Is There Madness In The Method? A Rejoinder To Robert H. Gundry -- By: Norman L. Geisler

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 26:1 (Mar 1983)
Article: Is There Madness In The Method? A Rejoinder To Robert H. Gundry
Author: Norman L. Geisler


Is There Madness In The Method?
A Rejoinder To Robert H. Gundry

Norman L. Geisler

I. Some Irony

There is a certain irony about Gundry’s response. He declares that his opponent has “not really entered the debate,” and yet he debates with him. He insists that “Geisler scarcely sticks a toe on the hermeneutical turf,” and yet he plants both feet there to remove me. He claims my presentation “missed the point,” but he insists on attempting to refute it anyway. Gundry says that no real argument was presented against his view, and yet he uses some 3000 words to refute it.

One thing seems clear about this kind of response: It has the effect of convincing the unsophisticated reader that the opposing view has no real basis while one repeats his own argument. However, the serious reader wants to see the arguments; he does not want to argue about whether they are arguments.

II. Some Plausibility

On first reading of Gundry’s response it appears plausible. The basic reason for this is found largely in his use of loaded terms. When describing his own view Gundry uses laudatory words such as that it takes “into account a wider range” of things; it is based on a “method of studying Matthew’s text in detail”; it engages in “making a considered judgment.” Thus he claims to understand the text “more accurately” and to apply his method “more widely,” “more consistently” and “more sensitively.” Further, Gundry describes his view as based on a “mass of exegetical detail about the text” that enables him to “get inside it by understanding its nature and purpose.” In short, Gundry labels his method as “better ·. . in the light of advancing scholarship.” Of course, such praiseworthy self-descriptions have the effect of favorably disposing one toward his position.

However, when describing the opposing view Gundry uses loaded terms such as “truism,” “literalistic” and “exclusively historicizing.” It is based on “presumptions” and only “pretends to deal with” but “has ignored” and “scarcely sticks a toe on” the turf. Further, Gundry declares that our criticism is based on “suspicion” and calls our analysis “slipshod.” The use of these words by Gundry has the effect of prejudicing the reader against the objections raised against his view. However, the serious reader will cut through the literary verbiage to discover what argument may be embedded therein. So let us take a look at the argument.

III. The Heart Of The Argument

Gundry states correctly the central argument against his view and even admits it is valid. To repeat it: “(1) The ETS statement demands belief in the en-

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