A few weeks ago, Lowell Grisham, local Episcopal priest, wrote an article regarding the scriptures being anything but absolute. You can read his article HERE. In support, an individual wrote an editorial which you can read HERE. Please read these articles before reading the following response:
In response to Mr. Cypert’s letter in support of Rev. Grisham’s article on scripture being absolute truth, I must say that Mr. Cypert fails at the very thing he criticizes. He is arguing that absolute truth; divine authority and the veracity of scripture (particularly the gospels) is suspect based on his own presuppositions that the critics, namely Dr. Bart Ehrman, are correct in their interpretation of the “errors” as they call them.
First of all, his reference to Mark 2:25 being contradictory with 1 Samuel 21:1-6 is easily explained. Abiather was not yet high priest when David was given the bread, that is correct on Cypert’s part. What he fails to mention is that Abiather was the son of Ahimelech and that it was common among Jews to reference “high priest” relating to any member of the priestly family with administrative power. That’s no stretch. It certainly is not a stretch compared to simply saying it’s erroneous.
Second, Cypert uses, as a criticism of biblical inerrancy, the apparent contradiction of Mark and John related to the timing of Christ’s Passover meal and his death. Mark does indeed record that the meal related to Passover, and John does seem to say that Passover was the next day. At face value this does appear to be a contradiction, but there are some glaring issues to be used in interpreting these instances. The meal that Christ had with his disciples was lacking a very significant element if indeed it was Passover, and that would be the sacrificial lamb. However, Christ being the Lamb of God (John 1:29) and this meal symbolizing that fact is very significant. There were preparatory meals leading up to Passover, which could explain for the timing of the Lord’s Supper. This meal certainly related to the Passover and to say that Christ was the preeminent sacrifice of God, as the only provision of God for mankind’s salvation is in accord with scripture. Therefore, it would be no surprise if this event happened prior to normal meals of Passover, especially since the Passover as used in the Old Testament does nothing less than point us to Christ.
There’s not enough room to talk about the assumptions of both Ehrman and Cypert (and Grisham for that matter) regarding not having the original manuscripts and the centuries-later copies. It is true that we have used copies to verify the biblical canon. The canon of scripture has been preserved for centuries, even against heresies, which even those of Ehrman are not new. And there is fact that scripture does verify scripture, which means nothing to someone who does not hold to scripture being true.
Essentially what we’re left with is a question of relative and absolute truth. If scripture does not hold the place of absolute truth, then we do as humans. Even saying that all truth is relative and scripture is merely “poetry plus” puts us in a position of higher interpretive status than scripture. The danger, of course, is that scripture is full of accounts where men who have exalted themselves above the Word of God have been strongly dealt with because God will not share his magnificent glory with anyone. This is no clearer than in the gospels and Christ being the only Savior offered to the world. In John 14:6, Christ says that He is the “way, the truth and the life…no one comes to Father but through Him.” Whether you believe this to be literal and inerrant, or poetry, what you do with the truth of it will determine your eternity.
And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
2 Peter 1:19-21
2 thoughts on “Absolute Truth? Absolutely!”
I appreciate your response to Lowell Grisham, Mike. Sadly, in reading through his article it’s plain to see his influences. Not only is Grisham oriented toward the traditional liberal “social gospel” of his denomination, but the language he uses and the concepts he points to are decidedly postmodern in places. I was particularly struck with his distaste for “certainty” with respect to knowing God (His character, His will) and his obvious desire to replace it with a vague and emotionally-based mysticism.
Press on, brother! In standing publicly for the innerancy and inspiration of the Scriptures, you’re correcting many an ancient, but recycled error…and you’re also helping those young or infirm in the faith to learn to trust in the God that is revealed in Scripture. In the meantime, let’s pray that the foolishness written by Mr. Grisham will be seen for what it is…and let us also pray that Mr. Grisham will one day embrace the sovereign and glorious Lord that he now despises.
Mr. Grisham’s comment that the Bible is “poetry plus; not history minus. Its truths are not just objective absolutes but symbolic, metaphorical, poetic, creative, mythical, spiritual and human in the deepest sense” is itself an absolute statement.
That aside, the statement is a typical post-modern attempt to say something profound, but when it’s all said and done, not only has he contradicted himself, his statement does nothing more than reveal a belief system that wiggles, jiggles, and is cool and fruity, but will never satisfy the hunger of the soul. He somehow takes pride in the fact that his feet are firmly planted in mid-air.
In the end, he simply and openly reveals why his denomination and many others are having such a hard time. Romans 1 explains everything. They’ve rejected the truth and they are experiencing God’s wrath (Romans 1:18). They are “professing to be wise” but have “become fools” (Romans 1:22). They’ve “exchanged the truth of God for a lie” and are worshipping man (Romans 1:25). As a result, God has given them over “in their lusts of their hearts to impurities so that their bodies would be dishonored among them” (Romans 1:24) and to the degrading passion of homosexuality (Romans 1:26-27). God has also given them over “to a depraved mind (Romans 1:28). In the end, not only are some of them practicing such things, they “give hearty approval to those who practice them” (Romans 1:32) whether they are practicing them themselves or not.
Yet, beloved, we cannot sit in judgement, but rather, we should grieve over and must pray for them. We must be kind, tolerant and patient with them as God was with us, because the kindness of God that led and leads us to repentance will lead them there as well (Romans 2:4). We must remember who we once were “but when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, who He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4-7). “This is a trustworthy statement.” (Titus 3:8a). In other words, it’s true whether you believe it or not.