November 15, 2016

Why I Dislike The Term Biblicist

This will be a fairly quick post, but I hope that it is helpful in thinking through what words are for. There are many people who like to refer to themselves as "biblicists". Personally, I never do. I do refer to myself as an infallibilist, because that is articulating a view of biblical authority that I affirm. But what does 'biblicist' actually mean?

Well, very little. I guess it could mean that someone accepts the Bible as an authority. However, most Christians do. You could use this to distinguish yourself from liberalism, but there are lots of other ways of doing this. Additionally, the term is rarely used that way. Usually it is used to distance oneself from official theological labels. Now I have discussed such labels here before, and I think that labels are important and valuable. I also think that someone should insist on being allowed to label oneself.

However, labels have to actually be meaningful. If we are discussing Arminianism for instance, and you say that you are not an Arminian but a biblicist, how have you differentiated your view from Arminianism? Arminianism is a stance on soteriology, and it compatible with most views of Scriptural authority. What's more it views itself to be a description of what the Bible teaches. So how are you clarifying your position?

In reality you're not. You are distancing yourself from the conversation. Now, that is fine, but if you are going to do that, you need to do it honestly.

One of the things I have noticed about our culture is that we feel like we have to justify why we don't want to talk about something. Often this justification is there to make us feel like we are better people than those who do discuss it. But this is dishonest, and insulting for those of us that do care. If you don't want to get involved, simply say that you don't want to be involved. I often step out of political conversations this way, and no one looks down on me for saying so. And, ironically, if I did dismiss such conversations, that's when they would actually look down on me.

In short, calling yourself a "Biblicist" doesn't mean that you are biblical. It simply means you are ignorant or disinterested in theology. In my opinion you would do better to simply say so.

No comments: