After praying over this, I have decided that I needed to start tackling this issue, though I will officially start only after I finish the ongoing series on the Charismata. The subject? Epistemology? The object? Neo-Orthodoxy. It grives me even to write this because I know doing so would mean pitting myself against someone whom I counted as a friend for some time, even though he has hurt me more times than I can count, and I was naive enugh to believe that someone from a conservative Calvinistic church (Metropolitan Tabernacle) was orthodox.
I was directed towards this blog post by my friend and brother in Christ Vincent Chia. Normally, it is much easier for me to ignore heretics, but my former friend was on this blog doing as much damage as he can and hurting me in the process. [Update: He has since apologized, so I have decided to let bygones be bygones]
In this post, this particular Emergent from Malaysia (who utilizes the F-bomb —a typical Emergent trait) gets all riled up in denouncing those who believe in the biblical doctrine of Sola Scriptura. More specifically, the video he linked to is done by one of those people who denounce the doctrine of the Inerrancy and the Verbal Plenary Inspiration of the Scripture; cardinal doctrines of which the denial is most definitely heresy and brings the salvtion of that particular person into question. The tired old carnad of "biblio-idolatry" is thrown out again, as if the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ has not dealt with this misnomer at all. I do not wish to reinvent the wheel, so here is my article proving the doctrine of Sola Scriptura in all its fullness. To summarize, to be a Christian is to believe in the doctrines of total inerrancy of Scripture and the Verbal Plenary Inspiration of Scripture, otherwise one is believing and living something contrary to their professed religion. If you don't want to believe in the full-orbed view of Sola Scriptura as outlined here, please do us a favor and go find for yourself another religion to believe in.
With this, let us look more into the charge of "bibliolatry". As expected, the liberal that produced this video posits a false dichotomy between the Spirit and the Word, as if the Spirit will contradict the Word. Of course, since the written Word (Logos) is the Word made flesh (Jn. 1:14), and the Spirit is the one who inspired the Word in the first place, this objection is plain ridiculous. The Spirit speaks through the Word and therefore to disregard the Word is to disregard the Spirit.
And we now turn to the issue of Epistemology. Up till now, we have been talking about the inerrancy of Scripture; that Scripture is inspired and without error in all its parts. However, the main issues that are actually being attacked by this Emergent is the Authority of Scripture, and the Perspicuity of Scripture. The part on inerrancy was just the tip of the iceberg.
The doctrine of the Authority of Scripture is one that is fundamental to Christianity, without which there is no Christianity at all. Jesus Himself refered back to Scripture as authority, often using the phase "It is written". Joshua was told to meditate on the Scripture at that time (the Torah or Law) as his rule for life (Josh. 1:8). Obviously, since the Word was made flesh in the person of Jesus (Jn. 1:14), to obey the Word of God is to obey Jesus, and most definitely Jesus is the centre of Christianity. In the book of Revelation, Jesus is directly called the Word of God (Rev. 19:13) again, showing complete identification of the Logos with our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, Scripture does not mention much to prove its own authority; it is simply assumed. Epistemologically however, the issue is forced to its logical conclusion. For if Scripture is not the ultimate authority, then something else is. It can be yourself (Self-worship), human reason (Humanism), Community (Cosmic humanism) or other teachers (Idolatry of those teachers). Of course, some people will throw out the inane carnard of being lead by the Spirit. However, as stated, the Spirit DOES NOT lead without the Word, since the Spirit inspired the Word in the first place. After all, in Greek, the word used is theopneustos (θεοπνευστος), which is literally translated God-breathed. The spoken Word of God (Rhema) is the written Word of God (Logos). And who determines what the Spirit teaches anyway, if it is stated that He speaks apart from the Word? What if someone states that the Spirit states that Jesus is not God? Obviously, those who detest Sola Scriptura; the ultimate authority of Scripture, have created their own idols to bow down to, which is probably their own reasoning.
In my latest weekly meditation, I exposited on the second part of Is. 5. I have stated there that Is. 5:21 is an attack on the entire principle of Humanism, which is the belief in human reason (whether individually or collectively) as the ultimate authority. The Christian life is based on faith; faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and taking what He says as our supreme authority. I also state that:
The attitude of true believers is one of submission to the Word of God, not sitting in judgment of it, as if God is our slave who must obey us, and not the other way around.
And Is. 5:21 pronounces woe to those who attempt to live the Christian life with themselves as lord:
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight! (Is. 5:21)
Those who disdain and will not submit to the ultimat authority of Scripture are actually in fact making themselves or the human community 'god', and this is the rankest idolatry ever! Christians submit themselves to the authority of God who spoke through the Scriptures, whereas false believers place theselves in judgment over Scripture and refuse to submit to it.
The Emergent Apostate in his comments on his own blog revealed himself to be in the Neo-Orthodox camp, following the teachings of the heretic Karl Barth in his view of Scripture. Neo-Orthodoxy is heresy, period. That this need to be prove just show the depths to which he has fallen. For Neo-Orthodoxy separates the Word of God (Christ) from the Word of God (the Bible), a distinction which is utterly alien from the Scriptures. As Dr. C. Matthew McMahon states:
Neo-orthodox theology teaches that the Bible is not the Word of God in that it is a series of true verbal propositions to be believed. Rather, it is an existential encounter with Jesus. There is no standard of truth and no absolutes. Jesus is God and Jesus is not God are equally true. God is represented as wholly other. He is completely transcendent and unknowable. Neo-orthodoxy teaches universalism, and sees Jesus as God’s divine messenger of love to the masses. Neo-orthodoxy also rejects the Fall (following Pelagius) demonstrating that people are not sinners when they are born. Rather, they become sinful when they sin. (An overview of Contemporary Theology: Neo-Orthodoxy)
One does not need to be a theologian to see that Neo-Orthodoxy is total nonsense and utterly heretical. Epistemologically, it shifts the burden of ultimate authority onto "subjective" truths from the letters of Scripture, and who is to say what is true and what is false? Therefore, in the end, what we have is full-blown humanism where the human reasoning reigns supreme in being the "authoritative" receptacle upon which the revelation of God descends. Is. 5:21 thus pronounces woe upon such heretics, who have the apalling impunity to sit in judgment over the Word of God.
The next topic is the perspicuity of Scripture. The typical postmodern objection given by the Emergent church, which is just the stepson of Neo-Orthodoxy really, is that since Scripture requires interpretation, therefore whose interpretation is correct? Of course, they would need to gloss over the facts of history, for church history has shown us that there is great agreement on many major and even some minor doctrines within those who profess to believe in Sola Scriptura, and those who are heretics base their arguments more on philosophy than on Scripture, like Arius, Pelagius and Socinus for example. Nevertheless, then how can we interpret the Scriptures correctly, since we are but human? (Curiously, the Emergents are very sure that the correct interpretation is not your interpretation. How they know that is anyone's guess.)
The key to that is the person and work of the Holy Spirit. For it is written:
Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Cor. 2:6-16)
As it can be seen, because believers have the mind of Christ, we can through careful study and prayer come to have the correct interpretation of Scripture. Those who say otherwise blaspheme the Holy Spirit who lives in all true believers. More likely of course is the fact that these people are in fact false believers who therefore cannot understand the things of God, since the truths of God are spiritually discerned. Yes, they can intelectually grasp the truth, but to them it is folly, utter foolishness (1 Cor. 1:18; 2:14). Just like the unbelieving seminary professor, they intellectually grasped the Truth (the Truth is always intellectually graspable cf perspicuity of Scripture), but to them it is foolishness and they cannot accept it.
And we can see that even in the person and the very question they ask. For they ask us how can we know what is the correct intepretation of Scripture, yet I have yet to see those same people questioning the correct interpretation of a comprehensive roadmap, and most definitely their bank statements. Fact is, how do they even know what is the correct interpretation of the material they are criticizing? Yet, why the double-standard in interpretation? What we have here is rebellion, plain and simple. They rebel against God's authority because they would not submit themselves to it, and therefore they will try by all means and methods to discredit the message and (the easiest) the messenger. After all, character assassinations are the easiest to do, and no one will continue a conversation with someone who perpetually insults them and perhaps even use vulgarities on them, so they will win by default.
In conclusion, we have seen the devious anti-Christian tactics of one Emergent who detests God and His Word. The Word of God stand supreme as the final authority of Christians, and the objections against it fall as they would. With this, I call on the Emergent Edmund to repent of his continued rebellion against God. For while there is still time, God will receive you if you will but repent of your heresies. However, if you continue to spurn the mercy of God and blaspeme Him who is upon the throne, then be fearful, very fearful.
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.