If you ever visit the Nation’s Capital, you will want to visit the Holocaust Museum just south of independence Ave SW. The walk through three stories of exhibits is a sobering and visceral reminder of the unspeakable evil that resides in the heart of man. In a previous post entitled “Time to Get in the Fight” we addressed the endorsement of Hitler as God’s choice to lead the German nation by the German Evangelical church and theological scholars. In this post we want to drill down a little further into the theological underpinnings of this ecclesiastical and academic support.
For over 50 years the historical-critical method was the means of theological formulation. History had replaced the inspired apograph and the new hermeneutic in Germany. Hans Frei, in his book Types of Christian Theology observes of the German theological compromise in accepting Nazism, writes “In dogmatics they asserted the indispensable methodological coherence of autonomous anthropology, the fruit of reflexive analysis of subjectivity and of the contemporary culture, with a biblical doctrine of God’s relation to man.”
Frei notes that two things about the theological dogmatics of that era: the methodological coherence of, 1. “autonomous anthropology;” and 2. a biblical doctrine of “God’s relation to man” or providence. “Autonomous anthropology” speaks to the historical one-dimensional man, who in his autonomy was no longer under the authority of God. Providence speaks of God’s work in history in the affairs of men. The theology of the “contemporary culture” of which Frei writes was one of the abasements of pre-critical Protestant Orthodox theological structures and the adoption of autonomous methods for the formulation of anthropology and God’s providence. Of this “methodological coherence,” Frei continues,
“They then quite logically united this dogmatic compromise to a similar political-theological one for which (again) God made himself known in Scripture but also in the special vocation, culture, and laws of particular nations at particular times.” (Frei calls the compromise “political-theological,” but history bears out the political overriding and crushing of the theological.)
Expanding “autonomous anthropology” to include the realm of the political, Frei identifies a “political-theological” compromise making a theological way for God to speak through Scripture but also through providence which he describes in terms of “special vocation, culture, and laws of particular nations at particular times.” This led to “the Nazi intrusion into the Church,” the “fanatical ‘German Christian Movement’ which envisioned Naziism as the fulfillment of Christianity” and that in 1933 Hitler’s rise to power called the “national renewal was being acclaimed as divinely sanctioned.”
In 1934 Germany, “God making himself known in Scripture” was a rejection of pre-critical categories of a preserved, inspired Word and an attempt to reconstruct the Scripture according to historical critical parameters. The compromise Frei speaks of was between a critically formulated text and a notion of providence in terms of a God’s oversight of a particular nation at a particular time, or the rise of Nazi Germany. While perhaps on an ecclesiastical level this was a compromise, from the academy’s perspective, the text and providence complemented each other. There was no Scripture to stand above the German church to hold it accountable for its misguided notion of providence. Autonomously reconstructed Scripture simply affirmed the church’s autonomous interpretation of providence. As the possession of the Church, the Scripture confirmed a political view of providence.
How treacherous, then, is the historical critical method, when the Scripture becomes subservient to the Church, having lost its transcendent qualities by being subjected to historical limitations and reconstructed according to proportional standards? when the text can be rendered to support the most misguided of political atrocities?
This leads to the question, “Can the Bible you read speak in terms beyond its collation or historical critical construction?” The advocate of the KJV can say yes. In the text you hear the viva Vox Dei, the living voice of God which surpasses all historical limitations. New versions, however, are manmade. Are they able to speak to issues that surpass their origin? The answer must be no. The scientific method confirms the object predicated by the subject. Because the subject, or critic, cannot create something that surpasses his capabilities, the predicate is unable to surpass its source. This is to say, that modern versions are limited to the historical. Distributivity, or there are parts where there is overlap between the preserved Word of God and the critical text, but collectively, or Canonically, the preserved Word of God is the viva Vox Dei, and the critical text is manmade.
Canonically, the bibles accepted by MVOism are manmade documents limited to the historical. This “autonomous anthropology” in bible creation and acceptance is the first step to repeating history. Next, is moving autonomous anthropology into the political sphere because of some providential cultural or national event. After that, a collective autonomous theological or ecclesiastical declaration is all that remains to affirm that the politics of the day are providentially ordained of God, and that the “national renewal was being acclaimed as divinely sanctioned” no matter how horrendous. When you read “horrendous” think of it in terms of 1934 Germany rendered, “good for us all.” The table has been set. Now we wait for the invitations to be sent and for the guests to arrive.
The teaching and preaching the KJV has kept America free, and now many have forsaken the Bible that has kept us free. If you get to Washington DC, make plans to visit the Holocaust Museum. You will get to know yourself and your fellow man better.
Hans Frei, Types of Christian Theology (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992), 154-157.