The Worldview Machen On The Modern Age — A Rebuff To Hart’s R2K Machen

“The truth is there can be no real progress unless there is something that is fixed. Archimedes said, “Give me a place to stand, and I will move the world.” Well, Christian doctrine provides that place to stand. Unless there be such a place to stand, all progress is an illusion. The very idea of progress implies something fixed. There is no progress in a kaleidoscope

That is the trouble with the boasted progress of our modern age. The Bible at the start was given up. Nothing was to be regarded as fixed. All truth was regarded as relative. What has been the result? I will tell you. An unparalleled decadence—liberty prostrate, slavery stalking almost unchecked through the earth, the achievements of centuries crumbling in the dust, sweetness and decency despised, all meaning regarded as having been taken away from human life. What is the remedy? I will tell you that too. A return to God’s Word! We had science for the sake of science, and got the World War; we had art for art’s sake, and got ugliness gone mad; we had man for the sake of man and got a world of robots—men made into machines. Is it not time for us to come to ourselves, like the prodigal in a far country? Is it not time for us to seek real progress by a return to the living God?

J. Gresham Machen
The Creeds and Doctrinal Advance

1.) Notice how integrated Machen’s worldview here is in this excerpt. He starts with the necessity of the absolute given-ness of the Scriptures and the Historic Christian Doctrine that they convey. From there he segues into the reality that without the Archimedian fixed reference point there can be no progress. And the progress which Machen is referring to is not merely progress in the Church but progress in culture and social order. Machen explicitly says because of the loss of fixity that is provided with and by Scripture and the Christian doctrine that flows from it, “there is decadence, there is liberty prostrate, there is slavery stalking almost unchecked upon the earth, the achievements of centuries crumbling in the dust, with sweetness and decency despised.”

    Now clearly this is worldview thinking at its best.

Machen, writing as a Christian Minister, and a Doctor of the Church, tells the Christian community that unless they return to Scripture not only will all hope of progress is abandoned but also regress into old chaos and dark night is guaranteed.

2.) Notice also, how Machen connects the teaching of Scripture to what some style the “common realm.” Machen, like all good worldview thinkers, explicitly notes that when we embraced Science apart from Christian doctrine, Art apart from Christian doctrine, Man apart from Christian doctrine the consequences were war, ugliness gone mad, and robots. Machen clearly sees a connection here between Scripture, Christian Doctrine and all of life. Machen’s faith is not a privatized faith that is cordoned off from the public square. Machen’s faith is not a faith that appeals to Natural Law to govern science, art, and man. Machen’s faith is not a faith that would keep him from boldly speaking as a Christian minister to the life issues of the time. Machen’s faith was a wholistic integrated faith as this quote clearly reveals.

3.) In his appeal to return to the living God is implied the idea that should man return to the living God then the problems he makes mention off will find themselves receding. Man will no longer be a robot and a machine but instead will discover again his manishness. Art will no longer be ugliness gone mad but will once again find its proper place and role in God’s world. Science will no longer be prone to producing War but will be harnessed for the glory of God.

Machen finds in God’s Word and Christian doctrine not only the resolution to individual men’s hostility to God and God’s hostility to them, but Machen also found in God’s Word and Christian doctrine the resolution to a world gone mad and a civilization undone by sin.

And for that R2K must re-invent the Machen of History so that he is, as one R2K advocate recently put it one who believed that, “fighting these (cultural) battles was not the ministry of the visible church.” Quite to the contrary this piece reveals a man of the visible Church fighting with an eye not only to the Church but also to the cultural issues in the world.

Andy Stanley On Scripture & Infallibility

Recently a video of a question and answer format with Rev. Andy Stanley was on youtube. That video has since been taken down. In that video Rev. Stanley said,

“The foundation of our faith is not the Scripture. The foundation of our faith is not the infallibility of the Bible. The foundation of our faith is something that happened in history.

Bret responds,

Here Rev. Stanley tries to rip apart revelation from redemption. Sure, the foundation of our faith is something that happened in History (i.e. — Redemption — Christ’s work on the Cross) but I could not know about Redemption apart from Revelation (Scripture). So Stanley introduces a false dichotomy between Redemption and Revelation suggesting that our foundation is the Redemptive act but denying the foundational nature of the Revelation that communicates to us the reality of the Redemptive act and its meaning.

Elsewhere in the vanished video Rev. Stanley could say,

“You can believe that the Adam and Eve were a creation Myth. That’s OK.

Bret responds,

Rev. Stanley goes on to say that he doesn’t believe the Creation myth because the Bible says so but because Jesus talks about Adam and Eve and since Jesus has credibility because he rose from the grave therefore Rev. Stanley says he can believe what the Bible says about Adam and Eve.

Of course the problem here is that the place where we read that Jesus talked about Adam and Eve is the Scriptures. So if you don’t believe the Creation myth because the Bible says so, then why would one believe it because a Jesus believes it? After all, the Redemption acts of Jesus are recorded in the Bible as well. Could not the resurrection account be just as mythological as Adam and Eve?

The Enns Hermeneutic

For a few years now Peter Enns and his “doctrine of inspiration” has been making waves in the Reformed / Evangelical community. Of course the fact that Enns could, with this “doctrine of inspiration” spend years at Westminster East should wave red flags for Christians in terms of supporting these institutions. I wish I could say that Westminster East was some kind of exception in regards to putatively White Hat Seminaries harboring significant error.

Anyway, I thought I would dip into the controversy and read something that explained a little bit what it was all about. Imagine my surprise when I picked up G. K. Beale’s, “The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism,” and discovered that all Enns is pushing is a variant of neo-orthodoxy with a “History of Religions” school twist. There is nothing new in what Enns is thumping. This drivel has been pushed for decades. The fact that somehow this is seen as “new,” or, “innovative,” by some people speaks more of those people’s collective historical unawareness then it does to the fact that Enns has discovered a new and innovative Hermeneutic.

Beale, at least, recognizes that Enns has hardly come up with something new under the sun. In a trenchant critique Beale has this to say about the failure of Enns “Myth Hermeneutic.”

1.) Enns affirms that some of the narratives in Genesis, e.g. of creation and flood, are shot through with myth, much of which the biblical narrator did not know lacked correspondence to actual past reality.

2.) Enns appears to assume that since biblical writers, especially, for example, the Genesis narrator, were not objective in narrating history, then their presuppositions distorted significantly the events that they reported. He too often appears to assume that the socially constructed reality of these ancient biblical writers, e.g., their purported mythical mindsets, prevented them from being able to describe past events in a way that had significant correspondence with how a person in the modern world would observe and report events.

3.) Enns never spells out the model of Jesus’ incarnation with which he is drawing analogies for his view of Scripture.

4.) Enns affirms that one cannot use modern definitions of truth and error in order to perceive whether Scripture contains truth or error. However, this is non-falsifiable, since Enns never says what would count as an error according to ancient standards. This is also reductionistic, since there were some rational and even scientific categories as the disposal of ancient people for evaluating the observable world that are in some important ways commensurable to our own.

5.) Enns does not follow at significant points his own excellent proposal of guidelines for evaluating the views of others with whom one disagrees.

6.) Enns’s book is marked by ambiguities at important junctures of his discussion.

7.) Enns does not attempt to present to and discuss for the reader significant alternative viewpoints besides his own, which is needed in a book dealing with crucial issues.

8.) Enns appears to caricature the views of past evangelical scholarship by not distinguishing the views of so called fundamentalists from that of good conservative scholarly work.

Enns’s hermeneutic is basically a hermeneutic of post-modern tolerance. When embraced the consequence is that the reader of Scripture is the one judging Scripture (what is myth and what isn’t) as opposed to being the one who is under the judgment of Scripture. Enns himself might be comparatively “conservative,” but allow his hermeneutic to be officially sanctioned in the Church (and it already is sanctioned in a defacto way in most churches … for Pete’s sake if it could live for years and years at Westminster East, clearly it is hard to see how it wouldn’t already be ensconced in the Church now) and the consequence will be all kinds of novel postmodern conclusions as putatively drawn from Scripture.

Beale & McAtee on the unity of Scripture

Matthew 21:41 They said to Him, “He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.”

41 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:

‘The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.
This was the Lord’s doing,
And it is marvelous in our eyes’?[j]

43 “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. 44 And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.”

Some commentators have rightly noticed that this second statement about a stone also has an OT background, this time from Daniel 2:34-35: “A stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue … and crushed [it],” and it “became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away.” The statue in Daniel represented the evil world empires that oppress God’s people, and the stone symbolized God’s Kingdom of Israel that would destroy and judge these unbelieving Kingdoms. Now, unbelieving Israel as become identified with pagan Kingdoms and is portrayed as being judged along with them by also being ‘broken to pieces’ and ‘scattered like dust.’

Thus Jesus sees Israel as becoming indistinguishable from the ungodly nations and accordingly judged in the very same way. That is, Israel as a nation will no longer exist as God’s true covenant people, just as the pagan nations to be judged at the eschaton will no loner exist. Remember also that the ‘stone’ of Daniel, after smashing the colossus, representing the evil kingdoms, ‘became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.’ Jesus identifies himself with Daniel’s stone that smashes the ungodly nations, which also includes here Israel, which is seen as being allied with these nations. That an aspect of the new form of the kingdom in this passage is the temple, centered in both Jesus and a new ‘people producing fruit,’ is further indicated by the fact that the parable of the vineyard in Is. 57, to which Jesus alludes in the directly preceding context, was interpreted by early Judaism to represent Israel’s temple.

That Jesus identifies himself with the cornerstone of the new temple is pointed to further by how in Dan. 2 the stone that struck the statue and then ‘filled the earth’ represented the foundation stone of the temple. That foundation stone grew and grew until it expanded to cover the entire the earth. A further indication that Israel identified itself with the nations instead of God’s true Israel, Jesus, is seen in Pilate’s question to the Jews, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ to which the chief priests responded, ‘We have no King but Caesar’ [John 19:15]. This develops the earlier statement by the Jewish crowd addressing Pilate, ‘if you release this man [Jesus], you are no friend of Caesar’ (John 19:12). In the parallel in Mt. 27:25 the Jews responded to Caesar saying, ‘ His blood be on us and our children,’ another radical expression of disassociating themselves from Jesus as the center of the newly emerging Israel, kingdom, and temple.

G. K. Beale
A New Testament Theology — 682

How can Beale remain amillennial and write material like this? Like Vos before him, Beale recognizes the “now, not yet” hermeneutic and constantly properly refers to the distinction between the Kingdom inaugurated and the Kingdom consummated. Yet, for Beale, again, like Vos before him always tends to front load the “not yet” in his hermeneutic over the “now.” I think this amillennial front loading of the “now” over the “not yet” is a Redemptive historical mistake. It was in the Old Testament where we find the front loading of the “not yet” over the “now,” in the coming of the Kingdom. However, with the coming of Christ who Himself is the Kingdom, the Redemptive-Historical anticipation has been realized so that with the new and better covenant the “now” of the “already, now, not-yet” Redemptive-Historical hermeneutic is front-loaded so that we anticipate that the inaugurated Kingdom that came with Christ goes from nowness unto nowness. This is the hermeneutical basis for postmillennialism. The front loading of the “not yet” has passed with the coming of Christ and with Christ’s victory we read the Scripture with the “now,” not consummated but indeed front loaded.

Also note that geo-political Israel is of no eschatological import to God as it has been overthrown, never to rise again. Geo-political Israel has absolutely zero claims to God’s promises of the OT. God has crushed Israel, divorced Israel, and served Israel divorce papers in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. Indeed, I might go so far as to say that those who see Israel as remaining God’s chosen people, are trying to reverse God’s judgment and so are enemies of God and His people.

Galatians 3:28 & Egalitarianism

‎26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Here St. Paul DOES affirm the distinctions of class, race, and gender. Paul is saying that despite these very real distinctions that exist that when it come to Justification the ground at the cross is even. The very real distinctions that exist don’t prohibit one from being justified in Christ.

Indeed, I would insist that unless these distinctions are assumed as true this verse makes no sense. Further, I would insist that the distinctions are so limited only to the question of justification, that the Church, composed of all these justified people as it is, still expects men to use the “Men’s Restroom,” and women to use the “Women’s Restroom,” while at Church. Something that would be altogether unnatural if it really were the case that Christians supported the idea of “No male or female categories or roles exist after conversion.” The fact that we still label our Restrooms suggest that we don’t really believe men and women are identically the same. Also, if no category of male or female, because of the putative egalitarianism that Christ brings, there would be therefore no reason whatsoever to object to sodomite marriage and if the implications of this passage were to be fairly traced out consistently according to the egalitarian Hermeneutic there would be no reason to object to pedophilia since the egalitarian Hermeneutic implication of this passage is that in Christ Jesus there is neither child or adult.

So, I believe that Galatians 3:26f can and should be used to refute egalitarianism in the Church and in Christian culture.