One of the most tragic examples of contemporary liberal theology is provided by Bishop James Pike, whose theological deterioration has carried him farther and farther left since he entered Protestantism at the point of an unstable Barthian commitment. At the time his book What Is This Treasure was published in 1966, he had already come to display utter arbitrariness in accepting and rejecting biblical materials in accord with his personal religious preferences. In articles on his theology published that year in the Sunday School Times (April 30 and May 7), I remarked:
“If we can trust no revelation of God fully, then we ourselves become the only remaining standard of judgment. This is precisely the case with the Bishop of California, and the arbitrariness of his entire theology is the consequence. He picks and chooses Scripture according to his interests. Thus, as we have seen, he accepts the first clause of John 14:6 while rejecting the second, and uses the apocryphal book of Judith to argue for a loose sexual morality, while rejecting the absoluteness of the Ten Commandments found in canonical Scripture. In ‘How My Mind Has Changed,’ he insists on wine for Communion on the ground that ‘Jesus never drank grape juice,’ yet in What Is This Treasure he approvingly cites the non-Christian philosopher Porphyry (third century), who said of Jesus’ healing of the Gadarene demoniac, ‘probably fictitious, but if genuine then morally discreditable’ (p. 69). In A Time For Christian Candor he rejects Hebrews 12:5, 6 as ‘in direct contradiction to our Lord’s teaching’ (p. 136).
“The more one reads the Bishop, the more the conviction grows that in dispensing with all ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more