Tuesday, 7 August 2007
Bob's Bible Blender
Bob Thiel is in attack mode, and his latest target is the hapless Ken Westby and ACD.
I've never met Westby, and I'm pretty far removed from his weltanschau, but he seems a decent bloke with a track record of acting on principle. I personally don't share his unitarian enthusiasm, but that's largely because I think he's asking the wrong questions. But does that mean it's okay to label the guy a "heretic"?
Heresy is in the eye of the beholder. There's something incongruous about Bob pasting the label on Ken when Bob is an apologist for the Living Church of God, a sect widely regarded as heretical itself.
Bob writes: I believe that what A.C.D. does and stands for is dangerous and at least two of its teachings need to be denounced as heresy–the first being the denial of Jesus being God and the second being the denial of portions of the New Testament being scripture... A.C.D. is promoting heresy by teaching that Jesus is not God. Yet Jesus is God and that is what the Bible clearly teaches.
Hold your horses Bob, just what do you mean "the Bible clearly teaches"?
The Bible is a collection of documents written over centuries, composed in various genres and grounded in changing cultures. What Leviticus teaches needn't be what Galatians teaches. Mark's understanding of Jesus is different in many ways from John's. To use the jargon, Mark's earlier Christology is low, John's is high. Putting all the books of the Old and New Testaments into the LCG blender and whizzing them around till they come out as homogeneous pulp is just plain stupid. Each biblical writer needs to be heard individually before making sweeping generalizations (or Fred Coulter-type harmonizations) based on cut 'n paste proof texts severed in bloody chunks from the living documents.
But then, Armstrongism Ancient & Modern knows no other way to approach the Bible. Chuck it in the blender and pick out the bits you like that float to the top. This then can be defended as "the Bible interpreting itself." Why is Rod Meredith allowed to see some things differently in 2007 to Herbert Armstrong back in 1967, while Mark in 50 CE must be squished into the same identical mold as John in 95 CE or thereabouts? This is a woeful understanding of inspiration.
A.C.D. denies the diety [sic] of Christ and questions the Gospel that the Holy Spirit inspired John to write and apparently other passages of scripture. A.C.D. is thus promoting dangerous heresies and should be denounced by those who believe that they are in the true Church of God.
Bob fails to mention that non-unitarians engaged F. Paul Haney and other speakers at the conference in Albany. They seem to have done so with a spirit of generosity and openness, with no indication of name calling and anathemas. I'm also guessing that David Sielaff (who spoke against the unitarian position) at least knows how to spell deity.
As for Bob objecting to the idea of "the denial of portions of the New Testament being scripture," well, maybe he would like to tell us all whether he regards the "Johannine coda" (1 John 5:7-8 in ye olde King James Version) as scriptural.
Westby et al invite us to think about our binatarian assumptions. Why is that a problem? Either they can make a convincing case or they can't. Bob's latest outburst of outrage - what Brian Knowles calls heresy hunting - offers nothing constructive to that debate.