Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Those Outrageous Evangelicals

Wow. Meacham has a fit. And in public.

In this week's Editor's Desk in Newsweek, Jon Meacham takes Evangelical Christians out to the woodshed to lick some sense into them. Actually is more like a stern, disapproving frown that is supposed to shame Evangelicals into adopting a liberal view of the Bible if they want to have any hope joining the serious conversation among the most influential people on public affairs.

No matter what one thinks about gay rights – for, against or somewhere in between – this conservative resort to biblical authority is the worst kind of fundamentalism. Given the history of the making of the Scriptures and the millennia of critical attention scholars and others have given to the stories and injunctions that come to us in the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament, to argue that something is so because it is in the Bible is more than intellectually bankrupt – it is unserious, and unworthy of the great Judeo-Christian tradition.

In his spluttering rage, he mentions "millennia of critical attention," even though the "critical" approach to the Bible goes back only as far as Spinoza in the seventeeth century, or perhaps back to Hobbes. That's only centuries, not millennia, and it only really got going a hundred and fifty years ago.

And he seems to be saying that any appeal to the Bible for an authoritative word from God is fundamentalism, and thus "the worst kind of fundamentalism."

But surely I have taken his words out of context. Perhaps he just doing a Harry Emerson Fosdick impersonation for the entertainment of his readers, giving us a parody of "Shall the Fundamentalists Win?"

No. He's serious.

What is truly amazing is that despite editorials like this from no less than Newsweek magazine, the kingdom of God advances.

For intellectually serious defenses of the Bible as the Word of God, and thus as the ultimate authority on any matter it intends to address, see...

B. B. Warfield, The Inspirsation and Authority of the Bible (Presbyterian and Reformed, 1948);

J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism (Eerdmans, 1923);

J. I. Packer, "Fundamentalism" and the Word of God (Eerdmans, 1958).

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