I label Lampe a "liberal" and a "revisionist" because I KNOW (as do you) that he rejects inerrancy (I provided clear examples), and IS revising early Church history. He embraces the methods and presuppositions that pretty much ALL liberals and revisionists accept. I do not see this as a "slur by innuendo", THESE ARE FACTS; but I do wonder why you see it as such.Just what “methods” and “presuppositions” are these that ALL liberals and revisionists accept? David is painting with a broad brush here, and in fact, as I’ve argued many times in the past, I’ll say that his accusations are simplistic, generalized, and they have no correspondence with what’s really happening either in history or Biblical studies.
I’ve resisted getting into some of the specifics of his accusations, simply because so much background material needs to be presented, that’s not necessarily going to make for interesting reading. And I’ve had more important things that I’ve wanted to say. But I’m going to spend a bit more time here and show where David’s accusations fit (or rather, don’t fit) into the world that we are discussing.
First, listen to his condescending tone.
I have cautioned John about using liberal/revisionist historians like Duffy and Lampe in the AF threads linked to above (and in a number of combox posts)—but alas, my reflections have pretty much fallen on 'deaf ears' (I suspect because I am not Reformed)—perhaps John will give some thought to Garry Williams' reservations...If he were making good “cautions,” it would be one thing. But his charges have no substance. He thinks, “if I cite a conservative Presbyterian who says that Eamon Duffy is a “revisionist,” then Eamon Duffy is a revisionist.” But that’s just name-calling. Second-hand name calling, in fact. He does nothing to show how Duffy might actually be a “historical revisionist.”
Take a look at the first link he provides. The Exiled Preacher published some notes from a conference talk given by Garry Williams, who appears to be Director of the John Owen Centre in Wales, and someone who would be highly familiar with all of the nuance of the Reformation in England. Here seems to be the core of Williams’s complaint against Duffy and one other writer:
1. They provide a re-examination of the state of church in England at the time of the Reformation. The Anticlericalism in England that seemed to drive the reform was not as popular as once thought [Duffy says]. There was no great cry for reform of the pre-Reformation English Church. The Church was part of everyday life for most people.It is on these views that Williams seems to consider Duffy “a revisionist.” He then moves on from this point. I’m wondering if David Waltz can speak to the issues? What, precisely, is being revised? Does David even know, or care to know? Or is it just an opportunity to smear a person’s work because someone else called him a “revisionist”?
2. Slow speed of the English Reformation caused the Reformation to take time to settle in because it was not generally embraced by the masses.
3. Mary Tudor’s reign was more successful [than once] thought; she was a competent monarch. England was more conservative than once believed. People were happy to revert to Rome under Mary's reign.
This is a specialized conference (“The Westminster Conference for theological and historical study with special reference to the Puritans”), and it doesn’t surprise me at all that these folks would disagree with some of the opinions put forth by a Roman Catholic historian. Especially not English folks, talking about the English Reformation. On the other hand, Williams says nothing about Duffy’s writings on the papacy. I would tend to think he’d find those writings to be accurate and agree with them.
Williams’s statements about the English Reformation [the nuances of which most of us are unfamiliar with] are no reason to throw out everything else that Duffy has ever said. We’re not even sure what Williams actually said. This report comes to us through the filter of another, who was taking down notes. Davies’s own notes are unclear (and I’ve written to him for clarification, but as yet have not had a response from him). It is not clear in what way Duffy wishes to “overturn the traditional Protestant view of the English Reformation.” Davies does not state what specifically about the “Traditional Protestant View of the English Reformation,” (other than that Mary Tudor was a better Queen in Roman Catholic eyes than Protestant eyes), nor is it clear, what precisely about the “Traditional Protestant View” that he thinks Duffy is hoping to overturn. Nor is mention made of the fact that Duffy, as a Roman Catholic, is going to have historical views about the Reformation that may be at odds with “Traditional Protestant views” at any rate.
Further, David provides no clue as to how, precisely, Duffy’s work on the English Reformation intersects with what he has written about the early papacy. Or how any alleged “revisionism” here, in a discussion of the English Reformation, affects Duffy’s work with regard to the papacy. For all we know, Duffy may in fact provide a more sophisticated view of the English Reformation than the one that has come down to us through “traditional Protestant sources”.
Duffy’s alleged “revisionism” did not prevent WSC Professor Scott Clark from passing on two selections that quote from Eamon Duffy’s work, including my own article and a selection from Reformation Italy, a URCNA missionary church plant sponsored by a Southern California church that maintains close ties with Westminster Seminary California.
If David wants his charges to have any credibility at all on this, he will be able to tell us something specific about what Duffy’s view is on the English Reformation and how, precisely his work either distorts or in any way “revises” that history. And further, he will need to say how this affects what Duffy, a Roman Catholic, reports about the papacy. Merely citing someone (however well-meaning) who calls him a “revisionist,” while providing no documentation for that charge, is simply name-calling.
Steve Hays has said on a number of occasions, “truth is normative”. The Scriptures are what they are, because, being “God-breathed,” they are the ultimate truth. How do we respond, then, when we are presented with new information? If a thing is true, if Galileo, for example, through his observations, determines that the earth revolves around the sun, and those observations are determined to be true, then our understanding of Scriptures such as such as 1 Chronicles 16:30, Psalm 93:1, Psalm 96:10, Psalm 104:5, Ecclesiastes 1:5 need to be revisited. The Scriptures themselves are true and normative. Galileo presents additional (and true) knowledge. The Scriptures stand; we are the malleable ones. We acknowledge that it is our understanding that is lacking.
When you are presented with new and verified information, and you change your views because you have new information, that’s not being “revisionist”. That is a matter of accepting reality as it is. Of accepting the truth.
Such a thing is difficult, and it takes hard work. But this is precisely the type of thing that conservative Biblical scholarship has done over the centuries. In recent years, when someone like Peter Enns puts forth the theory that the Old Testament relies on myths of the Ancient Near East (ANE) culture. There is no substitute, however, for doing the hard work of truly understanding the ANE [more specifically, Egyptian culture and education], and determining what the true relationship between those two is. And at this point I’ll say that I’m no expert on this topic, but I’ll heartily recommend this brief lecture series from Dr. John Currid, “Crass Plagiarism? The Problem of the Relationship of the Old Testament to Ancient Near Eastern Literature”.
If you download and listen to this series, you’ll understand a great deal about why I don’t concern myself with David Waltz and his criticisms. Enns is a scholar who panics, and says, “gee, there are lots of parallels between ANE culture and literature and the OT. It must be that the OT borrows from that information.” The implication, of course, is that the Old Testament is not truly inerrant. On the contrary, Currid (and scholars like Gregory Beale and the administration at WTS that forced Enns to resign) is not afraid to take on that thesis on its own terms.
In fact, Currid dismantles Enns’s theory and presents a compelling account that it is Moses, educated in Egyptian myth and culture, and Yahweh himself, who is demonstrating who is the true power in history, in the face of Egyptian myths and legends. In reality, it is Yahweh who is laughing in the face of Egyptian myth, not by “copying” those myths, but by demonstrating where the true power in the universe is seated. At the end of Currid’s lectures, there is no question but that it is Yahweh who is absolutely humiliating the greatest world power of that era.
We see this type of thing in our own day. Superman dies in the movie (or at least, is incapacitated by Kryptonite), but then he comes to life again to save the world. Is Superman the reality? Or rather, is the Superman story based on an ultimate reality (in this case, the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Christ) that rather resonates in our hearts (Romans 1:18-19)? The New Testament provides the compelling narrative that Jesus Christ came in the flesh, making claims to be the Son of God; His resurrection and ascension (and the attendant miracles of his life) are an exceedingly powerful testimony that He Is Who He Says He Is, and that other “messiah” types of stories in our world are copies of the true reality.
Fast forward to today (and in fact, to the last 1500 years of history – the true “Catholic Moment”). The Roman Church claims that it is the chief and sole representative of the authority of Jesus Christ on earth. Are Roman claims true? If they are true, then golly, we’d better snap-to. But if Roman claims to authority are not true, then what are we left with?