Reconstructing and Deconstructing the Bible: A Historical Overview

**This post is part two of a series started here**

Let us begin with six men:

1.) Karl Marx (1818-1883) – Gave prominent voice to modern Communism and defined the oppressed as all those not in power. For Marx the Church/Religion is a form of power and therefore is an apparatus of oppression. Furthermore, the Church derives its power from the Bible and in Marx’s time, from the Textus Receptus of the New Testament. In Marx’s view the Christian Bible must also go seeing it too is a tool of oppression.

2.) Charles Darwin (1809-1882) – He of course gave prominence to the modern idea that man is merely material and at that, a descendent of more primal and less complex systems of life. God’s word did not create life; natural selection did.

3.) Frederick Nietzsche (1844 – 1900) – He is famously know for declaring that God is dead, and that we have killed Him. And if God is dead then what does that make man? Why, it makes him god for only a god can kill a god. In a world where both God is dead and we are gods there can be no meaning or at least not ultimate meaning to life, morality, and even words, especially the words of Scripture.

4.) Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) – He gave prominent voice to the modern psychologizing of the self and particularly that of sexualizing psychology clearly exemplified in his postulation of the Oedipus Complex where ever man desires to kill his father and sleep with his mother or the supposition that children are from birth sexual in their nature. Freud viewed the sexual moral norms of Christian drawn from Scripture as ghastly and atrocious infringements upon the very nature of the psychological and sexual self. Christianity and its Bible must be done away with if man is to truly be the self he is.

5.) B.F. Wescott (1825-1901) and F.J.A. Hort (1828-1892) – In the same century and in the same intellectual and social matrix Wescott and Hort did exactly what Marx, Freud, Darwin, and Nietzsche sought for, they rejected the New Testament of the Church – the source of the Church’s moral stances on the origin of species, sexual norms, the definition of personhood, and of justice. Wescott and Hort set the Bible of the Church aside and sought to examine the evidence afresh and anew, but in so doing either wittingly or unwittingly weakened the position of the Church in society.

Whether Wescott and Hort knew what they were doing, they nonetheless fulfilled the most basic desire and need for Marxism, Darwinism, and Freudian psychology to thrive – the destruction or diminishment of “oppresive” Christian systems as dictated by the the Christian Scriptures (which at this time in history was the TR) as the supernatural norm of human morals and definitional existence. As a result, even Christians in mainline Protestant denominations are now arguing for the moral uprightness of gay marriage, ethically sourced porn, and virtues of third-wave feminism. And those who are not seem ill-equipped to answer the apologetic call because their supernatural norm of human morals and definitional existence is only sufficiently reliable by some relatively unknown standard.

In Wescott and Hort’s rejection of the Church’s New Testament as a step in reconstructing the New Testament they abandoned the Spirit of God moving through the word of God in the people of God who then identify the words of the Good Shepherd in Scripture. Wescott and Hort traded this exegetically and theologically grounded epistemological means and traded it for a supposed “objective” method of scientific textual criticism. What is worse, so has most of Christian academia.

In other words, Wescott and Hort attempted to reconstruct the text of the New Testament (the TR) based on naturalist grounds and in so doing deconstructed the means whereby the Church comes to know the words of God as the words of God. This is not unlike the current ecclesiastical attempts at deconstruction regarding race or gender. In this way #MeToo and #WokeTheology are merely the social and cultural children of #ReasonedEclecticism.

Over the last 150 or so years since Wescott and Hort, evangelicals have joined the chorus and now we have no standard sacred text as a believing community. Now in the 21st century the Church is losing its grip on a standard definitions of marriage, gender, and sexuality. And why not. All that evangelical academics require is a sufficiently reliable text of Scripture. Though what amounts to “sufficient” remains unknown by scholar and laymen alike. As a result, it should be no surprise to the evangelical community that there are now calls for merely sufficiently reliable definitions of marriage, family, sexuality, and gender.

It sounds something like that which Christ condemned in Matthew 26:16-17,

“Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor! Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?”

Woe unto you blind guides. Which is greater, the Bible or the Bible that sanctifies the Church’s theology?

Modern evangelical academics are all up in arms about how modern sexual practices violate their stated theological statements regarding sex, but which is more holy – the Scripture or the theology of marriage, sex, and gender drawn from the Scripture?

If Christians can have a sufficiently reliable Bible, whatever that means, then Christians can certainly have a sufficiently reliable theology of marriage, sex, and gender, whatever that means.

By what measure you judge the Scripture is the measure by which your theology will be judged.

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