Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Two More Objections to My Liberal Posts

I found only two more objections (the other one was simply a vacuous one concerning my use of the terms) to my posts concerning the incompatibility of liberalism with Christianity. The following is a summary of what they are and my answer to them.

1. Liberals don't attribute ultimate authority to Self because they attribute that authority to community.

Liberals see community as a power to be wielded, not an authority to which one must submit himself. I've been a part of too many liberal fellowships, have had too many liberal friends, and read too widely in liberal scholarship to take that claim seriously. The idea that liberals somehow see community as authority works well if you don't think past the rhetoric. Do liberals often claim the "Spirit via community" as authoritative? Yes, when the community agrees with that particular individual. When it doesn't, suddenly the liberal sees community as that which must be reformed via education, protest, political power, etc. In other words, community is a way to give power and persuasion to enact one's self-interpreted reality, but it is not an authority that is seen above Self. So, Yes, liberals see community (and the Bible, and tradition, etc.) as authoritative in the sense of powerful vehicles through which the individual's ideas can be bolstered. No, the liberal does not see these as ultimately authoritative in terms of needing to submit to these authorities when these authorities disagree with his personal experience (empirical or existential).

2. Everyone chooses and so everyone is making Self authoritative. Hence, everyone is liberal.

This objection is just plain bad reading on the part of those who make it. I didn't say anything about choice. The distinction is not that one side makes a personal choice and the other does not. The distinction concerns what authority primarily drives that choice. Is it a choice that must experience the truth for oneself or is it a choice that bows the Self to a higher authority, even though the Self did not experience that thing to which he is being called to subject the Self? In other words, one act of choosing is based upon the authority of Self, and the other is based upon trusting an external authority that is higher than the Self. One is an act consistent with what one is inclined to believe, given one's personal experience, and the other is what one is inclined to believe, given one's submission to an external authority. So merely pointing out that Protestants choose in disregard of one particular ecclesiastical tradition is not going to cut my argument one bit (especially since I'm not an anabaptist, but believe in orthodoxy via the Majesterial Reformation, i.e., an external tradition--not to mention that Prots believe in the Bible as their ultimate external authority within that tradition).


  1. Thank you, my Brother, for your thoughtful analysis. I'd very much be interested to hear your thoughts regarding those folks who seem to derive what they believe (reality perceived), even their own self-worth, seemingly from external sources alone, i.e., the opinions and thoughts of others, both within and without "Christendom."

    As I am new to your blog, you may have addressed something alone these lines previously . . . but I am amazed at the number of "believers" who seem to define reality/truth by the believing group's consensus, even over and above Scripture, i.e., their doctrinal beliefs whether in accord with Scripture or not, they in the end become cult-like.

    For point of reference, with no distinction for a particular doctrine, I am speaking with regard to those who espouse a belief in a "literal interpretation" of Scripture to prove their point, but then they seem to abandon any fundamental approach to an historical-grammatical interpretation of the Scriptures. Worse yet, when confronted with this hermeneutical error, they simply ignore the charge and iterate their belief, while often relegating those who believe otherwise as fringe. Without realizing it, they employ Alinsky-like thinking and behavior and become like a cult.

    Love to hear your thoughts!

    Mick in Atlanta

  2. Thanks Mick. If I hear you right, I think you're referring to what I would call "fundamentalists." These are the type that read Scripture within a tradition, but usually don't see it. Hence, their biblical interpretation is really just tradition applied to texts "eisegetically." I actually think many fundamentalist groups are cults, and that fundamentalism if not a cult already is but a few steps from it. (Please note, I'm not using the term to refer to those who hold what are considered essential doctrines of Christian orthodoxy.)

    Liberals actually do this as well though. The real problem is not identifying that we have traditions on the one hand, or failing to acknowledge that the Holy Spirit, using the proclamation of the Bible in the Church, can speak into our traditions and transform them. This only happens, of course, if one is open to subject himself to what is being said as having greater authority that the tradition and most importantly, personal experience.

    In fact, I often say to people that American religion (e.g., Liberalism, Fundamentalism, Evangelicalism, Emerging, etc.) is the religion of experience rather than one of submission to the Scripture; but the Holy Spirit can work to call people out, or even save them within some, of those groups. We just need to be mindful of what we're putting in and what we're taking out of Scripture.

  3. Thank you, Brother, for your thoughts. Yes, I am referring to a crowd that have called themselves both fundamentalist and evangelical. On more than one occasion I have confronted various "doctors" of this crowd who have employed (IMHO)eisegesis in textual analysis; who have ignored basic rules of hermeneutics, and then further ignored the challenge of my critique on their practice, ultimately the meaning they have assigned to a particular text.

    In that regard, if not too much of an imposition upon you, may I request your unbridled critique of one of my arguments which I believe falls within the context of our discussion? As a seeker of God's truth only, and if time allows, I solicit your unbridled comments on one of my rebuttals to a "doctor" of the fundamentalist/evangelical crowd. (POSTED SEPARATELY BELOW AS "ARGUMENT FOR CRITIQUE" DUE TO SIZE POSTING LIMITS)

    Thank you, Brother--may God continue to bless you and your ministry of truth and teaching!

    Mick in Atlanta

    "Dear Brother Ice, I am incredulous that you assert Rev 3:10 has to do with the rapture of the church. This is not a correct exegesis of this verse, which is key if we are to arrive at the correct meaning intended by our Lord:

    1. 'kept' and 'keep': The Greek word used here is tereo. Per Strong's concordance: 'From τηρός teros (a watch; perhaps akin to G2334); to guard (from loss or injury, properly by keeping the eye upon;'

    2. 'from' (the hour): The Greek used here is ἐκ, ἐξ ek/ex. Again, per Strong's: 'A primary preposition denoting origin (the point whence motion or action proceeds), from, out (of place, time or cause; literally or figuratively; direct or remote): - after,'

    3. Another important Greek word, not used in this verse, but that has a bearing on your use of 'from,' is the word, Apo ἀπό 'A primary particle; 'off', that is, away (from something near), in various senses (of place, time, or relation;'

    In other words, TEREO means to "watch over protectively, guard" and with the preposition EK it carries the idea of being guarded or protected and rescued OUT FROM the midst of danger. If the idea of KEEPING one FROM ENTERING were intended the preposition APO would have been used.

    As I'm sure you're aware, I am not alone in this analysis. In point of fact, some of the world's most renknowned Biblical Greek scholars and theologians fully concur, including Goodspeed, Moffatt, Fausett, Swete, Zahn, Beckwith, Trench, Alexander Reese, and Robert Gundry. Of course, where possible, and it usually is, we use Scripture to prove Scripture.

    In this case, THE ONLY OTHER PASSAGE in the New Testament that combines these two terms (TEREO EK) appears in another Johannine composition, in John 17:15.

    There, the night before his crucifixion, Jesus clarifies his petition to his heavenly Father: 'My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.'

    This text could hardly be more explicit in what it requests: protection from something harmful while Jesus' disciples remain on earth, in the same fasion that Tereo Ek reads in Rev 3:10.

    Revelation 3:10, if it is referring to the great tribulation, thus more likely supports posttribulationalism than pretribulationism.

    As you know, most of the prominent theologians (Lewis Schaeffer, Paul Feinberg, Charles Ryrie, Henry Thiessen, Tim LaHaye) all support such your position, and all of them state that Rev 3:10 is the best proof text of the pre-trib rapture position. Given the above rebuttal, this 'best' proof text clearly fails and pre-trib along with it.

    Of course, the danger, a very real spiritual danger, is that those who are saved already will not be prepared for the tribulation of antichrist, which is clearly separate from God's wrath that will be displayed in His glory on the Day of the Lord.

    Even worse, those who are not yet saved and see the antichrist will believe that he is Jesus coming to rapture believers, and will end up following antichrist in their false belief. As our Lord tells us, 'My children perish for lack of knowledge.'

    I thank you, Brother Ice, for a life dedicated to our Lord Jesus Christ, and I must ask you to seek the Lord further in this matter and to repent from a well-intentioned and hopeful belief that is just not true. In His love and Truth"

  5. Thanks Mick. I concur with you concerning the passage. The text seems to indicate a protection from something rather than any sort of taking away.

    I would just add that the appeal of antichrist, however, isn't in that he will look like Christ to people who believe in a pretrib rapture, but rather, he will look like Christ to people who have a distorted view of who Christ is and what is true and good. In other words, antichrist appeals to heretical and apostate Christians because of their heresy and apostasy, not because they miscalculated when Christ might return. I just thought that should be an important point, because even if one gets the time of His return wrong, he can fully know Christ and reject the antichrist when he appears. One can know who he is now if he is already rejecting the spirit of antichrist that, according to the Apostle John, has gone out into the world.

    But you are absolutely right concerning the passage. God bless.

  6. Thank you for your time and comments, Brother Hodge--I very much appreciate your critique of my hermeneutics, i.e., determining what Scripture says. To paraphrase the Bible's admonition to, "check yourself," I often seek such critique as part of my exegetical process so that my beliefs are, first, tested against Scripture (of course), and, secondly tested by those who have earned scholarly credentials.

    If I may clarify, just FYI, on the pre-tribbers and antichrist, I agree with you that they will not see antichrist as Jesus Christ; however, because they have lived a life believing in them missing the Great Tribulation, as soldiers of Christ who will actually endure it, they will not be prepared because they did not train and prepare their faith and walk as a soldier facing impending battle; rather, it will be like they just joined the military and went straight to the battlefield with no training--apart from direct personal intervention from Jesus at that time, those people will be little more than cannon fodder, so to speak. Their salvation won't be in question; instead what's in question is how much they'll suffer because of no battle training, and also how limited they'll be as "untrained" witnesses during the battle.

    And I completely agree with your view on antichrist, heretics and apostates. Personally, I believe that's it's those folks that will actually become the One World Religion of antichrist; as Scripture says, "they'll kill you and think they're doing God a favor." The "deceived" Christians (heretics and apostates of the true faith) will be the instruments who will kill many of the Remnant in those days.

    Thank you again, my Brother--your life of dedication to Jesus Christ is both an encouragement and glorious witness to our Lord--may His name be praised forever!