One of the most common and socially acceptable sins in Christendom is the bearing of false witness. This sin usually takes the form of the logical fallacy known as the ad hominem. And while it is common on social media for the average Christian to engage in this fallacy and see no sin in it, it is most pernicious when it is committed by so-called scholars. The typical attitude amongst these so-called scholars is that those without a PhD cannot offer a worthwhile critique of their position. Which of course is ridiculous. Whether or not one has the same education as the person they’re critiquing tells us nothing about the validity or lack thereof of the critique. I suppose it’s a good way for someone who has a PhD but lacks critical thinking skills to deal with a legitimate critique, but for a Christian to do this is nothing but an example of pride and arrogancy. And sadly, this type of intellectual arrogance is too common among Christians who hold PhDs and affirm the Critical Text.
Making their sin even worse is the example of the apostle Paul. If any writer of the New Testament had cause to reject the examination of his position from those who lacked his education in the law of God, it was the apostle Paul.
Philippians 3:4-6: Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: 5Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 6Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
Paul makes it clear, that those who are trusting in their education to understand the things of God are in fact trusting in the flesh. This is sin. And it is a common sin among exponents of the Critical Text and also of those who hold to the Majority Text.
But what is God’s attitude towards Christians who lack Paul’s educational accomplishments but “dare” to examine his teachings?
Acts 17:10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
Did Paul condemn the Bereans for searching the Scriptures daily to see if what he was saying was so? Absolutely not. The superiority attitude, to which Paul was entitled due to his education, was missing from Paul. For him, the Bereans, and other Christians of the time, the ultimate epistemic authority for doctrine, including the doctrine of the true text of Scripture, was Scripture, not the educated. This was completely different from the Pharisees of the day who placed their ultimate epistemic authority in the foolish reasoning of men and not with Scripture. This is the same as Restorationist Textual Criticism (CT/MT) advocates. They place their education before Scripture in their reasoning. And this is sin.
Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God
Romans 14:23b for whatsoever is not of faith is sin
So the next time some “scholar” belittles you for daring to criticize his position, point out to him that he hasn’t dealt with your argument and has only engaged in the logical fallacy of the ad hominem. To twist the knife of his foolishness, tell him you expect better critical thinking from someone who has spent all that time getting a PhD. And an attitude devoid of pride and arrogancy in the flesh of one who also claims to be a Christian.
Ad Hominem (Abusive)
argumentum ad hominem
(also known as: personal abuse, personal attacks, abusive fallacy, damning the source, name calling, refutation by caricature, against the person, against the man)
Description: Attacking the person making the argument, rather than the argument itself, when the attack on the person is completely irrelevant to the argument the person is making.
Person 1 is claiming Y.
Person 1 is a moron.
Therefore, Y is not true.
Q. 143. Which is the ninth commandment?
A. The ninth commandment is, Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
Q. 144. What are the duties required in the ninth commandment?
A. The duties required in the ninth commandment are, the preserving and promoting of truth between man and man, and the good name of our neighbour, as well as our own; appearing and standing for the truth; and from the heart, sincerely, freely, clearly, and fully, speaking the truth, and only the truth, in matters of judgment and justice, and in all other things whatsoever; a charitable esteem of our neighbours; loving, desiring, and rejoicing in their good name; sorrowing for, and covering of their infirmities; freely acknowledging of their gifts and graces, defending their innocency; a ready receiving of a good report, and unwillingness to admit of an evil report, concerning them; discouraging tale-bearers, flatterers, and slanderers; love and care of our own good name, and defending it when need requireth; keeping of lawful promises; studying and practicing of whatsoever things are true, honest, lovely, and of good report.
Q. 145. What are the sins forbidden in the ninth commandment?
A. The sins forbidden in the ninth commandment are, all prejudicing the truth, and the good name of our neighbours, as well as our own, especially in public judicature; giving false evidence, suborning false witnesses, wittingly appearing and pleading for an evil cause, outfacing and overbearing the truth; passing unjust sentence, calling evil good, and good evil; rewarding the wicked according to the work of the righteous, and the righteous according to the work of the wicked; forgery, concealing the truth, undue silence in a just cause, and holding our peace when iniquity calleth for either a reproof from ourselves, or complaint to others; speaking the truth unseasonably, or maliciously to a wrong end, or perverting it to a wrong meaning, or in doubtful and equivocal expressions, to the prejudice of truth or justice; speaking untruth, lying, slandering, backbiting, detracting, tale bearing, whispering, scoffing, reviling, rash, harsh, and partial censuring; misconstructing intentions, words, and actions; flattering, vain-glorious boasting; thinking or speaking too highly or too meanly of ourselves or others; denying the gifts and graces of God; aggravating smaller faults; hiding, excusing, or extenuating of sins, when called to a free confession; unnecessary discovering of infirmities; raising false rumors, receiving and countenancing evil reports, and stopping our ears against just defense; evil suspicion; envying or grieving at the deserved credit of any, endeavoring or desiring to impair it, rejoicing in their disgrace and infamy; scornful contempt, fond admiration; breach of lawful promises; neglecting such things as are of good report, and practicing, or not avoiding ourselves, or not hindering what we can in others, such things as procure an ill name.