English blog

theological arrogance

16-07-2012 - Posted by Andre Piet

Today, (14-07-2012), in Het Nederlands Dagblad (a Dutch newspaper) is published an article under the title, “the phenomenon, Bible teacher”, in which Dr. Henk Bakker presents his vision in response to “the personal drama” around Frank Ouweneel this week. Dr. Baker knows the evangelical world in which Ouweneel operates from within, and for this theologian, this seems a perfect time to draw his sword. A day earlier, in the same reformed newspaper, a fellow theologian did the same thing, where he, especially, called into question the actuality of “the prophetic word”. In both articles, it is not anymore important that someone has committed fraud with basic evidence, but rather the aim is to nullify an end-time vision, which is not theirs. Conveniently, baseless sensationalism is lumped together with interpretations that are unknown among theologians and is thus regarded as “probably heresy.” The former article opens as follows:

On Golgotha were not three crosses – as Christians have believed for two thousand years – but five. With this brand new interpretation of the passion-evangel captured Bible teacher, Hoite Slater, from Wijk-uit-Duurstede, last year, the interest of the national media. An typical interpretation of Scripture by ‘the’ Bible Teacher.

This is what I call theological arrogance . In the first place this example is not a “brand-new interpretation” of Mr. Slagter. If Dr. Henk Bakker would have done his homework, he would have known that this explanation has, considerably more than a hundred years ago, been presented by none other than Dr. E. W. Bullinger in his Anglo-Saxon classic work, The Companion Bible. Secondly, Baker suggests that when “a totally new explanation of a Scripture passage” is offered, that this is an indication that it cannot be true. The assumption is: theologians know everything and there is nothing new to be discovered in Scripture. With this, not only does Bakker grossly overestimate himself and his colleagues, but what is perhaps much worse: he underestimates the Scriptures. This arrogance was, a while ago, excellently denounced by Pé de Bruin in his “no faith without evidence“:

Regarding the creation, man accepts that it will never fully be known. However far science may progress, it will never know more than only a part of the world of phenomena. This is not something that discourages the man of science. It is for him precisely a fascinating-given to know that there will always remain areas, through which he can continue his journey as a discoverer. It is quite remarkable that with respect to that other form of God’s revelation, Scripture, the “technician” clearly does not feel himself duty-bound to a journey of discovery (…) What one has heard from his ancestors is again told to his offspring, and that is then called theology. One is promoted, for example, on Luther, on Augustine (…) to a doctorate in theology. Thus, therefore, one becomes a theologian on the basis of the knowledge he has of a fellow man! Christendom has grown accustomed to living in the shadow of her ancient heroes. It likes to camp, as it were, in a place where a distant ancestors had already camped before.

Quite rightly, Pé de Bruin adds:

On that very great, high-to-heaven-reaching mountain of knowledge, that Scripture is, virtually no climber is to be seen. (…) There is practically no Scripture research and, therefore, there is an appalling lack of Bible knowledge.

So it is! It precisely is theologically-inspired disinterest in Scripture (see above) which causes churchgoers to receive stones for bread. Ignorant and uncritical as they are being held, they easily fall prey to charlatans and thrill seekers.