The Private Biblical Epiphany

I am listening currently to the 3-hour interview that Wheeler MacPherson did with Christian Gray that Sjoerd de Boer so kindly gave me. Wheeler himself has responded to my post, though without addressing the issues of substance.

In the interview, one thing that really struck me was the private biblical epiphany that he describes. This was after he went through the Baptist church and was during his sojourn in the Presbyterian church. He said basically that he wanted to know God Himself, directly, and not through human mediation. So, he decided to read his Bible without any commentaries, and without reference to any theologians. He was seeking to build his theology from the ground up. This seemed to be stimulated by his negative experience with some ugly church politics that he had experienced. As so often happens in these cases, Wheeler rejected the organized church entirely as a result. He currently does family worship in his own house as opposed to organized worship.

It is necessary, in reacting to this, to acknowledge that the church often does not nurture its people very well. Further than that, the church often abuses its members. And, of course, there are no politics as ugly as church politics. Frankly, most secular politicians could take lessons from church politicians. Some have, in fact. However, these problems with the church do not take anything away from what the Bible says about the church. Wheeler seems to think that the gates of Hell have in fact prevailed against the church. A family is not a church. The family does not have elders and deacons. We are not to neglect the gathering together of the saints, as Hebrews says. Whenever we think about the church, we must continue to remember that the church of Revelation 21-22 is the church that needs to hold our gaze. The church of today is often ugly, wart-filled, and full of sinners and hypocrites (who doesn’t look better on the outside than they are on the inside?). But the church of the new heavens and the new earth is the bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

But to get back to the topic of the private biblical epiphany, the only way to avoid completely those who have gone before us is to read the Bible in the original languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. If Wheeler is reading an English translation, then he is not avoiding other theologians: the theologians were the ones who translated the Bible into English! I believe firmly that reading the Bible in the way that Wheeler did in order to build his theology without any reference to those who have gone before is dangerous. There is a faith once for all delivered to the saints. There is a pattern of sound teaching. The churches have defined this in the creeds. We cannot avoid the church. It is a biblical principle that iron sharpens iron. It is also a biblical principle that we should trust in the Lord, and not in our own understanding. The Lord has given gifts of perception and biblical wisdom to people all through church history, not just to me. Just because he has had a bad experience with the church does not mean that he should throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Wheeler notes that he studied martial arts. A question for him arises out of this: in his theology of Caucasian Adamic descent, presumably the Asians are not descended from Adam. Why would he want to engage in the martial arts that did not originate with Caucasians, but with the Asians?

He believes that Jews, blacks, and other non-Caucasion races are not descended from Adam/Noah. As a result, people of those races cannot be Christian. They are the descendants of demons (literal descendants of demons as per a literal interpretation of Genesis 6). Now, my good readers, suppose you think (as probably the majority of you do) that this is not a correct interpretation of Scripture, and that you think this opinion is sinful. Let me be clear: I disagree with his interpretation of Scripture. However, can’t the Lord save racists? Of course, Wheeler doesn’t believe he is a racist, though he would be counted one by a great majority of people. Nowadays, racism is the unforgivable sin. The American conscience remembers slavery during the Civil War era and the Holocaust, and we feel guilty about these events, and therefore react to positions like Wheeler’s and think that no one could believe these positions and be a Christian. Why is racism the unforgivable sin?

A serious question for Wheeler is this: what does he believe that Galatians 3:28 means? Does he believe that Jews cannot be part of the church? Weren’t Paul and all the apostles Jews? Wasn’t Jesus Himself a Jew? Isn’t Galatians 3:28 saying that race is no longer a factor in the church?

In reading his first post, I wonder how he can get the idea that there are non-Adamic people on earth from Genesis. Genesis 5 and Genesis 11 are extremely emphatic that all human beings are descended from Adam and from Noah. Where did the non-Adamic people come from in Genesis? Regarding his interpretation of Genesis 6, how can demons have physical seed? I would agree that demons can control people who have children. But demons themselves cannot have children. Jesus makes this crystal clear when He says that in the new heavens and new earth, we will neither marry nor be given in marriage, but will be like the angels in heaven. Angels therefore do not have children. Demons are fallen angels. Therefore, demons cannot themselves have children. I think that a lot of Wheeler’s views stem from his interpretation of Genesis 6. There are several interpretations of that difficult passage. I think the seed of Satan there is a description of demon-possessed people. Demons can be driven out of some people and enter others. They are equal-race occupiers.

Wheeler believes that racially mixed marriages will lead inevitably to favoring homosexual practice. He uses Tim Keller as an example of this. But there are plenty of people (like myself) who believe that racially mixed marriages are not sinful, but that homosexuality most definitely is a sin. Not everyone is like Tim Keller. (UPDATE: in the comments, it has become apparent that what I have said about Keller here is not clear. I have not heard Keller completely disambiguate his position on homosexuality, and so I don’t know where he stands. My comments here are temporarily assuming for the sake of argument that Wheeler is correct in his assessment of Keller). Now, racially mixed marriages can have some problems related to cultural differences, and these differences should not be overlooked. I wonder if Wheeler can accept the fact that someone could accept racially mixed marriages without accepting homosexuality or pedophilia (which Wheeler believes is the next step in the inevitable chain). I do not see why this is an inevitable slide. Moses married a non-Israelite, and was criticized for it by Miriam and Moses, and yet God vindicated Moses is a rather dramatic fashion. Ruth was a Moabitess, and yet wound up being one of the ancestors of David, king of Israel, and therefore Jesus Christ.

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13 Comments

  1. Jack Bradley said,

    March 25, 2014 at 11:44 pm

    Lane, I personally think you’re wasting your time on WP, other than praying for him. But I am curious, why your comment on Keller? Are you seriously saying that Keller does not think homosexuality is “most definitely a sin”?

  2. Jack Bradley said,

    March 25, 2014 at 11:45 pm

    Make that: W MacP

  3. Ron said,

    March 26, 2014 at 12:00 am

    Wheeler believes that racially mixed marriages will lead inevitably to favoring homosexual practice. He uses Tim Keller as an example of this.

    Hi Lane,

    Would you please explain this statement for me? I can think of several interpretations. For instance, are you saying that Wheeler believes Keller connects the dots as Wheeler does (but is wrong or even right about Keller)? Or, are you saying that Wheeler is saying that Keller favors homosexual marriage as a result of being in a racially mixed marriage? I’m at a loss but I’m sure it’s me.

    Thanks!

  4. greenbaggins said,

    March 26, 2014 at 8:30 am

    Wheeler makes reference to Tim Keller as someone who advocates homosexuality. I was making reference to him as someone that Wheeler was talking about. My own opinion on Keller is that I don’t know where he stands on the issue. When asked whether it is a sin, he would not come right out and say it. I don’t know what that means. It could mean that he believes it is a sin, but wasn’t wanting to stick out his neck and say it. I have other issues with Keller myself. But I don’t know where Keller actually stands on the issue.

  5. Dan said,

    March 26, 2014 at 11:10 am

    There are many reasons to differ with Keller (as I do) but his stance on homosexuality (it’s sinful) is not one of them. You lend credibility to WMP’s, shall we say, “eyebrow-raising” rant by repeating his assertion about Keller as if it might be true.

  6. Jack Bradley said,

    March 26, 2014 at 11:15 am

    Lane, Keller does say that homosexuality is a sin. Not always with as much fervor as I myself think he should, but he says it–even in his now infamous Veritas Forum interview at Columbia, where I think it is fair to say that he does qualify that conviction overmuch.

    I do appreciate Keller’s desire to state the truth of Biblical sexuality in a way that won’t cause people to refuse to listen to what he has to say, especially in his post-post Christian setting, where bluntly condemning homosexuals to hell would cause the listeners to associate him with the likes of Westboro Baptist Church.

    But he does consistently make it clear, in his writings and sermons, where unrepentant sinners end up. So please be careful about your insinuations.

  7. greenbaggins said,

    March 26, 2014 at 11:39 am

    Jack, please point me to where Keller unambiguously affirms that homosexuality is a sin. I have already clarified my own current position on Keller: I don’t know. I’m willing to be pointed to a place where Keller says unambiguously that homosexuality is a sin. He did NOT say that in the blog post linked to in comment 5. All he said there was that he was not in favor of legalizing gay marriage.

  8. greenbaggins said,

    March 26, 2014 at 11:45 am

    I have added a clarifying update to the original post, given that what I said about Keller wasn’t clear.

  9. Jack Bradley said,

    March 26, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    Lane, here is a transcript portion of the Columbia Veritas interview. Again, he clearly qualifies it overmuch, and I am certainly not satisfied with his overall response, but his first line answers your question.

    Keller: Yes, of course homosexuality is a sin because greed is a sin, because all kinds of things are sins. But what most Christians mean when they say that and certainly what non-Christians think they hear when they hear that is ‘If you’re gay, you are going to Hell for being gay’. It’s just not true. Absolutely not true.

    EISENBACH: So then, what’s . . . then how is homosexuality a ‘sin’. I’m not . . .

    KELLER: Well, homo. . . Greed is a sin. In other words, it doesn’t help human flourishing. Basically, Christianity has an account of what we think human beings were built to do and what will therefore, help human flourishing. So, we would say if you spend all of your money on yourself, that’s bad . . . not only for your own soul, but for everybody elses’. We would say homosexuality is not the original design for sexuality. Therefore, it’s not good for human flourishing. We want people to do things that are good for human flourishing.

  10. greenbaggins said,

    March 26, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    Jack, it unfortunately does not answer my query. Yes, he says that it is a sin, but he qualifies that by redefining sin as something opposed to human flourishing. The real, more precise question would be this: does he believe that homosexuality is a violation of God’s law, and that it is opposed to God’s moral character? Yes, it is not good for human flourishing. We agree on that. But Keller is not using the term “sin” in the same way that I am using it. Therefore, the quotation does not answer my question.

  11. Jack Bradley said,

    March 26, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    Lane, I know Keller’s response leaves a LOT to be desired, as I mentioned previously. I’m trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, since he was speaking in an informal Q & A. I of course agree with you regarding “the more precise question.” The sin of homosexuality has much more to do with rejecting the authority of God to rule over our lives than it does with human flourishing. And I do believe that Keller would agree with that.

  12. Steve Drake said,

    March 26, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    In reading his first post, I wonder how he can get the idea that there are non-Adamic people on earth from Genesis. Genesis 5 and Genesis 11 are extremely emphatic that all human beings are descended from Adam and from Noah. Where did the non-Adamic people come from in Genesis?

    You can’t, not from Genesis, but therein could be part of the problem. As you know, it is now fashionable in Christian circles and in our pulpits, churches, and seminaries to believe there were pre-Adamites, descended through a long chain of hominids leading back to the great ape-like ancestor millions of years ago. The orthodox Christian position of creation ex nihilo and Adam and Eve de novo as the first and only two humans on earth at the beginning of history and the only two humans as original parents for any and everyone who has ever lived and/or died on this planet could be where this goes off the rails.

    That and the utter disbelief that God would judge the world in a cataclysmic, universal, and globe covering year-long flood that saved only 8 and the pairs and sevens that were on the boat, and you can see where the wheels start a-comin’ off.


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