Bags of Bran


Fallacious History and How to Not
May 11, 2014, 8:14 pm
Filed under: Bible, Bibliophilia, Biography

I recently finished Carl Trueman’s Histories and Fallacies, which, as a bike mechanic who wants to be a pastor, was fascinating. Trueman is a historian of ideas, which means that he traces the outworking of philosophy over time. This book sealed in my mind that Trueman is a clever man: if that is in doubt for you, reader, this volume will convince you of it.

Being not a historian myself, I don’t think I’m the guy to enter into a detailed critique of the book. I am in the uncomfortable position of having to follow Trueman’s arguments on their own merits, and not being able to critique them from a position of knowledge, whether pro or contra. He argues for a certain historical methodology using two foils: Holocaust denial and Marxist theology. While not really blasting either, he shows how both groups’ presuppositions bleed over into their methodology, drastically coloring their findings. Further, to take issue with the findings of either group means that you are duped by a grand conspiracy. The element of paranoia is very real in these alternate realities, as historians from both groups are willing to deny certain facts that do not align with their agenda.

Yikes.

As a guy who wants to be a pastor, I will be handling a historical text, and I will be charged with the task of handling that historical text as a historical text. Not only as a historical text, but you know what I mean. Much as I would like to have my own preconceptions materialize before my eyes in the pages of the Bible, I run the risk of seriously distorting the text by pretending to see my own thoughts there. Whether I anachronistically read Uncle Tom’s Cabin into Paul’s discussions of slavery, or commit the fallacy of reification with respect to the legalism of the Pharisees, I corrupt the text and becloud the understanding of my hearers. If I oversimplify the relationship of the NT believer and the Ten Commandments, or if I start sifting the Bible for a single knock-out verse that forbids the use of Washburn guitars in church services, I am simply doing wrong to the text and to my hearers.

Corrupt the text and becloud the understanding of my hearers? Sign me up!

Trueman’s challenge comes at a timely juncture in my personal career. I just finished ten years of education, and I’m looking at entering a life of bringing the truths of the Bible to bear on the lives of real people, starting with myself. Not only must my character be above reproach, I now feel the burden more keenly to get the historical aspects of the Bible right.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Comment so far
Leave a comment



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s



newmeasures

Celebrating Revivalism and Other Noxious Pieties

Immoderate

\"If I am immoderate, I am immoderate to God.\" - Bengel

Bindlestiff

Like sawdust, but edible.

Broad Meadow

I have spoken the truth coldly; who cares for the truth? To be useful, one must be charming, and my pen has lost that art.

sonofcarey.com/

Planting churches with the Baptist Confession in one hand and Tolkien in the other

Orchard Keeper

Plucking fruit from the grove of biblical and theological studies

Jubilate Deo

Music in the service of the church

Diakrisis

Theology, apologetics, ramblings

Towards Conservative Christianity

Promoting true conservative Christianity

Unknowing

Knowledge is inseparable from its knower (whereby “objectivity” as well as “subjectivity” are illusions). - John Lukacs

%d bloggers like this: