Why Does Brandon E Argue as if Christians Hold to a Unified Doctrine?

This is another post in my dialogue with Brandon E.

Brandon keeps asking me why I am challenging Christian doctrine as if all Christians agreed on that doctrine.  For example, here is a statement he has made to me (and here is its original context):

By objections are repetitive, Mike, because you keep missing the point of them, and coming up with increasingly illogical or unfair responses in response to them. For example, saying that you are on God’s side and I am on Satan’s side is not an argument. Also, Stephen or the apostles standing against the Sanhedrin over the new testament revelation that Jesus is Lord is not a fair parallel to you standing over and against all the believers in Christ who confess Jesus as Lord and are interpreting the same body of completed Scriptures but with whose interpretations you disagree.

Note that Brandon says that I am “standing over and against all the believers in Christ” as if they all believe the same thing and I am the only one who differs.  Christians believe all sorts of things about, for example, the Second Coming of Christ.  There are preterists and futurists – and there are those who either don’t think about the subject or else consider it unimportant.  There are pre-millennialists and post-millennialists.  There are folks who are pre-trib, folks who are mid-trib, and folks who are post-trib (“trib” being short for tribulation).  And this is just the beginning of the breakdowns.  And this is just one of the doctrines about which Brandon complains that I don’t “agree.”  How do you agree with people who don’t agree with each other?

Brandon, which of these views do you think is the truth?

12 Replies to “Why Does Brandon E Argue as if Christians Hold to a Unified Doctrine?”

  1. Mike,
    I’m not sure if its unintentional or due to willful/reckless disregard, but I did not say “standing over and against all the believers in Christ” (full stop). As the quote you cited confirms, I said “standing over and against all the believers in Christ who confess Jesus as Lord and are interpreting the same body of completed Scriptures but with whose interpretations you disagree” (emphasis added). The “all…who” modifies “but with whose interpretations you disagree” just as it does “who confess Jesus as Lord” and “are interpreting the same body of completed Scriptures.”

    This was in order to show why it is unfair and illogical to present yourself as being as being pious like Stephen or the apostles were when they stood firm against the Sanhedrin composed of Jews who opposed the testimony of Jesus. The context was that you offered this as an example when I asked what precedent or commandment there is in Scripture for one person who is not an apostle or prophet who has arrived at set of interpretations of Scriptures of which he is the only one he is aware of holding in combination, to sooner conclude that he is right and that everyone else whose views he contradicts does not know or is unwilling to receive the truth, end of story, and to suggest anything less is to trust men and not God (as if self-trust were not a factor). As you should be able to see, my point does not rest on “all Christians” having a unified doctrine, but on you contradicting many believers with your interpretations that you claim are nothing less than the very word of God in Scripture. They may not agree with each other on all these matters, but you’re unified in disagreeing with them, while in scope being the only one we know of who has arrived at your combination of views through their reading of Scripture, and not admitting anything suspect about that. So, the better question might be, why does Mike Gantt argue as if all the believers whose views he contradicts are like the Jewish Sanhedrin to be stood against if they would not submit to his interpretations?

    I didn’t say that all believers in Christ have a unified doctrine, and neither does my actual point depend upon it, so that’s not how I am arguing. There is a larger consensus across denominations that God is triune or that the second coming of Christ and the resurrection of the dead will be be evident and has yet to take place (both partial preterists and futurists are unified here), and it’s not as if any of those sects with minority views teach the system you teach, but that’s not my broader point, either. What I’ve actually been saying can be found here (for example):
    http://blogforthelordjesuscurrentevents.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/brandon-es-objections-2-i-dont-respect-other-believers-not-true/#comments

  2. I’m not saying that all believers in Christ are like the Jewish Sandhedrin to me – I’m saying you are.

    How long will you keep hiding behind a group of people you say all agree who don’t all agree?

    1. Mike,
      You’re still thoroughly missing my point.

      First, a clarification. In my last post I said that Christians obviously do not agree on every issue, but pointed out that God being triune, the Spirit being God, the Lord still coming again, are in comparison to their alternatives the commonly held beliefs across Christian groups and denominations. It’s mostly more minor issues that Christians disagree with. Not that this means that the majority is always right (though, it would be a positive thing if most Christians believed what is true), but let’s keep my comments about not all Christians agreeing on every issue in perspective. It’s not as if there is an undifferentiated chaos of voices, and no agreement, such that I am the only one whose views you are contradicting and asserting a “knowing” attitude over and against. What “spiritual” persons in history believed what you teach about God, or your claim the second coming and the resurrection of the dead happened in the first century and only the “spiritual” are aware of it?

      To get back to my main point:
      I had asked you what precedent or commandment there is in Scripture for one person, who has arrived at a set of interpretations of which he alone is aware of arriving at, being absolutely sure that he is trusting God and not himself, and that everybody else who is interpreting the same body of Scripture is wrong, and that anything less would be for him to trust men and not God?

      Then you claimed your situation is parallel to Stephen standing against the Sanhedrin. I said that this is not logical or fair for several reasons, not the least of which is that the Sanhedrin did not confess Jesus as Lord and they were rejecting the new testament revelation unveiled in Christ. They’re not interpreting the same body of completed Scriptures as their source and saying what the revelation of the New Testament is. In contrast, you are saying that your interpretations of the same completed Scriptures are right and everyone who is interpreting the same body of completed Scriptures and arrives at conclusions that contradict yours is wrong, despite the fact that neither of us are aware of anyone else besides you arriving at your combination of interpretations in the history of scriptural interpretation. Further, Stephen and the apostles were a community that was witnesses to the Lord Jesus’ resurrection and was working miracles in his name (Acts 3-4), and the choice between Jesus being Lord or obeying the Sanhedrin was obvious. In contrast, you are not simply saying that the resurrected Jesus is Lord–a profession common to every Christian–but are claiming that your set of interpretations of Scripture, which are so uncommon among Christians that you are the only person we know of who has arrived at them, are the very word of God over and against everybody else who interprets the same body of Scriptures.

      I’m not “hiding” behind anyone, but presenting the facts. Despite the fact that you are the only one we know of who has arrived at your set of interpretations of Scripture despite nearly 2,000 years of scriptural interpretation, you have denied even the possibility that you are mistaken, and you have heaped up all sorts of prejudicial comments upon my spiritual condition when I disagreed with you and attempted to reason from Scripture. But many believers in Christ–including lifelong students of Scripture, men of God, martyrs, etc.–who are evidently at least as spiritual as you, have taught in writing that the teaching in Scripture is that God is triune, that the Spirit is God, that Jesus is coming again, etc. Did they not pray over their readings of Scripture? Why should you think that you are absolutely correct simply because you prayed? What precedent or commandment in Scripture is there for you to think this way?

  3. The first one that comes to mind is the woman at the well in Sychar. She interpreted the Scriptural prophecies about Messiah to be applying to the man with whom she was speaking. She did not seek the approval of her view from anyone else, but rather began proclaiming proclaiming Him as the Messiah to her fellow Samaritans.

    1. But in this scenario she was coming to faith in Christ, which is something shared by all genuine believers in Christ. She was accepting new testament revelation being unveiled in Christ Himself (not interpreting the Old Testament by itself without new revelation), and the Scripture itself tells us that she was not alone in her belief.

      She was not interpreting the completed Scriptures on so many other topics, discovering that she contradicted the views of other believers and that she was the only one she knew of who arrived at her beliefs on all these further topics, and then dogmatically asserting that it was not possible that she was mistaken and that those with whom she disagreed on any point were right, as if hers and not the others’ ability to arrive at the truth in the Scriptures was as certain as the truth that Jesus is Lord.

  4. Sam Jones sat in his pew week after week, amazed that Father Mahoney spoke so confidently from the pulpit every Sunday in his typical 12-minute sermon. Sam was amazed because he and everyone else knew Father Mahoney was normally a timid and shy man.

    One day, Sam’s curiosity got the best of him and he sought out Father Mahoney after the Mass on the steps of the church. “Father,” he asked, “how is it that you can speak so confidently to us when you are preaching Jesus?” Sam continued, “Does this mean that you know everything there is to know about Jesus and that you think that anyone who disagrees with you is wrong?”

    “Mr. Jones, ” Father Mahoney began, “There are many things about Jesus that I do not know. However, I do not preach about them from the pulpit. The things I do preach from the pulpit are those things about which God has brought me to a place of conviction. I only preach things about Jesus Christ that I have come to be sure about.”

    “But, Father Mahoney,” Sam protested, “you are saying some things about Christ that are different from what most of the other churches and ministers teach. How can you justify that?”

    Father Mahoney smiled and said, “Mr. Jones, every human being has to make his own decisions. I’ve made mine; now you get to make yours.”

    1. “But Father Mahoney,” Sam inquired, “If you were to somehow discover that one of your present distinct interpretations of Scripture were mistaken, how would that affect your faith in Jesus and His word?”

      “Why,” cried Father Mahoney,”I could no longer know then that Jesus is Lord, or that the Bible were the word of God!”

      “Even concerning your interpretations of words like ‘heir’ and ‘inheritance,’ or whether ‘generation,’ ‘soon,’ or ‘all will see Him’ in so many specific passages must be interpreted literally or metaphorically? On any single point that you claim is true?”

      “Yes Sam. I would not declare them if I was not sure of them. I am as certain of each of these points as I am that Jesus is Lord or that the Bible is the word of God.”

      “So if did find out were mistaken on any of these points on which you are confident, you would be reduced to something of an agnostic, not knowing what to believe, while virtually all those others who disagreed with would be still be preaching Jesus as Lord with full assurance of faith?”

      “Well, yes. Is there something odd about that? It’s because I’m just trying to trust the Lord, and most all of them are just trusting men. That’s why many of them agree on the things I take the most issue with; they’re just trusting each other, not God and His word!”

      “Then why is that they are the ones who would still have full confidence in Him and His word? You would sooner doubt that Jesus is Lord or that His word is sure than you would conclude that you simply misunderstood Him or His word on any one of these points? Father Mahoney, doesn’t that sound like your faith then is in your own rightness at least as much as it is in the Lord Himself, who is greater than your understanding of Him?”

  5. Father Mahoney responded, “Sam, the same Bible that tells me Jesus is Lord tells me that His coming was imminent in the first century. It’s not right to pick and choose what we will and won’t believe from the Lord.”

    1. He didn’t say, “My coming was imminent in the first century” in all the senses you mean it. That’s your interpretation.

  6. “…For truly I say to you, you shall not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes.” – Matthew 10:23

    “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing her who shall not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom.” – Matthew 16:28

    “Truly i say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” – Matthew 24:34

    That He prefaced each statement with “Truly I say to you” indicates the importance He attached to the issue. That He did not merely repeat Himself but rather paraphrased the point indicates the effort He took to make sure He would not be misunderstood in one specific word or another.

    And these statements are just the tip of the iceberg. The New Testament is filled with a sense of urgency about the Second Coming. To say otherwise is simply to live in denial of the obvious.

    1. We’ve discussed all these points already. Your interpretation of Matt 10:23 assumes that it could only be fulfilled personally and actually by the twelve disciples and not by other disciples at a later date. In Matthew 16:28 can refer to the vision of Him that they saw at the mount of transfiguration (as Peter says in 2 Peter 1:16-17, “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we became eyewitnesses of that One’s majesty/ For He received from God the Father honor and glory, a voice such as this being borne to Him by the magnificent glory: This is My Son, My Beloved, in whom I delight.” This is similar to the Lord’s saying to the scribes that kingdom was already in their midst (because He was in their midst) or that His casting out demons was the kingdom come upon them–an already, not yet, foretaste of the full taste realization. In Matthew 24:34 the word “generation” can have a poetic, thematic meaning according to the moral condition of the world (Prov. 30:11-14; Matt. 11:16; 12:39, 41-42, 45; Phil. 2:15; Acts 2:40), and there are partial preterist interpretations as well. Plus, we know from Scripture and history that the early believers’ eschatological hopes were in a visible, bodily, evident second coming and resurrection of the dead (as the latter was true of second temple Jews).

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