P.2 Michael Heiser’s Liberal influencer's
The academics interpretations of the Bible
Heiser states, “It's important for people in the Church to realize that the way they talk and think about the Bible isn't the way Bible scholars talk and think about it - and I'm including "Bible-believing" scholars there. There is a wide gap between the work of biblical scholars, whose business it is to read the text of the Bible in its own worldview context, and what you hear in church.” (Michael S. Heiser )
These ‘scholars are a group’ that have very different approach and views, (in fact we will see what his own professor says on Bible believing scholars). In other words, he as a ‘Bible’ scholar is to have the last word as he carries support from his unbelieving ‘liberal scholars’ on what a portion of Scripture is supposed to mean. What he is saying is that those in church, from the pulpit lack understanding. As if they cannot comprehend the context or know the culture at the time.
Where did Heiser learn this from? His professor, His supervisor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI in the Department of Hebrew and Semitic Studies was Michael V. Fox, who is Jewish. Whom from what I can tell is not a messianic believer, in fact he seems to have problems with Judaism.
Heiser wrote under the supervision of Professor Michael V. Fox 2004 partially for his degree in Doctor of Philosophy (Hebrew and Semitic Studies) ABSTRACT THE DIVINE COUNCIL IN LATE CANONICAL AND NON-CANONICAL SECOND TEMPLE JEWISH LITERATURE.
Here is the beginning of his thesis. “Prior to the sixth century B.C.E., Israelite religion underwent an evolution from an initial polytheism to a firm monolatry, where the other gods of the divine council were tolerated but not worshipped. The religious crisis of Israel’s early sixth century B.C.E. exile prompted the scribes to obscure the council in the canonical texts and compose new material declaring that Yahweh had punished Israel for her sins, brought her out of bondage, and put the other gods to death. This historical turnabout and its literary response marked the birth of true monotheism in Israel, where no other gods existed except Yahweh.”
So Israel was not monotheistic; ever. Not with Abraham who came hundreds of years before Moses. But according to Heiser, monolotrous; meaning Henotheistic, is having a God over other Gods. Once a polytheist, Abraham became a monotheist by direct revelation of God. So then when Moses spoke Deut.6:4 the Sh’ma, “The LORD our God, the LORD is one” echad- one” (a united one). This declaration of the nation’s faith is untrue according to Heiser.
Professor Fox, Michael Heiser’s professor
Fox is renowned academic, he writes in his Jewish commentary on Esther, " The author is not quite certain about God's role in these events (are you?) . . ." (p. 247). But I’m certain. That is why I have to take issue with Fox’s conclusion. God is behind the working of all the historical and spiritual activities of Esther, Mordecai and the Jewish people. Mordecai identified himself as a Jew. He did not bow or pay him homage Est 3:4-5) Est. 4:1-3 h e put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city. He cried out with a loud and bitter cry. … there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes . Prayer accompanies this act of repentance. The point is clear, God answered.
Fox notes, " In Esther's world, God's reality shimmers on the boundary between absence and presence, just behind the screen of phenomena “(p.253) (2003 Review of Michael V. Fox, Character and Ideology in the Book of Esther)
The Bible says God watches over his people and we see him lead them to deliverance and ultimate justice in the land they were oppressed in. How someone does not see this is difficult to understand, they needs ‘eyes of faith’ to understand. Just because it does not mention God specifically, does not discount his guidance, as we do see his work on Gods enemies and his protection of his people throughout the book. It finally leads to the conclusion in Est. 10:3 where Mordecai is promoted and honored Mordecai the Jew was second to King Ahasuerus”
I appreciate his stance against Tsevat (his own teacher) on God not having divine justice in his book ‘God’s Answer and Job’s Response.’ However, Fox states of Job “ He will never know why he has suffered, and he may remain dissatisfied .” Which is an admittance that Job did not write or dictate his book to another (as he writes in the third person).This becomes a continual problem among academics, including Heiser. Job wrote of himself, and of God conversing with him. Only he would know this or its all a lie.
Another point, Fox states, “It may be, as Eliphaz says, that God does not place trust even in his angels (4,18; 15,15), but he does trust humans. He has no choice.”
What? He does not trust the angels of God who have no sin but trusts humans over them with sin. Is this how academics think when they read the Word?
Michael Heiser’s professor of influence
President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Albert Mohler jr. writes in an article disagreeing with Professor Fox, " Can Believers Be Bible Scholars? A Strange Debate in the Academy."
“Fox argues, "In my view, faith-based study has no place in academic scholarship, whether the object of study is the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or Homer. Faith-based study is a different realm of intellectual activity that can dip into Bible scholarship for its own purposes, but cannot contribute to it."
Mohler says, “In reality, what he means is that scholars who study the Bible as believers forfeit any claim to scholarship…. As he sees it, Jewish scholars who would wish to publish academic research on the Old Testament are simply to be discounted because they may well believe in the existence of deity and may see the Old Testament writings as sacred. “ https://repository.sbts.edu/bitstream/handle/10392/1751/2006-03-19.pdf?sequence=1
Professor Michael V. Fox does not believe that faith-based scholarship of the Bible is possible--and he wants to see such scholars marginalized in the larger world of scholarship. https://www.christianpost.com/news/can-believers-be-bible-scholars-a-strange-debate.html
Fox’s conclusion is that faith interferes with one’s research and conclusions, faith does not mix with the type of intellectualism found in their scholarship. Let me go further into what he wrote to illustrate his intense opposition to include faith in Academics.
Fox further stated, “I distinguish faith-based Bible study from the scholarship of persons who hold a personal faith. In our field, there are many religious individuals whose scholarship is secular and who introduce their faith only in distinctly religious forums.”
“Faith-based study of the Bible certainly has its place—in synagogues, churches, and religious schools, where the Bible (and whatever other religious material one gives allegiance to) serves as a normative basis of moral inspiration or spiritual guidance. This kind of study is certainly important, but it is not scholarship…”
This description of academics is used for studies at school, a college or university. They are formed by ones training and learning in school, usually associated with further (higher) learning, by research and studying as one puts their time into a particular field which involves a sincere search for truth.
His next statement serves as the theme for his entire essay as Fox insists there be a separation of faith “ This kind of study is certainly important, but it is not scholarship.”
Scholarship is defined as the body of learning and especially of research available in a particular field” (Webster’s). It is a pursuit of academic study obtaining knowledge from an institution of higher learning. But not all Universities are equal. One is considered a scholar when they are trained, well informed on a certain sector of study.
Michael V. Fox says, “ Scholarship rests on evidence. Faith, by definition, is belief when evidence is absent. "There can ... be no faith concerning matters which are objects of rational knowledge, for knowledge excludes faith " (thus Aquinas, as paraphrased by the Enc. of Philosophy 3.165)
This means that none of the academics associated with their group has faith? One must NOT have faith to be accepted or included as an academic. Apparently he thinks this is a superior approach to learn Scripture, to Bible discovery. It is not!
But Did Aquinas say or mean this? Aquinas said “ something can be true for faith and false (or inconclusive) in philosophy, though not the other way around. This entails that a non-believer can attain to truth, though not to the higher truths of faith.” (Summa Contra Gentiles)
Aquinas claimed that the act of faith consists essentially in knowledge. Faith is an intellectual act whose object is truth. Thus it has both a subjective and objective aspect. (Summa Theologiae I) Posted on internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. A Peer- Reviewed Academic Resource.
There are more answers than just ‘his own Academic answers.’ I can quote many others that uphold faith as a necessity to understand Gods word.
Fox’s animosity toward faith in scholarship is clearly seen by his elimination of its definition. The Bible defines faith as “ the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Heb. 11:1-2). It is the proof of reality as it apprehends facts, what is not revealed yet. Faith is founded on facts which actually includes knowledge, not eliminates it.
The book of wisdom, Prov. 22:12 “The eyes of the LORD preserve knowledge, But He overthrows the words of the faithless .” God sees that knowledge accompanies faith. Their exclusion of faith means better knowledge. The Bible says without faith you have no knowledge.
What does the Bible say on this Heb. 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him .”
God’s word is spirit, it cannot be fully grasped only using the intellect which is what they use.
One must ‘not have faith’ to be included as an academic? The Bible instead says one MUST HAVE faith to believe Gods Word in the way it was written through his chosen apostles and prophets.
These academics are pursuing to understand the Word ‘without faith,’ which is not only disastrous to them but those who hear them. This makes whatever these men are doing by their talents not pleasing to God, they have failed in their own pursuit.
Fox himself writes, “Humans have in their power the ability to give God something he deeply desires: unbought human loyalty, a stance of unconditional faith” (p.23 God’s Answer and Job’s Response Michael Fox). If God deeply desires this why is it be eliminated from the approach of learning His Word?
What I can say in full assurance is that one must have faith to believe in Gods Word and understand it the way He wrote it through his apostles and prophets.
How does one understand the Bible with any respect without faith? It is book written for us to trust God and His Word.
Heb. 11:3 “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” One cannot understand Gods creation, how it was accomplished without trust in His Word, and His Word is truth. That is that faith rests on. In fact the book of Hebrews goes through many of the influential saints of the Old Testament speaking of the faith in their lives, that this is how they accomplished what they did.
Every patriarch that one studies or does research on in the Bible had faith (the list of some, not all are found in Heb.11). Faith by itself is defined as trust but in this setting of Hebrews, it is the witness of God, it testifies of the truth that has a person become "witness" to.
Fox says “Faith, by definition, is belief when evidence is absent.”
No, our faith is based on truthful information. Historical, archeological and fulfilled prophetic facts.
But Fox insists, “Faith-based Bible study is not part of scholarship even if some of its postulates turn out to be true. If scholarship, such as epigraphy and archaeology, should one day prove the existence of a Davidic empire, faith-based study will have had no part in the discovery (even if some epigraphers incidentally hold faith of one sort or another) because it starts with the conclusions it wishes to reach ”
Here we see him question a Davidic empire, something that archeologist have already substantiated which confirms the Word and prophecy. This is surprising to hear from a Jewish man whose religion has a succession of kings tied to the land of Israel.
His statement is not exactly accurate or fair in his assessment that whoever holds faith is denied any true knowledge that an academic may be given. A believing academic can make a scholarly argument that is just as accurate as a non-believing academic.
Is his purely secular unbelief an honest approach? His argument is that anyone who comes to the task of scholarship cannot have any presuppositions. Even science begins with premises; such as the earth is round, it rotates, it has an orbit and has gravity. Without a basis in reality one cannot come to accurate conclusions.
Can ones approach to the Bible keep their research strictly to a secular intellectualism? Be honest, no one comes to the table of research being completely neutral of any presuppositions, even academics. This does not guarantee not to coloring their research. Does Faith interfere or corrupt the process to arrive at a right and accurate conclusion, or does no faith, a secular approach do this?
Fox and others believe their faith detracts them from right conclusions. However, Fox’s myopic view of scholars who study the Bible cannot come to right conclusions because of their faith. If one does not include all the facts and research on the topic can they come to right conclusion? When it comes to the Bible one must include those who believed in the history and people and events prior to them, those that are referred to in Scripture.
“The claim of faith-based Bible study to a place at the academic table takes a toll on the entire field of Bible scholarship. The reader or student of Bible scholarship is likely to suspect (or hope) that the author or teacher is moving toward a predetermined conclusion.”
If this is what academics mean, they have become a community of elite intellectuals. Who fully disregard what the God of Scripture has given.
Fox states “ Trained scholars quickly learn to recognize which authors and publications are governed by faith and tend to set them aside, not out of prejudice but out of an awareness that they are irrelevant to the scholarly enterprise. Sometimes it is worthwhile to go through a faith-motivated publication and pick out the wheat from the chaff, but time is limited.”
Trained how? By whom? This discrimination he holds against faith being involved is a component that is necessary to understand the very thing he is researching. Wheat and chaff are not surprisingly used, completely in the opposite way of the Bible. It is the secular approach that is chaff according to Gods word.
Fox says , “Secular scholarship allows the Bible to be seen as a rich and vital mixture of texts from an ancient people in search of God and moral culture.”
Here is where we see his conclusion, (almost all secular academics agree on) which denies Scripture as being divine revelation given by God, to form a moral culture of the Hebrews among the immoral nations surrounding them. The Bible is not just another book (even other religious books like the book of Mormon) but is sacred because it was God breathed to specific men. By eliminating this FACT, history in it is changed, the stories are not connected to the writers who lived by faith.
Fox lastly states in relation to “Its humanness—and primitiveness—can allow us both to recognize and make allowances for some of its uglier moments (Lev 18:22, for example or Deut 20:10-20, or much of Joshua). These things would (in my view) be abhorrent coming from the Godhead, but tolerable when viewed (and dismissed) as products of human imperfection and imagination in an ancient historical context .”
It is this person that Heiser was trained under and wrote with. As the saying goes, the fruit does not fall far from the tree.
This is why Heiser can use the Ugarit and other assorted non canonical, anti Biblical books to form his interpretation of the Bible.
Let me end with a point Jesus made in Matt. 12:42. The queen of the South, “came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here.”
1 Cor. 1:19-25 For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent." (Quoting Isa.29:14)
“Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
This is what God thinks of these secular academic scholars. God looks for faith, not just intelligence. Again, “It is impossible to please God without faith.” A statement they may or may not believe.
If they don’t believe Gods Word, which is where faith comes, they are purposely putting aside the very thing that can help them understand. So If you are coming to the Bible to prove something with absolutely no faith what will you get?
Faith is not detrimental in arriving at the truth, it enhances its pursuit and one cannot understand the word without it. God is looking for those who believe Mark 11:22 Have faith in God."
Hab. 2:4 "Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith. ” Paul quotes this verse Rom 1:17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."
We must marvel at these men who study the bible and pursue knowledge and yet are set in their unbelief.
This certainly reminds me of Paul an apostle who was most learned at the time who stated, “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty ” ( 1 Cor. 1:27).