Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I performed my first wedding a few days ago and at the reception I found myself in a conversation with a woman who went to Yale and took a class titled The Bible as Literature. Obviously, I was intrigued to hear all about the class and what she learned about the Bible from the class.

Much of what I’ve learned from my conservative seminary about liberalism, higher critical scholarship, and those who study about the text rather than studying the text itself became very real to me in my discussion with this woman. She told me how they read the Pentateuch (the first 5 books of the Bible) and really examined the different sources (e.g., J, E, D, P sources). Then she told me about how they read the poetic books (e.g., Psalms & Proverbs) and looked at the poetic structures and what that entails. Then she proceeded to share about the gospels and her perspective on the “interesting” stories that are recorded in the Gospel accounts. In fact, her professor told her that much of the information in the gospels derives from pagan mythology or other ancient religions.

In God’s sovereignty, I’ve been reading on these very issues for my PhD comprehensive exams in the near future. I’ve read books that speak of whether the NT Gospels copy from the pagan literature, whether the Pentateuch is comprised of many “sources” or not, the structure and meaning of the poetic books, and if the (supernatural) accounts in the gospels are mere fiction or really historical.

After dialoguing with her for some time on these—in reality, peripheral—issues, I asked her what she thought of the claims of the NT that God is infinitely holy, perfect, righteous, and good and that mankind is wholly imperfect, unrighteous, and wicked. I told her that the NT claims that the only way one can be saved is by forsaking self and all attempts of works-righteousness and clinging only and fully to the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross as he suffered and died in the place of sinners by bearing the Father’s wrath for them that they deserve. This is only appropriated by faith, and faith alone, in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior which then will radically change the way the new Christian will live as he is now a slave to his new Master, Jesus Christ.

To all this, she replied with the conversation stopper: “yea, that part wasn’t that interesting to me.”

Saddened I drove home that night and realized that the once-so-great history of Yale has utterly forsaken the study of the text for the historical critical studies about the text and the endless barrage of questions about the text rather than reading the text and letting the text speak for itself.

It was a great conversation in that I could chat with her about the various issues but yet it was a sad conversation in that I realized, first, how far a divinity school can fall and, second, how blind sinners are to the truth of the gospel until God sovereignly opens blind eyes to the truth.

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