Paige Patterson is on the wrong page.

Does Paige Patterson’s opinion carry any weight in the Geisler controversy? Let’s find out as we plunge into Deeper Waters.

Looking at the latest from Geisler today, we see this:

“Let’s be clear. A story, an affirmation, is either true or false, but not both true and false in the same way at the same time. That is a long accepted law of logic, and no amount of fudging can make it change. While I have no reason to question the sincerity of the author and while only God can judge his heart, Southern Baptists paid far too great a price to insist on the truthfulness of God’s Word to now be lured by a fresh emergence of the priesthood of the philosopher, especially when a philosopher raises a question about the truthfulness of Scripture.” (1/9/2012)

Dr. Paige Patterson
President
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Alright. What does Geisler have to say about this?

Thank God for the courage, conviction, and character of the man of God to whom the SBC owes the most for its orthodoxy on inerrancy—Dr. Paige Patterson. I Hope there is a place reserved in Nashville for a bronze statue of him. It is time for other SBC leaders to close ranks on the Licona issue.

Dr. Norman Geisler
Professor of Apologetics
Veritas Evangelical Seminary

When I see this, I think of the scene in “My Fair Lady” when Eliza returns from her successful visit to the royal event and only has her two teachers sitting together congratulating themselves on how well they did. So Geisler has found someone else who agrees with him. Impressive?

Not really.

Let’s see what the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary web site has to say about Patterson.

“A graduate of Hardin-Simmons University, Patterson also completed Th.M. and Ph.D. degrees in theology at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He was twice elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention, serving Southern Baptists in that role from 1998-2000. During those years he appointed a committee to revise the Baptist Faith & Message, the confession most widely employed by Southern Baptists, and also presided over the historic session of the convention in which this revised confession was adopted.”

While these accomplishments can be all well and good, there is a striking omission from it. There is absolutely nothing here about being trained in NT scholarship and exegesis. Being a competent and even skilled theologian and/or philosopher does not make one an expert on NT scholarship and/or biblical exegesis.

For instance, I have had a number of people think that because I’m knowledgeable in an area and seem to be a nerd, I must know computers very well. Not a chance. I have to call someone whenever my computer is on the fritz. When I move somewhere, I have to call someone to hook up my gaming systems and anything else. I even have a problem getting the date on the blog to work. (Which made it all the more laughable when some people thought I produced the Christmas Carol video.)

Having knowledge in one area does not transfer knowledge to another. Nevertheless, let us look and see what Patterson says.

“Let’s be clear. A story, an affirmation, is either true or false, but not both true and false in the same way at the same time. That is a long accepted law of logic, and no amount of fudging can make it change.”

Good. No problem. I agree 100% percent. I’m also wondering what this has to do with the price of tea in China. Can someone tell me where Mike has said that the account of the saints rising is both true and not true in the same time and in the same sense? Has he said the saints both rose and didn’t?

To point to the laws of logic to settle this then is useless. No one is contesting that point.

” While I have no reason to question the sincerity of the author and while only God can judge his heart,”

Please note this language. This is speaking of Mike’s spiritual well-being and I am remembering the line of Francis Beckwith on a technique some Christians use in debate. “If you can’t beat them with logic, trump them with spirituality. Could it be Patterson saw how weak his opening statement was and switched directly to spiritual onslaught mode?

Notice that right off, the idea is that Mike is the one who has a spiritual problem. Of course, in all of this, going after another person’s livelihood and smearing their reputation by calling their orthodoxy into question and using bullying tactics is not a spiritual problem. It’s actually presenting an interpretation of the text that’s different from what we grew up with that’s the problem!

Might I suggest a unique approach to this? How about we actually study Mike’s proposal itself back and forth in a scholarly manner and see how well it holds up.

Oh wait. That was offered and turned down.

And as you should know, it wasn’t Mike who turned down an offer from Geisler to speak at a scholarly conclave. It was the other way around.

This idea of sincerity and God knows his heart is taking the debate somewhere it doesn’t belong. Note also that to say this statement about God knowing the heart automatically I take to mean “Well I think he’s living in rebellion in someway, but God knows his heart.”

“Southern Baptists paid far too great a price to insist on the truthfulness of God’s Word to now be lured by a fresh emergence of the priesthood of the philosopher”

Two mistakes here. First off, the minor one. Mike is not a philosopher. He is a NT scholar. That does not mean he does not have interest in philosophical matters, but he is not a philosopher.

To speak then of the priesthood of the philosopher is getting it wrong and no doubt, pointing back to the priesthood of the believer, but why should every believer have equal authority on what a text means? Should I turn to Mike and say “Yeah. I know you know NT Greek and all that, but I obviously know the text just as well as you do because I’m a Christian.”

No. You know the text by studying the text. The priesthood of the believer does not say anything about the competency of the one exegeting the text. It also gets into this idea that the Holy Spirit is all we need, which in turn I see as an insult to the Holy Spirit. The idea of “I don’t need to study. The Holy Spirit will tell me all I need to know.”

How would that work elsewhere?

“I don’t need to pray. The Holy Spirit expresses Himself with groans and utterances on my behalf.” (Romans 8:26-27)

“I don’t need to confess my sins. Jesus is making intercession for them.”

“I don’t need to study for this test in Seminary. The Holy Spirit will give me the answers.”

“I don’t need to go to church and hear what the preacher has to say. The Holy Spirit will tell me what I need to know.” (Of course, if your pastor has the same mindset, it might serve you well to not go to that church)

“I don’t need to go to the grocery store. The Holy Spirit will provide my daily bread.”

“I don’t need to have a job. The Holy Spirit will make sure I’m provided for.”

Yet somehow, we think biblical exegesis is an exception.

Second part. No one is calling into question the truthfulness of God’s Word. All sides I know of in this debate are saying that they believe that the Bible is without error. Here’s an important difference. If Geisler says “I believe the Bible is without error” Mike says “I think you do believe that. I just think your interpretation of it is wrong.” If Mike says “I believe the Bible is without error” Geisler writes open letters saying his interpretation is a denial. Thus, interpretation is equaling Inerrancy.

“especially when a philosopher raises a question about the truthfulness of Scripture.”

And again, Mike is not doing that. Can someone tell me one time that Mike has said that Scripture is not truthful somewhere? Some of you are ready to jump up and down with the resurrected saints, but Mike is not saying the Bible is not truthful. He’s also not saying God cannot do that. He’s saying that he honestly believes Matthew did not intend for that to be taken in the sense of a straightforward report, but rather was to be read as an apocalyptic account.

So what of what Geisler says?

“Thank God for the courage, conviction, and character of the man of God to whom the SBC owes the most for its orthodoxy on inerrancy—Dr. Paige Patterson.”

Ah yes. What great courage and conviction and character. It takes great courage this day to stand with Norman Geisler after all. Geisler and Patterson both say this with comfortable teaching positions not under attack and while getting to speak at various locations. Meanwhile, Licona and company have job losses, being uninvited from conferences, and I myself being spoken of in a letter from SES on account of a YouTube video.

Let’s say this at least. At least Patterson put his name on it instead of being another “anonymous.”

Now that he has taken that step of courage, let us remember that his great threat that he could receive according to Geisler is “annoyance.”

One side causes the other side to lose income. One side causes the other side to be annoyed.

Which side takes more courage to stand on?

Note something also in all of this. Geisler speaks of this with pride, but what argument did Patterson put forward? None. All he said was that the Law of noncontradiction can’t be violated. Well I seriously doubt that he’s going to find any disagreement here with that! So what’s the point?

“I Hope there is a place reserved in Nashville for a bronze statue of him.”

Oh good grief. It’s not as if we don’t have enough hero worship going on in all of this. When I go to Geisler’s Facebook page, I see too many posters there that I am sure that if Geisler said that the sky is purple and the moon is made of green cheese, that they would immediately be shouting that from the rooftops.

“It is time for other SBC leaders to close ranks on the Licona issue.”

And to what end? What will be accomplished? Inerrancy will be saved? Inerrancy has not been under attack, but the end result of this would be that the sword of bullying is what will win the day rather than the sword of studying the text and doing exegesis.

Note also again, that there is no argument in all of this. This is getting tiring. Max, JPH, and myself all make it a point to write out arguments for why we believe what we believe on this. Do we get refutations? No. We get “Well so and so says Geisler is right!” So because X says Geisler is right, I’m supposed to drop all that I believe and jump on that bandwagon immediately? Sorry.

Also, remember what Geisler said in his third open letter where he responded to the scholars Mike listed?

“Sixth, listing some scholars who agree with him misses the point. First, as he admits, most of them do not agree with his unrecanted in-print view. Further, the fact that they say they are “in firm agreement that it is compatible with biblical inerrancy” misses the point entirely. For it does not answer the question of with whose view of inerrancy it is in agreement? As we all know, the term “inerrancy” can be twisted to mean many things to many people. In my “Open Letter” I affirmed only that Licona’s view was not in agreement with the ETS (of which Licona is a member) view of inerrancy as expressed in the Gundry case. Of course, one can always find a number of people with whose views on inerrancy it is in agreement. But that is not the point.”

The idea of whose view of Inerrancy is indeed the question. Interestingly, Geisler says “One can always find a number of people with whose views on inerrancy it is in agreement. But that is not the point.”

Licona lists thirteen scholars, two of whom are ICBI signers and many of whom are NT scholars. It doesn’t matter. The question is whose view of Inerrancy do they agree with?

Geisler lists Thomas Howe and Paige Patterson who are not NT scholars and we are immediately supposed to surrender.

Apparently, the idea is that the scholars that are mentioned don’t matter, unless those scholars agree with Geisler. It’s an interesting way to play the game. Simply rule out of court as wrong anyone who happens to take the position that is opposite yours and hold up all who agree with you as the real scholars.

Here at Deeper Waters, we don’t play that game. We want to see the arguments and we not only want to see them, we want to see myself, Max, and JPH answered on our counter-arguments.

But we’re not holding our breath for such to happen.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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14 Responses to “Paige Patterson is on the wrong page.”

  1. Scott Henderson Says:

    The fallacy to which you are referring in the early part of your post is called the “fallacy of generalization of expertise.” It is committed when an expert in one area is assumed to be an expert in other areas as well.

  2. MS Says:

    Where did you, Holding, and Max all receive your NT degrees from?

  3. apologianick Says:

    A few problems with what MS says.

    First off, let’s suppose his line is “Patterson doesn’t need a NT degree to speak with authority.” If that’s the case, then neither do we. At this point then, it’s a numbers game and the numbers are against him.

    Second, if you do need a NT degree to say anything, then sure, the three of us are silent, but so is Patterson! Thus, either Patterson’s opinion has no weight or else it’s just as good as anyone else’s with this line of reasoning.

    Now let’s instead consider another point. There are people who are NT scholars and they have sided with Licona, as one can see in the list of signatures he had. These include people such as Craig, who specialized in resurrection studies, Wallace, Habermas, and Yamauchi.Why does Geisler dismiss their opinions, but accepts that of Patterson?

    Of course, the real deal is “Who has the best arguments?” All of Geisler’s have been dealt with and Patterson put forward nothing new. Geisler’s fighting a losing battle at this point.

  4. MS Says:

    Why do you get mad claiming that Geisler only focuses upon Licona? When in turn, it seems like all of you forget that many more individuals than Geisler have critiqued Licona. Just to name a few, there is Geisler, Mohler, Patterson, Lempke, Packer, Sproul, Blocher, Kaiser, and John MacArthur.

    P.S. to claim that only NT scholars can speak about an issue and others cannot is simply a genetic fallacy. Most if not all of these individuals have graduate level degrees in the relevant field, even if they did not receive their doctorates in NT. Heck, Kaiser focused explicitly upon 2nd Temple Judaism and Greco-Roman literature and he thinks Licona does not understand both of them. He is definitely qualified.

    • J. P. Holding Says:

      Wow. Most of those are pastors with no serious academic credentials, and the only scholars are OT scholars who don’t know dip on the subject. How impressive. And all of them are just speaking out because they’re following Geisler nose to backside.

      Oh, anyone can speak out of course. But some speak out and make fools of themselves, while others speak with authority because they know their business. Kaiser??? Uh — he’s a prof of OT; and whatever “focus” he had (if he did have one) obviously won’t be up to even 10% of Licona’s snuff. Keep trying.

  5. apologianick Says:

    MS: Why do you get mad claiming that Geisler only focuses upon Licona? When in turn, it seems like all of you forget that many more individuals than Geisler have critiqued Licona. Just to name a few, there is Geisler, Mohler, Patterson, Lempke, Packer, Sproul, Blocher, Kaiser, and John MacArthur.

    Reply: To begin with, your statement was we are supposedly mad that Geisler focuses only on Licona. It’s not anger. It’s just we don’t like inconsistency. Furthermore, the way to demonstrate that that is not happening would be to show Geisler is not focusing only on Licona. Instead, what do you do? You list a number of other people critiquing Licona. So what? That demonstrates that Geisler is not focusing on Licona Go to Geisler’s website where you see Licona info and the Licona Letters. Do you see Craig info? Do you see Michael Bird info?

    Furthermore, we have also addressed Mohler and Patterson. Looking at the rest of the list, aside from Packer who has not issued his own formal statement I know of, I have not seen statements from any of these others aside from Blocher who I believe has not even read Mike’s book. For Packer and Blocher, why should I believe if they’re getting the information about Licona’s beliefs from Geisler that they’re getting an accurate view? For Blocher, have you read his book “In the Beginning” and seen all that he does not take in the “plain literal sense.”?

    MS: P.S. to claim that only NT scholars can speak about an issue and others cannot is simply a genetic fallacy.

    Reply: No. That wasn’t said at all. What was said was that people who are not scholars in the relevant field should not automatically count as authorities. If you don’t need NT scholars, why have Patterson’s views? Why not go to Hollywood and get the views of a bunch of celebrities instead?

    MS: Most if not all of these individuals have graduate level degrees in the relevant field, even if they did not receive their doctorates in NT.

    Reply: Note that I am only speaking on Patterson, Mohler, and Geisler at this point. They don’t have degrees in the relevant field as NT scholarship is a very specialized field.

    MS: Heck, Kaiser focused explicitly upon 2nd Temple Judaism and Greco-Roman literature and he thinks Licona does not understand both of them. He is definitely qualified.

    Reply: Source?

  6. MS Says:

    Well, the sophists have spoken out again! God Bless!

  7. apologianick Says:

    Seems to be the usual strategy. Try massive appeal to authority and then when that doesn’t work, walk out just saying your opponents are sophists and then talk about how spiritual you are.

  8. Jeff Says:

    Hi Nick,

    I’d like to ask a question, and I really don’t intend it to be disrespectful or rude. Would you consider Mike to be a “scholar”? I’m not very familiar with his work, but going just off of his CV, it appears he has a fairly recent Ph.D., and has a pretty sparse publication history with respect to journal articles. It appears (from the outside) that most of the work referenced on his CV would make him more of an “apologist” than a “scholar”. Given his recent degree and his recent book, one might say that he’s a “budding scholar” or “junior scholar”, but I don’t think you become a full-fledged scholar until you have a few more years of scholarly inquiry, and a deeper journal publication history. Would you say that he has more scholarly experience than his CV indicates? Again, I’m not asking rudely, I’m genuinely curious about Mike’s credentials and what warrants the designation of “scholar” in this particular research community (I’m a member of a different research field, hence my interest).

    • J. P. Holding Says:

      I know it wasn’t to a question to me, but as an information science guy, I can say Mike would indeed be regarded as a scholar on various counts (the doctorate, published in the field, delivering conference papers, recognition by other scholars), though there’d also be no objection to noting that his degree is relatively fresh if someone wanted to make note of that.

  9. R.L. Vandiver Says:

    Sir why are you so angry and mean-spirited ?

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