Just about all Old Testament scholars are theological liberals. But could such a gentle and intelligent scholar like Dr. Michael Heiser be one?
Heiser says that in theology, “Liberal refers to the notion, really, of the denial of the supernatural. In some cases the denial of the existence of God. In other cases, if we do believe there’s a god, a liberal would sort of downplay, or deny, totally, that God can do anything, such as miracles. Liberal is a word that is really loaded even still today, and we need to be careful how we use it.”
In other words naturalizing everything. He explains his view of biblical inspiration to us here....
I want you to notice how he himself downplays God's abilities. He then says there is zero evidence in the bible for a view he caricatures as "downloading 21st century" ideas into their brains. I would beg to differ with him and find his attempted reductio quite disanalagous. I will get to that in a moment. He then uses examples of words that meant something in that culture that do not mean the same thing in this culture. I do not deny that language is almost entirely equivocal and changes, but if God can't do that with a word then how can he do that with prophecies? What else can't God do?
Who says God cannot communicate something as an open referent without making the human author "modern", "destroying communication", or "lobotomizing" them? Notice these restrictions on what God can or cannot do here fit his own definition of liberal and what his rationalism dictates is possible. I also want you to notice the false dichotomy presented. The question isn't about divine lobotomies or rendering language useless as a consequence of revealing later information at all. The question is do the human authors of scripture consciously recognize that what they are writing as God's word is written in parts and with a view to the future? Do they write knowing more linguistic data is coming and available? Yes!
1. The Bible is written self consciously in parts with other linguistic material in mind.
KJV Deuteronomy 18:15 The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; (Deu 18:15 KJV)
KJV Joshua 24:25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem. (Jos 24:25 KJV)
KJV Joshua 24:26 And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the LORD.
Did Joshua break the ordinance that God's word shall not be added too? No because he writes knowing the law is consciously written, knowing there will be more linguistic material.
NAU Proverbs 25:1 These also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah, king of Judah, transcribed. (Pro 25:1 NAU)
More linguistic data...
4 "But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase."
5 Then I, Daniel, looked and behold, two others were standing, one on this bank of the river and the other on that bank of the river.
6 And one said to the man dressed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, "How long will it be until the end of these wonders?"
7 I heard the man dressed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, as he raised his right hand and his left toward heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time; and as soon as they finish shattering the power of the holy people, all these events will be completed.
8 As for me, I heard but could not understand; so I said, "My lord, what will be the outcome of these events?"
9 He said, "Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time.
(Dan 12:4-9 NAU)
More information is expected to be revealed in the future but is sealed until the end...
NAU Malachi 3:1 "Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming," says the LORD of hosts. (Mal 3:1 NAU)
This verse cannot stand alone and anticipates a future fulfillment....
NAU Luke 1:1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us,
2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word,
3 it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus;
(Luk 1:1-3 NAU)
NAS Acts 1:1 The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach,
2 until the day when He was taken up, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. (Act 1:1-2 NAS)
More linguistic parts...
3 And this is the very thing I wrote you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from those who ought to make me rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy would be the joy of you all.
4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears; not that you should be made sorrowful, but that you might know the love which I have especially for you.
5 But if any has caused sorrow, he has caused sorrow not to me, but in some degree-- in order not to say too much-- to all of you.
6 Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority,
7 so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, lest somehow such a one be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.
8 Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him.
9 For to this end also I wrote that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things.
(2Co 2:3-9 NAS)
16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.
17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard lest, being carried away by the error of unprincipled men, you fall from your own steadfastness, (2Pe 3:16-17 NAS)
18 For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing," and "The laborer is worthy of his wages." (1Ti 5:18 NAS)
Quoting from the Gospel of Luke and or the OT...
NAS Hebrews 1:1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,
2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. (Heb 1:1-2 NAS)
2. The Bible is written with a view to the future. That is it expects further linguistic data in it's anticipation and fulfillment pattern.
24 "And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days. (Act 3:24 NAS)
NAS Romans 1:1 Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,
2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures,
3 concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh,
(Rom 1:1-3 NAS)
4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Rom 15:4 NAS)
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
(1Co 15:3-4 NAS)
Old Testament in view...
11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. (1Co 10:11 NAS)
4 But when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, (Gal 4:4 NAS)
10 As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry,
11 seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.
(1Pe 1:10-11 NAS)- The OT Prophets realized there was more to it when writing....
Finally I want you to notice this pericope which I think is all we really need to refute such a deficient view of inspiration.
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.
17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, "This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased "--
18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
19 And so we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.
20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation,
21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
(2Pe 1:16-21 NAS)
Notice this verse clearly says no prophecy of scripture was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the holy spirit spoke from God. The point here is that this verse is saying the prophets were not merely speaking the words of men. That is the opposite of Dr. Heiser's view! But in case you think I am making too much out of this there is more...
Dr. Heiser informs us that Genesis 1 is simply theological messaging in which God did not bother to "update" his chosen people's views.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVBxIC4caHI&t=6095s @ 2:07:00 ish
Elsewhere he says Genesis 1 is a polemic against the other polytheistic worldviews-which I agree with. Question. Is saying this God did it instead of those Gods an "update" to their understanding of cosmology? I think it is! I am not endorsing scientific concordism here (My view is canonical concordism). The point is how utterly self defeating such a view is.
Even at the human level it should be obvious that the way you would do something is probably not the same way I would do something, after all we are different persons. This would clearly be a case of revealing new linguistic and conceptual information to God's people that does not require divine lobotomies nor purely natural means. I really do enjoy Dr. Heiser's work and all but I think I have established pretty clearly that he is inconsistent and fits his own definition of "Theological Liberal". Consequently I cannot endorse him any longer. Don't be fooled by the fancy theological mumbo jumbo and pretended neutrality. Examine the presuppositions and you will find all you need to demolish any scholar. I mean with this kind of liberal naturalizing of scripture I would probably write a book to try and restore the supernatural aspect I removed too! (This is an allusion to his book The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible)
My view that I expressed here about inspiration in citing all these passages is an appeal to a non-mystical working model of Sensus Plenior taking into account progressive revelation and the analogy of faith. It is nothing new, and if it aint' broke don't fix it! With all that out of the way you may want to heed the warning from Dr. Walter Martin HERE. God Bless!!