Friday, September 25, 2009

The Craft of Dishonest Quotation: - 7

Continuing Riplinger's composite quotation extravaganza...

On P. 274 we find another manufactured quotation. This time Westcott is made to say:

“The universal fatherhood of God… a brotherhood of nations… [is] the destiny of mankind.”

The notes refer us to Life Vol. II, P. 22; History of Religious Thought P. 351, and John P. 159. “Universal fatherhood” seems to come from John P. 159, though there it is not in the full phrase given by Riplinger. Instead we read:

“The thought, which is concrete in v. 28, is here traced back to its most absolute form as resting on the essential power of God in His relation of universal Fatherhood.”

This is part of a comment on John 10.29, the term “universal Fatherhood” is used only in passing. We turn to the next book from which this composite quotation has been manufactured, Life Vo. 2, P. 22:

“Christianity rests upon the central fact that the Word became flesh. This fact establishes not only a brotherhood of men, but also a brotherhood of nations; for history has shown that nations are an element in the fulfilment of the Divine counsel, by which humanity advances towards its appointed end.”

You will note that the “brotherhood of nations” that Westcott refers to is not a future thing – the Antichrist one-world government that Riplinger’s eschatology calls for – but a present reality. This then leads us to the final, and most wickedly used, sentence fragment: “The destiny of mankind” seems to be a slightly altered quotation from History of Religious Thought P. 351. This is taken completely out of context and wedded with a quotation from another context. In context it tells us that:

“Again, we may not be able to see far into the application of these lessons; but it becomes intelligible that if the virtue of Christ’s life and death was made available for man through suffering – if it was through suffering that He fulfilled the destiny of man fallen – the appropriation of that which He has gained may be carried into effect through the same law. The mystery of the forgiveness of sins is fulfilled, and we can bear cheerfully the temporal consequences of sin.”[1]

Passing over the alteration of ‘man’ to ‘mankind’ as unimportant, we see the great objection to Riplinger’s abuse of this sentence fragment – which is that it has nothing to do with “a brotherhood of nations” at all! It refers to the work of Jesus Christ for us sinners, in His suffering and death. It refers to Jesus obedience unto death. Here three sentence fragments have been taken from three different contexts in three different books and strung together into a single manufactured quotation! Most egregious is the use of “the destiny of man,” which has been taken from a Christological passage and placed in a non-Christological context to apparently complete this pretended quotation. It makes me wonder, what kind of a person thinks that this is a fair use of quotations?

On P. 313 she gives the quotation:

“It is not said that Jesus glorified not himself, but the Christ. He never speaks directly of Himself as God.”

She juxtaposes it with a quotation from Madame Blavatsky that reads in part: “The Christ with the Gnostics mean [sic] the impersonal principle… not Jesus… Jesus the-Christ-God is a myth.” There is nothing on the page to indicate that this is not a complete quotation from a single source. It is not, it is another composite quotation. The first sentence fragment comes from Westcott’s Hebrews P. 124 (not 122 as Riplinger’s notes have it). The full quotation from Westcott is as follows, commenting on Hebrews 5.5, “So Christ also glorified not Himself to become High Priest.”

“The title of the office emphasises the idea of the perfect obedience of the Lord even in the fullness of His appointed work. It is not said that ‘Jesus’ glorified not Himself, but ‘the Christ,’ the appointed Redeemer, glorified not Himself.”

Note two things. Firstly, Riplinger has omitted Westcott’s inverted commas. Secondly, she has not referred to the context. It is an inescapable fact that Hebrews 5.5 says “the Christ (the article appears in every Greek manuscript) also glorified not Himself to become High Priest.” Since the Bible says this, why quote it as if this was some awful heretical statement? We have already met with the other part of this manufactured quotation on P. 303, “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.” (John P. 297)

The context, as we have seen, is a comment on Thomas’ confession “My Lord and my God” (John 20.28). What Westcott is saying is 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! Westcott could hardly be further from Blavatsky, as he boldly confesses the deity of Jesus, and that Jesus alone is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.[2]

Another composite quotation is found on P. 339. It reads:

“It is impossible to suppose that two beings distinct in essence could be equal in power. We find ourselves met by difficulty which belongs to the idea of begetting… if we keep both [Arianism and Sabellianism] before us we may hope to attain to that knowledge of the truth.”

Riplinger claims that this shows “a kind of semi-Arianism.”[3] The trouble is that in fact it is Riplinger who is teaching theological error here. She denies the eternal Sonship of Jesus Christ, holding instead that Jesus has the title ‘Son’ solely on the basis of the incarnation. Thus she refers the phrase ‘only-begotten’ to the incarnation – which she is at liberty to do, of course, even though she’s wrong. What she is not at liberty to do is declare that the historic faith, which has always referred the begetting to the inter-Trinitarian relations, is “semi-Arian.” When Westcott refers to the “eternal generation” of the Son, he does not mean that the Son is a created being. In order to make it appear that Westcott teaches Semi-Arianism, she has manufactured this quotation from statements in two different books. The first is from Westcott’s John P. 159:

“It seems clear that the unity [in John 10.30 of Father and Son] cannot fall short of unity of essence. The thought springs from the equality of power (my hand, the Father’s hand); but infinite power is an essential attribute of God; and it is impossible to suppose that two beings distinct in essence could be equal in power.”

So there we have it, Westcott is affirming that the Son is of one essence with the Father. Since Arianism denies this, and Semi-Arianism holds that Christ is merely of a like essense with the Father, it follows that Westcott cannot be Semi-Arian. He is affirming explicitly the Homoousia, which is the mark of Trinitarian orthodoxy against Arian and semi-Arian heresy. But then, having given a fragment from this page, without giving any indication in the text, Riplinger jumps to another context and another book, Historic Faith P. 202 (her note says P. 204, but this is a mistake. P. 204 contains only a quotation from Matt. 11.27). This quotation has been mangled and actually changed. It reads:

“If we rest in the thought of ‘the only son’ and try to pursue that thought alone to the remoter consequences which seem to be involved in it, we find ourselves met by difficulties which belong to the ideas of beginning, of material existence, of separate individuality. If again we think of coessentiality only, then little by little the conception of three distinct, eternal Persons in the one God fades away. There is on the one side of the twofold Truth an affinity, if I may so speak, to the modes of thought which issue in Arianism (the ‘dividing the Divine substance’ ‘essence’), and on the otherside an affinity to the modes of thought which issue in Sabellianism (the ‘confounding the Divine Persons’)… So much at least is certain, disastrous results answering to these typical forms of error follow from an exclusive development of one side or other of the complex Truth; but if we keep both sides before us we may hope to attain, so far as the end is within our reach, to that knowledge of the whole Truth which belong to man.”

Note that what we are to “keep… before us” are not two heresies, but rather the two Biblical truths of the three Persons and the one God. What he wants us to do is simply to embrace the whole of the Biblical teaching! Nor does he refer to “difficulty which belongs to the idea of begetting,” at all. I am afraid that what Riplinger is guilty of here is simply dishonesty, which has necessitated my quoting most of a page of Historic Faith to give the context in which the words appear. It will be seen that Westcott is cautioning against a one-sided dwelling on one Biblical truth to the detriment of another. If this is “semi-Arian”, then the Nicene Creed is semi-Arian – which of course it is not!

More amazingly altered quotations next time, as we come to type 4.

[1] B.F. Westcott, History of Religious Thought (London, Macmillan, 1891)
[2] Note: The heresy of Blavatsky and the Gnostics is found precisely in this, that they deny the identification of Jesus of Nazareth with the Christ, while Westcott, with all Christians, affirms that identification.
[3] NABV P. 339


Ransom said...

Regarding Westcott's use of the term "the Christ" (and Riplinger's subsequent inclusion of scare quotes in her mis-quotation), you asked:

Since the Bible says this, why quote it as if this was some awful heretical statement?

Riplinger is paranoid about the term "the Christ" and regards it as New Age jargon. (Never mind that the Greek term is a title and the article is wholly appropriate, as it is with its Hebrew synonym "Messiah," and that the AV itself uses the phrase "the Christ" many times.) At one point in NABV, she quotes apologist Norman L. Geisler to the effect that we should beware of writings using the term "the Christ."

Unfortunately this is yet another instance of her mangling a quotation. In context, what Geisler is cautioning against is obvious New Age terminology like "Christ-consciousness" or "Christ spirit." Riplinger deliberately leaves off the all-important qualifying noun. She is so dishonest with her sources that she can't even quote someone favourably without abusing context.

Highland Host said...

Yes, Riplinger does seem more than a little paranoid about the term 'The Christ'. She had to mis-quote Geisler, because his original statement doesn't back up her argument that the term 'the Christ' is New Age. As I have observed, it's not the WORD that's New Age, it's the meaning New Agers fill it with. Heretics and false teachers love to fill orthodox words with unorthodox meanings.