Humble Dogmatism

Mark Dever argues (correctly) that the conservative approach to Scripture is an expression of humility. It is in no way arrogant to subordinate your beliefs to what God has said, realizing that you don’t have the reasoning ability to sort out the truth on your own. Furthermore, once you have done so, it is in no way arrogant to actually believe what God has said with true conviction. And the reason I know this is because the Bible tells me so.


5 Responses to “Humble Dogmatism”

  1. Luke Smith Says:

    Dear Aaron,
    If the conservative approach is so humble why do they come across so arrogant? Granted it is not fair (though tempting) to claim that anyone who sincerely disagrees is being arrogant. I share the conviction that we can only come to know the creator through revelation. I must also by way of semi-confession concede that I went to hear John Piper this week and found his talk quite edifying. I do not think one’s appeal to the Bible necessarily arrogant, but I think the conservative Christian community tends toward arrogance especially in the manner by which they dismiss so many views as being “liberal” rejection of the authority of scripture.



    PS the grand exposition of why you are a heretic blog is still in the works

  2. Aaron Says:

    “If the conservative approach is so humble why do they come across so arrogant?”

    Three answers to this question:

    (1) It is a blanket generalization, and quite unfair.

    (2) Some conservatives ARE indeed arrogant, but this condition is not unique to conservatives; it is more human than it is conservative.

    (3) More often than not, conservatives are perceived as arrogant because “arrogance” is defined as belief in the truthfulness of one’s own position and the corresponding falsehood of contrary positions. We have been defined into arrogance in most cases rather than meriting it for ourselves. As Chesterton so perceptively pointed out years ago, humility has been redefined so as to focus not on oneself (as it used to be) but rather on one’s convictions concerning truth. “Humble” people used to be those who didn’t think much of themselves but often had a firm grasp of truth. These days, “humble” people are those who may be very certain about themselves and their own experiences but completely uncertain on matters of truth. Chesterton said something to the effect that we were on our way to creating a breed of men who were uncertain about the multiplication tables. I think we are nearing that point, and the whole concept of pride and humility has been turned around as a result.

    Imagine a society in which a law was passed that made it illegal to wear a red shirt. People would start drawing this conclusion: “People who wear red shirts are criminals.” But what would be the basis of this claim? The only basis would be that the law defined criminality as the act of wearing a red shirt. Red shirt wearers are, by definition, criminals. The same is true with conservatives today. We are, by definition, arrogant, because arrogance has been redefined to encompass conservatism within its definition.

  3. Luke Smith Says:

    Dear Aaron,
    I do not disagree with Chesterton. I agree that many conservatives are not arrogant. I agree that arrogance is a manifestation of humanity’s fallen condition. No disagreement. I do think it is a fair critique of the evangelical movement that there is a tendancy to group criticism into broad (sloppy) categories. Disagreement over important matters of theology are often simplified and dismissed by the argument that such a position must necesarily deny the authority of scripture. I think the debate concerning Clark Pinnoch is a classic example of this kind of dismissive approach. I had a professor at Southeastern who described Gordon Fee’s interpretation of the pastoral epistles to be “insidious” because his conclusions purportedly underminded the authority of scripture. This professors approach in my experience reflects more than one particular individual’s poor response. His response reflects a pattern of responding to certain issues. It is very difficult to have any meaningful engagement with this kind of institutional practice.



  4. Doctor Clockwork Says:

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  5. Mark Says:

    Hi man, i just wanted to ask if you have read the old testament prophets. all they do is gripe and complain at the lord. they shout out against the lord saying that he has abandoned them and left them to rot and sufffer alone.
    i think complaining against the lord and shouting out to him against what you think is injjustice is a very importand part of the christians relationship with their God.

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