Chicago’s Muddy Waters

Bijbel Hersteld Hervormde Kerk

Mike Licona (Houston Baptist University) has written a response to the “new fundamentalists” — Norman Geisler and friends — who have been vilifying prominent evangelical scholars at Wheaton, Trinity Evangelical, Asbury, Denver, even DTS, and other places heretofore not exactly reputed for their liberal bias.

“On Chicago’s Muddy Waters”

Licona highlights J. I. Packer and B. B. Warfield as insufficiently orthodox, if we were to apply Geisler’s absurd delimitation of inerrancy. You can even sign a petition at the Defending Inerrancy website, which is surely one of the most ludicrous things I have ever seen in my life as an evangelical. (Though, this takes the cake.) Daniel Wallace at DTS has written a response as well, reviewing a recent book.

On a related note, another Old Testament professor has been forced to resign at a Reformed seminary, WTS:

“What Did the OT Writers Know? Another Controversy Erupts at WTS”

Professor Green teaches that the “authorial intent” of the OT writers need not include an explicit christology. The divine intent, partially veiled in earlier redemptive history, was discerned by the NT writers in their (inspired) appropriation of the OT. Call me naive, but I thought this is what everyone believed.

I tell ya, this peculiarly anxious brand of Calvinism is hellbent on making itself look ridiculous to all observers, not just those on the outside — but on the inside as well. The gospel is foolishness. This is just silly.



  1. So we can add Chicago to the names of councils which handed down authoritative teaching, definitions, and traditions, I guess. Chalcedon, Constantinople, Niceae (sp?), and Chicago? Ridiculous. The “controversy” at Westminster is equally ridiculous – as you noted, what Green got canned for was basically saying what Christians have believed for 2000 years regarding inspiration/christology/typology. Sheesh, it’s like the mafia.

    • Yep. 22 years of teaching faithfully in service to the church — only to end in a forced early retirement. This reflects poorly on WTS, to put it mildly.

      • Egads.

        I’m reminded of a recent reading of Luther: “What is in the New Testament but a public preaching and proclamation of Christ, set forth through the sayings of the Old Testament and fulfilled through Christ?”

        But this isn’t good enough for these guys.

      • They could probably work that into their understanding. The fear is that the “meaning” to the original OT author may have an additional (different) meaning to the NT author, which somehow means that the OT author erred! I know that is not a sophisticated presentation of their complaint. But, it does seem to be all about fear over inerrancy.

  2. “I tell ya, this peculiarly anxious brand of Calvinism is hellbent on making itself look ridiculous to all observers, not just those on the outside — but on the inside as well. ”

    Is Geisler a Calvinist in anything but name?

    • I was referring to the WTS decision, not the Geisler crusade.

      I don’t think anyone considers Geisler a Calvinist, despite his attempt in Chosen But Free to be a Calvinist of some sort.

    • Thanks, Chris. Yes, and there are different levels of “cognition” — to say, as in Phil Walker’s comment, that Moses “knew quite a bit” about Christ, based upon Heb 11:26, is clearly a stretch.

  3. I’ve seen those examples used quite commonly – that was just the place where I remembered definitely seeing them.

    There appear to be two things at work.

    An overliteralistic extension of ‘saved by faith’ (I wonder if this is in part down the YRR reacting to the dispensationalism of their youth),

    The second is a quest for doctrinal purity now that some evangelicals have run out of liberals to fight. I fully expect all the dead horses of evangelicalism to be resurrected and then used as markers for purity over the next few years

    • Those are both very good insights, Chris. I think you’re right.

      I have been immersed for the last three years in Hebrew/OT and Greek/NT coursework at a mainline Protestant seminary, so I am clearly “out of the loop” when it comes to some of these intramural debates within evangelical circles, try as I might to stay abreast. I have been more concerned about why I disagree with scholars like Brueggemann, which is admittedly a nice antidote to the prittle-prattle of (much) evangelical discourse.

  4. That defending inerrancy site is just retarded. The amount of time it must take to write all that stupid nit picking crap about what a half a dozen guys think about the bible…oi. That stuff irritates me.

    • Yes, and I want to know who receives the petition? God?

      On the plus side, Geisler has managed to criticize an extensive list of professors at almost all of the major evangelical institutions, so he has isolated himself and his increasingly few defenders — thank God.

    • And they’re people like Darrell Bock and Craig Blomberg too. When they’re too liberal for you, well, you’re really off the deep end.

      • I feel like this is partly due to Geisler’s brand of apologetics where he needs to have a definitive watertight explanation for every discrepancy within the Bible, no matter how insignificant.

      • Yes, I think it follows from Geisler’s apologetics. God is perfect, therefore our arguments for God must be perfect. That is not much of an exaggeration.

  5. “I was made minister … so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations …” Colossians 1:25,26

    This is what came to me off the top of my head. Sigh. I guess I’m just as naive as you Kevin.

    • Yes, but I guess it wasn’t hidden to the prophets?! The whole controversy is really bizarre. I am thinking that there must be a substantial nuance that I am missing — but that is probably wishful thinking.

      From some of what I’ve read elsewhere, it appears that this was just a ploy to get rid of Green because he opposed the termination of Enns (not that he agreed with Enns on the most controversial claims).

      Not that we should put too much weight upon scholarly integrity and credibility in the eyes of others, but WTS has really hurt themselves and the value of their PhD program.

      • As I said above – I think it’s in large part a reaction against dispensationalism – plus a side effect of the resurgence in biblical theology.

        TBH, some variant of most of Enns claims are going to have to be accepted in evangelicalism sooner or later.

        The problem is at this moment Chicago style inerrancy has no space for multiple authors, redactors etc.

  6. I wonder if John Macarthur is going to be taking a similar tack at his inerrancy conference next year? I wouldn’t be surprised.

    • Yikes, I didn’t even know that he was doing an inerrancy conference!

      Maybe Kevin Vanhoozer and John Walton could host an alternative conference on responsible, theologically-deep inerrancy? That is much needed.

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