Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Experience and Truth

New Testament scholar Ben Witherington is one of those names that I often hear highly praised by reliable sources (like J.P. Holding, who runs the excellent Tekton Apologetics Ministry) but sadly, is also someone whose writings I have not read. I have seen him on several news/documentary specials on Jesus, Paul and other New Testament issues; sadly, in this context, Witherington is usually the token conservative scholar who is allowed a soundbite or two in response to guys like Crossan (I still think this guy lives in a television studio), Spong, Pagels and the other usual suspects.

Anyway, Dr. Witherington now has a blog, and he has recently posted a series of thoughts related to I John (stemming from work on a NT commentary project he is currently writing). The most recent two have been really good. One post directly confronts the Blue Fairy's advice to "always let your conscience be your guide." The second one addresses the idea of how much weight "inspiration" should be given in determining whether something is true. The thrust of both posts is that Christians all too often allow their sincere feelings, religious experiences, enthusiasms or "spirituality" to become their final court of appeals for determining what is truth, what is God's will, etc. Witherington argues that John specifically addresses the dangers of using these criteria for evaluating truth. As the Apostle points out, our own experiences can be distorted and misinterpreted either internally (by our own weaknesses) or externally (by demonic agents of deception). Only God's Word provides the basis by which we can evaluate truth claims.

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