Editorial -- By: Anonymous
JETS 49:1 (March 2006) p. 1
Every generation must fight its own battles. Over the centuries, the Church has faced many struggles. Paul opposed the Judaizers, and at one point even challenged Peter, in his “good fight” for the true gospel. Later, the apostle predicted that even some from within the Ephesian church would wreak havoc with their teaching. Hymenaeus and Alexander erroneously held that the resurrection had already taken place. Peter wrote of some who claimed that God does not intervene in human history and thus discounted his teaching concerning the second coming of Christ. Jude penned a scathing letter denouncing those who exchanged the grace of God for licentiousness and immorality. John, in his epistles, spoke out against false teachers who had claimed to be without sin and who denied that Jesus had “come in the flesh.” The book of Revelation contains the names of several heretics, including the “woman Jezebel,” the first-mentioned female false teacher in the New Testament.
The sub-apostolic period continued to witness a fierce battle for the truth of the gospel. Marcion argued that only portions of Luke and other New Testament passages of his liking were to be included in the Christian canon. Irenaeus wrote Against Heresies, opposing the Gnostics. The apologists crafted skillful defenses for the Christian faith, demonstrating the intellectual respectability of the gospel. All the while, persecution punctuated the existence of the early Christians, testing the faith and commitment of many. Through the Middle Ages and into the Reformation, the problem arose of an ecclesiastical hierarchy that carefully guarded its own political and religious power by monopolizing the right to biblical interpretation and by exploiting prevailing superstition through a system of indulgences and other unbiblical practices and demands.
The Enlightenment changed all that, and ecclesiastical doctrinal control increasingly gave way to an interpretive solipsism by which a given exegete is said to be entitled to his or her own independent judgment regardless of tradition, interpretive communities past or present, and, in some cases, even the text itself. The pendulum swing in some circles seemed so severe that even those in the Protestant tradition despaired of such an interpretive freedom-turned-bondage that they have sought refuge under the wings of Roman Catholicism or the Orthodox Church. In other cases, the result was an unfettered historical criticism that led to an erosion of the authority and trustworthiness of Scripture; a variety of literary methodologies that jettisoned the notion of the extratextual referentiality of the biblical and other texts; an existentialism or nihilism that declared all human existence ultimately meaningless; or a postmodern rejection of the Enlightenment notion of rationalit...
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