19th century theological liberalism comparison
In his review of Irresistible, Greear compared Stanley’s assessment of the Bible to the “statements used by German higher critics to launch 19th century theological liberalism.”
“Having removed the locus of inspiration from the writings that recorded the events to the events themselves, or the authors who recorded them, the critics were able to question the apostles’ interpretations,” wrote Greear in his review.
“Maybe, they said, the apostle John was wrong when he said Jesus was divine. Maybe the resurrection they spoke of was spiritual, not physical in nature.”
Greear added that while he doubted that Stanley believed the same things as the 19th century theologians, “once you have removed divine authority from the writings, all that is left is conjecture.”
In his first response to the review, Stanley took issue with the comparison, challenging Greear to compare statements by German higher critics to his work.
“Not only do I not ignore, downplay or disregard the doctrine of inspiration, I affirm it throughout the book,” Stanley replied.
Greear cited “Fosdick (an American) and Strauss (German),” who concluded that “Paul’s own ethics … had not caught up with Jesus’ application of love to all things—which would be the next logical step from saying, ‘Jesus’s example and his new commandment is sufficient.’”
“Both they and you are unmooring our understanding of Jesus’ love from the commands of the Old and New Testament, which are essential in understanding what that love looks like,” added Greear.
In part three, Stanley addressed Greear’s examples, stating that his book does not support such an idea when interpreting Scripture.
“Is that really what you took away from Irresistible? That I’m ‘unmooring’ Jesus’ love from New Testament commands?” wrote Stanley.
“I don’t see how you get that when I make the point over and over that Paul is actually applying Jesus’ new covenant command.”