Saturday, November 22, 2008

Quaker Wisdom - Real Knowledge

You can go to theological seminary, and study about religion. You can learn the history of the Christian Church. You can know all about the Synoptic problems of the Gospels and have your own theories about Q and the J, E, D, and P document of the Hexateuch, you can know all the literature about the authorship of the Johannine epistles, whether the author was John the beloved disciple or another of the same name. You can know all about the history of Quakerism, you can know the disputes behind the Nicene Creed and the Constantinopolitan Creed....the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England. You can know the homiletics and rules of good sermon structure, you can know church symbolism and the meaning of the feasts and fasts of the church. You can know all this, and much more. But unless you know God, immediately, every day communing with Him, rejoicing in Him, exalting in Him, opening your life in joyful obedience toward Him and feeling Him speaking to you and guiding you into ever fulling loving obedience to Him, you aren’t fit to be a minister.

There is so much that is wonderful about books. But he who relies for his sermons upon book stuff about religion, and is not at the same time enjoying immediately and experiencing vitally fresh illumination from God, is not a real minister, even if he has a degree in theology from Oxford or Cambridge. Second hand sermons aren’t real sermons. Only first hand preaching counts. -- Thomas Kelly, 1939


Anonymous Jim said...

In noting the question of 'whether the author was John the beloved disciple or another of the same name' you have presented an erroneous assumption.

"Prove all things" is a Biblical admonition that Bible students need to take seriously. There are many things that people think are Biblical that don't appear in the Bible; but if we love the truth, then when we find that something we've told or taught doesn't is not Biblical then that error needs to be rejected. Sadly there is often little willingness to submit to the word of God and to much willingness among those who claim the name 'Christian' to turn-a-blind-eye to the Biblical admonition "prove all things" when then text of scripture happens to disprove some tradition of men that they choose to follow. Consider, for example, the statement you made: John is referred to as "the disciple whom Jesus loved". This unbiblical tradition is proven false by the plain text of scripture but many will nonetheless continue to promote this idea.

The truth is there is not a single verse in scripture that would justify teaching the idea that John was the unnamed "other disciple whom Jesus loved" and yet most simply assume that this man-made tradition cannot be wrong and then interpret scripture to fit this idea. In order to sell this unbiblical idea it is claimed that John is referred to in the five passages that in fact never mention him but that rather talk only about the anonymous one whom "Jesus loved" -- but this is easily shown to be the logical fallacy called circular reasoning. This idea comes from NON-Bible sources and is imposed upon the text, when the text says nothing of the kind. In fact we see a stark contrast between the BEHAVIOR of John who repeatedly identifies himself by name in the Book of Revelation and the BEHAVIOR of the unnamed "other disciple, whom Jesus loved" who went to great lengths to conceal his identity in the fourth gospel.

If one will heed Ps. 118:8 then the NON-BIBLE sources on which this man-made error is based will give way to the facts in scripture which prove that WHOEVER this anonymous author was he most certainly was not John.
It can hardly be honoring to God for one to present an idea AS IF IT WERE BIBLICAL if they cannot cite a single verse that would justify teaching that idea -- but those who promote the unbiblical tradition that the "other disciple whom Jesus loved" was John do just that. We're told, "[It is] better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man". Given this explicit statement (along with similar statements in scripture on this matter) it is clear that one should be leery of those who encourage people trust in NON-Bible sources and put their confidence in unbiblical man-made traditions. To show respect for the word of God we need to heed the Biblical admonition to "prove all things" - and not simply be repeating the ideas of men but rather looking to scripture and searching the scriptures to see if what we have read or have been told can stand up to Biblical scrutiny.

Defenders of the John tradition can choose to ignore the facts stated in the plain text of scripture if they prefer to quote the words of men who quote other men who quote other men but one thing that neither they nor their NON-Bible sources cannot do is cite even a single verse that would justify this idea. No one ever has -- not those who originated this unbiblical idea and not those who still promote that idea today.

So, given that the God inspired authors of scripture recorded not a shred of Biblical evidence that would suggest that the unnamed "other disciple whom Jesus loved" was a person named John, the question you presented makes a mistake in framing the question based on that assumption. The men who added a title to the fourth gospel that included the name John did so because they ASSUMED that the beloved disciple was a reference to the Apostle John but the Bible can prove that they were mistaken . This, of course, is why the Bible urges those who love the truth not to rely on the teaching of men but on the word of God -- Psalm 118:8 [It is] better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.

7:25 PM  
Blogger Danny Coleman said...

Hi Jim,

Thanks for visiting my blog and for taking the time to comment. I should point out that the post you responded to did not contain my own words but was entirely comprised of the words of Thomas Kelly. I can see now that one might mistakenly think that only the second paragraph was Kelly. I'm flattered that someone might attribute--albeit erroneously--his writing in the first paragraph to myself.

I don't know what Kelly's position on the Johannine authorship of the fourth Gospel was. I do know that this was totally not the point of what Kelly was getting at here.

As for me, I would agree with you that the attribution of John as author of the fourth Gospel has its origin in later church tradition. Same goes for Matthew and Mark. When I quote from these Gospels I tend to say something like "The author of John's Gospel said thus-and-so" rather than "John said thus-and-so".

I'm reminded of a story: A minister learned that his favorite professor from his seminary days was going to be visiting the congregation the following Sunday. The minister worked hard all week to craft a sermon that was dense with Biblical exegesis, Greek and Hebrew etymology and copious references to historical minutiae--all intended to impress his former mentor. The following Sunday, the professor did attend. Afterwards the minister waited expectantly for feedback on his sermon. The aged professor slowly approached his former student, put his hand on the minister's shoulder, looked him in the eye, smiled sweetly, and said, "So what."

My point (and I think Kelly's point) is that unless we're bringing forth fruit nurtured by the living water of God's presence in our lives, then... so what?

10:53 PM  

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