Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Craft of Dishonest Quotation -5

Having dealt with the first type of dishonest quotation practised by Riplinger, we come to the second:

2. When a quotation is dishonestly given, either by the abuse of ellipses or by taking a sentence fragment out of context.

The worst example of this is not a quotation of Westcott, but definitely worth quoting. It is found on P. 580, where she states that the Epistle of Barnabas reads: “Satan… is Lord.” On referring to Chapter 18 of the Epistle of Barnabas we find that it is a comparison of the two ways,

“One of light, and the other of darkness. But there is a great difference between these two ways. For over one are stationed the light-bringing angels of God, but over the other the angels of Satan. And He is Lord for ever and ever, but he is prince of the time of iniquity.”[1]

Note the construction of the passage. Each sentence is composed of two antithetical statements, the first referring to God and His way, the second to Satan and his way. It is apparent that Riplinger has missed this point,[2] and so she has referred the first half of the last sentence to the subject of the second half of the preceding sentence. Common sense at least should have taught her that a professing Christian would not have penned a letter in which he stated that Satan is Lord! Giving the full quotation would have proven that this was a careless misreading of the text.

On P.304 Riplinger quotes from P. 297 of Westcott’s John[3], “He [in context Jesus] never spoke directly of himself as God.” But the full quotation is:

“He never speaks of Himself directly as God, but the aim of His revelation was to lead men to see God in Him.”

The context is a comment on Thomas’ confession “My Lord and my God” (John 20.28). What Westcott is saying is what I said from the pulpit this morning – that while Jesus does not ever say “I am God”, everything He says and does lead us to confess that He is God, and is intended to do so! God worked slowly and carefully with the disciples, enlightening them by degrees, so that the man who at first they regarded as a merely human teacher they finally confessed to be Lord and God.

On P. 317 Riplinger quotes Westcott: “The belief is ‘in Christ’ not in any propositions about Christ.” This comes from P. 200 of Westcott’s John. It is a comment on John 14.1, “Believe in God and believe in Me” (Westcott’s translation). Note please what the text reads, “Believe in me.” Who is speaking? Jesus of Nazareth. The comment reads:

“The double imperative suits the context best. The changed order of the object (believe in God and in me believe) marks the development of the idea. ‘Believe in God, and yet more than this, let your faith find in Me one on whom it can rest.’ The simultaneous injunction of faith in God and in Christ under the same conditions implies the divinity of Christ… the belief is ‘in Christ,’ and not in any propositions about Christ.”[4]

Note that Westcott here assumes the identity of Jesus and ‘Christ’. The ‘Christ’ in whom one is to believe is Jesus of Nazareth, there is no other. Secondly, all Christians recognise that saving faith is not in propositions, but in a person. Only by the use of propositional language do we know who that person is, but to believe the propositions alone is not enough to save. Saving faith is a confidence in Jesus, not the intellectual assent to certain factual statements. It would be possible to use this statement to prove that Riplinger is a heretic who teaches the Sandemanian heresy, that faith is mere intellectual assent. This would be unfair, of course, not to mention probably untrue, but it is typical of the sort of thing Riplinger says all the time!

On P. 347 we find the following statement by Riplinger, who is attempting to prove the impossible, that Westcott did not identify Jesus of Nazareth as “Christ”:

“Bob Larson points out that Christ ‘refers to Jesus not an office.’ The new versions and their editors fit the label ‘New Age’ once again. ‘It is commonly supposed,’ writes Westcott, that Hebrews 1.8 defends the deity of Christ, whereas it is merely a description of his ‘office.’”

This refers to Westcott’s Hebrews[5], P. 26, where the full quotation reads:

“It is commonly supposed that the force of the quotation lies in the divine title (ho theos) which, as it is held, is applied to the Son. It seems however from the whole form of the argument to lie rather in the description which is given of the Son’s office and endowment. The angels are subject to constant change, He has a dominion for ever and ever; they work through material powers, He – the Incarnate Son – fulfils a moral sovereignty and is crowned with unique joy.”

Note first of all that Westcott does not say that Hebrews 1.8 does not defend the deity of Christ (it is better in any case to say that Heb. 1.8 asserts rather than ‘defends’ the deity of Christ), but rather that the force of the argument for the deity of Christ in the passage is in “the description which is given of the Son’s office and endowment.” Westcott, let it be noted (proof will be given) identified Jesus with the Christ, but it is also true that ‘Christ’ is not a name but an office, that of Messiah. Now it is an office that belongs exclusively to the incarnate Son of God, but it is still an office.

On the same page, P. 347, Riplinger further quotes Westcott:

“One, truly man, fulfilled a divine office, that [is] Jesus.”

She juxtaposes this with a quotation from the New Age Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ:

“In the esoteric tradition the Christ is not the name of an individual but of an office in the hierarchy.”

Firstly this is an example of a fallacy Riplinger commits over and over again, identifying writers as heretics because they use certain words. Heresy often does not lie in words, but in the content with which they are filled. An example which I have used in preaching is the phrase “The only begotten Son of God.” To a Christian this means Jesus, who is of one essence with the Father, co-eternal with Him. ‘God’ to the Christian refers to an eternal spiritual being who created all things. A Mormon, however, says the same thing, but by ‘God’ he means an exalted man who once lived on another planet, and who became a god! By ‘only-begotten’ he means that that exalted man had sexual relations with Mary of Nazareth, and from that physical union was born Jesus, who is spiritually the first-born of that god and one of his spirit-wives, and the brother of us all. They use the same words, but give them completely different meanings.
But what does Westcott actually write? The full quotation is found on P. 47 of Historic faith, which is part of the lecture on the clause “and in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord”:

“The phrase, Jesus Christ is more than a name, more than a title. It expresses that one truly man fulfilled a divine office, that Jesus who was born, suffered, died on earth, is the Christ, the hope of Israel, the hope of the world. And we declare our belief in Him as true man and as the Christ.”

In addition to the comma she has added, probably by mistake, Riplinger has added the ‘is’, and placed a period where none exists in the original. While the New Age position is given by Riplinger as, “in their view, ‘he perfected himself through various spiritual disciples until he was a suitable habitation for ‘the Christ’ consciousness.” Westcott says that Jesus “is the Christ.” Note, not “was”, not “was the vessel of”, but is. No New Ager would or could say that!

On P. 408 Riplinger writes: “Their subversive and clandestine approach continued, as seen ten years later when Westcott writes, “… strike blindly… and much evil would result from the publics discussion.” The true version is found on P. 229 of Westcott’s Life. In fact Westcott wrote:

“Have you entered into the Maurice controversy? I only hope it may pass away quietly. At the first onset we always strike blindly; and much evil would result from the public discussion of the moot points just now. It is well, I believe, that they have been named; and it will be well for men to get familiarised with them. Then at length they may debate if they please.”[6]

First of all, “… strike blindly” is not an imperative, it is an indicative. Westcott is describing the early stages of a controversy, and urging caution and delay in entering into controversy. There is in fact nothing “subversive and clandestine” to be found in these words. Riplinger has deliberately butchered a quotation to make it appear sinister! Note also that Westcott does not write, “And much evil would result from the public discussion.” Instead he wrote: “and much evil would result from the public discussion of the moot points just now.” It makes all the difference to see the fuller context!

On P. 352 she writes: “Even Westcott admits, ‘Origen, in a word, laid down the lines of systematic… criticism.’” Westcott does no such thing. In fact he wrote:

“Origen, in a word, first laid down the lines of a systematic study of the Bible. Both in criticism and in interpretation his labours marked an epoch.”[7]

Words have been omitted to make Westcott say something he does not. Of course, Westcott does not see Bible Criticism as a bad thing, so it’s hardly an admission on his part to say Origen engaged in it. The ‘Criticism’ of the Bible means the study of its text in its history, not disagreeing with it and picking it apart – which is where the criticism of Riplinger differs from the criticism of the Bible!

Next time we will come to Riplinger's favourite method for falsifying a quotation. And don't say I'm being mean - remember that she is the one who made accusations backed up with doctored quotations!

Additional Note:
It has been suggested that Riplinger is not in error because she is "reading between the lines" of Westcott. This is a mere excuse, an exercise in smoke and mirrors. Unless Riplinger is in possession of a document that tells her that this is what Westcott intended people to do with his writings (and she does not quote one at any point), this is the mere imposition of an arbitrary canon of criticism. It reminds me of practically the only memorable scene in the spoof Sherlock Holmes film Without a Clue, where Holmes (in the film a bungling American actor hired by Dr. Watson as a 'front' for Watson's true detective abilities) decares that Moriarty may have hidden a clue in his name (it's about fifteen years since I saw the film, so I can't recall the exact lines). After hours of work he concludes that Moriarty's name is really Arty Morty, leaving the other characters in the room underwhelmed. Just so, Riplinger declares that Westcott has hidden clues in his writings to what he really believed. It makes as much sense to believe the Bible code nonsense that predictions of future events are hidden in the Biblical text! Or that the Bible contains a hidden prophecy naming Barak Obama as the Antichrist.

In the absence of any positive evidence that Westcott 'hid' messages in his books, I can only conclude that Westcott intended his books to be read like any other books of their type! To say "He was an occultist, occultists always hide messages in their books" is just like the "Arty Morty" illustration above. Arbitrary and ridiculous.

Footnotes Galore:
[1] Robertson and Donaldson (eds.), The Apostolic Fathers (Edinburgh, T. &. T. Clark, 1867) P. 131. I have omitted the explanatory note in the translation. While Riplinger is quoting Lightfoot’s translation, I have a copy of the T. & T. Clark edition of The Apostolic Fathers. The two translations do not differ materially.
[2] A mere surface-level, a-contextual reading of the passage could produce a momentary confusion as to the subject, so I give Riplinger the benefit of the doubt.
[3] The Gospel of St. John: The Authorised Version with Introduction and notes (London, John Murray, 1924), hereafter John
[4] Emphasis in original
[5] The Epistle to the Hebrews: The Greek Text With Notes and Essays (London, Macmillan and Co. Ltd., 1920), hereafter Hebrews
[6] Life i. P. 229
[7] Religious Thought in the West Pp. 212-13

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