Bruxy’s Bottle Neck

Consider this 139-character tweet from Bruxy:
“Study the Bible. But follow Jesus. Language matters here because: 1. We are JESUS-followers (Mt 4:19). 2. All authority is HIS (Mt 28:18). 3. History shows that when the Church fails to follow Jesus, it uses the excuse of following the Bible to justify violence.”


Here we have a little argument. Its conclusion is stated first and consists of two imperatives: “study the Bible” and “follow Jesus.” Nothing wrong with either; both are good. But here the language does indeed matter; for the “but” inserted between these imperatives implies a third: don’t follow the Bible. [1] Further, since imperatives don’t have a truth-value (but conclusions do), we can better express the conclusion of Bruxy’s argument as follows:

(4)  We ought to follow Jesus, and we ought not follow the Bible.

Its premises are (1)-(3). Just how they are supposed to lend support to (4) isn’t clear. Take (1) for example. It says we are Jesus followers. That’s fine. But it doesn’t follow (logically) from the fact that we are that we ought to be. That is, it doesn’t follow that (4)’s left conjunct,

(4a)  We ought to follow Jesus,

is true. Still, to be charitable, we can read a little bit between the lines. The affixed scripture reference is Matthew 4:19: “And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men’.” If we take this as an imperative for, not just those original fishermen but all of us, we can adjust (1) to read that we ought to be Jesus-followers. In that case, of course, (4a) will be true. But that was never in doubt anyway. What we want to know is how

(4b)  We ought not follow the Bible

enters the picture. That’s the part that rightly raises eyebrows. (4a) will need some significant help to get to that desired destination.

The ‘Only’ Invalidity

Now Bruxy tells us that “Language matters.” I take it this implies that capitalized language matters as well. Well, did you notice that a word is capitalized in each of (1) and (2)? (1) says we are (/ought to be) JESUS-followers. (2) says all authority is HIS. Putting these capitalized emphases together, I suspect Bruxy is expecting us to grant him the following:

(5)  If we ought to follow JESUS, then we ought only to follow Jesus.

(6)  If all authority has been given to JESUS, then authority has only been given to Jesus.

If we add these hidden premises to (1) and (2), then yes: there is a path to Bruxy’s conclusion: that we should follow Jesus and not the Bible. The difficulty, however, is that (5) and (6) can’t be relied upon. Not one bit. In a prior post (see here), I’ve shown by way of counterexample how (6) is flatly false. Further, it is easy to see that (5) is in the same unhappy boat. For what scripture teaches us, arguably, is that we are to follow Jesus by following the Bible–his inerrant, infallible Word. (Compare 2 Timothy 1:13 — “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me.”) If that’s right (as orthodox Christians believe), then (5) is false as well.

The Ad Hominem

Thus far then, we’ve got a fairly decent argument argument for (4a), but no argument at all for (4b): that we ought not to follow the Bible. But perhaps there is one final hope. What about Bruxy’s

(3)  History shows that when the Church fails to follow Jesus, it uses the excuse of following the Bible to justify violence?

Can it save the day by showing that we shouldn’t follow the Bible? Well, how could it? Suppose there are folks who use (rather: misuse) the Bible to justify their violence. How would that license our being justified in not following the Bible? You might as well argue that we should ignore the Bible’s prohibition against taking the life of the unborn on the grounds that some (misguided) Christians have used the Bible to argue for abortion.

It pains me to say it: the argument from (1)-(3) to (4) is an abject failure. Bruxy’s catchy ‘Follow Jesus, not the Bible’ quip is a mere assertion with nothing at all like like a sound argument to prop it up.

Notes

[1] Compare Bruxy: “Jesus is the ultimate Word of God and we follow Jesus, not the Bible” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29HolOP7eKs; 12:35 mark).

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2 comments on “Bruxy’s Bottle Neck

  1. […] 11.  Bruxy’s Bottle Neck [ link ] […]

  2. […] 8.  Bruxy’s Bottle Neck [ link ] […]

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