Bodily Noises

Wilson and his associates have been teaching salvation by doing in one form or another for years. Consider, in Scripture salvation is spoken of as coming to a knowledge of truth. John Robbins writes; “There are many commands in Scripture to understand and believe the Word of God. Saving faith, contrary to what many theologians say, is simple child-like faith. It is simply understanding the Good News and accepting it as true.” Christianity is a supremely intellectual and rational religion which is premised on a message that is to be understood and believed.

Now, contrast this simple child-like faith as we come a knowledge of the truth by the illuminating power of the Holy Spirit with a series that appeared in Wilson’s Credenda/Agenda a few years ago by Doug Jones on Knowing is Doing. In his opening lob Jones explains that knowledge is not really a matter of the mind at all:

“In contrast to this prevailing view of knowledge as merely mental, Scripture assumes that knowledge is primarily a kind of bodily doing.”

Notice that for Jones and according to Scripture knowledge is “primarily” a function of the body, not the mind. For Jones coming to the knowledge of the truth is not a matter of understanding and assenting to biblical propositions, it is a bodily function. Admittedly, a very specific bodily function that comes to mind when Jones writes:

To begin with, Scripture openly derides mere head knowledge. If mere mental knowing were the worthiest kind of knowledge, then Scripture couldn’t say: “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe, and tremble!” (James 2:19), or “these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me” (Is. 29:13; cf. Mk 7:6; Matt 15:8).

First, James 2:19 does not deride so-called “head knowledge” at all. James is arguing that believing in God is not enough to justify calling a person a Christian; a saved man. Hell is filled with theists. Further, James tells us that even if that even if a person’s belief in God and monotheism is heartfelt and emotional to a fault, belief in God per se saves no one. More knowledge is needed not less, specifically knowledge of the gospel.

Second, Jones’ appeal to Isaiah (which is repeated again in Mark and Matthew) is no help either. These passages have to do with hypocrisy, not a rejection of “head knowledge” or an affirmation that knowledge “is primarily a kind of bodily doing.” Those spoken of in these verses are people who go through the motions doing and professing things they don’t really believe. Feigned worship is not pleasing to God, big surprise. But how these passages support Jones’ idea that knowledge is something other than a matter of the intellectual is a mystery. I can’t help but think that Jones just throws up verses he doesn’t even read. Which would explain a lot since throwing up is a bodily function.

Another example of Jones’ “Scripture as window dressing” approach is when he appeals to Matthew7 to support his knowledge is doing doctrine:

Christ Himself expresses this contrast between mere mental apprehension and doing. Christ says He’ll declare to many professing believers that “I never knew you” (Matt. 7:23). But surely He won’t be factually ignorant about them. He’ll have plenty of knowledge (justified, true, beliefs) about them. But He won’t count that as knowledge in any important sense. Instead, in the same passage, He counts doing as the basis of real knowledge: “whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matt. 7:24).

Notice that Jones equivocates on the idea of knowing, as if every use of the word “to know” in Scripture, or in the English language in general, not to mention the Greek, means the same thing every time it’s used. Jesus telling the hypocrites mentioned in Matt. 7 that He never knew them is hardly a rejection of knowledge as justified true belief or knowledge as a mental state, but rather it is to use the word “to know” in a colloquial or familial sense. Calvin explains that Jesus “never reckoned them among his own people, even at the time when they boasted that they were the pillars of the church.” The irony is, and one would think fatal to Jones’ idea that knowing is doing, is that all those who were saying “Lord, Lord” were all pointing to their own doing, even their doing in Christ’s name, as evidence to their claim of being in Christ. Jones would do well to go back and learn what this passage means and a good place to start is here.

At this point Jones goes wandering off into the deep end:

To press even further, knowing is a particular kind of doing in Scripture, namely, indwelling. When Adam knew his wife, she conceived (Gen. 4:1; Gen. 4:25; Matt. 1:25). He didn’t just recognize some facts about her; he indwelt her beautifully. Such sexual union provides the brightest metaphor for knowledge in general. When we really know something, we commune with it intimately via our whole body (Dt. 6:5; Matt. 22:37).

While Jones waxes on about sexual intercourse as a metaphor for knowledge, I am a little disappointed he left out Isaiah 1:3a; “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib.” Now here is a verse that is a metaphor for Jones’ anti-Christian concept of knowledge. While one might be tempted to give Deuteronomy 6 to Jones since along with heart and soul we find the idea of “might,” the verse has nothing to do with knowledge as doing or as bodily function either, but with volition or will. The problem for Jones is that minds will to do this or that, not bodies. Now, these verses certainly have to do with the whole man, but nowhere does either Deut 6 or Matthew 22 teach us that to “really know something, we commune with it intimately via our whole body.” Quite the reverse. Matthew 22 commands us to love God with all our heart, soul and mind and bodily functions are nowhere to be found.

Along with some other bodily functions, Jones’ analysis of knowledge as doing should be flushed down the toilet.

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One Comment on “Bodily Noises”

  1. Machaira Says:

    Jones writes:

    To begin with, Scripture openly derides mere head knowledge. If mere mental knowing were the worthiest kind of knowledge, then Scripture couldn’t say: “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe, and tremble!” (James 2:19), or “these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me” (Is. 29:13; cf. Mk 7:6; Matt 15:8).

    Regarding Mark 7:6, I believe Mr. Jones misses the point big time. Can it be said that a hypocrite’s lip service constitutes true belief?

    Joes says:

    He counts doing as the basis of real knowledge: “whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matt. 7:24).

    Too bad Mr. Jones missed Matt. 7:22. It would appear that hypocritical “doing” is just as damning as hypocritical “believing.” If the former flows out of the latter, and I believe it does, then the FV emphasis on “doing” is misplaced. A former pastor of mine used to ask, “How is your faith?” He meant do you really beleive what you say you believe because you will act accordingly.


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