Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Impact of the Secular Mind on Scholarship
02/12/2007 - James WhiteWhile riding yesterday I listened to the folks at The Things that Matter Most interviewing Dr. Bock. In the process they played three clips from a previous interview with Robert Jensen of the University of Texas. Jensen is not a biblical scholar, nor a historian. His field is journalism. But, despite that, for some odd reason, he decided to opine on the topic anyway. This particular clip caught my attention:
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Please note some particulars about what he says here. First, Greek would have been the language the people spoke in a vast majority of the New Testament. I assume he is thinking only about the gospels here. Second, what does "translated many times" have to do with anything? Is this the all-too-common "telephone game" analogy? Let's hope not. Next, who are these people who have "control" of these texts? It is a common myth that the early church somehow had some kind of over-arching "power" that, quite simply, they did not. The early church struggled to survive. There was no secret Illuminati-type hierarchy that somehow had "control" of texts at any point at all, even during the apostolic period. Ironically, in their rush to push the gospels as far away from Jesus as possible to leave room for "development," these same critics move the texts beyond the only period in time when you could even theorize any kind of "control," and even then, given the dispersion of the apostles and the early martyr deaths of many of them, the idea that there was ever a situation where the literature of the infant church was under some human control makes no sense. And so on this non-existent basis, Jensen concludes that to claim a text "like that" (whatever that means) is "definitive" is "extremely contentious." Of course, I would identify all he has said to this point as "extremely contentious" and more so, extremely dubious.
But we move on. Of course Jensen would never make a claim to authority for even a "secular" text, but given the world view he has presented, that is hardly shocking, is it? How could he? He says he tries to have a "reasonable" understanding of what we can learn from ancient sources. Please recognize the code here: "I am a naturalistic materialist and I reject, a priori, the concept of divine revelation. Therefore, divine revelation does not exist, cannot exist, and any text that claims to contain such revelation is to be dismissed immediately, with no examination." He then enshrines his fellow naturalistic materialists in the realm of true scholarship, and as a result, says they are much more "cautious" than those in the realm of the Christian faith.
"I think here we would want to value most to the degree possible those who are disinterested." He then refers to "myths," but here, my friends, is the greatest myth of all. Jensen is not "disinterested." The great myth is that the secularist is "neutral" and we Christians are the "biased" ones. This is so often repeated that sadly I would have to say the majority of Christians buy into the argument and remain silent because of it. There is no neutrality when it comes to the fact that God is the Potter and every single man, woman, and child, is His creation. The myth of neutrality is one of the central dogmas of the secular world view, and any Christian who buys into it loses, immediately, the firm foundation of the Christian faith. Consider this: we profess that God is the Creator of all things. He defines all things. Every fact that is a fact is so because God created it that way. The moment we step off this central platform of the Christian faith we are left standing in mid-air. The secularist knows this. The secularist does everything in his power to take God off of the throne of the universe and make Him just another object of human knowledge, judgeable by man. That's one of the reasons I would pull my hair out (if I had any) constantly when listening to so many Christian apologists today who speak of the "greater probability" that "a god" exists, as if this is somehow sufficient to ground the Christian faith. We believe in a God who is so central, so non-judgeable by the puny creature man, that without Him, man cannot even give an account of his thought, his very existence. We believe in a God who is not only there, He has to be there for anything else to exist! That kind of extensive claim cannot be proven by baby-step probabilities.
So listen well to Jensen and realize that his words reveal the great Myth of Neutrality, the cardinal dogma of naturalistic materialism. To embrace it is to deny the Christian God, for if there is, in fact, anything that exists that is neutral to the God who made all things, the Creator of heaven and earth, then the Christian God does not, in fact, exist. Once you recognize this key element of epistemology, you will hear the high priests of secularism spouting the idea constantly. Once you hear it for yourself, you can warn your children about it, illustrate it for them, and prepare them for the very anti-Christian world they will face in the not-too-distant future.
P.S. After writing this I came across this article in my blog reading. Consider it in light of the above and it takes on a much fuller meaning. Given that universities are the veritable "priestly temple" of secular humanism, you can see where the real conflict lies.