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Thursday, October 26, 2006

F&WOG--Genuine Subjectivity

Typically, I do a book review after I have read an entire book. However, I do not seem able to restrain myself until after I complete this book. So, rather than the typical review (which may still happen), I've decided to provide excerpts from the book. The book is Fundamentalism and the Word of God by JI Packer.
Again, whether or not we call ourselves Liberals, we are all in fact inclined to sujectivism in our theology. God's thoughts are not our thoughts, and the God-centered approach which the Bible makes to problems of life and thought is in the highest degree unnatural to the minds of sinful and self-centered men. It calls for a veritable Copernican revolution in our habts of thought, and is slowly and painfully learned. On the other hand, it is entirely natural for sinners to think of themselves as wise, not by reason of divine teaching, but through the independent exercise of their own judgment, and to try to justify their fancied wisdom by admjusting what the Bible teaches to what they have already imbibed from other sources ('modern knowledge'). Professed re-statements of the faith in modern terms often prove to be revisions of the faith to make it square with popular intellectual fashions. This process of assimilationg God's revealed truth to the current religious and philosophical opinions of men is the essence of the speculative method in theology which Scripture repudiates. Yet we all constantly do it, more or less; for sin is present with all of us. As usual with sinful habits of mind, we are largely unconscious of our lapses, and only become aware of them as we test ourselves by Scripture and ask God to search our minds and teach us to criticize our own thinking. This once again, is a discipline that none may shirk.
While many tout man's subjectivity as if it were a new discovery, using it to question the clarity of the Bible, Packer is not insisting we abandon confidence in what the Word says. Many use their subjectivity to approach the Word and say, "Why couldn't it be saying this?" when the real questions should be, "Does the text indicate this is what it means?" "Does this fit into general theme of Scripture?" and "Would the original audience understand the meaning I am giving to the text?" Subjectivity is not a green light to give a text whatever meaning we deem, supposing any possibility is equally valid, but should rather be a caution light, encouraging us to slow down, and make sure we are on the right path. Packer continues...
The principle illustrated here is that no synthesis between the gospel and non-Christian systems is permissible. The gospel is complete in itself; to supplement it with extraneous ideas is not to enrich it, but to pervert it; to amalgamate it with pagan religions and philosophies is, indeed, to destroy it. The apostolic gospel, which is the word of God, says Paul, must judge all such speculatvie syntheses. This principle still holds good, although we now have apostolic word in written not in oral form.
Subjectivity is like dirt. Even the most sanitized operating room still has contaminants. None of us can completely rid ourselves of subjectivity. But today, many surgeons of the Word are rolling in the mud of subjectivity before the operate. They claim that this is humility, since they know their is subjectivity in their preaching, they may as well revel in it. However, the skillful surgeon knows that it is because of his subjectivity that he must work extra hard to reduce contaminants. He will wash, put on gloves, and wear sterile clothing. He knows that he can not reduce all dirt (subjectivity), but because he knows how devastating it can be, he does all he can to limit it.

Our gospel must be a message presented to those in our culture, but the message itself must transcend our culture. (And praise God it does, otherwise the gospel that saved so many in the first century would not be sufficient to save people today!)


  • At 5:43 AM, Blogger Brad said…


    C'mon now, NO connection?

  • At 1:26 PM, Blogger danny2 said…

    not sure what you mean, brad?

    is your comment about this post, or other discussions we've had?

    it was a good article!

  • At 5:41 PM, Blogger Brad said…

    Sorry to be so obscure. I was referring to the previous discussions we'd had about possible connections between one's view of Christ's exaltation and one's understanding of Christ's lordship in salvation.

    I was struck by the fact that JM used the same passages to defend lordship, as had used I had used my latest post to support the importance of recognizing Christ's reign. In fact, if JM's post hadn't been a billion times better than mine, I might have accused him of plagiarism.

  • At 9:21 PM, Blogger Brad said…

    Sorry as well for the incoherent grammar. "as had used I had used"


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