Tuesday, January 24, 2006

May I have an autograph, please?

Today in Greek class at TBS we got to talking about text-criticism because we're learning to use the apparatus in our Greek NT. Anyway, as he always does, the Cowboy got me thinking. The question was raised about the earliest extant NT manuscripts, and whether there are any remaining autographs or not. Of course the answer is no, and as Clint said, it displays the wisdom of God. We'd probably end up worshipping the pieces of paper themselves, if such a thing was in existence. In his wisdom, God has decreed that he would remove this temptation from our lives.

Of course, the seeming "down-side" of this is that there's no hard case to be made for the argument that the Bible remains in tact, exactly as it was written. As text-criticism has shown, there are some tough questions to be asked in places of the Greek NT as we have it.

But this is really not a down-side at all. In fact, I don't know why we'd find it the least bit surprising. As with all things of any importance, God desires and requires faith. Think about it: his existence, creation of the world, the historicity of the OT narratives and genealogies, the written records of Jesus' life and teachings, his death and resurrection, the salvation message, the promise of coming again in judgment... everything of any importance is always designed so that we must have faith.

That's the way God works. Always has been, always will be; or at least until the consummation of all things when faith shall be made sight.

And so it is with the text of the Greek NT, and really, the formation of the canon as a whole. God has provided evidence (just like the creation, resurrection, etc.), but he has also provided what seems to be "counter-evidence".

Don't be ashamed of a "foolishly conservative" faith. Don't be tempted to think that when you struggle with doubt over issues like this it's because you don't know enough... chances are, you just need more faith. After all, Christ himself, in his very person was "a stumbling stone" and "foolishness." Wisdom is justified by all her children, and God will shame the wisdom of this world.

3 comments:

Wunderkind said...

Sorry that I happened to stumble upon your site here, but WOW. You say over there in the profile that you love the Church, but a good chunk of what I'm reading is just bashing on the emergents.
For what it's worth, you can't really say "the emergents think this or that" because there is no such thing as an emergent party line - they don't really have a single theology (there is no southern emergent convention meeting to agree on doctrine). So to call them all anything is a bit silly.
Are you doing the LORD's work by belittling a part of his church?

JLF said...

Wunderkind:
I'm sorry that the material here offended you. I can guarantee that it was not written spitefully, and I do promise that it was not intended to "bash" any one person or group of people. Where I have offended you, please forgive me.

That being said...

"a good chunk of what I'm reading is just bashing on the emergents"

Could you please tell me where? On the page right now there's a link to a review of McLaren's book (which is somewhat positive, if you actually read it), and the post on Chad Allen's morality. Other than that, there's a post on the Greek NT, a link to a funny site, a post about Reese Roper, one on the justice of God and the two greatest commandments, some stuff on the authentic church... how is this all just "bashing on the emergents"?

"you can't really say 'the emergents think this or that' because there is no such thing as an emergent party line"

Hoogly. They may not be confessional, but they do have commonalities... otherwise, what's the purpose of the name? Emergent / emerging are commonly used for a variety of people / organizations, but I am not dealing in specifics that would be debated by the majority of those associated at all with the movement.

"Are you doing the Lord's work by belittling a part of his church?"

There are a number of things worth addressing here. (1) I wasn't belittling a part of his church. I do from time to time engage in "conversation" with people who have a somewhat emergent perspective, and we "discuss" ideas and theologies. There's no belittling of people (and remember, people, not groups or movements, make up the church).

(2) The church is built on truth. Christ is to be presented with a pure, spotless bride. By pointing out error and speaking truth in love, I do hope to accomplish some of the Lord's work. It's because I love his church (and desire a pure church for the Christ I love) that I speak out against what I perceive to be error.

(3) How come it's wrong for me to say anything about emergents, but you can take a cheap shot at Southern Baptists (though I'm not even one)? And how come you can laugh at someone dropping the "f-bomb" on a fundamentalist? And how come you can openly mock people that actually have conviction enough to march for the rights of unborn babies?

I wasn't singling people out. I was talking about ideologies and theology. You're making fun of people. I hope that you'll have another look around both my blog and yours. Maybe then our evaluation of each other's standpoints can honestly begin to change.

In Christ,
JLF81

Wunderkind said...

Ok - first, yours was the last in a string of similar blogs that I read yesterday so you got some of the frustration that I felt and maybe it should not have all been pointed your way. Slow day at work you know? So, apologies for using an angry or shocked tone. I wasn't offended by this site, just wanted to see what you'd say (yes, maybe 'pick a fight', but not in a vicious way). Truth is, we could be pals. I appreciate the thorough response.

I wouldn't mind continuing the conversation, but I'd rather do it over email because this medium just isn't the best one. I've got some thoughts on what you say here in your reply - but because I was the one to sort of pick on your blog, I'll let you keep the final word. I'd just be tempted to argue with you anyways if we continued here.

Peace-
Mark