Thursday, 18 December 2014

Hamblin's Not So Great Men

There is a bit of a furore on Twitter at the moment over my old friend John Hamblin's latest contribution to the Sword of the Lord magazine. To keep it short, he completely wrenched the words of Jeremiah 5:5 out of context and imposed his own so called Fundamentalist mindset on them. The "great men" who Jeremiah went to search out were not "those giants who had stood for God" as Hamblin enthuses, but (as the context shows) the rich and educated princes. And they proved to be as rotten as the lower classes, despite their better position. The article has been endorsed by some others of the Hamblin School of Intepretation.

One of the more balanced IFB bloggers, Ryan Hayden,  gives a very good analysis and rebuttal of Hamblin's article here. And not only the article, but the mindset that produced it and the long term drift of the SOTL away from Rice. (In this regard, though, someone in the comments part points out how Rice helped promote Hyles, but I disgress.) Ryan actually demands (OK 'suggests' until I am corrected and can revert back to 'demands') that the SOTL print a retraction and an apology.

I have written before about things I did as a young preacher and which I hope not to repeat. #3 comes pretty close to what Hamblin has done. The difference is that I was in my early 20's and was just starting out with probably less than a total of 20 sermons. Hamblin recently celebrated 35 years in evangelism and religiously RT's those Tweets that help promote him as a great leader in 21st century Fundamentalism. 

The words of Martyn Lloyd Jones are apt here in this regard. In his classic book on "Preaching and Preachers" MLJ wrote:

One of the first things a preacher has to do is talk to his texts. They talk to you and you must talk to them. Put questions to them. This is a most profitable and stimulating procedure. But at the same time never force your text. An idea may occur to you and excite you and thrill you; but if you find that you have to do some manipulating or forcing in order to make that fit into this particular text, don’t do it. You must sacrifice a good sermon rather than force a text. After this, or while doing this, you must check the understanding you have arrived at by consulting your lexicons and commentaries.

 Ah! The commentaries. Through the good services of e-sword, I have access to quite a few of the classic time honoured, real #oldpaths commentators like Matthew Henry, Poole and Gill etc. Plus a few sitting in hard copies on my shelves. Not one of them took the position that Hamblin took and which others endorsed. In the article, Hamblin quoted Campbell Morgan but there is nothing to suggest that he took Hambin's forced position. And if he did, then he butchered the Scripture too.

Hamblin's professed hero, CH Spurgeon, observed re: commentaries:

The temptations of our times lie rather in empty pretensions to novelty of sentiment, than in a slavish following of accepted guides. A respectable acquaintance with the opinions of the giants of the past, might have saved many an erratic thinker from wild interpretations and outrageous inferences.

Although Hamblin's article has been around for the guts of a week, it was only yesterday that it really got noticed. I remind my readers that another of Hamblin's school (who also, BTW, endorsed his "great men" article) also posted the following theological gem yesterday:

There you go. If God does not require us to agree with His will, then it is no sin to disagree.. Yes, it seems that two can walk together even if in disagreement (Amos 3:3) A slip of the pen? One would hope so. Making someone an offender for a word isn't particularly a brilliant thing to do. However, when things like this are pointed out and still allowed to remain, then the ante is surely upped somewhat. 

 * Tozer on the Scribes of Modern Fundamentalism 

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