Grant Castleberry is currently the senior pastor of Capital Community Church in Raleigh, NC and was the executive director for the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. I’ve shared his tweets here before. Largely because I think they’re great and this one is no different.
But as I read this one there seems to be something missing. His thought is accurate and I think it is true, but something is off.
I recognize that the focus of Standard Sacred Text can render our commentary quite focused at time, though Lord willing we will be broadening our scope in the near future. But doesn’t it seem that the oddity, the misplaced reference is his insistence that the word of God is permanent?
One may be tempted to take Castleberry’s statement in a non-concrete, immaterial, or ideal sort of way but such a route seems impossible seeing that he references the words of Scripture, indeed, the written words of Scripture in space and time. He certainly can’t mean the original language in the Greek. The ECM [representative of the most recent Greek NT conclusions] is currently impermanent as a document and when it is finished some expression of the ECM will replace the current NA28.
Castleberry can’t mean the manuscript tradition because every year we are adding to the number of NT manuscripts while at the same time others are being lost, recollated, or destroyed. Nevermind the deliverances of the CBGM. He can’t mean any of the modern translations seeing that most if not all publishers are unwilling to codify the language of their respective translations. As far as I know Castleberry does not hold to the TR or KJV as his standard sacred text so he is not speaking of permanence in that regard.
Most of Christian academia does not believe the Bible occupies some permanent state. Textual criticism is an ongoing enterprise and presumably will be ongoing until the Lord returns. Most of the Church is not reading the Bible their grandfather read. I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the Church is reading from a different Bible than the one they were reading 5 years ago.
No one in broader evangelicalism seems to be claim that all the words their Bible, Greek, English, or otherwise, are the permanent words of God. As such it does not appear that the Church is treating their and their neighbor’s respective Bibles as permanent. So the modern Church does not believe the Bible is permanent because they don’t believe all the words in their Bible are permanent.
But if you agree with Castleberry and claim that all the words in your Bible, say the TR or KJV, are the permanent words of God, then holy napalm of indignation is poured out on you like a great and terrible Day of Evangelical Wrath.
As such, it seems then that the thing we are missing is that we are ready to name the book which contains all the permanent words of God. If you don’t name the book then you are well received. If you do name the book you are the ecclesiastical equivalent of homeless and crazy.
Saying that we have all of God’s words in a book and then saying the name of that book will most assuredly incur the wrath of our Christian overlords. Thus is the state of the Christian Church. What a time to be alive.
2 thoughts on “The Evangelical Sin of Name-Calling”
Well said. I still love Taylor DeSoto’s characterization of the position of modern text critics as, “we don’t have a Bible, and you can’t have one either”.
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Amen! It is interesting how strong words about the Word are powerful and find vigourous agreement among evangelicals – as long as they are generic without a specific application.
This reminds me about a sermon by John MacArthur, in which he spoke strong words about the Word, even bringing in Matthew 24:35 about the preservation of the Bible! I guess that’s OK for his evangelical and Reformed supporters – as long as he did not specify any particular Bible.
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