Monday, September 28, 2009

The Craft of Dishonest Quotation - 8

Continuing the cavalcade of Riplinger's wretched wrenched references, we come to quotation twist No.

4. Where a quotation is carefully altered to say what Mrs. Riplinger wants it to say. This is the most blatant form of false quotation, the sort everyone recognises as such. It is therefore not surprising that Riplinger uses it sparingly, but sadly it is not surprising that, when she feels she can get away with it, she does not hesitate to change the wording of the original.

On P. 234 she writes: “He [Westcott] has ‘great difficulty with the notion of sacrifice and vicarious punishment.’” This is a doctored quotation from Life Vol. I. P. 231. But Westcott does not say what Riplinger makes him say. In fact the full quotation is as follows:

“He preached on the atonement. But who is equal to such a subject? What he said was very good, but then he did not enter into the great difficulties of the notion of sacrifice and vicarious punishment…”

Note what Riplinger has done. Taking a sentence fragment, she has inserted the word ‘with’, without any warrant in the text being quoted and changed “difficulties” to “difficulty.” Why? To make Westcott say that he had doubts about the doctrine of the atonement, rather than saying that it is a difficult subject for a minister to preach about!

P. 304 contains another example of this, although this time it is an unnoticed omission in the original, where she quotes Westcott as saying, “He does not expressly affirm the identification of the Word with Jesus Christ.” This quotation comes from Westcott’s John P. 16. Turning to the relevant page, we find that she has omitted two vital words without telling us. Indeed, it would have been ruinous for her to have included those words, for the full quotation is:

“He does not expressly affirm but assumes the identification of the Word with Jesus Christ.”[1]

From Riplinger’s version of the quotation one gets the impression that Westcott is denying that the person of Jesus Christ is to be identified with the Word of the prologue to John’s Gospel, when in fact Westcott’s position is exactly opposite! Sadly I can only assume that this is a dishonest and deliberate omission. Not only does Riplinger not indicate the omission, but the actual quotation affirms what she wants to imply Westcott denied. She juxtaposes this quotation with two more, firstly from Historic Faith P. 62, “Christ was and is perfectly man.” This, of course, is a fact that all Christians affirm. Unless Riplinger holds to a heretical Christology, she must herself affirm that “Christ was and is perfectly man.” Second from P 297 of Westcott’s John, “He never spoke directly of himself as God.” I have already dealt with the context of this twice. Suffice to say that in context Westcott affirms the deity of Christ, arguing that Jesus leads us to confess Him as God without Him having expressly stated that He is God. Not one of these quotations in context denies the deity of Christ, and in fact two expressly affirm the doctrine, yet Riplinger uses them as if they deny it!

On P. 313 she gives the quotation:

“The Son of Man was not necessarily identified with the Christ.”

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.” Now, in context, Westcott writes on P. 184 of his John:

“The question clearly shews that the title, ‘the Son of Man’ was not necessarily identified with ‘the Christ.’”[2]

The omission of Westcott’s inverted commas, and of the vital phrase “the title”, has made it appear that the Bishop is denying that Jesus is the Christ, when in fact it is a discussion of titles, stating that the two titles, ‘Son of Man’ and ‘Christ’ were not necessarily seen as synonymous in 1st century Jewish thought.

On P. 349 Riplinger attempts to charge Westcott with the adoptionist heresy that Jesus became ‘the Christ’ at His baptism. She quotes:

“We realise the perfect humanity of Christ… at this crisis [baptism] first became ‘conscious’ as a man of a power of the spirit within him.”

This is from P. 23 of Westcott’s John. The words Riplinger has put in bold are compared with New Age quotations asserting that Jesus received the Christ power at baptism. But Westcott actually wrote:

“At the same time we cannot but believe (so far as we realise the perfect humanity of Christ) that Christ at this crisis first became conscious as man of a power of the Spirit within Him corresponding to the new form of His work.
“For the rest it will be seen that the narratives of this event lend no support to the Ebionitic view that the Holy Spirit was first imparted to Christ at His baptism; or to the Gnostic view that the Logos was then united to the man Jesus.”

Note first of all that Westcott expressly denies the very heresy Riplinger tries to charge him with – whatever he means, he cannot mean that! It is a principle in theological controversy that a man ought not to be charged with a heresy that he explicitly denies. This is made more certain by the fact that Westcott denies the heresy in the very context Riplinger is quoting from! Secondly, the omission of brackets that are in the original give the impression that Westcott is saying something he is not. That Jesus at His baptism first became aware that He was prepared for His public ministry is surely not false but a truism! Certainly it does not follow that to say as much is to hold to an Adoptionist Christology! And if Mrs. Riplinger's defeders reply that she merely said it sounded like Adoptionism, then what, pray, was the point of quoting it? Only the age-old principle that if you throw enough mud some of it is sure to stick!

On P. 424 we have another example of Riplinger essentially making things up. She writes: “Arthur Westcott recalls his father’s tradition of reading Goblin stories at Christmas.” She references Life, Vol. ii, P. 185. There we read:

“On Christmas day he enters: ‘evening reading: Andersen: Goblin Market.’ The meaning of this is that after we had, in family conclave assembled, exchanged Christmas gifts, receiving them with appropriate words from my father’s hands, he read to us, according to ancient custom, a fairy tale. This was always a great treat, reserved exclusively for Christmas Day.”

The reference is in fact to reading the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen, an activity very many parents have engaged in with their children. While one may disapprove of a Bishop reading fairy stories to his children, only the most narrow-minded fundamentalist would see anything sinister in it! This is probably why Riplinger has changed it to the much more sinister-sounding “Goblin stories.” Why? Because Riplinger is determined to make Westcott appear to be the most monstrous and cunning villain, not to mention one of the worst heretics in history (with the other one as his friend Hort.

Next time, God willing, we shall deal with the final category of doctored quotations. By now we have seen more than enough evidence to charge Riplinger with deliberate falsification of the evidence, and if any reader can still admire this woman, well, he is beyond reason.

Footnotes! Footnotes! Footnotes! Get your footnotes here!
[1] Emphasis added
[2] Emphasis added

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