Untruth made Truth
Reading the Christianity Today for July 2004 article “Truth on Two Hills” by Bob Wenz, vice president of national ministries for the National Association of Evangelicals in Washington D.C., and a professor at Nyack College brought back to mind an observation I made watching an insurance commercial on television. The actor in the commercial is famous for being able to use expressions like “if you’re hurt and have to miss work, it doesn’t hurt to miss work.” It reminded me of two other actors who transited from vaudeville to television. One made a comedy act out of using big words improperly. He used the wrong word for what he was supposed to be trying to say. The other actor made up big words and interjected them into sentences. People knew what he was trying to say; the humor was in the fact he used words that did not exist. Why is that humor not popular today? Most people are so ignorant of language they do not know when the wrong word is being used in one case, and in the other so many are lacking in vocabulary they are inventing words to try to express what they want to say so there is no humor in it..
What does that have to do with the article in question you might ask? The author of the article proposes to tell us “What happens when church and culture conspire to ignore the meaning of words.” Dr. Wenz presents the case that the three institutions ordained by God; church, government, and family are severely affected. Indeed they are put in jeopardy. He tells us that in 1946 two men named Wimsatt and Beardsley taught that "whatever an author may have meant or intended to say by his or her written words is now irrelevant to the meanings we have come to assign as the meaning we wish to see in the author's text. On this basis, the reader is the one who sets the meaning for the text." Called “The Intentional Fallacy” it is called "Formalist Criticism," when the subject of Biblical interpretation or translation is in sight. This idea frees people from paying attention to what the writers originally meant and allows them to assign whatever meaning they wish to the subject. Therefore the Bible, the Constitution, and the laws of the land now have the meaning assigned by the capricious whims of men who are moved by their own sins, prejudices, social agendas, or response to the fad of the hour.
In other words the inability of conservatives to get judicial nominees who believe in strict interpretation of the Constitution; the problems with homosexual marriage and the confusion that both judicial and legislative bodies have added to that mix; along with the conflict over homosexuality in the churches all have a common source in the fallacious thinking of men. Dr. Wenz said he had first encountered the idea behind all this in a philosophy class 30 years ago. He described the professor who presented the concept as “infected,” and he said formalist criticism has a “hostility” toward an author’s intention. When we consider this in the context of either the Bible or the Constitution such an attitude is particularly destructive. Dr. Wenz goes on to say “Now, a half-century since it first was proclaimed, the Wimsatt-Beardsley doctrine, along with its children, is so widely accepted that it has tainted nearly all major social institutions-even the church.” To this we say, Amen, not because we endorse what has happened but because we know what he is saying is true.
What the people who want to change the world have done is take that which in untrue and proclaim it to be true by the slight of hand of Intentional Fallacy. To sooth their consciences they call the Constitution “a living document” which means they can twist it to say whatever they want it to say. And, they distort the words of the founding fathers. A slightly different approach using Intentional Fallacy makes the acceptance of sin okay within the church and argues against the clear pronouncements of Scripture. Under the non-translation method of Dynamic Equivalency the Word of God is changed to accept the expedient and promoted sin of the moment. The problem these people will eventually have is that they will have to face the anger of a righteous God in judgment.
The people who turn untruth into truth will eventually cause the collapse of the institutions they use. If they live long enough the collapse will be upon them. Never successfully done, turning the truth into a lie, nor will it be. I believe the properly translated Bible like the KJB is literally true, so I know this great evil will not succeed. But what suffering of humanity will be experienced along the way toward the end of this devils’ ruse.
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