Square Peg Nonsense in False Theology

In the following guest article by John Henderson, he discusses a recent Nazarene pastoral training conference conducted by Dr. Al Truesdale, and material Truesdale used including a document by theologian Robert Branson.  In a previous post, I refuted Dr. Truesdale’s continuing attempts, along with others, to re-write history and say that Nazarenes were never fundamentalists.  Truesdale was my former Greek New Testament professor at ENC and was an excellent instructor, but he has it all wrong in the matter of scriptural inerrancy and John Wesley’s position on it.  The material from Dr. Branson is also very suspect and does not make any biblical sense, as John points out.  It is no surprise that both men are members of Nazarenes Exploring Evolution, which is trying very hard to make the heretical belief in evolution the de facto, unofficial position of the Church of the Nazarene.  We clearly need more theologians who are true to the Bible, and not their own imaginations.  Rev. Henderson has asked us the proper question here: How absolutely foolish can it become? 

Square Peg Nonsense in False Theology

Oct. 7, 2013, By John Henderson

How absolutely foolish can it become?  If the emergent movement ever beats folks such as I, it will be that they wear us down with foolishness, but never by reason or evidence of truth.  I came across what seemed to be a handout of sorts and assume it was at the recent pastoral training conference for the Nazarene’s Tennessee District conducted by Dr. Al Truesdale.

I actually came across two documents from that event.  One was Truesdale’s outline of his presentation wherein he appears to have attempted to trace the idea of “fundamentalism” historically by tying it into the John Darby movement of a pre-tribulation rapture and Calvinism.  I had received a notice of the event from the district office and responded politely that I could demonstrate historically that Nazarenes were traditionally fundamentalists right along with the Calvinists.  Also, the Church of the Nazarene does not take an official stand on the theories of millennialism but allows all three and their variations.

It seemed, from the outline, that Truesdale was attempting to teach that Nazarenes and John Wesley were never “fundamentalists.”   I do not wish to actually address that issue here because the idea is well-refuted in other places and I think I have dealt with it enough for the moment.  It is the second document that concerns me and I am puzzled that it would have been included in the presentation for any reason without rebuttal by the presenter, unless he supports its assertions.

It is a short document by Robert Branson, Emeritus Professor of Bible Studies, Olivet Nazarene University, August, 2013.  It is titled:  “A Day In the Wilderness (An Illustration of ‘accommodation’ in the Bible).”

It is presented in an imaginary setting of Moses entering the tent of meeting where he uttered a casual “Good morning, God.” And there was a table with parchments and pens.  God told Moses to write how He had created the universe.  I quote:

“’Before time and space began, before anything existed, thirteen billion years ago, I formed a singularity of tightly compacted energy and matter.  In three-thousands of a second it exploded sending energy and matter in all directions.  Time and space began.

“’I commanded gravity to collect the matter into billions of galaxies of stars.  The angels watched as giant red stars such as VY Canis Majoris and white dwarfs such as Siri​us B burst forth​ in light.  They were astonished as subatomic particles such as quarks formed hydrons such as protons and neutrons.

“’I shaped planets out of the remnants of stars and gave particular attention to the one I called Earth.  Four and half billion years ago it was a ball of molten lava which soon cooled.  Out of its toxic methane environment I caused the first living cells to form.  Then a little over two billion years ago blue-green algae formed and began to free oxygen into the air.  A billion years later invertebrate animals evolved and then vertebrate animals.  The Earth was alive with plant and animal life.  The oceans were filled with fish of every kind and description.  Soon humans would appear.’

“’Moses, are you getting all this down.  The parchment looks empty.’

“’Forgive me, God.  I have a question.’

“’Yes?’

“’What’s a billion?”

“After a few seconds of silence, God said, ‘Hmmm.  Get a clean sheet of parchment and write down these words.’

“’In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and…’”

It is extremely difficult to respond to utter foolishness, but I will try.

First, the imaginary setting is plagued with both scientific and theological errors.  The casual meeting between God and Moses is irreverent towards God.  That may have set the tone for the outlandish dialog that followed.  Compared to God, man is certainly not bright but the punch line seems to say that we are too dense to understand what an “educated” scientist easily grasps so God had to resort to a simplistic summary of sorts, knowing that we would manage to misinterpret it with fictional concoctions.

Not only does Dr. Branson need to revisit the Scriptures, but he should consider either getting his scientific data straight or leaving it to those who really understand research and discovery—the only thing “science” can actually do.

This is an anemic and silly attempt to promote the demonic doctrine of creation by evolution—a concept that the atheistic evolutionists reject.  In other words, phony theologians have bought into the atheistic ideas of evolution but vainly try to rationalize beyond reason to force-fit it into a wild idea that God was somehow behind it all.  Dr. Truesdale’s Square Peg  book was part of his presentation.  Talk about a square peg in a round hole, however, Dr. Branson’s attack on revelational truth takes the prize cake.  I wonder why it was part of the presentation.  I have one question.  How far is one willing to go to reject the plainness of the Scriptures?

Resource:
http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2008/10/20/debate-finally

John Wesley Was A Fundamentalist: A Rebuttal To Dr. Truesdale’s Argument

John Wesley was a fundamentalist.  He believed the Bible is inerrant and infallible in all that it teaches.  Let’s set the record straight.

“Wesleyans aren’t fundamentalists because that would require them to exchange a high doctrine of Scripture for a low one.”… “We shouldn’t ask the Church of the Nazarene, which is a Wesleyan denomination, to exchange its high doctrine of Scripture for a lesser one.”  (Al Truesdale)

These words by Dr. Al Truesdale in his article from Holiness Today (Why Wesleyans Aren’t Fundamentalists) sums up the thinking of some modern day Nazarene theologians who seem to be revising Nazarene history, as well as revising the history of John Wesley.  In this article, Dr. Truesdale flips things upside down and makes the incredible assertion that those who believe that the Bible is the inerrant, infallible word of God in ALL that it teaches and affirms, have a low doctrine of Scripture.  For him, and other theologians in the Church of the Nazarene such as Thomas Oord, those who reject biblical inerrancy are the ones who have a higher view and doctrine of Scripture!

Dr. Truesdale was my Greek New Testament professor at Eastern Nazarene College in three classes. Greek New Testament was my favorite subject at ENC, and he was an excellent teacher whom I greatly respected.  But I am afraid he is wrong in much of what he asserts here.  As I spent some time thinking on what approach I would respond, of which there were several, I received the following from my friend Allen Marsh.  It addresses one of the approaches I was contemplating for a rebuttal, which would deal with the historical aspects of the views of Wesley and fundamentalists.  Another approach would also be to deal with the question of whether the Bible is fully inerrant in ALL that it teaches.  Allen’s approach in his writing was solely to address historical accuracy, and here is what he wrote:

(by Allen Marsh)

 “Why Wesleyans Aren’t Fundamentalists” has much good information.  It also contains errors.

The very first sentence is opposite of fact—that fundamentalists have a low view of Scripture (inerrancy) and Wesleyans (certainly not all) have a high view (the Bible has errors).  To believe the Bible IS the Word of God is a high view while to believe the Bible only CONTAINS or BECOMES in certain situations the Word of God but contains errors is a low view.

According to the article, John Wesley, early Methodists, and the early Nazarenes had a low view of Scripture.  I will here argue for historical accuracy, not to prove inerrancy.

Wesley wrote:

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God (consequently, all Scripture is infallibly true).”

“We know, ‘All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,’ and is therefore true and right concerning all things.”

“[I]f there be any mistakes in the Bible there may as well be a thousand. If there be one falsehood in that book, it did not come from the God of truth.”

“Will not the allowing there is any error in Scripture shake the authority of the whole?”

Here are two examples from Methodism:

Adam Clarke stated:

“Men may err, but the Scriptures cannot; for it is the Word of God himself, who can neither mistake, deceive, nor be deceived.”

Richard Watson (1781-1833), the first systematic theologian of Methodism, stated that the authority of scripture “secures the Scriptures from all error both as to the subjects spoken and the manner of expressing them.”

Following are a few examples regarding early Nazarenes and inerrancy:

Many of the early Nazarene leaders came out of the Methodist Church during the conflict in the early 1900’s referenced in the article. They stood unequivocally for biblical inerrancy.  E. P. Ellyson, in his Theological Compend, wrote, “The Holy Spirit knows all the truths of nature, and would not inspire an untruth.”  “Logically and morally we are as much bound by the geological writings of Moses as by the theological writings of Saint Paul.”

 

As late as 1948 Ross Price wrote in the Herald of Holiness, “Our Lord…assumed the absolute truth of the Scripture…. The Bible is correct astronomically, geologically, historically, medically, botanically, zoologically, meterologically, prophetically, and spiritually.” (29 Nov. 1948).

Not until the 1960’s did soteriological inerrancy become the Nazarene view in academic circles although it was first suggested in the 1930’s.  That view is taught in academic circles but not to the general public.  The adult Sunday school lessons for the Fall of 2010 taught Genesis 1-11 as historical, not fictional.  Try teaching soteriological inerrancy to the tribes of third-world countries.

For one thorough study of this, see “Eighty Years of Changing Definitions in the Church of the Nazarene” by Dr. Daryl McCarthy.

The above information reveals the fallacy of most of the article’s other arguments, but I want to speak to one more.

The author says, “God himself, not information about him, is the primary content of revelation.”  He says fundamentalists are concerned with facts about God while Wesleyans are concerned with relationship with God.  How can you know a person without knowing information about him?  You can’t.  The more you know about the person, the better you know him.

The author said that “not everything in the Bible is essential to God’s self-disclosure.”  But it is.  The Bible says He created the heavens—He is greater than that.  It discloses God’s power, wisdom, holiness, love, mercy, justice, creativity, organization, attention to detail, etc.  God is truth.  His written word is “God-breathed,” true in its entirety when understood as it was written. There are problems with translations and there are problems with interpretations, but that the Bible is inerrant is the historic Wesleyan and Nazarene position.

Dr. Gleason L. Archer said that “almost every problem in Scripture that has been discovered by man, from ancient times until now, has been dealt with in a completely satisfactory manner by the biblical text itself.”  And Dr. John Warwick Montgomery said, “I myself have never encountered an alleged contradiction in the Bible which could not be cleared up by the use of the original language of the Scriptures and/or by the use of accepted principles of literary and historical interpretation.” 

To be honest, those promoting soteriological inerrancy only should say they have changed from what our founders believed.

Additional Resources:

http://reformednazarene.wordpress.com/biblical-inerrancy/

http://www.fwponline.cc/v16n2/v16n2reasonera.html

http://reformednazarene.wordpress.com/inerrancy-and-wesleyanism/

http://www.fwponline.cc/arm_extend/Inerrancy_01.pdf