my blog is a conceited affront to grace…
…according to J.I. Packer. And your’s may be too!
I have run across the quotes below from a variety of sources. One of the books I read when I first experienced a “crisis of faith” (not my own words) was J.I. Packer’s “‘Fundamentalism’ and the Word of God.” This book was one source which hurried me along on my walk from faith, helping crystalize in my mind the things I only vaguely felt before I started reading. So I included a bunch of quotes from there.
Too much of evangelical christianity is based on things which are implied everyone must accept without critical examination. It is easier and more compelling to talk of one’s “need for a saviour” or the importance of “allowing Jesus into your heart,” than it is to explore the foundations of the doctrine of scriptural inerrency.
Anyway, I’m wondering if you find these quotes as painful to the mind as I do… I find many of them alarming as well. I won’t pick them apart, but will just ask, how are we to understand anything apart from reasoning? Evangelical christianity tries to have it both ways, appealing to reason, while denying the role of critical examination of faith at the same time. Either just call it faith, something for people to personally explore and experience, or call it reasonable and promote critical examination. Evangelical christianity says go ahead, use reason all you want, just not to examine if the bible is true.
J.I. Packer (all quotes from “‘Fundamentalism’ and the Word of God”):
“The only right attitude for us is to confess that our works are vile and our wisdom foolishness, and to receive with thankfulness the flawless righteousness and the perfect Scriptures which God in mercy gives us. Anything else is a conceited affront to divine grace.”
“We may not look to reason to tell us whether Scripture is right in what it says (reason is not in any case competent to pass such a judgment); instead, we must look to Scripture to tell us whether reason is right in what it thinks on the subjects with which Scripture deals.”
“The humble pupil of Scripture will trust his text-book and not doubt its claims for itself.”
“For Christians to consent to study Scripture on the assumption that it is a fallible human book would not argue intellectual honesty so much as uncritical muddle-headedness; and if they are consistent they will decline to do it.”
“Must Bible study conducted on these principles be hidebound and unenterprising? No. It is true that the student will not spend his time in speculative reconstructions of ‘real’ facts and truths supposed to lie behind, but to vary from, the biblical record; for he will see such enquiries as attempts to answer questions that are based on wrong principles and that should never have been asked. Nor will he develop theories about the origins and authorship of biblical books which go against the Bible’s own testimony.”
“We do indeed summon sinners to bow before the authority of the written Word of God; but this is a call, not to stop thinking, but to stop thinking sinfully, and to start bringing one’s thoughts into captivity to Christ.”
“Reasoning could at best suggest only probability; but the nature of faith is to be certain. Any measure of doubt or uncertainty is not a degree of faith, but an assault upon it. Faith, therefore, must rest on something more sure than an inference of probability.”
“…it is entirely natural for sinners to think of themselves as wise, not by reason of divine teaching, but through the independent exercise of their own judgement, and to try to justify their fancied wisdom by adjusting what the Bible teaches to what they have already imbibed from other sources (‘modern knowledge’).”
Norman Geisler (defending biblical inerrency, on understanding biblical “difficulties”):
“Be fully persuaded in your own mind that an adequate explanation exists, even though you have not yet found it.”
“Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has: it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but–more frequently than not–struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.”
“Reason is the Devil’s greatest whore.”
“Reason must be deluded, blinded, and destroyed. Faith must trample underfoot all reason, sense, and understanding, and whatever it sees must be put out of sight and…know nothing but the word of God.”
John Piper (from evangelistic booklet, “For Your Joy”):
“If you’ve asked some of these same questions and you’re looking for some answers — baed not on our own thoughts and theories but upon God’s Word — we invite you to join us. For your joy.”
“It’s interesting in the early church, the facts about Jesus’ life, the facts aren’t the center of controversy. It’s the claims of who he was and what he was doing. And that’s where you need to give your attention. Who was He?”
“If we are perplexed by any apparent contradiction in Scripture, it is not allowable to say, the author of this book is mistaken; but either the manuscript is faulty, or the translation is wrong, or you have not understood.”
“Belief cannot argue with unbelief, it can only preach to it.”
Paul (1 Cor. 1:18):
“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”