123 meme

Thanks to Berenike:

The 123 Rules:
1. Pick up the book nearest you with at least 123 pages. (No cheating!)
2. Turn to page 123.
3. Count the first five sentences.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five other bloggers.

Sitting directly in front of my bookcase, I picked the one that caught my eye first. It’s going to need explanation :|

“The Bible itself is subject to the same determining principle. ‘The doctrine of this Church’ expresses the sense in which men are to understand the Holy Scriptures. That is to say, the Church declares her doctrine, or reasserts it from time to time with such modifications as the influences at work throughout the changing years may effect, and according to the varying criterion thus established she understands the Scriptures.”

From The Free Church of Scotland: The Crisis of 1900, by Alexander Stewart and J Kennedy Cameron.

[They’re exposing the heinous error of what office-bearers were required to subscribe to at their ordination in the United Free church. It’s a use-vs-mention thing. I could have cheated, but the next closest was the Bible.]

And so I hereby tag:


11 thoughts on “123 meme

  1. Ah, who knows, it’s all part of the meme mystique.

    If i’d been in the office my 3 sentences would have been:

    “There are only two systems of writing: 1. The ideographic system, in which a word is represented by some uniquely distinctive sign which has nothing to do with the signs involved. This sign represents the entire word as a whole, and hence represents indirectly the idea expressed.”
    Roy Harris (2000), Rethinking Writing.

    Again weirdly simply the presentation of someone else’s argument which the writer doesn’t agree with.


  2. Modernism everywhere! This:
    “the Church declares her doctrine, or reasserts it from time to time with such modifications as the influences at work throughout the changing years may effect, and according to the varying criterion thus established she understands the Scriptures”

    could be added to the Syllabus of Errors!

    Here are some other errors from the same jolly list:

    11. Divine inspiration does not extend to all of Sacred Scriptures so that it renders its parts, each and every one, free from every error.

    12. If he wishes to apply himself usefully to Biblical studies, the exegete must first put aside all preconceived opinions about the supernatural origin of Sacred Scripture and interpret it the same as any other merely human document.

    Here’s one my granny holds (she’s an atheist):
    14. In many narrations the Evangelists recorded, not so much things that are true, as things which, even though false, they judged to be more profitable for their readers.

    Some more for you to enjoy!

    58. Truth is no more immutable than man himself, since it evolved with him, in him, and through him.

    59. Christ did not teach a determined body of doctrine applicable to all times and all men, but rather inaugurated a religious movement adapted or to be adapted to different times and places.

    60. Christian Doctrine was originally Judaic. Through successive evolutions it became first Pauline, then Joannine, finally Hellenic and universal.

    61. It may be said without paradox that there is no chapter of Scripture, from the first of Genesis to the last of the Apocalypse, which contains a doctrine absolutely identical with that which the Church teaches on the same matter. For the same reason, therefore, no chapter of Scripture has the same sense for the critic and the theologian.

    62. The chief articles of the Apostles’ Creed did not have the same sense for the Christians of the first ages as they have for the Christians of our time.

    63. The Church shows that she is incapable of effectively maintaining evangelical ethics since she obstinately clings to immutable doctrines which cannot be reconciled with modern progress.

    64. Scientific progress demands that the concepts of Christian doctrine concerning God, creation, revelation, the Person of the Incarnate Word, and Redemption be re-adjusted.

    So much fun! :-)


  3. A quick skim makes me think i recognise all of the above as errors!

    Good thing there were some folk of principle who refused to enter the 1900 union – dunno if 3 sentences are long enough to convey the distaste with which the authors regarded that particular point in the subscription documents, but it was definitely a bone of contention


  4. So strange that they put something so utterly utterly words-fail-one stupidly wrong as something one had to subscribe to. Not just that there were people hanging around who thought this, for reasons of ill will or poor thinking, but it was actually prescribed.


  5. these are so great, I couldnt’ resist more

    15. Until the time the canon was defined and constituted, the Gospels were increased by additions and corrections. Therefore there remained in them only a faint and uncertain trace of the doctrine of Christ.

    16. The narrations of John are not properly history, but a mystical contemplation of the Gospel. The discourses contained in his Gospel are theological meditations, lacking historical truth concerning the mystery of salvation.

    17. The fourth Gospel exaggerated miracles not only in order that the extraordinary might stand out but also in order that it might become more suitable for showing forth the work and glory of the Word lncarnate.

    18. John claims for himself the quality of witness concerning Christ. In reality, however, he is only a distinguished witness of the Christian life, or of the life of Christ in the Church at the close of the first century.


  6. What is this, a test of orthodoxy? :) I solemnly concur that these are all errors :)

    Re #6 it’s their own exposition of the ordination vows, or perceived potential implications thereof – maybe i should read up round about it to remind myself what was the actual point. (Excuse for not doing so yet: haven’t had laptop home past couple of nights, or time :( Also want to post a couple of quotes but again the books are at home)


  7. The difference seems to have been to do with swearing that they accepted that the doctrine of the Confession of Faith was scriptural, versus agreeing to abide by the doctrine of the church as set forth in the Confession.

    The problem was that they were seeing doctrinal shifts and a weakening commitment to creeds on all hands – and signing up to ‘the doctrine of the church’ didn’t include a guarantee that the church wouldn’t by some subsequent majority decision reject some or other component of the confession they currently purported to adhere to. The inerrancy of scripture and the extent of the atonement were ongoing controversies, eg.


  8. From the book directly:

    In the Free Church they were asked: “Do you sincerely own and believe the whole doctrine of the Confession of Faith, approved by the General Assemblies of this Church to be the truths of God, contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments…?”
    In the new United Free it was: “Do you sincerely own and believe the doctrine of this Church set forth in the Confession of Faith…?”

    Stewart and Cameron say: the difference is “more than a mere matter of phraseology. The change is radical. Between the affirmation that ‘the whole doctrine of the Confession is the truth of God,’ and a mere declaration of belief with respect to ‘the doctrine of the Church,’ there is a great gulf fixed. To the extent in which the United church may express her acceptance of the Confession of Faith, and to that extent alone, are her office-bearers required to believe it. There is no definiteness in the Church’s creed, and no stability. ‘The doctrine of the Church’ is by no means a fixed quantity. It is subject to fluctuations, according to the views which at any particular time may find acceptance among the majority of the members of the General Assembly.”

    The book was first published in 1910, and the authors point to cases in the fledgling denomination which demonstrated to them that this position was flawed, and that leaving it to the Church to decide how to regard either the contents of the confession or the Scriptures themselves left them wide open to adopting erroneous views as well as potentially correct ones, just depending on the church’s state of theological health at the time. In 1902, apparently, there was a case where the general assembly of the United Free failed to take action against people who said there were errors in the scriptures:
    “Views have been expressed by Professors Drummond, and Dods, and George Adam Smith, compared with which the theories which startled an earlier generation appear moderate and almost old-fashioned. In each of those cases there was an inquiry and a discussion in the General Assembly. But … there was never anything more serious than a few well-chosen words of rebuke addressed to the offending theologian for the imprudence of his language, or his too great readiness to take things for granted. He was sent back to the work of instilling his beliefs into the minds of the rising ministry. In the case of Professor George Adam Smith there was not even reproof. His books cannot possibly be reconciled with a reverent regard for the authority of Holy Scripture. But what the Assembly emphasised was the splendour of his services in the cause of truth. He freely charges the sacred writings with errors, the existence of which is absolutely fatal to any worthy conception of Inspiration; but he was loaded with eulogy as a notable defender of the faith. … the victory of the Higher Criticism was complete.” (p63-64)

    Phew. And now I really need to do some work.


  9. Pingback: 123 meme « a glass beaker with a star inside

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