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Bible Monopoly

No, its not a game, Bible Monopoly is played in real life and unfortunately among highly respected Bible teachers. Bible monopoly is the view that the Bible is solely understood by a person or a specific group. It is synonymous to what the religious leaders (Pharisees and Scribes) during Jesus’ time were doing with Judaism resulting in a lack of understanding of God’s word.

An example of Bible monopoly is Paul Helm’s review of Peter Enns’ Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament.

See other reviews and Enns’ response at http://theologica.blogspot.com/2008/01/enns-vs-helm-vs-beale.html

Characteristics of Bible Monopoly in Paul Helm’s Review:

  • An unwillingness to deal with the plural complexity of interpretation
  • A failure to wrestle with the difficult matters of Biblical scholarship
  • A failure to see the provisional nature of scripture
  • An obsession with turning honest interaction with extra Biblical data into an evil foe of orthodoxy
  • A tendency to use past theologians (the one’s they agree with) as the standard of Biblical interpretation

The five characteristics found in Bible monopolizers derived from Helm’s review are all symptoms of treating the Bible as a sacred book of answers rather than a sacred book that leave readers with more questions. If the the Bible is just a book of answers then it makes sense why some of it’s readers think they have completely arrived at a full grasp of God’s holy writ, hence the idea of the Bible being provisional sounds ludicrous to them. How can the Bible be provisional if Christians have it all figured out (tongue-in-cheek)?

The point of the Bible is not so that it can be treated like a handbook, a systematic theological commentary, or like an encyclopedia. The Bible is not a book that is to be read like a syllogism. If so, then that will explain why many seem to have a relationship with the book rather than with its Author. If the Bible is a book of answers, then there is no need to consult its Author since everything you need is right there in the book. On the contrary, the Bible’s aim is to lead readers to it’s grand Author. It is meant to shock you, to leave you dumbfounded and bombard you with questions ( about the text, about God, about yourself, etc) that may never be settled, yet your trust in God and reverence of His holiness will grow. The Bible’s ultimate goal is to draw you to God not draw you to the plurality of its readers (John Piper, R.C. Sproul, John Gill, me, etc).

Bible readers may consult past and present commentators and interact with various interpretations, frameworks, and models, but such people and things are not the authority of scripture that is to be reverenced–an authority that is discovered by each reader and through a long-term process. <——the remedy to Bible monopoly.

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About cdero

Love, Faith, and Peace! Under Deconstruction!

12 responses to “Bible Monopoly

  1. concerned ⋅

    Let’s just keep it real. You have beef with the Reformed camp. You’re a postmodern and a relativist. And no, I don’t wanna hear about a song you did. Keep it real, man. You’re not fooling anyone but yourself.

  2. cdero ⋅

    A relativist argues that there are no absolutes. I believe in absolutes. I believe that there is such a thing as truth. I do believe that there are facts in this world, objective meaning, rights and wrongs. I believe that there is such a thing as evil and good which are all things that relativists deny. So you are mistaken my friend to think of me as a relativist.

    Since I am clearly not a relativist, then why not engage my post and interact with me so that perhaps you may understand the post. If Paul Helm can misunderstand Peter Enns, a reform theologian, then surely I can be misunderstood as well. You are invited to ask questions if you like.

  3. cdero ⋅

    BTW, it will be appropriate to check out multiple reviews of Peter Enns’ book at http://www.digitalbrandon.com/?p=194

  4. I agree with you to a point.

    First, where the bible is “provisional” we are not at liberty to fabricate our own holy writ. This is a common mistake across the social and political spectrum, from Fundamentalism to Post Modernism; we read between the lines what we cannot find in the text and end up creating God in our own image.

    Second, I think we need to have the humility to say “I don’t know” when confronted with biblical difficulties” and to not become quickly atttached to an interpretation, as if all questions must be answered.

    Finally, I think getting on to and following the rugged path of Jesus will occupy us sufficiently that we need not solve all of the Bible’s mysteries. M<ost of us do not want to go that deep, we want a religion that suits our lifestyle and political views. Following Jesus, sorting out how to do what He said to do, would make us have to change our lifestyle and beliefs at the root, and it will put us at odds with the left and the right, and the middle ground as well.

  5. jimgetz

    What I find humorous in the whole world of Bible Monopoly is the confluence of confessional schools and minimalists. Both want to level the playing field of biblical complexity to make the text easier to work with. By stifling the plurality of voices in the text, perhaps they hope to silence the plurality of interpretations around it.

  6. Pingback: Enns, bloggers, and explosions « Random Bloggings

  7. Pingback: Theology for the Masses » Blog Archive » More on the Enns Controversy

  8. Pingback: Dr. Peter Enns suspended from WTS - Page 3 - The PuritanBoard

  9. Darren ⋅

    While I have some sympathies with your expressed concerns, I feel that maybe it would be helpful to all sides if we were a bit careful with our rhetoric. After all, we all draw lines, and firmly believe that our lines are better than everyone else’s, and that the world would be a better place if everyone drew lines the way we do.

    We’re all narrow this way. Tim Keller suggests that true narrowness is not so much where we draw the lines as it is how we treat others who draw lines differently. If we feel superior and sneer, perhaps that’s where we fall into the trap of narrowness, exclusive based on our own accomplishment, not inclusive based on the finished work of Christ.

  10. Cruz I didn’t know you were blogging. Thanks for your thoughts here man.

  11. Have you ever poured milk into cereal only to find that the cereal was stale, then found out that the milk you were using was not only past expiration but that it had chunks in floating in it?

    I just found out about this controversy (late to the ball) so I’m gobbling up anything I can about it. I came to your blog and generally agreed mostly with your 5 characteristics of Bible Monopoly. I agreed with 1,2,4,& 5 but was unsure about 3, I don’t know about, something about the language you use makes it problematic. I myself graduated from the more conservative west coast version of Westminster and have seen those characteristics exhibited by the current faculty towards other Reformed seminaries over recent controversies.

    But I’ve been to “Between Two Worlds” and thought it was a decent blog. Then I saw listed under your “Prophetic Leaders” Brian McLaren. And thats when I saw the chunks floating in the bottle. I consider myself an non-Reformed Historical which is Keller’s coined phrase for the type of people you’re talking about, but seeing Enns name beneath McLaren (whose works I have read) unfortunately gives me a bad taste in my mouth. Thanks A LOT man(sarcasm), now I need some gospel Pepto!

    P.S. – That article of Kellers can be found here
    http://www.epcnewark.org/recread/TKeller_CultureofthePCA-rev.pdf

  12. Pingback: More on the Enns Controversy | Henry M Imler

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