Recently Bruxy Cavey delivered a sermon on the Anabaptist view of Scripture in which he explained that Anabaptists emphasize following Jesus over following the Bible. In this post I want to tackle one of Bruxy’s Scriptural supports for his view.
Starting around the 22 minute mark Bruxy reads through to the narrative of Christ’s transfiguration on the mount in Matthew 17:1-13. He interprets the text as showing Moses and Elijah, representing the law and prophets, as fading off and Jesus being the only one left. His point is that Jesus is the center and the rest of Scripture is all pointing to Him. In a general sense, this is true, but Bruxy takes this truth and draws a conclusion beyond that. In a separate sermon a couple of weeks later he summarizes his teaching like this:
“Luke 9 is a great passage. It’s the chapter that’s already included the story of the transfiguration that we talked about earlier in the series – when you have Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and the Prophets, the Scriptures up to that point appearing with Jesus, but they are talking to Jesus about Jesus and His mission. That’s their focus. And then when Peter says ‘Let’s build three tents for the three of you’ – that’s keeping them equal. ‘Here’s three equal expressions so that we can camp out with the three of you to learn equally’ – that idea fades away when God’s voice speaks out of the cloud, Moses and Elijah disappear, Jesus alone is left, and the voice says ‘This is my beloved Son, listen to him.’ Don’t put him on a par with the others, listen to him.” – Anabaptists and Mission (20:45)
Bruxy is using this text to try to support his view that the Scriptures are secondary in authority to the person of Christ. Of course, this is an impossible and incoherent distinction (explained here), but my goal here is to examine whether Bruxy is using this text properly or not. Is his interpretation a viable option, or is Bruxy twisting this text to serve his own desired conclusion?
Matthew 17:1-13 is a narrative, it is descriptive. It tells the story of what happened on the Mount of Transfiguration. From what happened, Bruxy draws conclusions even though the immediate text does not. This can be tricky with a narrative text because there is no direct teaching as far as explaining what everything that happens means. The text certainly does not draw the conclusions that Bruxy does. His conclusion is his own, not the text’s. This is evident by the fact that he has to put words in Peter’s mouth to make his point.
So, how are we to understand this narrative and what conclusions we should draw from it? Amazingly, we have direct teaching on this event elsewhere in Scripture. One of the people who was there wrote about it many years later, under inspiration of God, and it is there for us to read. Peter himself, who heard the voice of God booming from heaven gives his own view of the events of that day on the mountain. Now, Bruxy points out in this very sermon “The Bible interprets itself… it clarifies itself” (9:30) and tells us that the Anabaptists would say that if you want to interpret Scripture properly “you just need to keep reading” (10:36). So let’s apply that principle. Let’s allow Scripture to interpret Scripture, and let’s just keep reading.
Turn in your Bible to 2 Peter 1:16-21
Let’s take a look at Peter’s words about this event and see if Peter and Bruxy agree. You may wonder why Bruxy didn’t reference this portion of Scripture in his sermon since it is immediately pertinent to the text and the point he is trying to make. I think you will see why he didn’t after we look at this.
Turn in your Bibles to 2 Peter 1:16-21.
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Very interesting. In context Peter is exhorting his readers to continue in the faith even after he is killed. He is telling them that the things he told them about Christ are not myths, but things he saw and experienced. Notice verses 16-18, Peter is clearly speaking of the events of the Mount of Transfiguration narrated in the Gospels. But what are Peter’s concluding words? Does he agree with Bruxy that the Scriptures take a secondary position? When we read verses 19-21 we see that Peter comes to the exact opposite conclusion that Bruxy comes to! He tells his readers that the Scriptures are “more fully confirmed”, that they can trust the Scriptures even more than his own experiences on that mountain where he heard the voice of God Himself. Peter saw the Lord transfigured there, and in conclusion says that the Scriptures are are God speaking through men. If the Scriptures are God speaking, then they carry all the authority of God Himself. If Jesus is God, then there is no distinction between the authority of God and the authority of Jesus.
So, Bruxy’s teaching that the events of Christ’s transfiguration mean that the Scriptures are to be set aside as secondary in authority to Christ contradicts what Peter taught.
A Second Observation
I have another observation concerning Bruxy Cavey’s view of Scripture in light of 2 Peter 1:16-21. Bruxy has said many times before that the text of Scripture is not inerrant because God used imperfect people to record it. He said:
“You know it’s interesting we get very magical when we think of the written text of scripture. We treat it like a magical talisman. Like it’s words, when quoted, when used have this kind of supernatural quality in and of themselves. Again imbuing it with the power that really is in Christ – the living word of God. But it’s interesting because when Paul would speak verbally we wouldn’t attribute the same quality to his verbal teaching. You know if I was to ask you the question ‘was the Apostle Paul perfect?’ you would say ‘well no, obviously’. If I were to ask you the question ‘Well did everything that the Apostle Paul ever say – was that always perfect? Was everything that he ever said perfect?’ you could say ‘No, no, obviously not’. Okay, well then how about everything he ever wrote? Do we have to believe that everything he wrote was perfect? Or can we say he was inspired by God to write it down, his imperfections come through but the Holy Spirit was so involved in the process that He uses even the errors, even the imperfections to bring us to the perfect truth of Christ? And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing! Again, some will say ‘sounds like liberalism!’ and I will say ‘no, it sounds scriptural’. So I want to free us up from trying to defend a doctrine that really has its history in the late 1800s, at least according to the word of ‘inerrancy’ – that word doesn’t come into popular existence until about 1880.” – Inspired #3 Drive Home (27:18)
Bruxy’s misrepresentation of inerrancy aside (dealt with here), does 2 Peter 1:16-21 support his statement that the imperfections of the human authors cause errors in the text? Peter says in verse 20-21 that “no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.” – meaning, that nothing written in Scripture is a personal interpretation of things, none of it has it’s source in that person. Keep in mind, prophecy is not limited to telling the future. In Scripture, prophecy refers to anything that God speaks through man, that is a biblical definition of inspiration or “inspired” as opposed to the way Bruxy uses it above. The Scriptures teach that ALL of Scripture is inspired in this way (Matt 19:3-5 , Matt 22:30-32, 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Peter goes on to explain in verse 21 “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” So we see here again that nothing in Scripture has it’s source in man, but men spoke FROM God as the Holy Spirit carried them along. If it were true that human imperfection has tainted the Scriptures and introduced errors, etc., then how can Peter say that none of it has it’s source in man? Bruxy’s idea that the Scriptures are errant because of the imperfection of the people God used is found wanting in light of this text. All of Scripture is God speaking, and so when Bruxy accuses the text of error or even sin (as documented here), he is accusing God.
In an attempt to back up his view of Scripture from the text of Scripture itself, Bruxy Cavey completely contradicts the Apostle Peter writing under inspiration of God. Peter, who was present during the events described in Matthew 17 exhorted his readers that despite his own personal experience, and despite having heard the voice of God booming from heaven, the Scriptures are to be the ultimately authoritative standard of truth because they are God speaking through men. Instead, Bruxy doesn’t reference what Peter says in Scripture, but draws his own, contradictory conclusion based on a text which only describes the event.
I have written before about Bruxy’s twisting of Scripture to support his views. Let’s follow Peter’s advice in Scripture in dealing with Bruxy and others who are willing to do this.
And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. (2 Peter 3:15-17)