International Woman’s Day with Eta Linnemann … Identifying Historical-Critical Methodology

I thought in honor of International Woman’s Day, I would spend some time reading a female theologian. I am sensitive to these kinds of special days as I am always trying to find ways to fit in. In light of that,I am finishing up Eta Linnemman’s, “Historical Criticism of the Bible; Methodology or Ideology?” Linneman was trained by some of the best known Historical-Critical “theologians” on the Continent (Bultmann, Fuchs, Gogarten, Ebeling). After writing a couple books using this methodology she was, by her own testimony, converted. In this book, she examines her former “theology” from a Biblical foundation. From the outset Linnemann lets her mind be known,

“Today, I realize that historical-critical theology’s monopolistic character and worldwide influence is a sign of God’s judgment (Romans 1:18-32).

Eta Linnemann
Historical Criticism of the Bible; Methodology or Ideology — pg. 18

She has confirmed for me that the Historical-critical hermeneutical school is characterized by the following,

1.) Historical-Critical theology presupposes that the supernatural is not true. Now, they may talk about the supernatural and they may talk about God but in their worldview “God” is defined in one of two ways. God is either defined as non-transcendent so that he is completely immanent

“A scientific historiography arose which first excluded God as an active agent in the historical process by introducing ‘a god of the philosophers’ who conveyed awareness of himself immanently in the course of history. This pseudo-god soon turned out to be superfluous, but he had served to eliminate the possibility of the true God’s real and ongoing activity in human history. In this way there came to be a totally atheistical historical ‘science.'”

Eta Linnamenn
Historical Criticism of the Bible; Methodology or Ideology — pg. 30

Or God is so transcendent that His transcendence is beyond the ability for the creature to know anything about himA God this transcendent ends up being no different than a God who is completely immanent. Any talk of the “supernatural” for this kind of theologian finds such supernatural as the result of the outworking of the Geist in the historical process. This remains a completely immanent process.

Yarbough offers in the introduction to Linnemann’s work,

“In the historical-critical hermeneutic, God as understood in historic orthodox Christian, thought is systematically ruled out of consideration and is replaced by human self-awareness and purely immanent forces; as the historical theology textbooks put it, anthropology replaces theology.”

Robert Yarbrough
Translator’s Introduction
Historical Criticism of the Bible; Methodology or Ideology — pg. 12

2.)  Historical-critical theology insists that the text must be approached by neither presupposing that it is or is not true or false. Complete neutrality as accompanied by a putatively presuppositional-less bias is the required approach. Of course, by not presupposing that the text is God’s authoritative Word the result is that man becomes sovereign over God’s Word in determining what is to be believed and what is to be eschewed. Of course, this is sold as the ability to be “completely objective,” but objectivity has been completely surrendered the minute that presuppositions affirming the truthfulness of God’s Word are surrendered. There is no reasoning from nowhere. Everyone approaches texts with faith assumptions. Surrendering proper God-centered presuppositions means embracing improper humanist centered presuppositions. Neutrality is a myth.

Linnemann offers,

“In Historical-Critical methodology, the research is conducted ut si Deus non daretur (as if there were no God). That means the reality of God is excluded from consideration from the start, even if the researcher acknowledges that God could bear witness of Himself in His Word. The standard by which all is assessed is not God’s Word but ‘scientific’ principle…. Scientific principle has come to have the status of idol.”

Eta Linnamenn
Historical Criticism of the Bible; Methodology or Ideology? — pg. 84

3.) One sign of Historical-Critical theology is the tendency to read the varying human authors of the Scripture as if they are in contradiction with one another. As a random example, when one pits the “Theology of Luke” against say the “Theology of Peter,”  as if they contradict each other what one has done, whether they realize it or not, is to have embraced a paradigm that eschews divine inspiration. If God is ultimately the one author of all the authors of Revelation then it cannot be held that those authors contradict one another unless one is willing to say that God contradicts Himself.

4.) The Historical-Critical method tends to find a canon within a canon. This arbitrary canon then becomes the prism through which all other books of the bible are read.

Linneman again,

“In order to do justice to the claim of authority which the Biblical canon has for the church, and also for personal orientation, one seeks a canon within the canon. A few come up with little more than Romans 7, the Good Samaritan in Luke 10, and the parable of the final judgment in Matthew 25. For others, this ‘canon within the canon’ extends further. In either case, this standard is used to assess the rest of the Bible, and Sachkritik (a method in which what is deemed to be of central importance is used as a standard against which other parts of the Bible are measured) is employed, whether implicitly or explicitly.”

Eta Linnamenn
Historical Criticism of the Bible; Methodology or Ideology? — pg.  86

By using this Sachkritik methodology all that lies outside of or is in contradiction to the Historical-Critical “theologian’s” hobby horses are readily overturn.

5.) The art of Pseudomorphosis is ubiquitous. Linnemann informs us that Pseudomorphosis is when concepts are emptied of their meaning and then filled with a new content which has no more in common with the original meaning than the name itself.  In Pseudomorphosis Christian words and phrases, while being retained, have been hollowed out by the Enlightenment project. The ideas of the Endarkenment, from Deism to Transcendentalism – Romanticism, to Darwinism, to Existentialism – Nihilism to Postmodernism, all have been as so many ichneumon flies who laid their eggs inside their Christian host. On the outside, the host may look fine but on the inside, the larvae are eating out the host from the inside out. The outer form of Christianity has remained undamaged. We still use the same language and jargon. But the thing itself is dead, and what will soon emerge is the ugly offspring of the flies who successfully laid their eggs. What Linnemann offers as Pseudomorphosis others have labeled as “linguistic deception.”

6.) There is a distinction made between the words of the Bible and God’s Word. The Bible is the Word of God is exchanged for “the Bible contains the word of God and so may become the Word of God.” This forms the genesis of what became known as encounter theology. The Bible may well become the word of God for the reader in an encounter that results in a meaningful experience but Scripture itself is not the objective word of God.  Eta Linnemaan offers,

The Bible is no longer esteemed as God’s word in the way it is handled. It is taken for granted that the words of the Bible and God’s words are not identical. The printed matter between the two covers of the Bible is said not to be God’s word in and of itself. It becomes God’s Word only from time to time when it functions as through reading or preaching.”

Eta Linnamenn
Historical Criticism of the Bible; Methodology or Ideology? — pg.  85

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

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