Liberal?

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John Kight | Forum Activity | Posted: Fri, Apr 9 2010 1:36 PM

I just got the Anchor Bible Dictionary. I was wondering if anyone who owns it would be kinda enough to point me in the direction of the more liberal articles? I want to know what to look out for! Thanks againGeeked

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Apr 9 2010 1:56 PM

John Kight:
if anyone who owns it would be kinda enough to point me in the direction of the more liberal articles?

I fear "liberal" is in the eye of the beholder and thus falls into a theological discussion in which there will be no consensus. At the end of each article you will find the name of the author and the bibliography he used. If an article seems suspicious you can look online to find the credentials of the author and often descriptions of the resources used.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Mathew Haferkamp | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Apr 10 2010 9:01 PM

If I may be so bold as to say if you do not believe that the Bible is an inerrant book then you are a liberal!!!!!!!!!!

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Rene Atchley | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Apr 10 2010 9:14 PM

Liberal=everyone other than me....lol.   On a more serious note follow up on individual credentials may well give one insight into what particular category a specific article would fall into.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Apr 10 2010 9:22 PM

Mathew Haferkamp:

If I may be so bold as to say if you do not believe that the Bible is an inerrant book then you are a liberal!!!!!!!!!!

I wish I'd known it was that easy to identify 'em Smile

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Pastor Roger | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Apr 10 2010 9:26 PM

Mathew Haferkamp:

 if you do not believe that the Bible is an inerrant book 

I would agree that is one definition.

Elder/Pastor, Hope Now Bible Church, Fresno CA

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Graham Owen | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Apr 11 2010 11:43 AM

John Kight:
I just got the Anchor Bible Dictionary. I was wondering if anyone who owns it would be kinda enough to point me in the direction of the more liberal articles? I want to know what to look out for!

Liberal, like every other label, is relative and difficult to define other than perhaps at the extremes or as a stereo type. Also, assuming that your concern is theological, remember that a dictionary like AYBD will contain a lot of articles where the theological disposition of the writer will not actually make a lot of difference. Also with dictionaries its always worth checking in multiple different ones to see what they have to say and whether there is a consensus.Personally I have found that liberal does not necessarily equal bad and I try not to dismiss anything simply because the author holds a different theological position to mine.

God Bless

Graham

Pastor - NTCOG Basingstoke

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Rene Atchley | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Apr 11 2010 11:57 AM

I think Graham you make several good points in your post.   Often being a "liberal" really does come down to nothing more than one's own theological views in comparison to those other people over there...you know those liberals.  As a theological movement I would suggest that "liberalism" had its height in the middle of the 20th century with folks like Tillich and what is known today in the Protestant movement makes those "liberals" seems quite moderate by political theological standards.  Most works from Logos, given the overall universe of their product line, is quite safe (imo) for most Evangelicals to own and use without too much difficulty.  My hope is that the this old debate (scary liberals vs. safe/orthodox conservative) is replaced by issues of quality and application of any given theological work in the Christian community...but that's just me.

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Graham Owen | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Apr 11 2010 12:29 PM

ReneAtchley:
My hope is that the this old debate (scary liberals vs. safe/orthodox conservative) is replaced by issues of quality and application of any given theological work in the Christian community...but that's just me.

That's a good comment, what I find amazing is how many people are unaware that authors they consider safe have extensively read and are influenced by theologians that they would consider scary. I remember a comment Noel Jones made about this at our denominational convention a few years ago about taking a good look at the bibliographies of the books on our book shelves. His observation was that we would not let these people into our pulpits in person but without careful analysis we allow them into our pulpits thorough our reading! Makes you think...

God Bless

Graham

Pastor - NTCOG Basingstoke

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Alain Maashe | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Apr 11 2010 1:11 PM

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While terms like “conservative” and “liberal” have often been abused and the political meaning has been often confused with the theological meaning, awareness of authors’ theological leanings (bias) and their ramifications is an important step in the proper discernment of the material presented.

It is true that the topic is often oversimplified, but I would guess that the OP referred the authors attitude towards the authority, inspiration, and inerrancy of the Bible which is the main primary source used is a ….bible dictionary.

I think it is best to think of the various positions as falling into a continuum ranging from those who would affirm the verbal and plenary inspiration of the Bible along with absolute inerrancy and hold that the Bible is the final authority in all that it affirms to those who believe that the Bible is just like any other literature of antiquity, the product of human imagination, and which borrows from other works of antiquity and is not inspired. As such, the Bible as a human product would therefore be susceptible to the same limitations, prejudices, bigotry, errors, deception, short sightless that are common to pre-scientific works where superstition instead of reason ruled the mind of the authors.

Within this continuum, you have those who make minor modifications to the most conservative of the positions by replacing for example absolute inerrancy with full inerrancy (my own position) while others allow for major modifications with view like limited inerrancy or infallibility. The same happens also for minor and major modification made to the most liberal of the positions.

I agree with the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy when it states:

Article XIX.

WE AFFIRM  that a confession of the full authority, infallibility, and inerrancy of Scripture is vital to a sound understanding of the whole of the Christian faith. We further affirm that such confession should lead to increasing conformity to the image of Christ.

WE DENY  that such confession is necessary for salvation. However, we further deny that inerrancy can be rejected without grave consequences, both to the individual and to the Church.

Even if one does not agree with the above, it is however, certain that in matter of doctrine and authority, one’s presuppositions concerning the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible will often impact what conclusions are reached.

A good example is the role of the Torah in salvation history (simplified presentation of course), one’s view on the authorship, origin, and veracity, and authority of the material included in the Pentateuch will impact one’s conclusion about the way God has acted in history (or whether

He has even acted in history). Those who hold to inerrancy and inspiration of the Bible will see the Torah at central to God’s dealing with humanity and central to the rest of the Bible being both history and theology. Those that see the Pentateuch as a late and at best exilic work (maybe allowing for some older traditions) and a pious fraud will mostly try to place it in its assumed “real” historical context and argue that it tells us a lot about Israelites in exile but little about Moses, Abraham, and Jacob who most likely did not exist and are just part of a made up story to justify the hope of an exiled community who needs to keep hope alive by inventing a covenant with God, a glorious past, and promises of future restoration.

While all the authors of AYBD do not all adopt the second position, they are generally closer to it than to the first position. The dictionary overall is still useful but many of its presuppositions and conclusions will conflict with what evangelicals believe. It is important to be aware of that and know that for an evangelical for example, its usefulness often lies elsewhere (academic research, articles that are more theologically neutral because of the subject matter, apologetics, and so on).

Consulting the Zondervan encyclopedia of the Bible on the same topic is enough to showcase the difference in presuppositions, approaches, and the resulting conclusions.

I believe as an evangelical, that the above must be considered before purchase an encyclopedia since “good scholarship” does not always tell the whole story and some sources are best left to those who have the training and spiritual discernment to handle them, even then, 1Co 10:12  still applies for the "scholar".

 

I know many will disagree with the above, especially if they do not share the same presuppositions (but this would also prove my point about the importance of discerning authors' bias).

Alain

 

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Rene Atchley | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Apr 11 2010 2:40 PM

I understand that the Chicago Statement is one theological position on inerrancy.  However, it is no more than just a statement which has neither the standing or importance of either Church Councils or Creeds as best that I can tell.  Presuppositional theology seems to me to be no more than an "I said so" method of theological reflection in the line of Van Til (and others) which again is just  one legitimate method of doing theology.  Often these discussions seem to assume that there is some sort of theological "monitor" that measures the absolute position of someones elses theological tradition and training.   Trying to replace Church tradition and historical positions with a new orthodoxy does not seem to me to be helpful  when trying to measure the usefulness of Logos products in a discussion as exemplified in this thread.  Again in the universe of Logos products being offered to consumers I feel comfortable asserting that most (if not all) could be used in a positive way in a local congregation for preaching, teaching, or correction.  This all seems like an argument we have had before in another world at another time Alain.   

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Apr 11 2010 3:48 PM

Alain Maashe:
Those that see the Pentateuch as a late and at best exilic work (maybe allowing for some older traditions) and a pious fraud will mostly try to place it in its assumed “real” historical context and argue that it tells us a lot about Israelites in exile but little about Moses, Abraham, and Jacob who most likely did not exist and are just part of a made up story to justify the hope of an exiled community who needs to keep hope alive by inventing a covenant with God, a glorious past, and promises of future restoration.

Pardon my ignorance. This sounds a bit like the Jesus Seminar but I've not run into it before. Could you give me a couple of names of people holding this position? Thanks.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Alain Maashe | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Apr 11 2010 5:10 PM

ReneAtchley:

I understand that the Chicago Statement is one theological position on inerrancy.  However, it is no more than just a statement which has neither the standing or importance of either Church Councils or Creeds as best that I can tell.  Presuppositional theology seems to me to be no more than an "I said so" method of theological reflection in the line of Van Til (and others) which again is just  one legitimate method of doing theology.  Often these discussions seem to assume that there is some sort of theological "monitor" that measures the absolute position of someones elses theological tradition and training.   Trying to replace Church tradition and historical positions with a new orthodoxy does not seem to me to be helpful  when trying to measure the usefulness of Logos products in a discussion as exemplified in this thread.  Again in the universe of Logos products being offered to consumers I feel comfortable asserting that most (if not all) could be used in a positive way in a local congregation for preaching, teaching, or correction.  This all seems like an argument we have had before in another world at another time Alain.   

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Rene,

I am not interested in arguing the merits of the Chicago Statement, or even of the various views of inerrancy.

Whether or not one agree with the Chicago Statement is irrelevant the point I am making. My purpose was merely to describe the range of views represented in various theological works in relation to the authority, inspiration, and inerrancy of the Bible.  Your statement that “in the universe of Logos products being offered to consumers I feel comfortable asserting that most (if not all) could be used in a positive way in a local congregation for preaching, teaching, or correction” stretches to the extreme the meaning of "positive use for teaching and correction" . Yes I could use the Koran and Gnostic works (both part of Logos offerings), just to name a few, during a sermon or while teaching but I would not be teaching or preaching their contents, rather I would seek to correct their erroneous teachings. Even if one is not evangelical, the principle is the same and would also be accepted by a Gnostic or a Muslim: works that contradict each other at the most basic level and in relation to foundational doctrines cannot possibly be equally useful to grow one’s faith. If it was so, the very idea of "correction" would be meaningless

 

  Yes, the entire collection of works offered by Logos is useful  for specific and often distinct purposes (apologetics, academic research, syntax, etymology, archeology, and so on) but they are not all useful for “for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,  that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work. (2Ti 3:16-17)”

 

My point is simple, depending on your theological persuasion; some works will be more useful to you than others and some will not be useful at all when it comes to growing in your faith.

 

Publishers recognize this fact and seek to offer collections build around a common theological framework (Lutheran, Catholic, Orthodox, Southern Baptist, mainline protestant, Jewish and so on).

 

Potential buyers should be aware of the above and understand the theological framework of the work and its assumptions (it is one of the major features of scholarly book reviews and why they are useful)

 

 

Alain

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Jeremy | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Apr 11 2010 5:14 PM

MJ. Smith:

Alain Maashe:
Those that see the Pentateuch as a late and at best exilic work (maybe allowing for some older traditions) and a pious fraud will mostly try to place it in its assumed “real” historical context and argue that it tells us a lot about Israelites in exile but little about Moses, Abraham, and Jacob who most likely did not exist and are just part of a made up story to justify the hope of an exiled community who needs to keep hope alive by inventing a covenant with God, a glorious past, and promises of future restoration.

Pardon my ignorance. This sounds a bit like the Jesus Seminar but I've not run into it before. Could you give me a couple of names of people holding this position? Thanks.

Martin Noth and Gerhard Von Rad are probably the major player with regard to this view. I would purchase the IVP OT dictionaries for a good evangelical appraisal.

I would take all the articles in the AB dictionary with a grain of salt, but it is a great but slightly dated resource.

 

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Apr 11 2010 5:35 PM

Jeremy:
Martin Noth and Gerhard Von Rad are probably the major player with regard to this view.

Thanks.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Alain Maashe | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Apr 11 2010 5:39 PM

MJ. Smith:

Alain Maashe:
Those that see the Pentateuch as a late and at best exilic work (maybe allowing for some older traditions) and a pious fraud will mostly try to place it in its assumed “real” historical context and argue that it tells us a lot about Israelites in exile but little about Moses, Abraham, and Jacob who most likely did not exist and are just part of a made up story to justify the hope of an exiled community who needs to keep hope alive by inventing a covenant with God, a glorious past, and promises of future restoration.

Pardon my ignorance. This sounds a bit like the Jesus Seminar but I've not run into it before. Could you give me a couple of names of people holding this position? Thanks.

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MJ

 

I guess the Copenhagen School (the leader of the movement called biblical minimalism) could be seen as the equivalent of the Jesus Seminar for the Old Testament. Key scholars are Thomas L. Thompson, Niels Peter Lemche, and Philip Davies. Many of them see most of the OT has having been composed in the Persian and Hellenistic period and they go as far as denying the history of the events related to the united monarchy including David and his kingdom.

 

However, “critical” scholarship with the various incarnations of the Documentary Hypothesis is not too far behind, they usually place the final composition of the Pentateuch around the 6th century well after Josiah “discovered” the Book of the Law in the temple (the pious fraud) late in the seventh century. They would generally date the oldest traditions in the Pentateuch around the 10 century BC, still nowhere near an historical Moses.

 

Alain

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Lynden Williams | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Apr 11 2010 5:55 PM

Graham Owen:

Liberal, like every other label, is relative and difficult to define other than perhaps at the extremes or as a stereo type. Also, assuming that your concern is theological, remember that a dictionary like AYBD will contain a lot of articles where the theological disposition of the writer will not actually make a lot of difference. Also with dictionaries its always worth checking in multiple different ones to see what they have to say and whether there is a consensus.Personally I have found that liberal does not necessarily equal bad and I try not to dismiss anything simply because the author holds a different theological position to mine.

Well said Graham. The position you take is a sign of spiritual and academic maturity.

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Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Apr 11 2010 6:12 PM

Lynden Williams:

Graham Owen:

Liberal, like every other label, is relative and difficult to define other than perhaps at the extremes or as a stereo type. Also, assuming that your concern is theological, remember that a dictionary like AYBD will contain a lot of articles where the theological disposition of the writer will not actually make a lot of difference. Also with dictionaries its always worth checking in multiple different ones to see what they have to say and whether there is a consensus.Personally I have found that liberal does not necessarily equal bad and I try not to dismiss anything simply because the author holds a different theological position to mine.

Well said Graham. The position you take is a sign of spiritual and academic maturity.

I remember when I first heard a friend of mine in seminary say "I've actually learned a lot from liberals" and I was appalled. I've grown a lot since then. I would now say the same thing to others who are afraid of reading anything by liberals. My fear had been that I might be persuaded by them and move more towards their position (God forbid!). Well, well, well. If they have something persuasive to say, maybe I ought to listen to it. And if I'm so weak in my own theology that I could be persuaded away from it merely by listening to someone else talk about their position, then maybe I'm hanging onto my beliefs by a very thin thread indeed. I think we all grow stronger in our faith the more we listen to other people's positions. If we can learn why we believe what we believe, and learn to defend it rationally when other positions are expressed, that can only be good for us. And if we find that the foundations upon which our beliefs were based are erroneous or shaky, then maybe it's best to rethink them. And by a strong faith I'm not talking about a tenacious clinging to something despite evidence or arguments to the contrary. I'm talking about a calm, well-examined faith that holds up to scrutiny and isn't afraid of open questions.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Apr 11 2010 6:24 PM

Everyone please go to http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/category/theology/  for the post “Why Doesn’t Everyone Agree with Me?” or Doctrinal Disagreement to the Glory of God. This is written by a Calvinist, premillenial eschatology etc. Trust me this is worth reading in the context of this thread.

P.S. a copy & paste into a note worked just fine Smile

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Rene Atchley | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Apr 12 2010 12:21 AM

My only response to that artoc;e is that clearly they are not theologically enough (i.e. academically oriented) since they have written an understandable and precise position paper.  I would have far more trust and confidence in their analysis if I didn't understand it.....Beer  Uh...this is my pathetic attempt at theological humor...its divine.

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