Before replying to David's post of 10 May, it is appropriate that I
immediately challenge your understanding of Mt.7:20. Writing to John,
you said: "... before we get too caught up in testing the fruits of
doctrines or philosophies it may be a good idea to read Matthew 7:15-20.
Here we find that the Lord is not actually telling us to test the fruits
of doctrines but to test the fruits of 'false prophets'...there is, I
believe, an enormous difference between looking at the fruit of some
abstract idea and looking at the fruit of a person's life..."
But don't abstract ideas originate in the human mind? and are they not
propagated by teaching? To understand what is meant by a 'false prophet'
it is first necessary to understand the term 'prophet'. Chambers
dictionary states that a prophet is 'someone who speaks on behalf of a
deity; someone who proclaims a divine message; an inspired teacher; a
foreteller; etc. Thus, he is someone with a mission; someone who has a
message to convey to his fellows.
In the context of the verses in question Matthew Henry therefore
rightly concludes that a 'false prophet' is a 'false teacher' who
preaches 'false doctrine in those things that are essential to religion;
who teaches that which is contrary to the truth as it is in Jesus'.
Brian, I don't think we are at liberty to interpret the Lord's warning
as simply relating to the personal conduct of an individual. It is
rather whether his or her teaching inspires in others what MH refers to
as 'serious piety, humility, charity, holiness and love' - or their
opposites. It is these, surely, that are the 'fruits', of the doctrine
proclaimed, and they enable us to form a view of that doctrine!
Sincerely, and with kind regards,
"When I show a man he is inconsistent, I make him decide whether of the
two he loves better, the portion of truth he already holds, or the
portion of error." (J.H.Newman, Tract 85)
Brian D Harper wrote:
> At 05:39 PM 5/10/99 -0500, you wrote:
> >My comments are below:
> >Vernon wrote:
> >>1) The Lord himself warns us to test the fruits of every doctrine before
> >>we accept it as being true (Mt.7:15-20). On this basis - as I'm sure
> >>you'll agree - evolution has a poor track record. This alone, in my
> >>view, should be a major deterrent to all who accept Christ as the way,
> >>the truth, and the life. [To those who will point to the many bad things
> >>perpetrated by the Church, past and present, let me say this: wherever
> >>and whenever the Lord's teachings have been properly applied, great
> >>goodness and blessing have followed].
> >I think that the fruit of philosophical naturalism has been tested
> >- as Phil Johnson pointed out - and it is not too good. On the other
> >hand, the fruits of methodological naturalism have been both wonderful
> >(cures for diseases, better food) and terrible (more efficient weapons).
> >This wonderful / terrible mix is - as Old Seashells points out - due
> >to the non-moral nature of science.
> I appreciate and agree with what you are saying, but before we
> get too caught up in testing the fruits doctrines or philosophies
> it may be a good idea to read Matthew 7:15-20. Here we find that
> the Lord is not actually telling us to test the fruits of
> of doctrines but to test the fruits of "false prophets".
> "Thus you will know them by their fruits." Mtt 7:20
> There is, I believe, an enormous difference between looking at the
> fruit of some abstract idea and looking at the fruit of a persons life,
> especially in the context of Vernon's claims.
> Brian Harper
> Associate Professor
> Applied Mechanics
> The Ohio State University
> "All kinds of private metaphysics and theology have
> grown like weeds in the garden of thermodynamics"
> -- E. H. Hiebert