclusions. So mostly, people got their Christianity from their religious leaders. I have Catholic friends who tell me they were never encouraged to read the Bible for themselves.

  • Kim Fabricius

    I only hope, Pete, that one fine Ground Hog Day the folk you’re trying to reach with Bible 101 will wake up, smell the coffee — and not hear “I Got You Babe” on the radio.

  • I am currently reading through the complete works of Francis Schaeffer right now, for a course I am taking, and I find him to be a good example of this type of Biblicism you describe. In regard to biblicism being a “power move, a rhetorical bullying tactic for claiming God’s support for our ideas”…..I find this done all throughout Schaeffer’s writing and clearly contained in the title of his collected works “A christian worldview”. I really think it is almost done unconsciously and with good intent – intending to guide the lost and troubled youth who came to him searching for answers. Regardless of the intent though, I find him constantly saying “the biblical view”, “the Christian view”, “what the Bible says”, “what God said”… and behind it all I really see his view/interpretation. When he says “biblical”, he means the way he reads bible based off of his idea that the truth is scripture (in his words) is objective, propositional, factual revelation. This failure to admit or confess an interpretive view comes down to the title of his collected works: “A christian worldview”. I really wish this read “one christians worldview” or “a calvinistic/reformed/conservative christian’s worldview”.

    In my mind Schaeffer’s writings and a lot of people who have followed in his footsteps would be a lot more beneficial if they exhibited a little bit more epistemological humility and threw in some words like “well thats just my opinion” or “thats the way I see it”….

    Ending on a positive note, I love that Schaeffer’s first volume deals with Philosophy and Culture. The guy was constantly talking about art, movies and philosophers. And I hope more people in the reformed circle learn from his example in this. I think one of the best things he has to say is that the foundational questions of epistemology, metaphysics and morality need to be addressed at the beginning of theology and Bible Study. James K.A. Smith is a good example of someone who has been inspired by Schaeffer and yet come to some different places than he has.

    • Ross

      Having read a fair few of Sschaeffer’s works myself and been fairly influenced by him I have to agree with you.

      I think Barth’s comments on Schaeffer sum the whole view up succinctly;

      “Rejoice, dear Mr. Schaeffer (and you calling your-selves ‘fundamentalists’ all over the world)! Rejoice and go on to believe in your ‘logics’ (as in the fourth article of your creed!) and in your-selves as the only true ‘bible-believing’ people! Shout so loudly as you can! But, pray, allow me, to let you alone. ‘Conversations’ are possible between open-minded people. Your paper and the review of your friend Buswell reveals the fact of your decision to close your window-shutters. I do not know how to deal with a man who comes to see and to speak to me in the quality of an [sic] detective-inspector with the beheaviour [sic] of a missionary who goes to convert a heathen. No, thanks! Yours sincerely. Excuse my bad English. I am not accustomed to write in your language.

      “Sorry, but it can not be helped! Yours, Karl Barth.”

    • DMH

      Surprised to hear that Schaeffer is still being read. I am one of those who was inspired and influenced by him and yet have come to some different places. For me he was the first stepping stone out of fundamentalism. As you say there were some positive things- I would add the emphasis on community to what you mentioned. We’re all on a journey and need wisdom to know what to let go of and what to hang on to along the way.

    • I’m another who read a good bit of Schaeffer while at a conservative Christian college and for a while after. I eventually became MUCH more progressive, but at the time Schaeffer inspired me and helped me integrate diverse disciplines… seeing the development of ideas and their significance, tho his analysis I now see as seriously flawed at points… helped me enjoy and continue my studies with new vision.

  • Bill Barman

    Any claim to what the Bible “teaches” us has to go beyond the amassing of verses and move toward a deeper engagement with:

    1. The immediate literary/theological context of the verse(s).

    2. The place of any verse(s) in the context of the biblical grand narrative (the “canonical context”).

    3. The self-evident and theologically vital diversity, differences, and various transformations that we see throughout the Bible.

    4. The various ancient contexts out of which any and all biblical utterances arise.

    I’m having trouble accepting your four point process. Can you give me any Bible verses that support each one?

    • peteenns

      🙂

    • Muzi Cindi

      Your question just gave me a good LAUGH!
      Can you give us any Bible verse that supports you?

      • Bill Barman

        Can you give us any Bible verse that supports you?

        I didn’t intend to engage anyone in a debate on the subject at hand. I was just wondering how you can be authoritative on what the Bible says without actually quoting it.

        My rebuttal would be to simply quote mine Colossians 2:8 “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” I can’t tell you what the literary/theological context is for this verse but a plain reading of the whole text certainly explains it well enough for even the casual reader/hearer.

    • Bryan

      Perhaps read the book, “The Bible Tells Me So…”? Maybe?

  • Bill Barman

    Biblicism isn’t biblical–and I’m happy to allow the apparent contradiction of that statement stand as is.

    Excellent way to discern if any philosophy is worth while.

  • Father Thyme

    To summarize the Bible as “wise reflections” with a “biblical grand narrative” is also an exercise in highly selective proof-texting, and is merely a rhetorical power tactic to privilege your ideas.

    Vast swaths of the Bible are hardly wise, and if there is a grand narrative, I find it best best defined as hopelessly contradictory magical thinking.

    • James

      Yes, there are a few assumptions we are likely to make before bothering to read very far. Like, “This sounds wise.” Or, “There seems to be a fascinating story unfolding here.” You find the Bible “hardly wise” and “hopelessly contradictory magical thinking.” Fair enough, Father Thyme, may I ask what keeps drawing you to it?

    • Ross

      Are you telling me there’s something wrong with “hopelessly contradictory magical thinking”, sheesh, that puts me in a tight spot!!

      • Father Thyme

        You are in a tight spot, which I’ll explain now, but I’ll later provide a biblical “out.”

        The magical thinking’s purpose is to deny reality; reality is that all animals, including the great ape species we call humans, dies, with no “afterlife.” Even whole species become extinct, as 99% have already, and humans themselves will one day become extinct. This is a fact of evolution, put poetically by Carl Sagan as “The secrets of evolution are time and death. There’s an unbroken thread that stretches from those first cells to us.” Put bluntly, you will die and be extinct.

        See also Michael Martin & Keith Augustine (2015) The Myth of an Afterlife: The Case against Life After Death. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

        However, mortality salience (recognizing one’s extinction) causes terror in humans, and immortality stories are concocted to ameliorate mortality salience. The field of scientific inquiry into this is called Terror Management Theory (TMT.) http://www.tmt.missouri.edu

        See also: Ernest Becker (1973) The Denial of Death. Free Press.
        Stephen Cave. (2012) Immortality: The Quest to Live Forever and How It Drives Civilization. Crown.
        Sheldon Solomon and Jeff Greenberg (2015) The Worm at the Core: On the Role of Death in Life. Random House.

        Instead of concocting make-believe stories about an afterlife, it is preferable to face reality, buck up to death as extinction, and enjoy what life we have in the meantime. Philosopher Stephen Cave, who has identified 4 afterlife narratives (Elixir, Resurrection, Soul, Legacy) calls this rational facing of realty the “Wisdom Narrative,” after the book in the Bible allegedly written by the wisest man, who wrote:

        • Ecclesiastes 9:5-10 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even their name is forgotten…in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.
        • Ecclesiastes 3:19 “Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals.”
        • Ecclesiastes 2:24 A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil.
        • Ecclesiastes 3:12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. (also see 5:18 & 8:15)

        So the Bible itself, within the one book of the Bible I consider worthy of reading, gives you an “out” to escape the magical thinking and face life and death much like Epicurus of old.

        • Father Thyme,

          I am a very theologically progressive evangelical, but after much study of the various opinions, and consideration of the issues, I conclude that there is, indeed, an afterlife.

          This is not simply wishful thinking, because I would be fine without the prospect. Nor do I know much about what this afterlife will be like. But I find this aspect of the good news of Jesus to be convincing.

          However, I cannot claim to be certain of my conclusion–just as you cannot.

          • Father Thyme

            St. Paul made Christianity’s afterlife premise falsifiable, by basing his theory on the notion that matter is not made of atomic elements.

            It was the logic of the cross against the logic of the atom, an early phase of the long strife between science and religion.
            […]
            The whole theory of physics was reduced by Epicurus to Twelve Elementary Principles and a syllabus bearing this title was published for the use of his disciples. This list of Principles, it may be interposed, was the most lucid and orderly ever drawn up in ancient times, and with one exception would have been received with respect down to the date of an event so recent as the fission of the atom. By way of illustration the first seven are here listed with some adaptation to modern terminology:

            1. Matter is uncreatable.
            2. Matter is indestructible.
            3. The universe consists of atoms and space.
            4. All existing things are either atoms or compounds of atoms.
            5. The atoms are infinite in multitude.
            6. Space is infinite in extent.
            7. The atoms are always in action.

            As was bound to happen, this whole system became known to the enemies of Epicurus by that particular Principle which was most offensive and provocative of ridicule, the third. This was offensive because it implied that the soul of man itself was composed of atoms, just as the body itself, and therefore subject to dissolution, just as the body. It was especially open to ridicule because the atoms were such insignificant things upon which to base a whole system of knowledge. In Galatians 4:9 Paul sneered at them as “the weak and beggarly elements.”

            Norman Dewitt (1954) St. Paul and Epicurus. University of Minnesota Press. http://www.epicurus.info/etexts/stpaulandepicurus.html

            Since c.1803 or so, with John Dalton’s atomic elements theory proving St. Paul’s “logic of the cross” wrong—and Epicurus’ “logic of the atom” correct—we can know for certain that Christianity’s afterlife narrative is false.

            The only way to assert Paul’s “logic of the cross” is to deny, as St. Paul himself did, that humans are made of atoms.

            Since St. Paul made his theory falsifiable, and it is proven false by much evidence-based science, I therefore do claim to be sufficiently certain of my conclusion that there is no afterlife, at least of the Christian variety.

          • This is patently ridiculous.

            Read Galatians 4. Paul is talking about being enslaved to “weak and beggarly elements” of the Law. It is not a critique of atomic theory. Galatians 4 says nothing about the composition of matter.

            Further, Epicurus did not teach the atomic theory, either. I did my senior thesis on the ancient Greek atomists. I made a website about it with a cool Flash animation to show their ideas on aggregation. Their ideas were more like monadism than John Dalton’s atomic theory or elements or anything of that sort.

            Honestly, I try to be respectful of opposing views when they are reasonably thought out, but this is the dumbest thing I have read in a long time, and I read a John MacArthur sermon, today, just to give you a sense of scale.

          • Veritas

            Intellectual gymnastics like this remind me of the musings of graduate students in the university. They are steeped in assumptions of their own genius genius, never mind the facts.

            St. Paul’s belief of the afterlife may have had its roots in Judaism but it’s confidence was in the risen Christ…” For if Christ did not rise, we ar the most pitiable…”

            You have no more proof that the afterlife is a myth than the faithful have of its existence. In fact, you may have less, because they have the resurrection

          • baaron31

            ” For if Christ did not rise, we are the most pitiable…”

            Indeed you may be.

          • Andrew Dowling

            Don’t bother with Mr. Thyme. The funny thing is despite him getting banned and constantly having to reinvent himself, he keeps consistently blogging all around Patheos, daily . . betraying his supposed certainty in his atheism. The chap is clearly facing some sort of personal existential crisis.

          • baaron31

            Well Andrew.. On your comment at father thyme “Do you just find Christian blogs so you can tell us how stupid we are for being Christians?”
            I wouldn’t use the word “stupid” but “naive” or “deluded” would certainly fit since you are so convinced there is an afterlife while we all know there is no way of knowing for sure! Even jesuswithoutbaggage who is an evangelical, humbly admits he is not certain. There is no way of knowing until you die. So this is not a question of atheist or believer but I would say a rational being and a naive person.

        • Well, I don’t think anyone has ever been exposed to theory that religion is just a social construct to counteract the fear of death. What a revolutionary idea and devastating critique! Guess I’ll just pack it in, then.

          Seriously, Thyme, what’s your endgame here? Do you just find Christian blogs so you can tell us how stupid we are for being Christians? We already know. You aren’t going to convert anyone by pointing that out.

        • newenglandsun

          It’s so great to have someone who died and then was resurrected able now to tell us that there is no afterlife.

    • newenglandsun

      The statement “hopelessly contradictory magical thinking” is a “hopelessly contradictory magical statement”. How can something be hopeless if it is magical? And if it is magical, then is it not supposed to defy our common senses and appear contradictory?

  • Daniel Pape

    But the Holy Spirit informs my interpretation… I feel divinely inspired when I’m plucking out verses that seem to make an argument that I’d rather not make on my own. It’s certainly easier to hide behind the Bible than to be held accountable for my own beliefs.

    Did this kind of interpretation always alleviate personal responsibility for religious convictions? Was it intended to do so, or is that just a happy coincidence?

    • Let’s not forget that for over 1000 years, with few exceptions until the Reformation and printing presses, people didn’t generally even GET to read the Bible to be able to give it their own interpretation. Still, I imagine many made personal interpretations of what they did hear at Mass.

  • Dr. Enns, have you considered the extent to which your #1–#4 are antithetical to the idea of “universal, timeless, absolute truth” which Plato advanced, which waned in popularity but was reinvigorated during the Enlightenment? In Cosmopolis, Stephen Toulmin outlines the switch from context-sensitive thinking in the Renaissance, to the lust for context-free thinking in the Enlightenment. Part of this was an attempt to get ‘beneath’ the disagreements between Catholics and Protestants; the result however was to denigrate context and prefer ‘pure theory’.

    An example of where the rubber hits the road is the 2004 paper Doing Research that Makes a Difference, which notes damage which has done by believing that one can frequently develop general knowledge which can then be easily implemented at the local level. So, perhaps some of what you see with ignoring context in the Bible can be attributed to this mindset, and not merely the attempt to justify what one already believes with some convenient verses.

  • I agree with these points. Having said that, it’s kind of a difficult call to make when someone is citing in a “biblicist” fashion and when they are giving appropriate consideration to the text. Turning for a moment to the early church fathers, let’s take Polycarp as an example. Was he acting similar to a biblicist (albeit before the NT was canonized) in the way he cited Paul or the Gospels in his (Polycarp’s) letter to the Philippians? I’m not sure how religious writers can avoid a degree of biblicism anytime they use the Bible as an authority to support a point. That theological diversity comes in no small part from religious people making interesting new plays on verses whose authors may have had very different intentions. So my question is, how far do you go with having hermeneutic conversations before you end up at a conclusion (at least for yourself)? It’s pretty clear guys like Polycarp were driven by the perceived internal and external threats to the faith as they saw it, and of course had no access to what we know and understand about the texts today.

    There are reasons that strong, clear messages citing sacred texts are appealing. They were encouraging to Polycarp’s audience, even if Polycarp may not have had a perfect understanding of all the texts he cited. The Western religious impulse seeks spiritual answers, not more questions. Biblicism offers that kind of assurance and clarity, whether it actually has a firm grasp on the material or not. How does one combat that impulse?

    • Daniel Fisher

      Good insight, I agree here – we understand the individual verses in light of larger context, but we only understand the larger context by understanding the meaning of the smaller individual statements and sentiments.
      Would it be “Biblicist”, for instance, to point out that “You shall not commit adultery”? This seems pretty clear and concise. That being said:
      1. We certainly understand what is and isn’t adultery by understanding the larger context. Yet that being said….
      2. If an interpretation based on ‘larger context’ were to conclude that adultery is not a sin, I would have no problem citing this particular text as evidence that said interpretation is erroneous. prooftexting and citing individual verses I’d think still has a proper place, although I largely agree with Peter that if that is *all* you do then this is hardly ‘biblical.”
      All that said, I fear there is a potential danger of people utilizing the ‘larger context’ to explain away or brush away unpopular truths that do seem rather explicit in numerous individual verses.
      Perhaps we combat that impulse for clarity by constantly shifting between taking seriously the import of all the individual verses and simultaneously the larger context and its implications?

      • I would say that quoting Israel’s covenant with Yahweh to establish that adultery is a sin would be a great example of not taking context into account.

        Adultery is a sin, of course, but you just demonstrated the wrong way to get there.

        • Daniel Fisher

          If I follow your logic correctly, I’m not sure how one could conclude that **anything** in the Bible is a sin for me? if not quoting Israel’s covenant with Yahweh, I’m quoting a 1st century apostle’s commands to a particular church, or Jesus’ commands to a first century gathering, etc….?

          • I think you followed my logic perfectly! Those are great reasons why you can’t just quote a passage and prove something is sin.

            To quote the commandment in the Decalogue against adultery is to take that commandment out of its covenant and historical context and make it into some trans-historical abstraction. That context, however, is Yahweh, having delivered Israel from an oppressor, is reconstituting them as a people with Yahweh as their deity, and those are the terms of the arrangement.

            However, when Jesus removes the dividing wall of Torah to create a new people out of Jews and Gentiles, you can’t just drop the Torah on them. In fact, this is a recipe for destruction. The outpouring of the Spirit has reconstituted this new people and walking according to the Spirit frees us, not only from the Torah, but also from sin. In the aftermath of this event, Paul says things like the marital union is an incarnation of Christ and the church, and how our union with Christ means we are joining him to a prostitute if we use one. The sexual ethic of the people of God is based on this new spiritual union with Jesus.

            Just think of how many ethical situations Paul addresses in the New Testament that he could have easily shut down with a simple reference to the Decalogue.

  • David Pitchford

    Perhaps, in a nutshell, it would be accurate to say that biblicism is a way of reading (or “handling”) Scripture that ignores or minimizes its depth and complexity? (Even as it may be used to develop deep, complex theological systems)

    • Well put! From a Whitehead/Process perspective, a lot of the error of “misplaced concreteness”. But to link all the supposedly concrete statements of the Bible, one needs a LOT of speculative abstraction (creating a world of woes).

  • Mushi Mage

    Bliblicism definitely makes it easy to present the ridiculousness of such an acceptance. However, the central issue is the intrinsic vacuousness of deity claims. So, the use of the bible in the fashion that you are presenting amounts to centuries of people manipulating others on the basis of belief.

  • Mark K

    I just read in Goldingay’s “Models for Interpretation” that sometimes (almost always?!) to merely repeat what the scriptural text says is to “say something quite different” from what it signified originally. This is what’s almost always fishy about quoting a Bible verse to make this or that point. And it’s what I’ve seen biblicists do for many years, and unfortunately what they taught me to do.

    This is, as Pete writes, shirking the responsibility of struggling with the text and lazily (my assessment) reading the Bible like a phone book. It’s far easier to decode the individual words in the book than to draw correct inferences from a whole page, or chapter, or book.

  • In my various social media streams yesterday morning, three references in immediate succession touched on this same subject of how we use scripture. Brian McLaren posted a quote from Pope Francis on the rigidity of Christian ideology (the whole “proof texts” concept referenced above), a remark which one commentator was quick to brand as “heresy”. “Scripture Truth” on Twitter posted on the flip side, referencing Hebrews 10:26 (“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left”); this verse is a favorite in certain circles, used as a heavy hammer in all sorts of contexts to prove that our ideological opposites are beyond the pale and incapable of salvation. And then there was the link to the article above.

    At stake in this whole cultural conversation is the principle of whether we as Christians can claim a corner on truth and speak with comfortable certainty, or whether we must approach scripture— and consequently, each other— with a spirit of humility and a sense of our own fallibility, not conflating our scriptural positions with the bedrock infallibility of scripture itself. In the words of Micah 6:8, “He has shown thee, O man, what is good and what the Lord requires of thee: and to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly.” To fail in this required humility of interpretation is to walk the same path of error so notably taken by Harold Camping in his doomsday predictions of 2011: his billboards incorrectly proclaiming the end bore the presumptuous pronouncment, “The bible guarantees it.”

    • newenglandsun

      Christians do have Truth–we just forget that Truth is a person and not an object. When we try to objectify Truth, we lose value of what’s important–relationships. Truth is something we are to have relationship with and experience. The Church has only acknowledged three theologians in its history. St. Gregory, St. John, and St. Symeon. A theologian being one who experiences God as opposed to studying God. There is a big difference in this approach.

  • Daniel Fisher

    Given Jesus’ frequent use of a single verse to prove a point (in the beginning the creator made, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Have you not read what David did in the temple, man does not live by bread alone, David himself calls him ‘Lord’, etc., etc.), was Jesus a “biblicist”? Why or why not?

    • My take on this would be:

      1. Jesus and his listeners understand their Old Testament much better than we do. When Jesus uses the One Verse Punch, not only does he have a deep understanding of those Scriptures and their role in Israel’s story, but his audience are also partakers of the same hermeneutical and cultural environment. Those Scriptures are their formative story as well in a much more direct and proximate sense than 21st century western Gentiles.

      2. Generally, when a reference is made to another Scripture by the biblical speakers and writers, it’s meant to draw in the much larger context of the passage. That larger context is just assumed. For instance, if my team is facing a difficult decision, and I say, “Sometimes, you’ve got to roll the hard six,” then they know I am alluding to the many difficult decisions made by Commander Adama in his long struggle to protect the Colonists from the tyranny of the Cylon fleet, because we are all huge nerds.

      This is not usually the case with the way people proof-text today. They are not using a single Scripture as a sort of metonymy for a larger passage or story; they are using a single Scripture that contains the keywords they’re looking for.

      • Daniel Fisher

        Good thoughts, I I agree completely – except that I would emphasize that at least *some* prooftexting today is of the sort you describe. I’d like to think that’s what I’m doing when I do it, of course… 😉

    • Andrew Dowling

      That was the common reference point for anything in ancient Jewish culture. There was no Wikipedia, no Lexus-Nexus, no science journals. If you wanted to use a source to support a larger point, you used the Jewish scriptures. In a very specific cultural and historical context we are completely alien from today.
      And Jesus’s use and interpretation of the Scriptures, according to the Gospels, was definitely not ‘conservative.’

      So you’re comparing apples to oranges,

      • I agree. I’d add more directly what you imply: He did NOT always stick with the common interpretation, but added, “… but I say to you…”

  • Occupy Christianity

    It is amazing to see what many who call themselves Christian dream up based on the bible…the whole “rapture” theology comes immediately to mind, but that is probably an extreme example. One more germane to the American context (and American Christians may be the most prolific adherents to biblicalism) is the idea of racial or gender-based discrimination. Even day-to-day matters, such as the refusal to treat the LGBTQ community with respect and acceptance, are based on the faulty premise of biblicalism.

  • charles.hoffman.cpa

    Everyone is a “biblicist”; they all find a piece of Scripture to justify their position on any of a million issues, even if they’re taking things totally out of context.

    Right, left, middle, conservative, liberal, reactionary, or progressive – everyone can find what they want in the Bible.

    It’s the smorgasbord or buffet of ideology

  • davend

    I agree. However, it can be just as dangerous (perhaps even more so, depending on your reading of Christian history) to worship at the feet of the created “grand narrative.”

  • Mark Brooks

    Peter, why do you complain so much over Christians believing God? Perhaps you should believe Him too. And enough with the Orwellian newspeak. “Biblicist”, “Bibliolatry” — why are unbelievers so desperate to avoid calling Christians Christian?

    • Ross

      A very good point. Why do inerrantist bibliolegionists have such an issue with calling non-inerrantist Christians Christian?

  • Excellent, excellent post. Thank you.

  • Keshia Bean

    We Christians believe to live is Christ. How silly it would it be to speak of common ambiguities in the world without our instructional manuscript, (though it spans millennia, wars, famines and the like.) Indeed, people from all generations, across all ethnicity use literature to reason, redirect and admonish one another. Exegesis IS A WAY OF LIFE FOR CHRISTIANS because Christ IS life to us and if the good book is the word of God then we are without error in doing so. Think of us as you will, you ‘LEARNED’ men and women; a time will be upon you when you will regret mocking our faith. For God’s sake; The nation of Israel stands after 2000 Years, ( as predicted IN THE BIBLE!) Wake up you guys~ Please read Romans through Philemon, KJV.

  • SJ

    The bible can be a tough book to understand…Anyone claiming one interpretation of passages based on context alone is probably wrong because the rabbis say there are at least 4 levels to scripture….it is called PARDES and some people say there are more levels than that. I suspect the more levels you can detect to a passage the more spiritually mature you are but somehow since such a low number of Christians actually read Hebrew they have frozen themselves to a level….A lot of people have frozen themselves to a literal level but the bible isn’t always literal any more than poetry is.

    Therefore, I plan on buckling down and trying to learn Hebrew so I can get a clearer perspective from God’s view instead of letting context control things….Contexts/Situations don’t control minds unless we let them….and the bible is the articulation of God’s thoughts and since the Church is the Bride and marrying God’s Son it is incumbent upon Christians to learn to speak his language….to make that effort to enhance effective communication. So soon I will be like a little child all over again learning the alphabet so I can have an enhanced relationship with God. If more people had the enhanced understanding and relationship that comes from studying Hebrew we wouldn’t suffer so much from mistaken fanatical interpretations….we could correct more Christian Pharisees and make the whole bible apply to our lives instead of quoting verses. Even though the verses are like tidbits that God feeds us….we still need a more mature understanding of things for a closer walk with God and to have a more spiritual flow to our lives.

    Christians allowed the Catholic Church to superimpose a false Latin perspective on the bible until Wycliffe came along to fight and put the bible into the vernacular and now everyone can see that Hebrew is God’s perspective and we need to learn to see things from His perspective….not the interpretations of other people no matter how well intentioned they may be.

    We need to humble ourselves and struggle with Hebrew….the Apostle Peter said there would be tests in this life and maybe we’d find it easier to pass those tests if we joined our minds with the right perspective and learned how God looks at us…not how another person looks at God based on context.

    Now that all that is said I must admit I have been super attached to the 23rd Psalm since childhood and always use it like a baby uses its’ pacifier to soothe himself.

    So here it is as a lullaby:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=A-qLa_2GPcM

    • The Septuagint has access to better manuscripts than the Hebrew Old Testament. Just wanting to give you a leg up on your project to read the Bible without context.

    • newenglandsun

      ” until Wycliffe came along to fight and put the bible into the vernacular and now everyone can see that Hebrew is God’s perspective and we need to learn to see things from His perspective”
      1. Wycliffe translated the Bible into English (not Hebrew!) which was the vernacular at the time in England not in France, Germany, Italy, etc. Nor in Slavonic which was the vernacular in Eastern European countries at the time.
      2. Wycliffe was not the only one who translated the Bible into the language of his own region.
      3. The Latin Vulgate was used by the Catholic Church because they believed Latin to be a more universal language than English, German, French, Spanish, etc. Many Catholics still hold this as a true position and prefer to pray in Latin in order to connect to their entire Church community via the language of prayer.
      4. The New Testament was written in Greek. Some have contended the Gospels were originally Aramaic. We don’t really know.

      I meant to add–I’m not entirely certain that we who speak English as our first language understand how difficult it is for EFL speakers to pick up on our own language. I have a friend who is Aramaic from Iraq who always asks me how different words are pronounced which can be pronounced multiple different ways. I also have a humorous story in which, in a religious studies class, we were talking about religion and views on sexuality and the topics of menstruation and circumcision came up and he had to look both words up on Google-Translate. We later used his computer to watch a video online and we saw the remnants of his looking up the word menstruation on Google-Translate.

      I met a friend this semester who is Ukrainian and she was frequently looking up words on Google-Translate throughout our class period.

      I had a professor from Belgium (fluent in French, German, ancient Hebrew, etc.) who, in a class on Judaism and the Origins of Christianity, was showing us a Christian icon of Jesus ascending from Hell in which Hell was depicted as a whale (you know, from his speech comparing Hell to Jonah’s being in the belly of a whale) and she was showing us how it was a whale and saying that “Those are the…Oh I don’t know what the word is!” And I chimed in with, “Fins!”

      • SJ

        Please ask me a question before you assume my point of view if it isn’t clear to you otherwise you come across as debating or arguing.

        How many languages the bible was translated into was irrelevant. Wycliffe was the first to go against Catholic tradition. That makes him a groundbreaker.

        The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and that is the initial view before Aramaic and Greek come into play.

        Revelation parallels Genesis but Genesis is the starting place. So we need to start way back in Genesis with Hebrew idioms and customs and ritual traditions and symbolism long before we get to the New Testament.

        We want to look through God’s perspective. Jesus Christ was a rabbi and he knew the Old Testament and quoted from it so you have to know the Old Testament and how it connects to the New Testament to get the big picture.

        Because people lost sight of the Hebrew view for hundreds of years we also have lost the critical significance of many things like the feast days. The feast days were suppose to be a lasting ordinance throughout all generations yet very few people know about them today. Christians should be studying the feast days because they are prophetic but without Hebrew culture and language we don’t know them….we are forced to rely on interpreters.

        Some people claim the Scythians ( Parthians ) descended from the Lost Tribes of Israel and that they ultimately left Israel through the Assyrian captivity and later migrated into Europe and the Anglo Saxon countries where their Israelite identity was forgotten. But you’d have to read Steven M. Collins and Yair Davidy and
        J. H. Allen and other sources for more info on that.

        Jesus Christ said he was sent to the House of Israel. There are also historical accounts of Celts living in Galatia but most people don’t know that fact. That Galatia had so many Celts in the time of St. Paul’s missionary visits there.

        Later on Peter received his vision from God telling the apostles to deliver the Gospel to the Gentile nations.

        Did you know the word “Brit” means covenant?

        Also there was a very early church established in Great Britain that could have predated the church in Rome. Paul mentions these Christian English kings as captives in Rome in the New Testament but most people don’t know the ancient history of the bible well enough to place them there.

        • newenglandsun

          I see…you’re one of those whacky restorationist Christians who thinks that the Catholic Church corrupted everything even though they’ve been around much longer than your own church has been.

  • HamburgerHelper

    Biblicism? I wonder if David Bebbington is rolling his eyes now at this new definition?