Post-critical Theological Schizophrenia

Every epoch of time had it challenges to the validity of the Christian faith, and in every era, there were those who argued for orthodoxy against the heterodoxy of the day. “Earnestly contending for the faith once delivered unto the saints” is a never-ending act of obedience. The rise of Molinism and the rejection of Divine simplicity both attacks of Theology proper are the current heterodox issues today. The rejection of Scripture’s Divine authority by the infusion of rationalistic arguments and methods rounds out the contemporary attempt to dismantle the principium theologiae of the Christian Church. Dr. Ronald Mayers captures the nihilistic contemporary setting for theological study, writing that,

“The current zeitgeist [spirit of the time] is not so much a philosophy as it is the cultural milieu, the background for all philosophies and perspectives in existence. Life is no longer understood as dependent on a transcendent ruler of time and history. There is no infinite reference point…. Personal destiny is seen is beginning at birth and ending at death. In such a totally naturalistic world, theology herself adopts an ontological foundation that is so thoroughly secular that it too finds meaningless and undiscoverable any category of the transcendent.” Ronald B. Mayers, Religious Ministry in a Transcendentless Culture, 1980, 13-14.

Though written in 1980, Dr. Mayers’ assessment is spot on. It is as if there are no categories in the modern mind within which to place pre-critical theological formulation and articulation. What was once mainstream orthodoxy is considered a brief historical aberration, left for dead and ignored in the face of post-critical textual and theological development. So confident are the adherents of post-critical thought that one boldly asserts that if, “Calvin were alive today, he would not believe what he wrote any longer.” At least in this instance, even the Institutes have fallen prey to the arrogant post-critical reconstruction of pre-critical theological genius. The practical result of this milieu is that the Bible is considered a natural phenomenon to which all evolutionary scientific methods apply. Simply stated, the bible is a science project whose honored status has been replaced with a non-exegetically based, scholarly, and ecclesiastical theological consensus which maintains a shell of historic orthodoxy. For example, while holding to the inspiration of the Originals they support a textual critical system that denies the inspiration of the originals. For example, “Little is gained by speculating as to the precise point at which such corruptions came in. They may have been due to the original writer, or to his amanuensis if he wrote from dictation, or they may be due to one of the earliest transcribers.” Westcott and Hort, Introduction to the New Testament in the Original Greek, 208. This confusion is identified as Post-critical Theological Schizophrenia (PTS), or so-called “orthodoxy” based on a contradiction. The authority of scholarly theological consensus usurps exegesis, making the grammatical/historical defense of individual verses irrelevant. The expression, “the Bible is inspired,” is a theological statement, not a statement of fact. The same theological words are used, i.e., inspired, and theological textbooks, for the most part, teach the Doctrine of Inspiration, but the actual inspiration of the Scripture is rejected. Theological statements consistent with the scholarly consensus now possess the authority once held only by sound exegesis. Modern evangelical theology is not derived from the exegesis of an inspired text but is based upon theological, academic, consensus. As long as everyone says the same thing, an inspired, authoritative text is unnecessary for “Christianity” to appear normative and orthodox. Only a return to a pre-critical, exegetically based foundation and interpretation of Scripture will saved the Church and Academy from becoming increasingly feckless and irrelevant to the contemporary culture. After all, when it comes to Bibliology, the common perspective seems to be, “who cares?”

Published by Dr. Peter Van Kleeck, Sr.

Dr. Peter William Van Kleeck, Sr. : B.A., Grand Rapids Baptist College, 1986; M.A.R., Westminster Theological Seminary, 1990; Th.M., Calvin Theological Seminary, 1998; D. Min, Bob Jones University, 2013. Dr. Van Kleeck was formerly the Director of the Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, Grand Rapids, MI, (1990-1994) lecturing, researching and writing in the defense of the Masoretic Hebrew text, Greek Received Text and King James Bible. His published works include, "Fundamentalism’s Folly?: A Bible Version Debate Case Study" (Grand Rapids: Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, 1998); “We have seen the future and we are not in it,” Trinity Review, (Mar. 99); “Andrew Willet (1562-1621: Reformed Interpretation of Scripture,” The Banner of Truth, (Mar. 99); "A Primer for the Public Preaching of the Song of Songs" (Outskirts Press, 2015). Dr. Van Kleeck is the pastor of the Providence Baptist Church in Manassas, VA where he has ministered for the past twenty-one years. He is married to his wife of 43 years, Annette, and has three married sons, one daughter and eighteen grandchildren.

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