A Theologian’s Scam
And the Bible’s “Mistakes”

Church officials criticize the Bible
but slyly protect their own “authority.”

The following is a selection out of Section 2
from the full edition of CLERGY SECRETS.

Dr. Gerhard Forde is considered to have been one of the prominent theologians of the 20th Century, especially in circles of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).  Using Gerhard Forde as a subject of study and comment in Clergy Secrets is however not only about Gerhard Forde, far far from it.  He is only representative of what is a widely occurring scam that reveals deep dishonesty on the parts of many official church “authorities.”

The essence of the scam is two-fold.   (1) First, while many church officials have indeed become rather highly critical of biblical scripture and its authority over the past few decades, they have almost always been much much less critical and measured when it comes to applying similar analysis to themselves and to their own “authority.”  (2) Secondly, the scam reveals the very widespread dishonest willingness of church officials to be quite honest “behind the curtains” in their academic settings but act quite deceitful when in the presence of “average sheep in the pews,” especially when concerns about cash flow to their church bureaucracies and ultimately to themselves is at stake.

Consider Forde’s comments below where he reveals his opposition to the “verbal-inspiration-theory” and his distrust of scripture.  “Verbal inspiration” is the theory that God “spoke” perfectly to the writers of the biblical texts and that the texts reflect precise meanings and no others.  It is an idea that has been popularly held in most eras of Jewish and Christian interpretation of the scriptures, perhaps most likely because it highlights God being directly active in a personalized “human” way by “speaking” when giving the texts.  Note Forde’s distrust of the scriptures toward the end of his quote below.

QUOTING FORDE: “Second, the verbal inspiration theory has the increasingly obvious difficulty that it is unable to deal with facts gained both by research into the Bible and the world around us.  For over two hundred years now it has demonstrated its inability to cope with truths established by scientific and historical research.  In the face of the mounting knowledge of the world, the verbal inspiration method has had no constructive counsel to give, but can only advise one to retreat from the world and refuse to face those things which one finds uncomfortable.  One does not need to go outside the Bible itself to show the inability of this method to cope with the facts.  Clearly the belief that there are no mistakes of any sort in scripture simply is not true.  The many discrepancies within the Bible itself – where the Bible disagrees with itself – demonstrate this fact.” – Gerhard Forde
(Forde’s quote is from “Law and Gospel as the Methodological Principle of Theology,” in A Discussion of Contemporary Issues in Theology by Members of the Religion Department at Luther College. Decorah, Iowa; Luther College Press, 1964, p. 56.)

The paychecks of church officials (like Forde) rely upon those “officials” maintaining profitable status quos for their particular denominations.  Such dedication by church officials (like Forde) is however very troubling in that while many of them have made careers out of challenging the validity of the scriptures “from behind the curtain” in their academic settings (especially in recent decades), most such church officials will not reevaluate the validity and exercise of the “traditional authority” that they enjoy.

Take Forde’s scam for example.  While in his academic setting, Forde criticized both the verbal-inspiration-theory and also the many “mistakes” that he saw in the Bible.  Forde however, nevertheless, frequently allowed both himself and his colleagues to profit from the traditionally elevated “holy authority” that church officials personally enjoy.  Their “holy authority” is however a result of how the verbal-inspiration-theory has historically been used by church officials, which is to use it to perpetuate the idea that church officials inherently have “greater ability” to “hear from God” compared to average people – with officially “called” church officials being considered (by “tradition”) as only second in prominence to the scriptures’ original writers. 

The reason for this power-play by church officials is, after all, that if the regular “sheep in the pews” were to also question the validity of the Bible as many church officials do now, then the regular “sheep in the pews” would also likely question the validity of church officials themselves.  Then, the privileged status quos and gravy-trains that church officials enjoy would be threatened.  Church officials (clergy) would no longer be automatically seen as having and wielding “God’s authority” simply because of their titles.  The domineering and cunning methods that are used by church officials for gaining and enjoying adulation, praise, and power by the easiest means available would be realized as hypocrisy.  The bamboozling that is done by church officials to protect their “holier than thou” status while also using “traditions” to trap people as “sheep” would be revealed as protecting the selfish self-interests of church officials themselves!

If only the “sheep in the pews” were to actually
see “behind the curtains” of church officials!