73 comments on “Why I Am Not A Biblicist

  1. Sounds less like biblicism and more like bibliolatry.
    But then, it’s not really that either, since it’s actually a perversion of Scripture (not an inordinate exaltation of it), and a hatred of its truths.
    Of course, the too-vaunted “Fathers, [most] Creeds, Medieval Doctors, Councils, etc.” are no more reliable than Charlie ‘The Taser’ Russell or Campbellitic eisegesis.

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  2. Patrick,
    I think that your comment is slanderous; Not with respect to me, but with respect to the LORD.
    Also, who would you suggest should sit next to me under the tree (completely irrelevant to the statement), or, what else beside the Word would illuminate my mind?
    Thanks,
    Louis Breytenbach

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  3. Patrick,
    Yes, I have read the article.
    Please give it to me on the chin.
    But bear in mind that I purposely used the words: “I think…”
    I hold to the sufficiency of Scripture, even when it is characterised by the derogatory phrase: Jesus and me with a Bible under a tree.
    Perhaps it seems too independistic, but so are all those who in the end choose an interpretive community.
    Louis Breytenbach

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  4. So you disagree with the article? You think it is wise to ignore what theologians of the past have said? You think God reveals the meaning of his Word directly to individuals, straight from the printed text? Why is preaching necessary? Has not God given to some the gift of teaching? Should we not avail ourselves of others’ gifts? Is it biblical to turn our backs on the entire history of the church and insist that our unique interpretation of a given passage must be correct because we alone hold it?

    The original article doesn’t deny the sufficiency of Scripture. That is not what is being talked about by “Jesus and me with a Bible under a tree.” It is talking about the arrogant and naive attitude of those who believe themselves to be an interpretive island unto themselves, with no need for the collective gifts of Christ’s church.

    Why bother reading theology or blogs like this? Wouldn’t our time be better spent simply poring over the text of the KJV? After all, it is sufficient, is it not? We don’t need anyone’s help except our Bibles, right?

    Saying “I think” does not lessen your accusation. If you type it, of course you think it. Before you accuse me of slandering Jehovah, remember that I am a Protestant who holds to Sola Scriptura, which includes the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture.

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  5. Patrick,

    We obviously understand Sola Scriptura in different ways. In fact, I cannot disagree with you more.
    However, I wish to appologise for my careless use of words. Clearly I sinned before the Lord and against you.

    Louis Breytenbach

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  6. Of course, we’re getting further and further from the source and context of
    the Riker quote
    given by Renihan
    edited by Barcellos
    reported by lavin1517*
    and linked by McWilliams.

    John told his readers that they needed no man to teach them, as they had the Holy Spirit: These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. {1st John 2:26f.} The answer is/ was the apostles’ doctrine & the Holy Spirit, not post-apostolic “fathers,” creeds, confessions, etc. I am not against these, and use them for study and teaching. But all must bear witness to the Scripture, as we are all no doubt agreed.

    Paul said we have the mind of Christ, and as spiritual men, are able, nay, required, to personally, individually judge all things: 1 Thes. 5:21 ~ Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

    On the “negative” side, how does one know that Russell, Campbell, & Camping were all wrong? The same way those of Berea tested Paul. He praised the Bereans @ Acts 17:10f for getting under a tree with just Jesus & his word, and doing a Bible study in order to confirm or repudiate Paul’s preaching of Christ.
    —————————-

    * Blogger lavin1517 has cartoons of Calvin & Spurgeon w/ a sketch of Lloyd-Jones and approved quotes by Beale, a Brakel, Dabney, Machen, Pipa, & Reymond. How are we to know that these are the “good guys”? Is it not by getting under that tree, with just Jesus, his word, and me to study & pray for light / discernment? Or do our “reformed fathers” get a pass?

    Finally, see lavin1517 from 5/24/13: “Mike Renihan On Hermeneutics And Confessionalism” @ http://reformedforhisglory.wordpress.com/2013/05/24/mike-renihan-on-hermeneutics-and-confessionalism/

    Here Renihan stumbles: The right method is not exegesis over systematic theology checked by historical theology. It is exegesis with systematics and historical theology – each informing the other; one to test the content and cohesion of the truths asserted, the other to test their orthodoxy as compared to the work of the Spirit in the Churches. Therefore, a strict constructional understanding of the Confession and of the Scriptures is needed before we come to either text. There is meaning to be discovered.

    I disagree wholeheartedly with his final sentence here. The Reformers got a lot right with no “strict constructional understanding of the [Westminster/ London Baptist] Confession,” and thus such could never be “needed before we come to either” a Confession or (much less!) the Bible! Imagine Tyndale or Luther or Calvin being told such a thing! Ha ha!

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  7. Louis,

    “We obviously understand Sola Scriptura in different ways. In fact, I cannot disagree with you more.”

    How do you understand it, then?

    Hugh,

    “I am not against these, and use them for study and teaching. But all must bear witness to the Scripture, as we are all no doubt agreed.”

    No doubt we are agreed, so why bring it up as if it is a disagreement?

    “On the “negative” side, how does one know that Russell, Campbell, & Camping were all wrong? The same way those of Berea tested Paul. He praised the Bereans @ Acts 17:10f for getting under a tree with just Jesus & his word, and doing a Bible study in order to confirm or repudiate Paul’s preaching of Christ… Beale, a Brakel, Dabney, Machen, Pipa, & Reymond. How are we to know that these are the “good guys”? Is it not by getting under that tree, with just Jesus, his word, and me to study & pray for light / discernment? Or do our “reformed fathers” get a pass?”

    What are you guys reading? Nobody is saying Scripture must submit to the writings of men. Rather the opposite is (of course) true. The disagreement, apparently, is that some think we can safely ignore historical theology altogether. So what if you read Revelation and decide that there’s actually seven Holy Spirits. How dare someone else explain any different? You have Jesus, after all.

    Also, Hugh, you have misunderstood Renihan. If you would simply give the man a modicum of benefit of the doubt, it should be obvious that he’s not saying one must understand the confession before he approaches Scripture. He’s saying that one must understand the structure of the confession before we approach it willy-nilly. We must also take into account the structure (genre, date, audience, relation to other books of Scripture, etc. “Pure inductive Bible study” that attempts to reject systematic theology is imbalanced and unbiblical.

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  8. Patrick, as you well know, it’s both/ and, not either/ or. I refer to your queries of May 24, 2013 at 10:15 AM. The Confessions themselves bear witness to my assertions above.

    From the LBC, ch. 1 (cf. WCF) ~

    4. The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, dependeth NOT upon the testimony of any man or church, but wholly upon GOD (who is truth itself), the author thereof; therefore it is to be received because it is the Word of God.
    ( 2 Peter 1:19-21; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 John 5:9 )

    5. We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the church of God to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scriptures; and the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, and the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, and many other incomparable excellencies, and entire perfections thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God; yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth, and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.
    ( John 16:13,14; 1 Corinthians 2:10-12; 1 John 2:20, 27)

    6. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelation of the Spirit, or traditions of men.* Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word, and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.
    ( 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Galatians 1:8,9; John 6:45; 1 Corinthians 2:9-12; 1 Corinthians 11:13, 14; 1 Corinthians 14:26,40)

    7. All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of ordinary means, may attain to a sufficient understanding of them.
    ( 2 Peter 3:16; Psalms 19:7; Psalms 119:130)
    ______________________

    * We are sorry the Baptists excised the bold bit in the WCF: The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.

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  9. This is what I read that is troubling: “What right do I have, alone and unaided to think that my reading and study perfectly meshes with the mind of God? Jesus and me with a Bible under a tree-perhaps a romantic notion, but a dangerous and potentially damning notion.”

    Again, this clashes with St John who told his readers, These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. {1st John 2:26f.}

    What “right” do we have? We have NO RIGHT NOT “to think that my reading and study perfectly meshes with the mind of God”! Even if I am “alone and unaided.”

    Again, St Paul said, Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

    But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

    But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ. {1 Cor. 2:12ff}

    Renihan has needlessly & unhelpfully overstated his case. He veers toward conflict with the apostle who wrote, But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. {1 John 2:20}

    Thanks,
    Hugh

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  10. Hugh,

    “Patrick, as you well know, it’s both/ and, not either/ or. I refer to your queries of May 24, 2013 at 10:15 AM.”

    Sorry, I’m not sure what you’re talking about.

    Again, nobody is denying the sufficiency or supremacy of Sola Scriptura, so quoting the confession (!) on such matters is irrelevant, not to mention ironic, since the original post speaks of those who reject the use of all creeds and confessions.

    Also, while I too prefer the WCF’s wording, the Particular Baptists did not intend to alter the meaning of the passage.

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  11. Hugh, are you seriously contending that your interpretation of any given passage is infallible? If someone disagrees or has a different insight, does that mean they must not have the Holy Spirit?

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  12. These comments: Patrick T. McWilliams May 24, 2013 at 10:15 AM
    So you disagree with the article?
    You think it is wise to ignore what theologians of the past have said?
    You think God reveals the meaning of his Word directly to individuals, straight from the printed text?
    Why is preaching necessary?
    Has not God given to some the gift of teaching?
    Should we not avail ourselves of others’ gifts?
    Is it biblical to turn our backs on the entire history of the church and insist that our unique interpretation of a given passage must be correct because we alone hold it?
    The original article doesn’t deny the sufficiency of Scripture. . .

    Well then it strongly insinuates it. See quote I culled @ 12:14 PM.

    It’s both that I disagree with the article, but I also agree it is unwise to ignore past exegetes.
    Yet God DOES indeed “reveal the meaning of his Word directly to individuals, straight from the printed text”! 🙂
    Preaching is to exhort and encourage us to grow in Chrislikeness.
    Yes, some can teach, and yes we should avail ourselves.
    Sometimes it IS “biblical to turn our backs on the entire history of the church and insist that our unique interpretation of a given passage must be correct because we alone hold it,” just as the Reformers did. Who in the blinkin’ church taught JBFA between Paul & Luther?! Which council affirmed it as the gospel?

    Yes, I am “seriously contending that [my] interpretation of any given passage is infallible?”
    Not all, but, “those things which are necessary to be known, believed and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of ordinary means, may attain to a sufficient understanding of them.” Even I dare say, an infallible understanding of them, you betcha!

    “If someone disagrees or has a different insight, does that mean they must not have the Holy Spirit?” Depends on the doctrine, how vital it is. Not necessarily, of course, simply b/c we differ.

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  13. PM: The original article doesn’t deny the sufficiency of Scripture.

    HM: Well then it strongly insinuates it. See quote I culled @ 12:14 PM.

    PM: [Renihan is] not saying one must understand the confession before he approaches Scripture.

    HM: He wrote: “a strict constructional understanding of the Confession and of the Scriptures is needed before we come to either text.” This is the sentence with which I take issue. It it hooey. No one needs Belgic, Dort, Westminster, Savoy, or even any LBC (’44 or ’77/’89) “before we come to either” such a document OR the Scriptures! Renihan was grotesque here.

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  14. That’s the problem, you cull quotes right out of their context. Renihan is writing against those who fit Riker’s description: “biblicism is the rejection of everything not explicitly stated in the Bible, and the concomitant dismissal of all non-biblical witnesses (Fathers, Creeds, Medieval Doctors, Councils, etc.)”

    You don’t fit the description, so why the argument? Also, Renihan is one of the most notable confessional particular baptists alive today, and fully subscribes to all those confessional(!) quotes you cite regarding the sufficiency of Scripture.

    “Yet God DOES indeed “reveal the meaning of his Word directly to individuals, straight from the printed text”!”

    Of course he does. Don’t quote me out of context either. The issue is whether or not the utter rejection of all extra-biblical sources is justified.

    Really? You think no one anywhere taught the Scriptural doctrine of justification between Paul and Luther? There was no remnant to speak of? Seriously?

    Regarding your last two paragraphs, I’m talking about ANY passage. Remember, if you’re arguing against Renihan, you must be asserting that you have NO need of ANY help with ANY passage, because Jesus is sitting next to you under the tree explaining every jot and tittle.

    And again, if you think Renihan intended to say we need to understand the confessions before we approach Scripture, then you’re dead wrong. Give the man an ounce of credit. Honestly, I think you’re building a straw man against Renihan on several counts here, and it’s not the first time.

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  15. “The issue is whether or not the utter rejection of all extra-biblical sources is justified.”
    >>OK. No problem, then.

    On JBFA, I should have perhaps said: Where in the annals of blinkin’ church history is there record that anyone taught JBFA between Paul & Luther?! Which council affirmed it as the gospel?

    I am not arguing against all that Renihan said. Now you don’t misquote me, please. I do not contend that “the utter rejection of all extra-biblical sources is justified.”

    Can you please explain this quote?: “a strict constructional understanding of the Confession and of the Scriptures is needed before we come to either text.” Thanks.

    This appears to me to be saying more than that creeds, councils, catechisms, and confessions can be helpful. Or even that they should be consulted.

    He said that one must understand the 1689 LBC –that such is necessary— before we come to read the text of Scripture.

    You accuse me that I have “misunderstood Renihan.” You called me to “simply give the man a modicum of benefit of the doubt,” and now urge me to give him “credit.”

    I am not damning him or even dismissing his entire piece. I am merely pointing out a serious error.

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  16. PM: Remember, if you’re arguing against Renihan, you must be asserting that you have NO need of ANY help with ANY passage, because Jesus is sitting next to you under the tree explaining every jot and tittle.

    Not at all: All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of ordinary means, may attain to a sufficient understanding of them. {LBC 1:7}

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  17. “Can you please explain this quote?: “a strict constructional understanding of the Confession and of the Scriptures is needed before we come to either text.” Thanks.

    This appears to me to be saying more than that creeds, councils, catechisms, and confessions can be helpful. Or even that they should be consulted.

    He said that one must understand the 1689 LBC –that such is necessary– before we come to read the text of Scripture.”

    First of all, that quote is from MIKE Renihan, from a post I didn’t even link to. Second, I feel like I’m pointing out the obvious, but what he meant was:
    1. A strict constructional understanding of the Confession is needed before we come to the Confession.
    2. A strict constructional understanding of the Scriptures is needed before we come to the Scriptures.

    By “a strict constructional understanding,” he is talking about what he said earlier in the post, “Texts, however, have intended meaning. When we come to the Scripture, we should not be seeking some existential “aha” experience in which something jumps out at us – something never before seen. The reader should be seeking the meaning that God has assigned to the words – the Divine intent in revealing those things through the Spirit. The question in the back of the reader’s mind is not “what’s in this for me?” but “what hath God said?” and “how is this rightly understood and applied in the present?”

    In other words, we can’t make the text (Scripture or Confession) mean whatever we want it to mean. (That goes for blog posts, too.)

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  18. Do you not see the utter irony of your posting a quote from the London Baptist Confession to argue against Renihan here? He is writing against those who utterly reject creeds and confessions. The confession doesn’t reject itself. Why are you inventing beef?

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  19. In summary, we have covered:

    Renihan: Rejecting all historical theology, creeds, and confessions is a bad idea.
    Hugh & Louis: Wait a second! Councils can err! Sola Scriptura!
    Renihan: Uh, yeah…no argument here.
    Hugh: You said we have to understand the confession before we even approach Scripture!
    Renihan: Actually that was my brother, and he was actually saying we need to understand the intent of the confession before we approach the confession, and the intent of Scripture before we go ripping passages out of context and giving them new, creative meanings that nobody’s heard of before.

    Hopefully we can proceed to:

    Hugh & Louis: Oh. Cool then.

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  20. I here apologize for quoting the wrong article by the wrong Renihan!
    But this is not non-pertinent (though you find it impertinent!).

    You say of Mike R.: what he meant was:
    1. A strict constructional understanding of the Confession is needed before we come to the Confession.
    2. A strict constructional understanding of the Scriptures is needed before we come to the Scriptures.

    If he means your #s 1 & 2, fine. That may be what he meant, but I don’t think so. He wrote: “a strict constructional understanding of the Confession and of the Scriptures is needed before we come to either text.” A little awkward getting from that to your diagnosis, methinks.

    The context helps:

    The Confession and the Scriptures from which they are extracted are historical documents that deserve careful and honest scrutiny. They work together as standard and subordinate standard – as source of doctrine and summary. The Confession expressed systematically and objectively what is deduced from the Bible. When we talk of one we need the other.{???}

    Men do not understand the Bible innately. {Contra the Bible quotes from Paul & John, above in this thread.} They need tools. There are very few innate ideas. Perhaps a case can be made for only two Christian notions: (1) the righteous requirements of the Law written upon the heart and (2) that the Law must have a Lawgiver who wrote the righteous requirements upon the heart. Beyond that, all of our learning is a combination of rationality and empirical experiences.{???}

    Exegesis is needed to take out from Holy passages what the writers and Divine author intended; theologizing is necessary to coordinate the bits and pieces into a systematic and coherent entity. Practical theology then instructs how these objective realities are to be translated into practice. Historical theology then functions as a standard by which private or corporate interpretations of the Bible and theology may be judged. We need them all.{???} Together they are the theological encyclopedia.

    The right method is not exegesis over systematic theology checked by historical theology. It is exegesis with systematics and historical theology – each informing the other; one to test the content and cohesion of the truths asserted, the other to test their orthodoxy as compared to the work of the Spirit in the Churches. Therefore, a strict constructional understanding of the Confession and of the Scriptures is needed before we come to either text. There is meaning to be discovered.

    ~ “Mike Renihan On Hermeneutics And Confessionalism” @ http://reformedforhisglory.wordpress.com/2013/05/24/mike-renihan-on-hermeneutics-and-confessionalism/

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  21. Men need the Holy Spirit to understand the Bible. Not the LBC. (Even the 1644!)

    It is not ironic that I quote confessions, b/c I am not arguing against them. Just their exaltation.

    What’s ironic is that the Baptists appropriated major bits of the Presbyterians’ confession and then a Baptist talks of how the LBC is needed/ necessary to rightly divide the Scritpures.

    I do not agree with you, Patrick, that M.R. was meaning to say that, “A strict constructional understanding of the Confession is needed before we come to the Confession;” such is tautological and silly.

    He said, “The Confession expressed systematically and objectively what is deduced from the Bible. When we talk of one we need the other.”

    And, “The right method is not exegesis over systematic theology checked by historical theology. It is exegesis with systematics and historical theology – each informing the other; one [systematics] to test the content and cohesion of the truths asserted, the other [historical theology] to test their orthodoxy as compared to the work of the Spirit in the Churches. Therefore, a strict constructional understanding of the Confession and of the Scriptures is needed before we come to either text. There is meaning to be discovered.”

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  22. Back to Jim:

    1) What is Biblicism?

    D.B. Riker provides a helpful definition: “biblicism is the rejection of everything not explicitly stated in the Bible, and the concomitant dismissal of all non-biblical witnesses (Fathers, Creeds, Medieval Doctors, Councils, etc.).”

    One wonders what Riker or Renihan would say about SCRIPTURALISM? Of course, stating it as extremely as Riker does, no one should disagree. “Everything,” “not explicitly stated,” & “all.”

    2) What are the results? Effectively, they are idiosyncratic interpretations of Scripture.

    The loaded adjective helps to scare us. But it’s only a part of the story of personal Bible study, and merely a potential one at that.

    3) But here is the problem: This whole method is based upon a form of personal independence, or even self-confidence.

    It needs to be personal dependenc upon God.

    4) Doesn’t it ever cross anyone’s mind that they aren’t necessarily the wisest theologian, the best exegete and most insightful commentator? Don’t they stop to think about God and His purposes?

    Now, THAT’s ironic, given Paul’s comments above in this thread.

    5) Has the Lord chosen me to know truth that has been hidden from others? Such self-confidence is really arrogance-unbridled and oftentimes evil. It misleads self and others.

    Agree we must stay away from self-confidence, but supreme confidence in the Word of God and his Spirit’s work within us is humiltiy, not arrogance.

    6) Is the Christian faith reduced to my conclusions?

    Is the Christian faith not having the mind of Christ informed by the Scriptures alone?

    7) What right do I have, alone and unaided to think that my reading and study perfectly meshes with the mind of God?

    Not merely a right, but a command, mandate from the Lord, pal.

    8) Jesus and me with a Bible under a tree-perhaps a romantic notion, but a dangerous and potentially damning notion.

    Actaully, it’s Berean, buddy! It’s also a potentially saving notion, eternally life-giving. 🙂

    Thank you,
    Hugh McCann

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  23. Hugh,
    “A little awkward getting from that to your diagnosis, methinks.”
    It may not be using proper grammar, but for me, the meaning was quite clear.
    M. Renihan writes, “When we talk of one we need the other.”

    You’re right; that is confusing. Although it is clear from elsewhere in his article that the Confession is subordinate to Scripture, and not the other way around. So I’m not sure exactly what he means here. Perhaps a very poor choice of words.
    Renihan writes: “Men do not understand the Bible innately.”
    To which you respond, “Contra the Bible quotes from Paul & John, above in this thread.”

    Apples and oranges, my friend. Aside from a silly comment about empirical experiences, Mike is right when he writes: “Exegesis is needed to take out from Holy passages what the writers and Divine author intended; theologizing is necessary to coordinate the bits and pieces into a systematic and coherent entity. Practical theology then instructs how these objective realities are to be translated into practice. Historical theology then functions as a standard by which private or corporate interpretations of the Bible and theology may be judged. We need them all.”

    Surely you do not disagree with this explanation? Do you think we have no need for careful exegesis?
    “What’s ironic is that the Baptists appropriated major bits of the Presbyterians’ confession and then a Baptist talks of how the LBC is needed/ necessary to rightly divide the Scritpures.”

    I still don’t think that’s quite what he meant, since he quite clearly stated that the Confession is a summary of and subordinate to Scripture.

    “I do not agree with you, Patrick, that M.R. was meaning to say that, “A strict constructional understanding of the Confession is needed before we come to the Confession;” such is tautological and silly.”

    It is not tautological. He is saying the Confession is not a wax nose. We must understand the historical context and intended meaning of the authors, rather than performing eisegesis on the Confession as many are wont to do these days.

    Anyway, I’m not sure why this was even brought up, since it is the content by Jim Renihan (not Mike), that I reposted to share with my readers.

    “One wonders what Riker or Renihan would say about SCRIPTURALISM?”
    I don’t know, but Scripturalism is not what Riker defined as biblicism, so the question is moot.

    “Of course, stating it as extremely as Riker does, no one should disagree. “Everything,” “not explicitly stated,” & “all.””
    Good, then we shouldn’t be arguing over it.

    “The loaded adjective helps to scare us. But it’s only a part of the story of personal Bible study, and merely a potential one at that.”

    Biblicists like Riker describes actually do exist, and the result of their “me and my Bible, nobody else” interpretation often ends up in rank heretical perversion of the text because they refuse to accept that they may be wrong and others may be right.

    “It needs to be personal dependence upon God.”

    Agreed, but does God not use means? Are word studies, comparative theology, careful exegesis, etc. unimportant? If they are unimportant and unnecessary, then I’ll ask you the same question I asked Louis which he never answered: Why do we waste time reading theology? Shouldn’t we be spending all our time just reading the KJV and relying on the Spirit to directly (without the use of any other means) enlighten our minds?

    “Now, THAT’s ironic, given Paul’s comments above in this thread.”

    The irony is apparently lost on me. I certainly don’t think I’m the wisest theologian, which is why I’m grateful for historical theology, which is really the whole point of the original post.

    “…supreme confidence in the Word of God and his Spirit’s work within us is humiltiy, not arrogance.”

    Agreed. But Renihan’s not talking about that, is he? He’s talking about self-confidence. An arrogant pride that thinks, “I, alone, throughout all of Christendom, have properly understood this doctrine (thanks to the Holy Spirit, of course). Now I must share this unique insight, and if anyone disagrees, they obviously do not have the Spirit.”

    6. The issue is not Sola Scriptura. It’s about forming a cult of self that denies the reality of the church as the diverse body of Christ. A fool despiseth correction, no? It is foolish to completely dismiss the theology of the rest of the church just because you think you’ve found some unique interpretation. It is not about correcting errors with man’s words; it is about correcting errors with proper scriptural interpretation which has been handed down throughout history. All are subject to Scripture, even the creeds, and nobody is denying this. Straw men burn easily.

    7. Christ mandates that you pridefully separate yourself from the church when it comes to interpreting Scripture, eh? I guess you’d better stop reading my blog then. You obviously don’t need it, since your thinking always perfectly meshes. I know that’s not what you’re saying, but THAT is what Renihan’s writing against. Why put yourself in his crosshairs when he’s not aiming at you? It comes across as you just spoiling for a fight.
    8. The Bereans (plural) were right to check the writings of men they had not heard against Scripture. Renihan is not saying otherwise. He’s saying it is unwise to ignore a collection of men who are better theologians than you, pretending you’ve got it all figured out. You think this whole thing is about Scripture vs. Confessions, but it’s not. It’s “my interpretation of Scripture” vs. “everyon else’s interpretation of Scripture.” We all agree on Sola Scriptura. We apparently disagree about the wisdom of completely ignoring what anyone else has to say about Scripture, because apparently Jesus, John, and Paul all say we don’t need any of it, and it actually detracts from our “pure” study of Scripture (KJV? Original languages? Autographs?). JUST LET THE HOLY SPIRIT SPEAK!

    Like

  24. 7) What right do I have, alone and unaided to think that my reading and study perfectly meshes with the mind of God?

    Hugh: Not merely a right, but a command, mandate from the Lord, pal.

    Patrick: 7. Christ mandates that you pridefully separate yourself from the church when it comes to interpreting Scripture, eh?

    Cliffton: The “church” cannot interpret anything. Interpretation is an individual enterprise. Agreement in individual interpretation may involve more than one individual.

    Patrick: I guess you’d better stop reading my blog then.

    Cliffton: If you are denying what is stated above then certainly your blog is a waste of time.

    Patrick: You obviously don’t need it, since your thinking always perfectly meshes.

    Cliffton: Whether it does or does not is irrelevant to Scripture’s interpretation of Scripture.

    Patrick: I know that’s not what you’re saying,

    Cliffton: Maybe he is saying this and maybe he isn’t, but with respect to the true interpretation of Scripture, it’s irrelevant.

    Patrick: but THAT is what Renihan’s writing against.

    Cliffton: Then he is a fool. And so are you for apparently supporting him.

    Patrick: Why put yourself in his crosshairs when he’s not aiming at you?

    Cliffton: Because he’s not “aiming” at Scripture alone.

    Patrick: It comes across as you just spoiling for a fight

    Cliffton: So what?

    Like

  25. Cliffton,

    ” The “church” cannot interpret anything. Interpretation is an individual enterprise. Agreement in individual interpretation may involve more than one individual.”

    Okay, should I have said “the ekklesia of individual Christ-followers”? Should we be separate, an island unto ourselves in our approach to Scripture?

    ” If you are denying what is stated above then certainly your blog is a waste of time.”

    Sorry, I’m not sure what you’re referring to exactly. My point in posting Renihan’s piece is that theology is done in community and the church is the collective bride, not a bunch of individual brides of Christ.

    ” Whether it does or does not is irrelevant to Scripture’s interpretation of Scripture. ”

    Dude, I’m all about Scripture interpreting Scripture. Do you even know what you’re arguing against?

    “Maybe he is saying this and maybe he isn’t, but with respect to the true interpretation of Scripture, it’s irrelevant.”

    I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make, but nobody asked you.

    ” Then he is a fool. And so are you for apparently supporting him.”

    Renihan is a fool because he says it’s unwise to assume we have all the answers ourselves? Remember you’re talking to a Scripturalist who thinks all knowledge must of necessity come from Scripture. I’m not saying Scripture is insufficient. I’m saying we’re fools if we’re arrogant enough to think our own personal interpretations are always bias-free, pure untainted Word-o’-God. I’m literally shocked to hear you say that’s foolish. What’s the alternative? Do you always interpret God’s Word perfectly? Has no teacher been of influence in your thinking? Has your interpretation never been corrected by observing resources created by those more knowledgeable than yourself?

    “Because he’s not “aiming” at Scripture alone.”

    Once again, and I’m sure it’s my fault, I have no idea what you’re getting at. Of course Renihan’s not aiming at Sola Scriptura; he fully upholds it. Is that bad?

    “So what?”

    The “so what” is that if Hugh really IS just spoiling for a fight, it’s not doing anyone a lick of good, and involving a (unwitting and unintentional) violation of the 9th commandment for false representation of a brother in Christ.

    What’s your “so what”? What’s your point? Did you read Renihan’s article? Did you disagree? Why do you call him a fool, when Scripture strongly warns against that? Do such warnings mean nothing in your interpretation?

    Like

  26. Cliffton: The “church” cannot interpret anything. Interpretation is an individual enterprise. Agreement in individual interpretation may involve more than one individual.

    Patrick: Okay, should I have said “the ekklesia of individual Christ-followers”?

    Cliffton: You should affirm that only individuals think.

    Patrick: Should we be separate, an island unto ourselves in our approach to Scripture?

    Cliffton: Well, we should be separate unto Scripture and Scripture alone.

    Patrick: My point in posting Renihan’s piece is that theology is done in community

    Cliffton: “Theology” is a noun, not a verb. The command to meditate on Scripture is a command given to individuals. For responsibility is individual.

    Patrick: and the church is the collective bride, not a bunch of individual brides of Christ.

    Cliffton: The church is the society of individual believers.

    Patrick: Renihan is a fool because he says it’s unwise to assume we have all the answers ourselves?

    Cliffton: No, he (and you) are fools because you (and apparently him) are ashamed to declare that Scripture alone is the exclusive and nececessary instrument for the proper interpretation of Scripture.

    Patrick: Remember you’re talking to a Scripturalist…

    Cliffton: I could care less what you think you are. No one asked you what you think you are.

    Patrick: I’m not saying Scripture is insufficient.

    Cliffton: You aint saying Scripture alone is sufficient and exclusive!

    Patrick: I’m saying we’re fools if we’re arrogant enough to think our own personal interpretations are always bias-free, pure untainted Word-o’-God.

    Cliffton: So according to your individual opinion, a collection of personal interpretations carries more weight with you? You’ve now made your hypocrisy explicit for all to see.

    Patrick: I’m literally shocked to hear you say that’s foolish.

    Cliffton: Is that your personal interpretation?

    Patrick; What’s the alternative?

    Cliffton: Scripture, and the Scriptures exclusively.

    Patrick: Do you always interpret God’s Word perfectly?

    Cliffton: Only Scripture interprets Scripture. And the Scriptures are perfect.

    Patrick: Has no teacher been of influence in your thinking?

    Cliffton: Scripture is the only teacher.

    Patrick: Has your interpretation never been corrected by observing resources created by those more knowledgeable than yourself?

    Cliffton: Scripture is profitable for every good work. There is no good work for which Scripture is not profitable.

    Like

  27. HM: “A little awkward getting from that to your diagnosis, methinks.”
    PM: It may not be using proper grammar, but for me, the meaning was quite clear. M. Renihan writes, “When we talk of one we need the other.”
    You’re right; that is confusing. Although it is clear from elsewhere in his article that the Confession is subordinate to Scripture, and not the other way around. So I’m not sure exactly what he means here. Perhaps a very poor choice of words.
    >HM: @ least. To say that when we talk of the Bible, we *need* a confession (LBC, WCF, whatever) is serious error, is it not? I cannot get your “A strict constructional understanding of the Confession is needed before we come to the Confession,” from his, “a strict constructional understanding of the Confession and of the Scriptures is needed before we come to either text.”
    ————

    PM: We disagree how to interpreting him here: Renihan writes: “Men do not understand the Bible innately.” To which you respond, “Contra the Bible quotes from Paul & John, above in this thread.” Apples and oranges, my friend. Aside from a silly comment about empirical experiences, Mike is right when he writes: “Exegesis is needed to take out from Holy passages what the writers and Divine author intended; theologizing is necessary to coordinate the bits and pieces into a systematic and coherent entity. Practical theology then instructs how these objective realities are to be translated into practice. Historical theology then functions as a standard by which private or corporate interpretations of the Bible and theology may be judged. We need them all.” Surely you do not disagree with this explanation? Do you think we have no need for careful exegesis?
    >HM: No, of course not. I do however, believe the Apostle commands *us* to individual, private Bible study. Not merely letting others exegete, theologize, & coordinate for us. But of course we are to learn from others’ teachings.

    >Innate means 1. Possessed at birth; inborn. 2. Possessed as an essential characteristic; inherent. 3. Of or produced by the mind rather than learned through experience.
    Of course we don’t have savingly innate/ inborn/ inherent knowledge of God. This comes from the work of the Holy Spirit. But saved men apprehend the truth of God via his Holy Spirit immediately (of course through Christ, but I mean apart from any extra-Trinitarian input/ revelation).

    >You dismiss Renihan’s bowing before empiricism, which I would not. (See John Robbins’ great piece on this error ~ http://www.trinityfoundation.org/PDF/The%20Trinity%20Review%200132a%20ALieinMyRightHand.pdf)

    >Though I am not going down that rabbit trail, I will say that Scripturalists would not at all agree with Renihan’s thinking here. Most importantly, nor would the apostles who repeatedly command us to individual, private judgment. You may want to dismiss this, as I said, but since you reminded Cliffton of your stance, it does seem pertinent.

    >Note Bene: Speaking of your writing Cliffton, I do not at all appreciate this aside, Patrick: The “so what” is that if Hugh really IS just spoiling for a fight, it’s not doing anyone a lick of good, and involving a (unwitting and unintentional) violation of the 9th commandment for false representation of a brother in Christ.

    >If you wish to accuse me of sin, then please address me directly, and try not to judge my motives (that I might “just” want to argue). Please do not publicly insinuate to a third party that I am needlessly pugnacious, and worse, that I am a liar and “falsely representing a brother in Christ.” This is all less than honorable. Thank you.
    ————

    HM: “What’s ironic is that the Baptists appropriated major bits of the Presbyterians’ confession and then a Baptist talks of how the LBC is needed/ necessary to rightly divide the Scriptures.”
    PM: I still don’t think that’s quite what he meant, since he quite clearly stated that the Confession is a summary of and subordinate to Scripture.
    >HM: What he *meant* beyond his words is unknown. What he *said* was that the Confession expressed systematically and objectively what is deduced from the Bible. When we talk of one we need the other. And, a strict constructional understanding of the Confession and of the Scriptures is needed before we come to either text.
    ————

    HM: “I do not agree with you, Patrick, that M.R. was meaning to say that, ‘A strict constructional understanding of the Confession is needed before we come to the Confession;’ such is tautological and silly.”
    PM: It is not tautological. He is saying the Confession is not a wax nose. We must understand the historical context and intended meaning of the authors, rather than performing eisegesis on the Confession as many are wont to do these days.
    >HM: How does one gain a ‘strict constructional understanding’ of the Confession *before* he comes *to* the Confession? And just what *is* meant by ‘strict constructional’? Would one need a strict constructional understanding of the U.S. Constitution before reading to it? We need a strict constructional understanding of the Bible before we come to it? This is patently absurd.
    ————

    HM: “Of course, stating it as extremely as Riker does, no one should disagree. “Everything,” “not explicitly stated,” & “all.””
    PM: Good, then we shouldn’t be arguing over it.
    >HM: Except that his … well, see next one, below.
    ————

    HM: “The loaded adjective helps to scare us. But it’s only a part of the story of personal Bible study, and merely a potential one at that.”
    PM: Biblicists like Riker describes actually do exist, and the result of their “me and my Bible, nobody else” interpretation often ends up in rank heretical perversion of the text because they refuse to accept that they may be wrong and others may be right.
    >HM: Sure. OK. But he overstates the case (as does his brother elsewhere) without reminding the Christian of his/ her *duty* to private study and judgment — at least lavin1517 gives no indication of it.

    >Where in Scripture is the warning given by our anti-biblicist Riker, J&M Renihan, & lavin1517? “Go to the fathers,” “gain a strict constructional understanding of this or that confession of faith,” and “don’t sit under the apple tree with anyone else but LBC” are not in the Bible. Berean Bible study, however, *is* commended in Holy Writ.

    >An excellent article is by J.C. Ryle’s “The Fallibility of Ministers” (one could add: “and of Confessions”!) ~

    But I do believe, if false doctrine is unmistakably preached in a parish church, a parishioner who loves his soul is quite right in not going to that parish church. To hear unscriptural teaching fifty-two Sundays in every year is a serious thing. It is a continual dropping of slow poison into the mind. I think it almost impossible for a man willfully to submit himself to it and not take harm. I see in the New Testament we are plainly told to “prove all things,” and “hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). I see in the Book of Proverbs that we are commanded to “cease to hear instruction which causes to err from the paths of knowledge” (Proverbs 19:27). If these words do not justify a man in ceasing to worship at a church, if positively false doctrine is preached in it, I know not what words can.

    http://www.trinityfoundation.org/PDF/The%20Trinity%20Review%200113a%20TheFallibilityofMinisters.df
    ————

    HM: “It needs to be personal dependence upon God.”
    PM: Agreed, but does God not use means? Are word studies, comparative theology, careful exegesis, etc. unimportant? If they are unimportant and unnecessary, then I’ll ask you the same question I asked Louis which he never answered: Why do we waste time reading theology? Shouldn’t we be spending all our time just reading the KJV and relying on the Spirit to directly (without the use of any other means) enlighten our minds?
    >HM: Of course God uses means. I have not argued against them. But are private word studies, individually comparing theology, and personal careful exegesis unimportant or unnecessary? Or worse, are they forbidden in Renihan’s kingdom? I cannot say that he doesn’t mean that from quotes that exalt a man-made confession as “necessary” for reading Scripture.

    >Again, I am not arguing against confessions, etc. I am arguing and warning against the [hyper-] confessionalism of your Renihans.
    ————

    JR: Doesn’t it ever cross anyone’s mind that they aren’t necessarily the wisest theologian, the best exegete and most insightful commentator? Don’t they stop to think about God and His purposes?
    HM: Now, THAT’s ironic, given Paul’s comments above in this thread.
    PM: The irony is apparently lost on me. I certainly don’t think I’m the wisest theologian, which is why I’m grateful for historical theology, which is really the whole point of the original post.
    >HM: The irony is that it apparently doesn’t cross Jim’s mind that we have the mind of Christ, with an anointing from the Holy One, need no man to teach us, and can compare spiritual things with spiritual. We have living inside us the Author of Holy Scripture; *he* indeed is the Best Exegete and Most Insightful Commentator, not the LBC ’77/’89.
    ————

    HM: “…supreme confidence in the Word of God and his Spirit’s work within us is humility, not arrogance.”
    PM: Agreed. But Renihan’s not talking about that, is he? He’s talking about self-confidence. An arrogant pride that thinks, “I, alone, throughout all of Christendom, have properly understood this doctrine (thanks to the Holy Spirit, of course). Now I must share this unique insight, and if anyone disagrees, they obviously do not have the Spirit.”
    >HM: Of course, but he’s writing as if private judgment were itself sinful, *dangerous,* even *potentially damning*! Horrors!
    ————

    PM’s # 6.
    HM: Fine. Agreed.
    ————

    JR: What right do I have, alone and unaided to think that my reading and study perfectly meshes with the mind of God?
    HM: Not merely a right, but a command, mandate from the Lord, pal.
    PM: Christ mandates that you pridefully separate yourself from the church when it comes to interpreting Scripture, eh?
    >HM: How does this follow? Why introduce the issue of separation?

    >Jim argues against the right of solo, unaided reading and study of the Bible. That we mustn’t think that these perfectly mesh with the mind of God.

    >This contradicts the Bible that enjoins and encourages personal, private, unaided study of Holy Writ.
    ————

    JR: Jesus and me with a Bible under a tree-perhaps a romantic notion, but a dangerous and potentially damning notion.
    HM: Actually, it’s Berean, buddy! It’s also a potentially saving notion, eternally life-giving. 🙂
    PM: The Bereans (plural) were right to check the writings of men they had not heard against Scripture. Renihan is not saying otherwise. He’s saying it is unwise to ignore a collection of men who are better theologians than you, pretending you’ve got it all figured out.
    >HM: I was using “Berean” adjectivally. As in, it’s downright Berean for us to privately/ individually study the Bible. Jim goes way beyond this (1) by neglecting to call us to private judgment and study, and (2) in his confessionalism.
    ————

    PM: You think this whole thing is about Scripture vs. Confessions, but it’s not. It’s “my interpretation of Scripture” vs. “everyone else’s interpretation of Scripture.” We all agree on Sola Scriptura.
    >HM: I hope we do. But I do believe, given my reading of Jim Renihan (that differs with yours, above), that he exalts the Confession to a place of undue prominence.
    ————

    PM: We apparently disagree about the wisdom of completely ignoring what anyone else has to say about Scripture, because apparently Jesus, John, and Paul all say we don’t need any of it, and it actually detracts from our “pure” study of Scripture (KJV? Original languages? Autographs?). JUST LET THE HOLY SPIRIT SPEAK!
    >HM: For the final time, I am not arguing that “the wisdom of completely ignoring what anyone else has to say about Scripture.” That’s absurd. Please, Patrick. I have not said this at all. I agree that we should listen to and read others on the Bible.

    >KJV? ~ Fine translation of fine texts.
    Autographs? ~ We both know these are apparently not extant.
    Just let the Holy Spirit speak through the Bible? ~ Amen!

    >Nor have I said, nor do I assert that “Jesus, John, and Paul all say we don’t need any of it, and it actually detracts from our ‘pure’ study of Scripture.” But they do say is that we have the mind of Christ, enabling us to compare & discern spiritual things;

    >that God’s Spirit dwells within us, guides us into all truth, brings all things to our remembrance, and teaches us all things;

    >and that we need no man to teach us, b/c we have an unction from the Holy One. As you put it: JUST LET THE HOLY SPIRIT SPEAK!

    >I’m just saying what they’ve said.

    >After all, I am a Scripturalist. 

    >Thank you,
    >Hugh

    Like

  28. This paragraph should read:

    PM: Biblicists like Riker describes actually do exist, and the result of their “me and my Bible, nobody else” interpretation often ends up in rank heretical perversion of the text because they refuse to accept that they may be wrong and others may be right.
    >HM: Sure. OK. But he overstates the case (as do the Renihans) without reminding the Christian of his/ her *duty* to private study and judgment — at least lavin1517 gives no indication of it.

    And this s/b:

    I am not arguing for “the wisdom of completely ignoring what anyone else has to say about Scripture.” That’s absurd.

    Thank you,
    Hugh

    Like

  29. “To say that when we talk of the Bible, we *need* a confession (LBC, WCF, whatever) is serious error, is it not?”

    I would say so. I just don’t think that statement jives with other statements he has made and publicly subscribes to, so I’m trying to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    “I do however, believe the Apostle commands *us* to individual, private Bible study. Not merely letting others exegete, theologize, & coordinate for us. But of course we are to learn from others’ teachings.”

    No argument from me or Renihan.

    “…saved men apprehend the truth of God via his Holy Spirit immediately…”

    Agreed.

    “You dismiss Renihan’s bowing before empiricism, which I would not.”

    I don’t entirely dismiss it; I just didn’t think it was immediately relevant.

    “How does one gain a ‘strict constructional understanding’ of the Confession *before* he comes *to* the Confession? And just what *is* meant by ‘strict constructional’? Would one need a strict constructional understanding of the U.S. Constitution before reading to it? We need a strict constructional understanding of the Bible before we come to it?”

    When it comes down to it, Mike is talking about doing exegesis and not eisegesis. This includes being aware of factors I mentioned earlier such as author, audience, historical context, etc. I have heard so much “narcigesis” from certain pastors where they take a narrative passage and make themselves the star, with very creative application that’s simply not in the text. Renihan says we should take the text seriously, and this also applies to our approach to the Confession. Many today would like to discount the writings of the authors of the confession and try to make certain passages fit their own version of, say, covenant theology (see Ch. 7). Renihan says we shouldn’t ignore the historical context of the Confession, or the manner in which it was constructed. He’s advocating good exegesis.

    “But are private word studies, individually comparing theology, and personal careful exegesis unimportant or unnecessary? Or worse, are they forbidden in Renihan’s kingdom?”

    Of course not. Don’t forget they like the same confessional statements you yourself quote about the sufficiency of Scripture.

    “The irony is that it apparently doesn’t cross Jim’s mind that we have the mind of Christ, with an anointing from the Holy One, need no man to teach us, and can compare spiritual things with spiritual. We have living inside us the Author of Holy Scripture; *he* indeed is the Best Exegete and Most Insightful Commentator, not the LBC ’77/’89.”

    I think you’re missing his point, but I don’t think I’m going to convince you of that.

    “…he’s writing as if private judgment were itself sinful, *dangerous,* even *potentially damning*”

    No. Have you never met a biblicist like he describes? I have. They will literally speak abominable heresy, and when you bother to point out how, if they are correct, virtually the entire visible church from the time of Christ must be burning in hell, it doesn’t phase them, because they reply that the Spirit revealed the doctrine to them “clearly” in Scripture. That’s what J. Renihan is writing about. Don’t forget also that post is not even his entire article.

    “PM: Christ mandates that you pridefully separate yourself from the church when it comes to interpreting Scripture, eh?
    >HM: How does this follow? Why introduce the issue of separation? ”

    Because that’s what Renihan is talking about! He’s writing about those who basically give the whole of historical theology the bird, intellectually separating themselves from the rest of the church.

    “Jim argues against the right of solo, unaided reading and study of the Bible. That we mustn’t think that these perfectly mesh with the mind of God.

    >This contradicts the Bible that enjoins and encourages personal, private, unaided study of Holy Writ.”

    No he doesn’t. But I’m not going to convince you of that, so…

    ” it’s downright Berean for us to privately/ individually study the Bible.”

    No argument here, or from Renihan. Don’t put words in his mouth. Nowhere does he speak against private study.

    “But he overstates the case (as does his brother elsewhere) without reminding the Christian of his/ her *duty* to private study and judgment”

    Can’t one post a clipping from a larger article without having to worry about complaints like this?

    “If you wish to accuse me of sin, then please address me directly, and try not to judge my motives (that I might “just” want to argue). Please do not publicly insinuate to a third party that I am needlessly pugnacious, and worse, that I am a liar and “falsely representing a brother in Christ.”

    Look again. I said directly to you that you were coming across as if you were spoiling for a fight. Cliffton said so what? I said IF you actually WERE (which I do not think you are, just coming across that way, as I actually said), THEN there’d be a problem. If I myself came across stronger, I assure you I did not intend it and I apologize and ask your forgiveness. Blessings, brother.

    ” I am not arguing that “the wisdom of completely ignoring what anyone else has to say about Scripture.” That’s absurd. Please, Patrick. I have not said this at all. I agree that we should listen to and read others on the Bible.”

    That is literally exactly James Renihan’s point. Email him and confirm it, if you like.

    When I exclaimed “JUST LET THE HOLY SPIRIT SPEAK!” it was intended as sarcasm. This is the cry of heretics who claim to reject theology in favor of just carelessly approaching the very Word of God and actually reading their own ideas into it. Which is, of course, Renihan’s entire point.

    I’ve said about all I can say on the matter. If you feel like it, I’d suggest re-reading both Renihan pieces and pay close attention to how they identify the problem they’re writing against. With James, it’s about arrogance and carelessness in approaching Scripture, rejecting logic, and intellectually separating ourselves from the rest of Christ’s bride (not private study, or Sola Scriptura). With Mike, it’s about finding the intended meaning of the text (whether Scripture or Confession).

    Blessings, brother.

    Like

  30. HM: To say that when we talk of the Bible, we *need* a confession (LBC, WCF, whatever) is serious error, is it not?
    PM: I would say so. I just don’t think that statement jives with other statements he has made and publicly subscribes to, so I’m trying to give him the benefit of the doubt.
    > I’m just going on what’s been given us by lavin1517; & my finding the Mike R piece.

    HM: You dismiss Renihan’s bowing before empiricism, which I would not.
    PM: I don’t entirely dismiss it; I just didn’t think it was immediately relevant.
    > Again, we disagree. I think his empiricism is dangerous and potentially damning.

    HM: How does one gain a ‘strict constructional understanding’ of the Confession *before* he comes *to* the Confession? And just what *is* meant by ‘strict constructional’? Would one need a strict constructional understanding of the U.S. Constitution before reading it? We need a strict constructional understanding of the Bible before we come to it?
    PM: When it comes down to it, Mike is talking about doing exegesis and not eisegesis. This includes being aware of factors I mentioned earlier such as author, audience, historical context, etc. … He’s advocating good exegesis.
    > All fine. But what is “strict constructional understanding,” and do you gain such, RE: any document *before* you come to said document? More Renihan nonsense.

    HM: The irony is that it apparently doesn’t cross Jim’s mind that we have the mind of Christ, with an anointing from the Holy One, need no man to teach us, and can compare spiritual things with spiritual. We have living inside us the Author of Holy Scripture; *he* indeed is the Best Exegete and Most Insightful Commentator, not the LBC ’77/’89.
    PM: I think you’re missing his point, but I don’t think I’m going to convince you of that.
    > No, I have received your/ his point about others’ works helping us learn the Bible. I think you’re a dismissing my concerns about his confessionalism. But I don’t think I’m going to convince you of that. 🙂

    HM: …he’s writing as if private judgment were itself sinful, *dangerous,* even *potentially damning*
    PM: No. Have you never met a biblicist like he describes? I have. They will literally speak abominable heresy, and when you bother to point out how, if they are correct, virtually the entire visible church from the time of Christ must be burning in hell, it doesn’t phase them, because they reply that the Spirit revealed the doctrine to them “clearly” in Scripture. That’s what J. Renihan is writing about. Don’t forget also that post is not even his entire article.
    > I’m just going on what’s been given us by lavin1517; & my finding the Mike R piece.

    PM: Christ mandates that you pridefully separate yourself from the church when it comes to interpreting Scripture, eh?
    HM: How does this follow? Why introduce the issue of separation?
    PM: Because that’s what Renihan is talking about! He’s writing about those who basically give the whole of historical theology the bird, intellectually separating themselves from the rest of the church.
    > And that has not been what I am concerned with – as I have repeatedly stated.

    HM: Jim argues against the right of solo, unaided reading and study of the Bible. That we mustn’t think that these perfectly mesh with the mind of God. This contradicts the Bible that enjoins and encourages personal, private, unaided study of Holy Writ.”
    PM: No he doesn’t. But I’m not going to convince you of that, so…
    > No. 🙂

    HM: …it’s downright Berean for us to privately/ individually study the Bible.
    PM: No argument here, or from Renihan. Don’t put words in his mouth. Nowhere does he speak against private study.
    > Right. But you SAY he wouldn’t argue against this, yet neither does argue FOR private study, and the gift of the Holy Spirit as our Teacher, as do the apostles. He speaks against a radical and stupid and evil misuse of something enjoined us by God’s apostles. Fine. But he goes overboard by fighting biblicism with confessionalism. He fails to teach that individual private study is NECESSARY – instead exalting his Confession of Faith. Bad medicine. Not holistic.

    HM: But he overstates the case (as does his brother elsewhere) without reminding the Christian of his/ her *duty* to private study and judgment.
    PM: Can’t one post a clipping from a larger article without having to worry about complaints like this?
    > I’m just going on what’s been given us by lavin1517; & my finding the Mike R piece.

    HM: “If you wish to accuse me of sin, then please address me directly, and try not to judge my motives (that I might “just” want to argue). Please do not publicly insinuate to a third party that I am needlessly pugnacious, and worse, that I am a liar and “falsely representing a brother in Christ.”
    PM: Look again. I said directly to you that you were coming across as if you were spoiling for a fight.
    > Thank you. Got it. I was coming across incorrectly.

    PM: Cliffton said ‘so what?’ I said ‘IF you actually WERE (which I do not think you are, just coming across that way, as I actually said), THEN there’d be a problem.’ If I myself came across stronger, I assure you I did not intend it and I apologize and ask your forgiveness. Blessings, brother.
    > Thank you. Received and extended.

    > The other concern is more important, as you strongly implied that I am a liar (though perhaps unknowingly & accidentally): involving a (unwitting and unintentional) violation of the 9th commandment for false representation of a brother in Christ. Do you believe me to have falsely represented Jim (or Mike) Renihan?

    HM: I am not arguing that “the wisdom of completely ignoring what anyone else has to say about Scripture.” That’s absurd. Please, Patrick. I have not said this at all. I agree that we should listen to and read others on the Bible.
    PM: That is literally exactly James Renihan’s point. Email him and confirm it, if you like.
    > I get that that’s what he’s saying. But he erred by not pointing us to the biblical call to personal, individual reading, and by overstating the confession thing.

    PM: When I exclaimed “JUST LET THE HOLY SPIRIT SPEAK!” it was intended as sarcasm. This is the cry of heretics who claim to reject theology in favor of just carelessly approaching the very Word of God and actually reading their own ideas into it. Which is, of course, Renihan’s entire point.
    > Got it.

    PM: I’ve said about all I can say on the matter. If you feel like it, I’d suggest re-reading both Renihan pieces and pay close attention to how they identify the problem they’re writing against. With James, it’s about arrogance and carelessness in approaching Scripture, rejecting logic, and intellectually separating ourselves from the rest of Christ’s bride (not private study, or Sola Scriptura). With Mike, it’s about finding the intended meaning of the text (whether Scripture or Confession).
    Blessings, brother.
    > Got it. Are these articles available online, or only for sale in book form?*
    > Thanks, Patrick.
    > Hugh

    * I was able to find:

    Jim’s article: The SCRBPC papers 2012 are now in print; paperback, 152pp, nice cover. Special email sale price is $8.50, plus shipping and handling. Email rb@rbap.net if interested.

    Or, @ Amazon: 8 new from $13.31 2 used from $25.98

    Mike’s piece from the RBTR is available for purchase for $12: http://www.rbtr.org/subscriptions.html

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  31. ” I think his empiricism is dangerous and potentially damning.”

    I can strongly disagree with empiricism and not think it’s damning.

    “But what is “strict constructional understanding,” and do you gain such, RE: any document *before* you come to said document?”

    Judging from the context, I think he means simply treating the document as a static text with a fixed meaning, not a dynamic text with a fluid meaning.

    Did you miss this section of Mike’s piece?

    “…to be confessional about the Confession is to place the Confession under the scrutiny and authority of the Bible…These sentiments were expressed directly after the writer of To the Reader alluded to the Berean spirit that all who read the Confession should have. The framers were not embarrassed to ask others to search the written Word to prove the words written in the Confession.”

    “I think you’re dismissing my concerns about his confessionalism.”

    We’re talking about James here, right? He doesn’t even use the word “Confession” in his piece. There’s a big difference between rejecting a confession and rejecting all of historical theology.

    “He fails to teach that individual private study is NECESSARY…”

    He also fails to mention Justification by Faith Alone in this piece; it doesn’t imply a rejection.

    “…you strongly implied that I am a liar (though perhaps unknowingly & accidentally)…Do you believe me to have falsely represented Jim (or Mike) Renihan?”

    I don’t question your motives; I believe you are an honest man. But I think a misunderstanding of both Renihans (particularly James) has led you to describe them falsely, yes.

    “But he erred by not pointing us to the biblical call to personal, individual reading, and by overstating the confession thing.”

    It was like three paragraphs taken from a larger piece. Sorry his focus wasn’t on what you’d prefer, but I still think he (James) was absolutely correct in what he was addressing.

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  32. PM: I can strongly disagree with empiricism and not think it’s damning.
    HM: Me too. I never said it was. But just as by J.R.’s definition, biblicism is “dangerous & potentially damning,” so too is empiricism.

    HM: what is “strict constructional understanding”?
    PM: Judging from the context, I think he means simply treating the document as a static text with a fixed meaning, not a dynamic text with a fluid meaning.
    HM: That’d be fine; wish M.R. had said that.

    PM: Did you miss this section of Mike’s piece?
    HM: No.

    HM: “I think you’re dismissing my concerns about his confessionalism.”
    PM: We’re talking about James here, right? He doesn’t even use the word “Confession” in his piece. There’s a big difference between rejecting a confession and rejecting all of historical theology.
    HM: The more I read Mike’s article with your glasses, the less noxious it seems. Thank you. Not yet my experience with Jim’s disturbing piece.

    HM: “He fails to teach that individual private study is NECESSARY…”
    PM: He also fails to mention Justification by Faith Alone in this piece; it doesn’t imply a rejection.
    HM: Right, but the piece attacks private study, as if it inevitably leads to Arianism or Campbellism.

    HM: “…you strongly implied that I am a liar (though perhaps unknowingly & accidentally)…Do you believe me to have falsely represented Jim (or Mike) Renihan?”
    PM: I don’t question your motives; I believe you are an honest man. But I think a misunderstanding of both Renihans (particularly James) has led you to describe them falsely, yes.
    HM: Thanks for not judging my motives. I do not see (yet) where I either “misunderstand,” much less, “falsely describe” J.R. or M.R. But I look forward to your faithful rebuke, pointing out in Christian love my error(s) that have led to my lying about [libeling?] a brother. I will confess that I erred in confusing the two pieces, above, but I hope we’ve cleared that up, and that I have made amends.

    HM: “But he erred by not pointing us to the biblical call to personal, individual reading, and by overstating the confession thing.”
    PM: It was like three paragraphs taken from a larger piece. Sorry his focus wasn’t on what you’d prefer, but I still think he (James) was absolutely correct in what he was addressing.
    HM: We can agree that we disagree! Whee! 🙂

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  33. “…J.R.’s definition…”

    Posting stuff by Jim Renihan and John Robbins, we best be careful! 🙂

    “The more I read Mike’s article with your glasses, the less noxious it seems. Thank you. Not yet my experience with Jim’s disturbing piece.”

    Interesting. I have no complaints about Jim’s, while I think Mike’s could be a little clearer.

    “…the piece attacks private study…”

    No it doesn’t, unless for you, “private study” means *the utter rejection* of any and all extra-biblical writings as interpretive helps.

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  34. H: …just as by J.R.’s definition, biblicism is “dangerous & potentially damning,” so too is empiricism.
    P: Posting stuff by Jim Renihan and John Robbins, we’d best be careful! 🙂
    H: Of course, we can read Robbins in his entirety online for free. With the 2 Rs, we are left with but snippets of things quoted by their fans. John was painstakingly biblical, as well.

    H: The more I read Mike’s article with your glasses, the less noxious it seems. Thank you. Not yet my experience with Jim’s disturbing piece.
    P: Interesting. I have no complaints about Jim’s, while I think Mike’s could be a little clearer.
    H: Ya know, I stand by my earlier concerns with Mike’s piece. A little too confessionalistic. I’m trying to give these guys the benefit of the doubt, but I have my doubts!

    H: …the piece [by Jim R.] attacks private study…
    P: No it doesn’t, unless for you, “private study” means *the utter rejection* of any and all extra-biblical writings as interpretive helps.
    H: Again, we disagree.

    Jim seems to define biblicism and private study very differently than I do. I get it that loonies are forever screwing it up (cf. 2 Peter 3:16). But that shouldn’t move us to belittle or demean ‘personal independence,’ ‘interpretation,’ and confidence that the Holy Spirit in us of a truth, leading us INTO all truth, etc.

    Of course, we are prone to error ourselves too, so we do need to listen to the Spirit speaking through his other servants, too. I would never decry scholarship and serious study, but ultimately it IS just Jesus and me with a Bible, when I use a confession, creed, concordance, and when I do not.

    All have erred in their doctrine, even the most vaunted: Paul, Apollos, & Cephas, or Luther, Zwingli, & Calvin, or [even!] Keach, Kiffin, & Knollys. Of church councils, one confession reads: …when they be gathered together, forasmuch as they be an assembly of men, whereof all be not governed with the Spirit and word of God, they may err and sometime have erred, even in things pertaining to God. Wherefore things ordained by them as necessary to salvation have neither strength nor authority, unless it may be declared that they be taken out of Holy Scripture. (#21 of the 39 Articles.) The same can be said of all exegetes, too. That’s why I commended the Ryle article on ministers’ fallibility, above.

    As I said to start all this: Jim R.’s complaint seems to actually be with a perversion of Scripture (not an inordinate exaltation of it), and a hatred of its truths. He erroneously attacked private study as if that in and of itself is a culprit. It CAN be, but in and of itself, it is commended by God.

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  35. “…ultimately it IS just Jesus and me with a Bible, when I use a confession, creed, concordance, and when I do not.”

    Yeah, but by saying that you just admitted you’re not talking about what he’s talking about.

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  36. Jim R. overstates the case. He gives no allowance for private study. It’s all about eisegesis and cultic proof-texting and going astray. Whoever “D.B. Riker” was or is, Jim R. uses his definition: “biblicism is the rejection of everything not explicitly stated in the Bible, and the concomitant dismissal of all non-biblical witnesses (Fathers, Creeds, Medieval Doctors, Councils, etc.).”

    OK, given that definition, but many of these sources are badly corrupted.

    “…But here is the problem: This whole method is based upon a form of personal independence, or even self-confidence.”
    Jim R. overstates the case. Personal independence from ecclesiastical hooey, false teachers and false gospels is a good thing. And personal dependence upon and confidence in God are good things. He makes it sound like you must have the 1689 or some such anytime you study the Bible.

    “Doesn’t it ever cross anyone’s mind that they aren’t necessarily the wisest theologian, the best exegete and most insightful commentator?”
    Jim R. overstates the case. We have living within us the Wisest Theologian, the Best Exegete and most Insightful Commentator, the actual mind of Christ, the Author of Scripture! And we can compare spiritual things with spiritual.

    “Don’t they stop to think about God and His purposes?”
    Mr Renihan would do well to stop and think about the methods God ordains & uses to bring us to maturity. These include personal & individual study.

    “Has the Lord chosen me to know truth that has been hidden from others?”
    Sometimes, yes!

    “Such self-confidence is really arrogance-unbridled and oftentimes evil.”
    Not necessarily. Again, Jim R. overstates the case.

    “It misleads self and others.”
    If it’s merely self-confidence, sure. But confidence can be also based on the Spirit’s work of confirming the word to us. Again, Jim R. overstates the case.

    “Is the Christian faith reduced to my conclusions?”
    “Reduced” is loaded language, but your conclusions often are actually spot-on, since you are led by the Spirit of God!

    “What right do I have, alone and unaided to think that my reading and study perfectly meshes with the mind of God?”
    This is the worst of the bunch. The ‘right’ I have, the prerogative, is God’s word, quoted at length above, that Jesus promises his Spirit will lead us into all truth, etc.

    “Jesus and me with a Bible under a tree-perhaps a romantic notion, but a dangerous and potentially damning notion.”
    Not necessarily. It all comes down to this for the Bible believer – Jesus and he and the Bible. For God’s elect, it’s not romantic, it’s not dangerous, and it’s not potentially damning. For believers, it is the way of safety and peace.

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  37. Jim R. makes it sound as if individual, personal, unaided Bible study will necessarily lead one astray!

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  38. The entire quote must be taken within the context of how the author frames the subject of discussion. You agree with his position given Riker’s definition, but then for the rest of the quote impose the subject of simple personal Bible study, which is not his topic, and not what he warns against. His topic does not shift.

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  39. Patrick,
    I asked you to give it to me on the chin.
    Instead you tried to put up a fence between me and the Word.
    Psalm 119.24 states: Also, Your testimonies are my delight; my counselors (Lit.: the men of my instruction).
    I believe this saying to be true.
    That apparently makes me a biblicist.
    I depart willingly.
    Regards,
    Louis Breytenbach

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  40. Louis,

    On the chin,

    1. You’re not specific, which makes it difficult to respond.

    2. Psalm 119:24 is a great verse. I believe it. That doesn’t make me a biblicist according to Riker’s definition, and nobody said it did. Do you utterly reject all historical theology? Only then do you fit Riker’s definition. This is why I asked if you even read the article before commenting – because you don’t even seem to be talking about the same thing. Nobody is denying Sola Scripture, the sufficiency of Scripture, or Psalm 119.

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  41. Pingback: Confessions, Cooperation, & Calvinism… Oh, My! – SBC, Renihan + More | The Confessing Baptist

  42. I’m in general agreement with Dr Renihan’s article. The Holy Spirit has been at work through the centuries illuminating the church, and the church, as a result, has grown in its knowledge of Scripture. We today should not, therefore, ignore the wisdom of our forefathers and attempt to interpret everything in the Bible from scratch.

    At the same time, I think there’s an opposite danger of elevating one’s favorite ecclesiastical tradition to the level of Scripture. This can and has happened in some Reformed circles (see my “Subtle Traditionalism“). The result is a tendency to insist all interpretations today must conform to those of, say, the 16th or 17th century. Ironically, this view, like the biblicism above, tends to downplay or ignore the Holy Spirit’s ongoing work of illumination. The only difference is that the former (biblicism) limits illumination to the present while the latter (Reformed traditionalism) limits it to the period of the Reformation or Puritan era.

    I think a more balanced and biblical approach–indeed, more Reformed and Confessional (!) — is “Something Close to Biblicism,” which affirms in doctrine and practice the doctrine of sola Scriptura, keeps creeds and confessions in their proper place (as subordinate standards), and avoids ecclesiastical traditionalism.

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  43. I agree with Dr. G. that,

    …there’s an opposite danger of elevating one’s favorite ecclesiastical tradition to the level of Scripture. This can and has happened in some Reformed circles
    YES!

    (see my “Subtle Traditionalism”).
    Will check it out; though I cannot abide ‘free offer’ nonsense.

    a tendency to insist all interpretations today must conform to those of, say, the 16th or 17th century. Ironically, this view, like the biblicism above, tends to downplay or ignore the Holy Spirit’s ongoing work of illumination.
    YES! Hyper-confessionalism.

    The only difference is that the former (biblicism) limits illumination to the present while the latter (Reformed traditionalism) limits it to the period of the Reformation or Puritan era.
    YES! The Spirit blew as it listeth until 1646 @ Westminster for Presbyterians or, if one be continental Reformed, in 1619 @ Dort.

    John Frame is one of my favorite theologians.
    He was one of my fave professors/ persons/ pianists. Better than many, worse than other theologians. A WHOLE lot smarter than I!

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  44. “The result is a tendency to insist all interpretations today must conform to those of, say, the 16th or 17th century. Ironically, this view, like the biblicism above, tends to downplay or ignore the Holy Spirit’s ongoing work of illumination.”

    I take your comment here to be speaking of Confessionalism (which is how Hugh apparently understands it as well). If that is correct, then I can’t say I agree with your view of what a Confession is. If a confession is a good confession, then it is merely a summary of Scriptural doctrine. This is not to imply that the Spirit’s work of illumination simply ceased at the point of the writing of the Confession. (I’ve heard this straw man before, but never have I seen any Confessional Christian claim it.)

    If a Confession is summarizing the teaching of Scripture, then yes, all interpretations today must conform to it – not for the sake of the Confession or Tradition, but for the sake of the unchanging doctrine of Scripture. Any man-written Confession of Faith is of course subject to reformation according to God’s Word, but where the boundary-markers have been set, we ought not to move them. Such is a great use of Confessions – to guard against doctrine that is incompatible with Scripture. Individuals are free to accept or reject a Confession as their conscience (informed by Scripture) dictates, but in rejecting it, they are making a conscious decision to stand apart from those who choose to confess it.

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  45. Patrick,

    Confessions are human attempts to summarize biblical doctrine. Good ones, like the WCF or 2LBC, are for the most part successful. But they are not infallible. Even their framers acknowledged this. So even good confessions are, as you acknowledge, subject to reformation as the Spirit gives ongoing illumination to the church. Hence, semper reformanda.

    What’s more, I don’t think the choice is simply choosing to reject or choosing to accept a confession. A better way is that chosen by the Particular Baptists. They could substantially agree with the Westminster Confession. But they couldn’t agree en toto. So they made some revisions. In doing so, they weren’t attempting to “stand apart from those who chose to confess” the WCF. Instead, they were trying to express significant agreement. Which is why I advocate “substantial” rather than “strict” subscription.

    Cordially

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  46. “What’s more, I don’t think the choice is simply choosing to reject or choosing to accept a confession. A better way is that chosen by the Particular Baptists. They could substantially agree with the Westminster Confession. But they couldn’t agree en toto. So they made some revisions. In doing so, they weren’t attempting to “stand apart from those who chose to confess” the WCF. Instead, they were trying to express significant agreement.”

    Oh, I agree. What I was getting at is that if we adopt a substantial subscriptionist view,and someone wishes to alter a confessional standard, based on what they believe to be the Holy Spirit’s ongoing illumination, then the reason must be because they disagree with not only the wording, but the doctrine contained therein. Thus, on that issue, they do indeed stand apart from those who composed the original document.

    Just so you know where I’m coming from, I personally love the 2nd London Baptist Confession, but I, too, don’t think it’s perfect. Not only do I prefer the original wording of the WCF or Savoy Declaration in some areas, I also have reservations about a couple of the actual doctrines. But because of this, I don’t tell people I subscribe to the Confession (unless I clarify the portions to which I don’t subscribe).

    My church has adopted a confessional (if I may use the word how I am about to explain it) stance such that we hold the confessions and catechisms of the Reformed tradition in high regard, and we “strictly” subscribe to the doctrines held in common by those documents (e.g. Westminster Standards, Savoy, 1689 LBCF, Three forms of Unity, etc.) while not binding anyone in the areas in which these confessions disagree, or binding them to a specific wording of a doctrine. As you can imagine, this creates tension (practical, not personal) when it comes to baptism and church membership, but so far our capable elders (3 paedobaptist, 1 credobaptist) have been able to handle these matters prudently. Our location and situation regarding Reformed churches in the area is such that if we were to split up over baptism, it is likely that neither side would continue much longer. We are where God has us for now.

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  47. Thanks, Patrick. Appreciate knowing more about your situation. Personally, I think your church’s decision to live with the tension you describe is commendable. Grace and peace to you.

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  48. Hey, Brandon,

    Because I hate popery in all its forms. My inner Luther coming through.

    Confessionalism is often taken to extremes in the world of professional ecclesiastics. By ’89 LBC-ers as by hyper-Orthodox (to the ‘fathers’ & councils) as by rabid Romanists (to ‘fathers,’ councils, their popes, etc.).

    Strict subscription[ism] can (not necessarily, but can) make one veer into ‘confession-olatry’, and it is no less obnoxious in Baptists than it is in papists. I’m going to partially & tentatively agree with Dr Gonzales, above, and with Yarnell here: http://sbctoday.com/2011/07/28/why-am-i-a-biblicist/

    Riker & Renihan do not have the corner on defining biblicism. Specifically, the hooey of J.R. as quote by lavin1517, but I have said it all above.

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  49. Not so much angst (fear, anxiety, apprehension, or insecurity), Brandon, but anger. Out and out rage.
    🙂 Have a nice day, though!

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  50. Hugh,

    “Riker & Renihan do not have the corner on defining biblicism.”

    Then your disagreement is semantic. In their discussion of the term, you must allow them their definitions.

    Luther liked confessions and the Church, too. He wasn’t a biblicist as defined by Riker.

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  51. Partially semantic, for sure, Patrick. And yes, Luther was no Russell or Campbell (or today’s version, Harold Camping). Luther was of course a pioneer in a waste howling wilderness. He failed to reform Rome, and he failed to get far enough in his own understanding, but he was on the right track.

    And Brandon, Luther had good cause to fear his own heart (don’t we all) – he was often intemperate, downright wretched in his excessive speech. I hope not to be so, but cannot abide the terribly pious who claim confessional [near-]perfection and attempt a religious hegemony. It didn’t work for the vaunted Puritans, it fails for the Papists, and it will fail for Baptists, too.

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  52. I hope not to be, but…

    What exactly is it that you think confessional baptists are attempting to do? Do you understand the context you are arguing against? Do you understand the “professional ecclesiastics” of independent churches voluntarily choosing to associate with other independent churches around a common confession, all the while retaining the individual church’s authority to believe whatever they are convinced Scripture teaches?

    James Renihan’s essay (which I have read in full, and you have not) amounts to basically “Where this is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” Is that really something to have “out and out rage” against?

    Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding,
    but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.

    A soft answer turns away wrath,
    but a harsh word stirs up anger.

    A hot-tempered man stirs up strife,
    but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.

    Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
    and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.

    Good sense makes one slow to anger,
    and it is his glory to overlook an offense.

    A man of wrath stirs up strife,
    and one given to anger causes much transgression.

    For pressing milk produces curds,
    pressing the nose produces blood,
    and pressing anger produces strife.

    This is wisdom I am constantly in need of hearing.

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  53. Brandon, Can we back this up and you tell me what’s got you worked up? Now that you’re admitting to pressing some noses/ anger, what’s up? What’d I say to anger you?

    As for Jim R., I reacted to the wee snippet given us by lavin1517. Apparently one can only purchase the entire article, not read it online for free. That’s fine; this is America and I’m a capitalist. I don’t begrudge Jim (or his publisher) wanting to make a nickel, but I was put-off by the quote. That’s all I have to work from.

    He misused “personal interpretation,” “independence,” and even “biblicism,” imho. He worries about people reading the Bible sans a confession to guide them. That’s b.s. At least, to Baptists, it ought to be!

    This is stupidly imperious and potentially blaspemous: “What right do I have, alone and unaided to think that my reading and study perfectly meshes with the mind of God?”

    Note: The same “right” that every child of God has to think such is given in the clear biblical texts I gave in above posts. He has the mind of Christ.

    This is likewise silly and dangerously imperious: “Jesus and me with a Bible under a tree-perhaps a romantic notion, but a dangerous and potentially damning notion.” As noted above, we are biblically commanded to do as the biblically commended Bereans did: Examine everything, prove it, and hold fast to truth. With or without a confession of faith, circa 17th Century, or otherwise.

    Sure Russell & Campbell were wackos. Of course we can learn from others.

    But in the only quote I’ve been shown, Jim R. has threatened personal study and sadly neglected the witness of the Holy Spirit, which are the heritage of the child of God, whose Lord promises us his Spirit to guide us into all truth (with or w/o the WCF or either of the LBCs).

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  54. Now that you’re admitting to pressing some noses/ anger, what’s up?

    I have no idea what you’re talking about Hugh. I was simply hoping to remind you that “out and out rage” produces strife and is unedifying, as the Proverbs warn. But you have to argue about even that.

    …but I was put-off by the quote. That’s all I have to work from.

    You don’t have to work. You can choose to keep your mouth closed until you have expended the effort to understand.

    Believe it or not, I would enjoy discussing this issue with you and how it relates to Keith Mathison’s “The Shape of Sola Scriptura” and Robbins’ poor regard for that work – but doing so is a complete waste of time so long as your attitude remains as-is. I frequently find myself unable to have a simple conversation with you, regardless of the topic, because of your angst/anger.

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  55. “He misused “personal interpretation,” “independence,” and even “biblicism,” imho.”

    IMHO, he defined those words yet you continue to define them your way and judge his points accordingly.

    “This is stupidly imperious and potentially blasphemous: “What right do I have, alone and unaided to think that my reading and study perfectly meshes with the mind of God?””

    I am still amazed that you so completely misunderstand this comment, especially when the context has been made crystal clear repeatedly.

    “Jim R. has threatened personal study”

    He simply has not. You have read that into his piece.

    “and sadly neglected the witness of the Holy Spirit, which are the heritage of the child of God, whose Lord promises us his Spirit to guide us into all truth”

    Again, he has not. Rather he has emphasized that the Spirit does not give unique revelation to individuals apart from the witness he gives to the church universal. Of course the Spirit illuminates our minds when we examine the Word. Of course the Word is sufficient. How many times must it be pointed out that Renihan is speaking against those who utterly reject the truth that the Spirit illumines others than themselves, thinking themselves to be uniquely(!) gifted and qualified to reinterpret Scripture in open defiance of previously trodden paths of historical theology. If, and only if, you seriously think that is a good attitude to have, do you actually disagree with Renihan. If you don’t, then you agree with his real point, and are tilting at windmills.

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  56. Brandon,

    “I would enjoy discussing this issue with you and how it relates to Keith Mathison’s “The Shape of Sola Scriptura” and Robbins’ poor regard for that work…”

    I’m interested! Is there a Trinity Review you can point me to for reference?

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  57. Brandon,

    You’d quoted Luther on him being his own worst enemy after I’d talked about my inner Luther & rage, so I put those together illegitimately, apparently.

    Then, you said you’re constantly in need of hearing the Proverbs on anger. Again, I misread you, apparently. Sigh. Guess you’re not my date for the next “Anger Enders” mtg!

    Don’t want to waste your time (“complete” waste of time? Ouch!), but you’re [mis]judging me to have angst. Not so.

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  58. Patrick,

    I’m sure if I read Jim’s whole thing it’d be balanced, right?

    “Previously trodden paths of historical theology” can be deceptive; not always tried and true. I am not wanting innovation, much less inductive autonomy like the aforementioned cultists. Lavin1517 just picked a quote that by itself is weird at best.

    I do agree that I can agree with your understanding of Renihan. As it stands, on its own, which is all we have to go on (sorry, Brandon, I thought that Patrick wanted people to interact with and even criticize things he posts here – such can help us get to better understanding), it’s imbalanced.

    I am sorry, guys, that my important point seems lost in how I presented my concerns,and the question of whether I am sinfully angry or even angst-ridden.

    I hope that none of us go to the extremes of either hyper-autonomy or hyper-confessionalism.

    I like Gonzales’ thinking here, and I would expect that you guys like his nice approach, too?

    Like

  59. Brandon,

    I’m curious: Why do [mis]judge me to have angst?

    Why get involved in this debate? Do you have a dog in this fight?

    Why even bother showing up and contending with me (ESPECIALLY when you already fear my attitude may completely waste your time)?

    You tell me: You don’t have to work. You can choose to keep your mouth closed until you have expended the effort to understand.

    How does this not apply to your coming along and suggesting that I shut up? You didn’t need to come work, either. You could have chosen to abstain as well.

    Only a fool enters into another’s argument. Like grabbing a dog’s ears…

    Am I missing something?

    Like

  60. Why get involved in this debate?

    I’m trying not to get involved in the debate. I have tried to limit my words to your attitude exclusively. I have said what I said because you are my brother in Christ, and because I do appreciate your thoughts, but from my perspective I see a recurring pattern of (sinful) anger that causes strife and greatly hinders any edifying dialogue. I empathize with your Hugh Contra Mundum mindset but I know that Brandon Contra Mundum is not a healthy mindset. It is one that I am continually seeking to put to death.

    Take it for whatever it’s worth.

    Like

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