The Unfaithful Reading of Scripture

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, November 15, 2017 0 comments

by David Odegard

Last week I wrote about Rene Descartes’ foundationalism. He began with an awareness of his own consciousness and rationalized all of his beliefs on that basis. He reckoned that all of his beliefs could be held without the shadow of a doubt, including his belief in God, as long as they were justified along these lines.

The level of indubitability that Descartes was looking for was impractical because the skepticism that arose in response to him proved that one can always be skeptical of anything, no matter how well-founded is the belief. An endless litany of “But what if it wasn’t though?” could always follow whatever belief someone had, even Descartes’ famous line: “I think therefore, I am.” The skeptics became a very popular school of thought.

Many philosophers, like Kant, began to address this skepticism but really only made matters worse. Kant suggested that there were two worlds: the material world (phenomena) which we could perceive with our five senses and could be measured and observed, and that which lies beyond perception (noumena), which cannot be measured or observed. This is the spiritual world, basically.

For Kant, the material world could be known and therefore the data concerning it could be called knowledge. The spiritual world could not be known (in Kant’s opinion) except through subjective experiences and therefore could only ever be “belief” but never “knowledge.” This separation between belief and knowledge remains today.

So according to Kant and those who follow him, one could never say, “We know that Jesus Christ rose from the dead,” because such a statement cannot be substantiated by material or physical evidence. Let me hasten to say that Kantians are in error even here. The resurrection of Jesus is a known historical fact. It has been substantiated by material, physical evidence. The resurrection of Jesus, therefore, constitutes knowledge not merely belief even by Kant’s less-than-ideal standards.

Kant believed that one could not know anything that belonged in the spiritual world with any degree of certainty; one could only ever guess. He also believed that no one could ever speak to us from the spiritual world and so we would never know anything about it. After all, he might have reasoned, when you ask the dead about the spiritual world they say nothing, so it must be nothing.

This thinking became the basis of reading the Bible with a hyper-critical point of view. In the opinion of the intellectuals that followed Kant, the Bible had to be demythologized, that is that all of the spiritual or supernatural accounts had to be reinterpreted with nothing supernatural admitted. Hence, neither Jesus nor anyone else could have performed miracles. He could have risen from the dead and neither will you when you die. Jesus was not born of a virgin, did not feed the five thousand, and did not heal a blind man. And on and on the hellish litany drones.

This way of reading the Bible bears several names even today among them: German higher-criticism, hyper-criticism, demythological reading, JDEP, etc. (You can look them up for fun sometime.) But the common denominator in all of these names is that the supernatural doesn’t exist and so the Bible had to be reinterpreted.

This kind of reading is actually foreign to Scripture. The Bible teaches that we can know what lies in the spiritual world and that we have had many voices speak to us from that side (see Hebrews 1:1) especially now that Jesus has come and spoken to us (Hebrews 1:2 plus the entirety of the New Testament). Nevertheless, this alien hermeneutic was imported into reading the Bible. These Germans (calling themselves the Academy) were actually reading the Bible to justify UNbelief. That is why it is an unfaithful reading of Scripture.

This hyper-criticism has destroyed the European church. It was imported to America in the early 1900’s through the mainline churches, most notably the Presbyterian Church. It has sterilized and destroyed that once-great center of Christianity along with much of the mainline denominations of the 20th century. Now it is at work among Evangelicals in many different ways but among them Progressive Christianity, the Emergent Church, Affirming Churches, etc.

The Bible is a supernatural book that teaches that God is there and that He can be known. He acts in supernatural ways both in the past and still today. A system of belief that denies this fundamental truth is contrary to Scripture and foreign to true Christianity. But these unbelievers want to have a semblance of religion and so they play word games with the Bible, importing this alien interpretation to the Scripture and denying the Lord.

Hyper-criticism is a cult.

If you don’t believe me, read an account of a hyper-critical insider who happened to be born again and then subsequently left the Academy. You can find it here; be prepared, it is powerful.

If you are going to know God, you must begin by taking the Bible at face value. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). You will never have true knowledge of the spiritual world if you predetermine that it does not exist. “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, their deeds are vile” (Psalm 14:1).

We can talk more about this sometime, but for now, friend, reject any Bible teacher who denies that the Bible is truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Reject any Bible teacher that denies the supernatural or miracles. Reject teachers who say that this or that book is “non-historical” or that Paul didn’t write 2 Timothy, or that Moses didn’t write Genesis, etc. They don’t know, can’t know, but are driven by their personal unbelief. They would like you to also not believe the truth of the Bible, even while they pretend to be the Bible’s friend. They lie. They are apostates. They have wandered from the faith.

“For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord” (Jude 4).

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