Do You Want A Scholar Or A Pastor?

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Wonderkins

Puritan Board Freshman
Hey folks.

I have a couple friends who are twin brothers. They both became Christians 5 or 6 years ago. They both immediately found and attached themselves to both the Bible Project and Michael Heiser.

At first there was no problem. They were learning. But all this time later, they have little to no interest in attending a church. One of them I think is attending a catholic church for the sake of his new catholic wife. The other just doesn't go. Their jobs with the railroad have contributed to some of the inability to attend. But I don't feel like it's a great reason.

They both look especially to Michael Heiser because of him being a Hebrew scholar. They seem to take that as he knows better than they could get at church. One of the brothers refers to American churches as watered-down western churches. A recent conversation just revealed a lot of disdain for the church as a whole. And I firmly believe it's a result of the Bible Project and Michael Heiser.

So other than the obvious other issues you may have picked up on, my main question is this:
If you needed to learn about something biblical, would you ever go to a scholar over a solid pastor? Should we look at a trained scholar the same way we would a biblical pastor?

I've compared some of Heiser's teachings to men like Calvin, Spurgeon, Ligon Duncan, MacArthur, etc. When all these great theologians teach one thing in basic agreement, and then a guy like Heiser comes along being basically one of a few guys teaching the opposite, does the majority win? I know there are more. He's just the most prominent.

I hope this makes sense. I'm trying not to make it about my specific feelings on Michael Heiser and the like, but more about whether the fruits of his influence is a good thing.
 

Scottish Presbyterian

Puritan Board Freshman
[Editing out first paragraph]

If someone professes to be a Christian, but wilfully neglects to gather with the saints for extended periods of time, even when they have opportunity to do so, it does cast quite serious doubt on the genuineness of their profession. If they instead gather with members of a false religion, that's frankly even worse.

No, a "scholar" of any description is never a suitable substitute for a pastor (though I do think it is right that a pastor should be theologically educated to at least some degree, including in the biblical languages).
 
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Morgan

Puritan Board Freshman
The only thing that comes to mind, they should remember whose church they are speaking of. It is Christ’s church and was established by Him. He created it for a reason and knows its condition. They need to be in church for numerous reasons, accountability being but one.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
I've read everything Heiser has written. I see no inherent problem there. You can find the same dangers with Macarthur groupies or Sproul types or whoever. I won't even get into TGC. There are dangers in every situation. I've been in churches where the big focus was...definitely not on being a scholar. And it showed. I've also been in scholarly churches and that wasn't good, either.

To be fair, Heiser is not a pastor. He doesn't pretend to be. His calling is being a professor and it is unfair to judge him, if such be the case, for not being a pastor. And he doesn't attack the church. I love Heiser and my take away from him is that I need to go to church more. One can make an argument that parachurch ministries like TGC have had a far worse influence on the church that Heiser.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Leaving Heiser aside, one could substitute another scholar, a celebrity preacher, or someone on the other side of the world who is more pure or faithful or zealous. A common element is misidentifying the true need. Those who substitute church with some scholar are saying that what they really need is information--exciting, unusual, qualified in some way, but basically information. Those who go with the celebrity preacher usually need presentation as well; there may or may not be a good sermon, but the delivery is good in some way. That's about being drawn in. The third category may struggle to learn from or respect anyone who doesn't pass their tests for identifying a trustworthy teacher.

But it seems to me that all likely lack something similar: the humility to recognize that they need the basics. It might be the basics of catechetical theology, or of perseverance through difficulty, or to implement consistently basic Christian practices like going to church; whatever the precise nuance, where there is no sense that I need to worship, be known and prayed for, be available for admonition and exhortation, it seems to me there is often going to be found pride standing in the way of a healthy Christian appetite.
 
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reformed grit

Puritan Board Freshman
Why not both?

“If you needed to learn about something biblical, would you ever go to a scholar over a solid pastor? Should we look at a trained scholar the same way we would a biblical pastor?”

I’ve known some very out-of-touch pastors as well as some certainly lost Biblical scholars. For friends whose profession is allegiance to Christ, it might help to gently remind, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (KJV, Heb.10:25). But if the choice is the wife’s Roman Catholic church, that presents challenges among friends too. If attending church is problematic, maybe find a reliable local choice with other helpful times of fellowship and Bible study.

It’s good to find something Biblically and personably trustworthy at any rate. By definition, pastors ought to have their congregation’s best interests at heart; but this unfortunately isn’t always the case. Scholars usually have impressive scholastic arguments with information overload, but holy wisdom is far better than shifting paradigms of science. The best epistemology has both reliable knowledge and heart-felt concern for fellow souls.
 

Wonderkins

Puritan Board Freshman
I've read everything Heiser has written. I see no inherent problem there. You can find the same dangers with Macarthur groupies or Sproul types or whoever. I won't even get into TGC. There are dangers in every situation. I've been in churches where the big focus was...definitely not on being a scholar. And it showed. I've also been in scholarly churches and that wasn't good, either.

To be fair, Heiser is not a pastor. He doesn't pretend to be. His calling is being a professor and it is unfair to judge him, if such be the case, for not being a pastor. And he doesn't attack the church. I love Heiser and my take away from him is that I need to go to church more. One can make an argument that parachurch ministries like TGC have had a far worse influence on the church that Heiser.
It wasn't my intention to single out Heiser. I wasn't judging him, he just happens to be a key point in the situation I mentioned. I don't think it's his fault. I do have my own concerns about some of his teachings, but I was trying to be respectful by not getting in to those things because I know there are some here who really like him.

I know there are problems with following anybody.

Those friends of mine are throwing aside good pastors (well known or not) in favor of following Michael Heiser for everything. Not even attending anywhere. Almost everything Bible related that they say is just about word for word what he says. That was the point of my asking.

When they essentially say they don't really need to go to church because they're getting everything they need from a scholar, I feel the need to question the influence of that person.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
If someone professes to be a Christian, but wilfully neglects to gather with the saints for extended periods of time, even when they have opportunity to do so, it does cast quite serious doubt on the genuineness of their profession. If they instead gather with members of a false religion, that's frankly even worse.
Or, as John put it:
1Jn 2:9 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.

No, a "scholar" of any description is never a suitable substitute for a pastor (though I do think it is right that a pastor should be theologically educated to at least some degree, including in the biblical languages).
I agree a scholar is not a substitute for a pastor, but many pastors are scholars. Calvin comes to mind, among many others even to our present day.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
I agree a scholar is not a substitute for a pastor, but many pastors are scholars. Calvin comes to mind, among many others even to our present day.

I saw a panel discussion made up of three or four ministers. The moderator asked the panel what they considered the biggest single problem facing the churches in America today. As the group thought about the question for some time, eventually Paul Washer broke the silence with a one-word answer.

Pastors.
 

TheInquirer

Puritan Board Sophomore
Sin corrupts everyone so you will find probably in academia and in the pastorate. The church needs faithful men with gifts in both fields.

Personally, I see Heiser scoffing at just about everyone who doesn't agree with him. Some of his ideas I find intriguing and worth looking into but I find the guy personally a big turn off and full of himself. Just read his fiction - if you listen to him enough you'll see how he wrote himself into the main character and some of the self-applauding comments and priase of said character are just ludicrous.

On the other side, I've known plenty of pastors who BS their way through questions and try to look like they know more than they do instead of just saying "I don't know" because they don't want people to think they don't have an answer. The danger about progressing in your own learning is your increased ability to detect fraud - its quite disappointing.

I think at the root of this question is the reality that theology, biblical scholarship, and faithful practice/devotion to Christ go hand in hand and these things aid one another in significant ways.

As for your original question, the person I would go to for the answer to a question is the person I think is most qualified to answer the question.

Regarding the brothers - those who say they love Jesus but don't love the church Jesus died for are liars.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
On one hand you don't want a pastor to read monographs from the pulpit, but neither do you want the goal of each sermon to simply "bless my socks off." Christ also redeemed the mind, so that needs to be targeted as well.

In the American atmosphere we are in very little danger of being too intellectual in church. And I don't see "intellectualism" as leading to not going to church. I know far more pietists who don't go to church for that reason. In fact, historically, pietism has led to "me and my own conventicle against the church." See the nonsense Kuyper had to deal with.
 

ArminianOnceWas

Puritan Board Freshman
I think one issue may be in how the church structure has evolved.

We expect pastors to have strength in preaching, teaching, academia, counseling (marital, family, grief, etc), as well as being decent organizers and administrators.

These are a very diverse range of gifts. It's seldom that anyone man carries all these.

I advocate (in an ideal world) a scenario where a church has a man set aside as a teacher, who may also be a scholar. Meanwhile, another serves in the role governing the pastoral functions.

Of course, one drawback is if the scholar-teacher is so detached from pastoral service that he becomes disconnected from the realities of the church.

Meanwhile, in reverse, the pastoral minister should not be lazy in terms of study, because his role is more practical.

So, I think the challenge is when we expect a single man to have all the above gifts. Too many churches and clergy struggle because they can't have both or be both qualities (pastor/scholar) in a single person.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
I think one issue may be in how the church structure has evolved.

We expect pastors to have strength in preaching, teaching, academia, counseling (marital, family, grief, etc), as well as being decent organizers and administrators.

These are a very diverse range of gifts. It's seldom that anyone man carries all these.

I advocate (in an ideal world) a scenario where a church has a man set aside as a teacher, who may also be a scholar. Meanwhile, another serves in the role governing the pastoral functions.

Of course, one drawback is if the scholar-teacher is so detached from pastoral service that he becomes disconnected from the realities of the church.

Meanwhile, in reverse, the pastoral minister should not be lazy in terms of study, because his role is more practical.

So, I think the challenge is when we expect a single man to have all the above gifts. Too many churches and clergy struggle because they can't have both or be both qualities (pastor/scholar) in a single person.

That might be the issue. Seminaries might like to think they are training "pastor theologians," and on the rare occasion that might actually be true. Fact of the matter, many pastors, especially at the smaller church level, have to do too much to focus on continuing scholarship. Pastors at the larger level, yea even Reformed churches, find they have to act like CEOs. I'm not attacking that. It's simply the nature of the situation.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
preaching, teaching, academia, counseling (marital, family, grief, etc), as well as being decent organizers and administrators.
I summarize it as the big 3 - Preaching, Counseling, Administration. It's a rare bird - perhaps mythical - that can do all three well. As Michael Aday sang, "Two out of three ain't bad".

Preaching generally going to be the most important, with the other elders stepping up to cover the Pastor's weaknesses. It's a real advantage of the big churches to be able to have enough pastors to match skillsets to the various needs. They may even have a "scholar in residence" or seminary professors that are 'members' to fill that role.
 

reformed grit

Puritan Board Freshman
I think thereto, too large a part of issues like these can be a submission to discipline. Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, and others sought to reform, to purify the Church, not leave it. But neither could they completely capitulate to an ecclesiastical discipline they found erroneous – God through Scripture and the Spirit was their Judge. Ever since (and even before) the authority of discipline has inclined toward individual assessment.

Your friends, like myself and many of us, may heed the advice of some, but tend to judge for ourselves in decisive action of what is right. I can count on 2 hands the number of scholars, pastors, or church members I know have fully submitted to a discipline they’ve sometimes even given oath to follow. More likely, scholars, pastors, and individuals remove themselves from the structures and strictures to which they are at odds.

Maybe all we can do is the best that we think, whether with prayerful consideration and the advice of godly men or not. But by-and-large the Church has lost much of its discipline over the individual, from erroneous judgment on both sides.

The popularity of, “Who are you to tell me what to do!?!” is rampant these days.

With due respect to my beloved postmillennial theonomistic brethren, I'm not saying the Church needs to take back its nuclear codes, but I'm thinking too much was lost when we gave over discipline to the civil magistrate and the guys with the swords*.


* not championing more beheadings by pastors
 
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Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
Greetings,
Pastor's Current Concerns for the Christian Church in the USA.

I just came across this survey result originally from Barna, which I know nothing about. But they seem to be religious opinion pollsters and more.
Here's an image from late 2019 that summarizes their findings.

pastor's concerns.png
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
This is a good discussion.

I don't know anything about the scholar you are referring to. I try to be widely read and that includes my professional work so I cannot dig deeply into the number of philosophical and theological tomes that others have and it is not my vocation so to do.

That said, I'm not a theological slouch nor am I intellectually lazy and want to continually improve my theological knowledge in service to the Church.

With all that said, the longer I sere in ministry, the more I realize that the Church is served by average men in ministry. That's OK. Not everyone can be above average or there would be no average.

It's just generally true that not everyone has a white hot intellect and the ability to synthesize and articulate vast swaths of information. It's true of professional contexts (military, industry, medicine, etc) and it's true of the Church that many people generally rely upon the expertise and insights of those who are more knowledgeable.

It's one of the reasons I find it useful to be part of a Confessing Church because it takes humility to realize that you may not completely fathom the full depths of a particular Confession to include all of the theological, pastoral, historical, and even metaphysical depths of certain concepts. As just one example, trying to wrap your head around the Trinity and the theological debates of the early centuries is daunting in itself. One can study for years and still scratch the surface much less think that he is a titan who is going to see all the ramifications of certain ideas.

This is why I think that we're generally better off in the Church with Church men who recognize their limitations and do their best to keep informed and increase their depth but don't think they are much smarter than they are. Most Elders and laymen would do well to gain and maintain confidence in the common Confession of the Church and not try to conceive of themselves as cleverer than the swath of Christian history.

I know it sounds like I'm downplaying the role of scholars but I'm just articulating that the number of real "scholars" who move the needle theologically is a rather small percentage. It's best for people not to think that they have expertise in answering every thorny question and to be able to have the humility to realize where they have blind spots.

As an example, the Missional movement within a significant portion of the PCA (as represented by the PCA) is built upon very shaky theological ground that owes to concepts originated in neo-Orthodoxy. Blended with a progressive neo-Kuyperian impulse to "redeem the City" it is increasingly spinning off current and every growing heterodoxy in the name of "contextualization". Many elders think they are Confessional but they are in taste only and more committed to principles by Newbigin. They speak in vague manner about "bringing shalom" to the City and amateurishly try to lead their Churches into "redeeming" culture, arts, economics, etc. Meanwhile, things as basic as the nature of sanctification are neglect leaving they and their flock wide open to concepts such as Side B Christianity. I think many of these Elders think themselves "scholarly" but they are quite ordinary in their intellectual gifts and their neglect of their basic Confessional grounding leaves them and their Churches increasingly adrift.

I guess what I'm saying is that I don't want "dumb" Elders but just Elders and laity aware of their limitations and the basic idea that we're never going to be able to build a novel theology and we're all better off if we move forward in confidence with the faith once for all delivered to the Saints rather than seeing ourselves fundamentally as scholars trying to unearth new insights or constantly finding ourselves as the sole arbiter or where the Church gets it wrong or right.
 

JimmyH

Puritan Board Senior
Referring only to the two fellows that don't feel the necessity to attend church ... In John MacArthur's 'How To Study The Bible', he recommends beginning by reading 1John from beginning to end every day for a month. To the original poster, challenge your two friends with that assignment, and if they do it, and still don't want to be a part of the body of Christ I'd assume their faith is spurious.
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
I have five kids now adults, and often had a house full of their friends, both church and school and neighbors.

I had plenty of opportunities to talk about the Lord, and invariably ( they liked me, it wasn't trying to change the focus) they wanted to talk about UFOs and aliens and weird spiritual experiences they had or someone close to them had, with demons or ghosts and so forth. The were fully aware of a spirit realm and of magic and unexplained phenomena. People are STARVING for spiritual reality; we were designed to hunger for it, and eat and drink from the Lord and not a sewer. The culture today is overwhelmed with hungry young people who have touched or entered the occult, and the average nice Christian cannot interact with it. There are guys like Missler out there who talk about it but he's just so d.i.s.p.y. its unbearable.

Enter Heiser. He is phenomenally helpful. He gets it about angels and fallen angels and a lot of things going on in the world today. That is why your friends are drawn to him. He is trying to explain things that almost everybody else wants to sweep under the rug.

I'm not saying that should be our primary focus obviously. Your friends are wrong obviously. But right now I would just pray fervently for them. As the darkness grows, and it is getting darker all the time, I expect they will feel a hunger to gather for fellowship. In the meantime they have you, and you can talk about your love of the Lord and theology and offer to pray with them. "Where two or three are gathered" says the Word.

Personally my hub and I would not cross the street if you paid us, to listen to Johnny Mac. But you class him with Calvin and Spurgeon as a great theologian. Christians are just so different in who they gravitate to and why, and who they respect or do not respect and why. I would not try and talk down Heiser to your friends, I mean, Heiser is smarter than probably anybody here on PB. It doesn't make him right about everything, but you won't get anywhere trying to get them to see your opinion if you take that approach.

Be patient. And maybe try to find a church for them whose pastor can talk about this stuff. Maybe they've been through dark evil spirit experiences and the right pastor would attract them. You want a Reformed understanding of the total sovereignty of God over Satan, without brushing off the reality of the spirit world operating today. Do some web searching, make phone calls, visit around.

I will pray for them. I'd bet there is some pretty funky stuff in their background. God put you in their path and I will ask God to give you wisdom. You care, and that matters!
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
I had plenty of opportunities to talk about the Lord, and invariably ( they liked me, it wasn't trying to change the focus) they wanted to talk about UFOs and aliens and weird spiritual experiences they had or someone close to them had, with demons or ghosts and so forth.

I forgot the study but more Americans believe in UFOs than they do in the classical doctrine of God.

Girl coming home from college: Pastor, I have these difficulties. Could you help me work through them?
Pastor: Sorry, I am a pastor, not a scholar.
 

Wonderkins

Puritan Board Freshman
I have five kids now adults, and often had a house full of their friends, both church and school and neighbors.

I had plenty of opportunities to talk about the Lord, and invariably ( they liked me, it wasn't trying to change the focus) they wanted to talk about UFOs and aliens and weird spiritual experiences they had or someone close to them had, with demons or ghosts and so forth. The were fully aware of a spirit realm and of magic and unexplained phenomena. People are STARVING for spiritual reality; we were designed to hunger for it, and eat and drink from the Lord and not a sewer. The culture today is overwhelmed with hungry young people who have touched or entered the occult, and the average nice Christian cannot interact with it. There are guys like Missler out there who talk about it but he's just so d.i.s.p.y. its unbearable.

Enter Heiser. He is phenomenally helpful. He gets it about angels and fallen angels and a lot of things going on in the world today. That is why your friends are drawn to him. He is trying to explain things that almost everybody else wants to sweep under the rug.

I'm not saying that should be our primary focus obviously. Your friends are wrong obviously. But right now I would just pray fervently for them. As the darkness grows, and it is getting darker all the time, I expect they will feel a hunger to gather for fellowship. In the meantime they have you, and you can talk about your love of the Lord and theology and offer to pray with them. "Where two or three are gathered" says the Word.

Personally my hub and I would not cross the street if you paid us, to listen to Johnny Mac. But you class him with Calvin and Spurgeon as a great theologian. Christians are just so different in who they gravitate to and why, and who they respect or do not respect and why. I would not try and talk down Heiser to your friends, I mean, Heiser is smarter than probably anybody here on PB. It doesn't make him right about everything, but you won't get anywhere trying to get them to see your opinion if you take that approach.

Be patient. And maybe try to find a church for them whose pastor can talk about this stuff. Maybe they've been through dark evil spirit experiences and the right pastor would attract them. You want a Reformed understanding of the total sovereignty of God over Satan, without brushing off the reality of the spirit world operating today. Do some web searching, make phone calls, visit around.

I will pray for them. I'd bet there is some pretty funky stuff in their background. God put you in their path and I will ask God to give you wisdom. You care, and that matters!
I wasn't planning to go in this direction with the thread, but I suppose it was bound to happen.

I put MacArthur in the list because I feel like there's a general respect for him as a Bible preacher, even if many here disagree with his eschatology (myself included after many years).

Where you mention things getting swept under the rug; this is where some of my struggle begins. My buddies have said that exact thing many times. In fact almost everything they say is almost a direct quote of Heiser. If Heiser is teaching his divine council stuff and nobody else is, why does it mean everyone else is sweeping things under the rug? Specifically on psalm 82, I started researching commentary and sermons and it seems that the majority do not agree with him. Some of those are the names I mentioned above.

I'm sure he's not the only one, but in episode 109 of his podcast he says twice that he has never seen any commentary agree with him. That causes issues for me. Why doesn't anyone agree? I've listened to quite a few of his podcasts and read the synopses of many of them. Often times I saw it phrased to basically say, "this is what you've always been taught, now let me tell you what it really means." That's just a summation. If he's right, shouldn't it be taught more widespread in churches?

And then whenever I push back against him as a lay person, I'm reminded how smart he is, or how he's the expert, or how he's probably smarter than everyone on pb. That seems to imply that I shouldn't even question him.

So you take two brand new Christians with no history in church, they find Michael Heiser who suggests he's the one who is right and that churches don't teach what he does, what reason would they have to attend a church? Now they are almost hostile to American churches and reformed faith in general.

Forgive me if I stepped on any toes or if I am out of line on some of this. It has been a big subject to wrestle with.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
If Heiser is teaching his divine council stuff and nobody else is, why does it mean everyone else is sweeping things under the rug? Specifically on psalm 82, I started researching commentary and sermons and it seems that the majority do not agree with him. Some of those are the names I mentioned above.

I learned divine council stuff from Kline long before I read Heiser. It's actually all over the place in the critical commentaries. As to Psalm 82, some agree with him, some don't. We don't determine truth by counting noses. Either it is a council of divine beings, or a bunch of rabbis floating in the sky, or a bunch of secular rulers also located in the sky.
And then whenever I push back against him as a lay person, I'm reminded how smart he is, or how he's the expert, or how he's probably smarter than everyone on pb. That seems to imply that I shouldn't even question him.

That's probably not a good move on their part. I just say, "What does the evidence say?" Let's reason through this. I for one don't ever read devotional or "sermonic" commentaries. Many times they just repeat conclusions from other sermonic commentaries. (I remember the days when people repackaged James Boice notes into their own).

I'm sure he's not the only one, but in episode 109 of his podcast he says twice that he has never seen any commentary agree with him.

I'm really surprised he said that, because in his articles he pointed me to people who actually were saying this.
So you take two brand new Christians with no history in church, they find Michael Heiser who suggests he's the one who is right and that churches don't teach what he does, what reason would they have to attend a church? Now they are almost hostile to American churches and reformed faith in general.

That seems more of a problem with them than Heiser, since the same phenomenon happens with James White lackeys or anyone connected with a parachurch ministry.

Where I think Heiser is legitimate is that he challenges cliches that pass for scholarship. That's perfectly acceptable. We also need to be very careful with the line, "Well if no one before him taught that." That challenge was thrown against Luther and it had a lot weight since Luther's teachings weren't being taught for at least 1,000 years.

And here are all my notes on Heiser. Heiser changed my life. I was in a dark place on conspiracies et al. Heiser took what was right in those claims and put it on a saner footing. I don't mind people challenging him. I disagree with him on stuff. He is a Baptist so he is wrong on baptism and church government.

And to prove that Heiser isn't the only one making this stuff up, I've collated a bibliography
 
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Scottish Presbyterian

Puritan Board Freshman
As to Psalm 82, some agree with him, some don't. We don't determine truth by counting noses. Either it is a council of divine beings, or a bunch of rabbis floating in the sky, or a bunch of secular rulers also located in the sky.
Where in Psalm 82 do you get the idea of "located in the sky"? Your argument against the standard interpretation (that the Psalm refers to earthly rulers) seems to hinge on this insistence that "the congregation of the mighty" and "among the gods" has to be "in the sky". Why is that necessary?
 

Wonderkins

Puritan Board Freshman
I learned divine council stuff from Kline long before I read Heiser. It's actually all over the place in the critical commentaries. As to Psalm 82, some agree with him, some don't. We don't determine truth by counting noses. Either it is a council of divine beings, or a bunch of rabbis floating in the sky, or a bunch of secular rulers also located in the sky.


That's probably not a good move on their part. I just say, "What does the evidence say?" Let's reason through this. I for one don't ever read devotional or "sermonic" commentaries. Many times they just repeat conclusions from other sermonic commentaries. (I remember the days when people repackaged James Boice notes into their own).



I'm really surprised he said that, because in his articles he pointed me to people who actually were saying this.


That seems more of a problem with them than Heiser, since the same phenomenon happens with James White lackeys or anyone connected with a parachurch ministry.

Where I think Heiser is legitimate is that he challenges cliches that pass for scholarship. That's perfectly acceptable. We also need to be very careful with the line, "Well if no one before him taught that." That challenge was thrown against Luther and it had a lot weight since Luther's teachings weren't being taught for at least 1,000 years.

And here are all my notes on Heiser. Heiser changed my life. I was in a dark place on conspiracies et al. Heiser took what was right in those claims and put it on a saner footing. I don't mind people challenging him. I disagree with him on stuff. He is a Baptist so he is wrong on baptism and church government.

And to prove that Heiser isn't the only one making this stuff up, I've collated a bibliography
I really appreciate your responses bayou. I may be going about my criticism the wrong way. I suppose I didn't feel others before had to necessarily teach the same. I just thought it would have been out there more. When I started learning about reformed theology, I had never heard of it before. But I found it was easy to find an endless amount of information, books and sermons. Until a few years ago I had never heard of Michael Heiser or divine council. When I looked into it I found it slightly challenging to find anyone teaching it other than him. And when I couldn't find any "well known" pastors who taught the same, I couldn't do anything but question it.

And I agree that the problem really lies with the friends. This subject comes up just about every time we talk. We had an over the phone debate just last week so it has been fresh in my mind. It's not something that plagues my thoughts or anything.

So let me ask you...is that a teaching you might get from a particular church? Where would you send someone like these friends of mine?

For whatever reason, your expected responses gave me the most anxiety. Thanks for being gracious with a newcomer here. I don't know that I can come to agree with Michael Heiser, but I'll look through the links you posted.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Where in Psalm 82 do you get the idea of "located in the sky"? Your argument against the standard interpretation (that the Psalm refers to earthly rulers) seems to hinge on this insistence that "the congregation of the mighty" and "among the gods" has to be "in the sky". Why is that necessary?

The elohim are gathered together in a council. Unless there was something like an ANE version of the UN, then we know the rulers of the earth didn't gather together. The sky was tongue-in-cheek. We'll call it the invisible realm or the unseen realm. And granted similar language in Psalm 89, the most likely reading is heavenly beings.

As to the "standard account," that begs the question. Let's pretend for a moment that the human rulers reading is the standard account. It still stands or falls based on logical and lexical analysis. I find it completely lacking and many commentaries simply assert human rulers. They don't always argue the case.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
And when I couldn't find any "well known" pastors who taught the same, I couldn't do anything but question it.

There are only two pastors whose opinions I care about. They are at my local church. To be fair, I wouldn't expect a small church pastor to be able to wade through these issues. I don't expect a megachurch TGC type pastor to have the competence to wade through these issues (yes, that's probably a cheap shot at the TGC. Point still stands, though). And if the commentary is more sermonic in nature, then it won't engage in scholarship by definition. That's why it's okay to read peer-reviewed scholarship.
 
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