Kingdom Triangle Discussion

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Moreland's Response to CT Blog

Here is JP's response to the CT Blog and its comments concerning his ETS paper, "How Evangelicals Became Over-Committed to the Bible and What Can Be Done About It":

My paper was read at an academic conference for an audience of professors. Thus, precision was a premium. It was not intended for a lay audience because lay folk have a tendency---and this is not meant to be harsh—of running with ideas beyond the context in which they were originally given. A professorial friend of mine preached at a church I used to attend and argued that, while he was totally against condom distribution in the public schools, nevertheless, a widely used argument by Evangelicals was a bad argument, and he showed why. After the service, I personally heard several parishioners criticize him for promoting condom distribution in the schools!

While I am sure it was well intended, the CT editor’s summary of my paper is generally fair (though the use of “bibliolatry” in the title is a bit sensationalistic—I used it once in my paper and clarified it’s meaning by the over-commitment claim), but it is still a summary, and as such, did not and could not provide the needed context for understanding my paper. What followed was a large number (but by no means all) of misleading, irrelevant and tangential comments that had little and, often, nothing to do with my paper.

In the paper, I make clear that no one could be over-committed to the Bible (the inerrant Word of God) in loving, promoting and seeking to obey it. By over-commitment, I mean specifically that too many Evangelicals do not believe we can have extra-biblical knowledge or justified beliefs about God, morality, and other important, related matters: e.g., the existence of God and some of his attributes; the nature of the moral law and some of the absolutes that constitute it; the nature of the human soul and its functional relationships to the brain, parenting, defense mechanisms, childhood development, etc.; the reality of demons and important information about how they work in a specific culture along with important and effective ways to deal with them; and God’s guidance and speaking though impressions, circumstances, prophetic words, words of knowledge and wisdom, dreams, and so forth. In all these cases, information that is contrary to scripture is to be rejected, but extra-biblical truth and the knowledge thereof is very, very important.

We are harming people terribly, we are embarrassing the cause of Christ, and we are failing to help people appropriate and wisely use these sources of information when we are over-committed to the Bible in and only in the precise sense I define in the paper. It is time for us to mature as a community in this way and overcome the secularist socialization that lead to our over-commitment, a position that I claim in the paper cannot be justified biblically or theologically. Does anyone seriously think that non-Christians who have never seen a Bible have no knowledge of God or the moral law? That folk in Brazil have no knowledge of how demons work even though they have never seen a Bible? That God never speaks to people and guides them in ways that carry an appropriate degree of authority in their lives (under scripture and to the degree they are justified in believing it was God who was guiding them)? Are there abuses in all these areas? Of course, but that was not part of my talk which was, after all, a mere 40 minutes including Q & A!! Besides, the proper response to abuse is not Ostrich-like denial of the reality of these areas of knowledge, but rather, wise and mature usage. Am I becoming a Catholic? I am a Protestant Evangelical of the Third Wave sort, and I have no inclination whatever to change my views on that. Finally, my paper should not be faulted for not addressing things for which I had no time or which I was simply not addressing. Nor should people fault me for a lack of clarity or charge me with “having plenty of explaining to do” when my paper is, in fact, quite clear within the limited scope of my intentions. And please do not attribute to me views or implication that I do not hold or draw.

I am posting a version of my paper on the website for my book: I would also recommend reading my book Kingdom Triangle (Zondervan; just released about 6 months ago) for additional discussion and bibliography about how to avoid abuses in employing the sorts of extra-biblical knowledge I mention in the paper.


JP Moreland

Monday, November 19, 2007

How Evangelicals Became Over-Committed to the Bible and What can be Done about It

J.P. Moreland argues that sola scriptura involves a commitment to the final authority of the inerrant word of God in all matters, but not to the idea that it is the sole source of moral and theologically relevant knowledge. Just as an archeological dig could discover more information about an ancient city described in the Bible--though we would not accept alleged discoveries that contradicted scripture--so there are three areas where extra-biblical knowledge is available--knowledge of God and morality in the creation, knowledge of the soul and demons by interacting with and studying them, and knowledge of God's will though guidance in various ways.

Kingdom Triangle is relevant to this paper’s conclusion in three basic ways: First, it provides a commendable balance between a recovery of the Christian mind, renovation of the soul, and a restoration of the Spirit’s power so that an over-emphasis on an extra-biblical source of knowledge is discouraged. Second, it explains what knowledge is and what it is not. Moreover, it answers questions about how one would approach extra-biblical knowledge. Third, it gives more detail about the demonic and God’s guidance and speaking.

Read the entire paper here.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

CT Blog on Moreland's ETS paper

An interesting discussion is developing over at the Christianity Today blog concerning JP's ETS paper. Ted Olsen, Managing Editor of Christianity Today, offers an eye-witness account of the paper's presentation in his recent blog post, "Postcard from San Diego: Fighting 'Bibliolatry' at the Evangelical Theological Society."

Monday, November 12, 2007

Kingdom Triangle 60% Off!

JP will be doing a one-hour signing of Kingdom Triangle at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society:

Thursday, November 15th from 10:30 am to 11:30 am.

Kingdom Triangle
will be on sale for 60% off the cover price (total: $8) both on Wednesday and Thursday.

Buy Kingdom Triangle in bulk! Now is the time. Great Christmas gifts.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

JP Moreland and Lee Strobel

Reasonable Faith in an Uncertain World

Thursday, November 15, 7 pm

College Avenue Baptist Church

San Diego, California

Cost: FREE!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Moreland's Paper to Stir the Most Discussion

This year, JP is giving a number of papers at the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) and the Evangelical Philosophical Society's (EPS) annual meeting. In the past, he has even been a plenary speaker at the ETS annual meeting.

The acting President of the ETS, Hassell Bullock (Wheaton College), did interview in Christianity Today, and was asked, "Which papers do you expect will stir the most discussion?" One of the papers he listed was JP's, titled, "Teaching Them to Obey: How Evangelicals Became Overcommitted to the Bible and What We Should Do About It"

Friday, November 9, 2007

Boyd Luter on Kingdom Triangle

Boyd Luter, on his Agree to Disagree Agreeably blog, has devoted four major posts to Kingdom Triangle.

Consider his seasoned and timely interaction of Kingdom Triangle on October 24th, October 29th, October 31st (note JP's comment on the blog), and lastly, November 5th.

In Boyd's final post, he not only offers wise advice about how to maximize the impact of Kingdom Triangle, but concludes the following about JP and his timely book:

... after carefully reading Kingdom Triangle, I cannot help but think in terms of comparison and contrast to the latter ministry efforts of the late Francis Schaeffer. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems to me that Kingdom Triangle is parallel in certain ways to Schaeffer’s A Christian Manifesto, notably in the probing cultural critique it provides roughly a generation after Schaeffer’s piercing and passionate appeal.

However, there is also a huge difference between the two authors and their two timely volumes. Schaeffer’s appeal was for evangelicals to proceed to reclaim the culture from the standpoint of having the proper view of truth and the gospel. Moreland rightly says the church not only possesses the truth and the gospel, but also the power of the Spirit.

As I close, it is worth asking: Was Francis Schaeffer’s challenge in A Christian Manifesto largely greeted by yawns because the evangelical church had become so worldly and comfortable, or because it had become so fleshly (i.e., out of touch with the Holy Spirit)? My answer is “Yes”–it was worldly and comfortable, without a doubt; but it was, and has largely remained, under the control of the flesh, not the Spirit.

Like Francis Schaeffer before him, J.P. Moreland has laid out why our culture is philosophically bankrupt and religiously confused. But, unlike Schaeffer, he has offered not just a clarion call to get off our collective spiritual rear ends, but also a power source that can sustain any individual and corporate transformation that must take place.

I salute this Spirit-led calculated risk of one of evangelicalism’s great minds and hearts (thank you, J.P.!). He has spoken the truth in love, knowing full well that, since those who short-sightedly cling to the fleshly status quo cannot adequately answer his powerful message, they will (and already do) savagely attack the messenger. Why has he done so, then? Because he is trusting the Lord to use his Spirit-led message to awaken many others who will choose to walk in faith, in the power of the Spirit, seeking to be spiritual transformation agents in the spheres of influence where the Lord has placed them. May the Lord multiply their–our–tribe!