Some of you may have listened to our podcast responding to Sentinel Apologetics. He and I ended up in the same livestream where he promoted the same spiel as John Walton, Michael Heiser and so on, namely that Ancient Near Eastern (ANE Literature needs to be used to interpret the Bible. If you listened to my podcast, you will know I compared ANE to CRT (critical race theory). Both deny the fundamental sufficiency of Scripture.
Lest anyone misunderstand what I mean, let us consider the claims Scripture makes about itself. Deuteronomy 4:2 says “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” Note, that Scripture is explicit, not to add or take away anything from the Word of God. Revelation repeats the same refrain in Revelation 22:18-19, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”
These are not the only places the Bible talks about its sufficiency. Ps 119:89 says “Forever O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven.” Matthew 24:35 says “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” Matthew 5:18 adds “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Clearly Scripture is unchanging and sufficient for our understanding on all areas in which it speaks.
This is not to say that we should never read anything besides the Bible. Far from it. The Bible isn’t a science textbook. However, when it comments on science, it is accurate. The same is true of all other subject on which the Bible comments. Further, it is absolutely without error. That should be clear from the above context.
This is where both CRT and ANE literature start to conflict with the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture. CRT proponents argue that CRT and intersectionality are useful tools to help us address problems in society. For the more woke, CRT is also used to interpret the Bible and influence the way they think about the Gospel. It has been used to add works, specifically the work of anti-racism to the Gospel. In other words, if you are not “anti-racist” you aren’t a Christian, or at least you aren’t sanctified. Scripture alone is not sufficient to the CRT advocates. They have to import their woke ideology into the Bible.
Ancient Near Eastern Literature does the exact same thing as CRT, just in a different way. Rather than simply reading the text of Scripture for what it says, ANE takes historical documents from the ancient near east and claims they need to be understood to understand the Bible, specifically Genesis, but also other places like Ezekiel and Revelation. By using these documents, ANE advocates argue that the the ancient near east cosmology was a flat earth, and therefore, since the Bible is an ANE book, the Bible teaches a flat earth. Heiser and Walton both teach this, and Sentinel echoed it in our conversation. Yet none of them believe the earth is flat. Therefore, they do not hold to inerrancy.
Further, ANE presumes we need a source outside of the Bible to understand the Bible. Since most people can’t read the ANE texts, this puts the interpretation in the Scripture solely in the hands of the scholars, creating a form of semi-Gnosticism. I challenged Sentinel to tell me if the Bible could be understood without appealing to a scholar. He would not give me a direct answer. The best I could get was him saying we could not even read the Bible without the scholars translating it. I have news for Sentinel: translation does not equal interpretation. The moment a translator starts interpreting during his translation, he stops being a faithful translator. A translator is supposed to correctly render the statements of the original author in a new language, not interpret what the author meant when he wrote it.
Notice the similarities between ANE and CRT. ANE uses something outside the Bible to interpret the Bible. So does CRT. CRT wants to fundamentally reinterpret wide swaths of the Bible. So does ANE. CRT wants to add something to the Gospel (the anti-racist work). ANE wants to take something away from the Gospel (the origin of sin and death). CRT wants to make the Bible insufficient to deal with cultural issues. ANE wants to make the Bible insufficient to deal with origin issues. See the similarities?
The thing is, we do not need either of these “tools” to understand the text. Scripture is self-interpreting, and does not require an outside tool to understand it. The layman does not need to study critical theory, or ANE literature to understand the Scripture, nor do they need to reinterpret Scripture through those lenses. Scripture is sufficient for all matters on which it speaks. Those who dispute that have an incredibly low view of the text.
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