Dr. Warren Gage and Knox

[Edit: Dr. Sam Lamerson of Knox blogs here.] 

The “stats” page on my blog reflects a high number of searches for “Warren Gage“. The increased activity is no doubt due to the reports of controversy at Knox Theological Seminary where Dr. Gage is an assistant professor.  Little information is available, but a friend who has spoken with Dr. Gage reports that he is optimistic.

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17 responses to “Dr. Warren Gage and Knox

  1. Reliable information on the Dr. Gage/Knox Seminary/RC Sproul and the recent goings on in South Florida is hard to find. But, here’s a good (and non-caustic) summary of the events. It is put out by one of Dr. Gage’s good friends, Dr. Sam Lamerson, who teaches NT at Knox and preaches at Coral Ridge Presbyterian (along with Dr. Gage). Here’s the link:

    http://www.drsamlam.com/entry/knox_seminary_and_dr_warren_gage_what_happened/

    Also, it is worth noting that Dr. Gage displayed faith, hope, and, above all, love throughout all the proceedings.

    Grace,
    Damien

  2. Damien,
    Thanks for your comments. I’m glad things have settled and are getting back to normal. Dr. Lamerson’s summary is helpful and hopeful. Now, get back to work!

  3. Dr. Lamerson’s summary is very helpful. As a Knox student, it was encouraging to watch Dr. Lamerson’s handling of himself in a proper manner through this entire ordeal. However, all is not well – in fact, far from it! Following the Coral Ridge session’s ruling, several prominent, well-respected, and theologically discerning board members resigned – simply check out Knox’s website listing the now current Board of Directors, minus some important names: http://www.knoxseminary.org/Welcome/board_of_directors.aspx

    It is no small thing when men and leaders of a seminary leave over such issues have transpired here. It is serious.

    As such, I would say that humility and brotherly affection have not marked this situation. I fully understand the Board of Directors resigning – for they were placed in a position by which they were left with no other choice. Thus, I personally believe the future of Knox is very bleak….

    May God have mercy…….

  4. What has happened at Knox is nothing short of a needed cleansing within the board itself. To say that the future of Knox is bleak, signifies a misunderstanding of the parties involved. I would strongly urge any student to look carefully at those members who did leave and the corresponding character of those individuals. Knox’s vision, to rekindle reformation, was greatly hindered by those who lacked the ability to see beyond their personal motives. Thus, although painful to endure, the gold that has been purified by this fire will shine all together brighter. Knox will go forward brighter and stronger than ever.

  5. I agree with Jason that Knox Seminary is in grave danger. Having sat under Dr. Gage for one semester in an OT class, I was appalled at his teaching, which was and continues to be a sustained assault on the Bible, the Westminster Confession and the Reformation. Furthermore based on my classroom experience, I believe the Knox Board was correct when it found Gage in violation of WCF 1.9 and am greatly troubled that the Coral Ridge PC session overturned the judgment, for now they share in his sins.

  6. Since Steve brought it up, I would like to pose a question. What are we to understand WCF (and the 1689 Baptist Confession) to mean when it says:

    “The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.”

    There have been many people making the statement that Dr. Gage is clearly at odds with WCF 1.9. But, there seems to be a mountain of assertions that he is contra-confessional, but not a lot of actually working through the confession to make the case. Though an assertion may in fact be true, as long as it remains an assertion, the value of such a statement is diminished.

    I am hopeful that Steve can help us all to understand how Dr. Gage is at odds with 1.9. I think it is only fair to ask this, as the WCF is at the center of these recent actions. And frankly, just because a popular theologian says that is outside the bounds of reformed orthodoxy, does it make it so?

    I am eager to listen to carefully reasoned and clearly articulated expositions of WCF 1.9. Until this takes place the fallout from the Dr. Gage incident will continue to be an “us against them.”

    The “us against them” mentality serves nothing but to heap shame and dishonor upon the name of Christ.

    I’ll get back to work now.

    Damien

    p.s. Rob I lost your email during the recent move. Could you sent it to me?

  7. You raise good questions Damien. The main thrust of WCF 1.9 is that Scripture interprets Scripture. When two or more passages of Scripture speak to the same subject, we can compare what they say to help clarify our understanding. The most pertinent part of this section to the Dr. Gage controversy is the statement about the meaning of any Scripture being, not many, but one. By asserting that a passage of Scripture had but one meaning, the framers of the Confession were stating that the laws of logic applied to the reading of Scripture. There are three laws of logic: Contradiction, Identity, and Excluded Middle, of which the most important is Contradiction. One way of formulating the Law of Contradiction is, “A word, in order to mean something, must also mean not-something else” (Logic, Gordon Clark, p.129). For instance, if the word ‘elephant’ is to have a meaning, it must also not mean lion, tiger, bear etc. The Law of Contradiction holds true for statements as well. “Jack and Jill went up the hill” is understandable only because it does not also mean “the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” or “I ate Wheaties for breakfast this morning.” For the reformers, the meaning of a Bible passage was its literal sense: the meaning arrived at through the application of the rules of grammar.

    On the other hand, medieval theologians held that Bible passages had not one, but rather four senses. This hermeneutical approach, sometimes known as the Quadriga, held that, in addition to the literal sense of a passage, there were three spiritual senses: the allegorical, the moral and the prophetic. By positing four senses (meanings) for every passage of the Bible, medieval theologians were rejecting the Law of Contradiction and embracing irrationalism. Furthermore, since the spiritual senses of a passage were not found in the passage itself, but instead depended on the intuition and imagination of the exegete, this method often led to fantastic typological interpretations.

    By advocating the use of the Quadriga, Dr. Gage has rejected sound, reformed, biblical hermeneutics in favor of medieval mysticism. For an example of Dr. Gage’s work, read Part One of the John-Revelation Project here where Dr. Gage’s typology (which is rooted in the idea that Scripture has manifold senses) leads him to conclude (among other things) that Rahab is a type of the Babylonian Harlot found in Revelation 17, and that this Harlot goes on to become the Bride of Christ. This is ridiculous, as is most of what Dr. Gage writes and teaches to his students, and cannot be made good from the Scriptures by sound biblical exegesis.

    In short, sound biblical exegesis posits that a Bible passage has but one meaning (although it may have several applications), whereas Dr. Gage holds, in contradiction to WCF 1.9, that the meaning of any passage of Scripture is manifold rather than one. Dr. Gage’s hermeneutic, if applied to all of Scripture, would overthrow the Reformation and return us to the Dark Ages.

  8. Thank you for your thoughtful response Steve. I think that something constructive and non-partisan can be achieved if there is an actual attempt to deal with the ideas rather than a simple taking of sides. As a current student at Knox, I am seeing a fair amount of party spirit, and this helps nothing. But I think we are at a position to do something better.

    Since you are a former Knox student, you are in a position to help a current Knox student to understand something. Has Dr. Gage, in fact, advocated the use of the Quadriga? This has certainly been asserted, but there has been nothing conclusive presented to the current students that would confirm this.

    The Monday after Dr. Gage’s suspension found many of us quite stunned. In an effort to explain to the students the “whats” and the “whys” several transcripted paragraphs from one of Gage’s lectures were read to his class in an attempt to demonstrate the employment of the Quadriga. But there was, in my opinion, something striking in the quoted transcript. Gage deliberately stopped well short of advocation of the four-fold hermeneutic, but there was a point to his bringing it up. He was lamenting the over-reaction of some of the reformed who, in an effort to distance themselves from anything “Romish,” failed to appreciate the way in which the Church, from earliest days, has read the Scriptures. I would read his argument to have been a “a baby with the bathwater” argument: “Even though there was much that was wrong with medieval exegesis, let’s be careful that we don’t reject the whole of medieval scholarship just because it was medieval.”

    There is much I would like to say regarding the John-Revelation project, as it is something that I am quite familiar with. I will make my present comments brief since this comment is in danger of being too long.

    I disagree with you, Steve, in your statement that the typology of Rahab results from an employment of the Quadriga. I do believe that Rahab was a real, historical figure, and the account of her rescue is real history. But, like much of Scripture, this Scripture is what it is, yet it points us to something more than it is in itself. I would agree with you, that when we read Joshua 2-6, we must not read into it an allegory or something like an allegory. But there is something that we must do, and what we must do is take these historical facts and fit them into the teleological trajectory of Scripture. Yes, the narrative of Rahab is what it is, but the account leads beyond itself to a greater narrative.

    In the immediate context the greater narrative is that of Holy War, which is the broader context of the book of Joshua. The people of God are taking possession of their inheritance through warfare, but it is not an ordinary war–it is Holy War, it is in reality God acting for the sake of His people. But shall we read Joshua without any regard for teleological import of Holy War, especially as this concept continues to unfold throughout the entirety of redemptive history?

    Moving quickly for the sake of space, when we come to ultimate demonstration of Holy War in John’s Revelation, we see God taking dominion over all His enemies and destroying the indestructible city and bringing about the eschatological Kingdom to which the Israelite kingdoms of old pointed. There is, in my opinion, an undeniable link between Joshua and Revelation.

    So, if John’s construction of Revelation is using the pattern of Holy War, specifically the Battle of Jericho, as the pattern after which the Revelation is organized, should we be surprised to find a whore in the whorish city that is then rescued out of that city? You may disagree with some of the points of Gage’s work in the John-Revelation project, but I don’t believe that you can successfully argue that it results from an employment of the Quadriga.

    Grace and Peace,
    Damien

  9. Steve, your comments seem to go beyond concern for the seminary and are indeed not helpful in seeking the truth but only in propelling gossip mongering. It’s one thing to have a theological disagreement with a brother and move on but it’s quite another to grind an axe and slander a man because he challenges the status quo. Damien, thank you for showing some balance in this situation.

    Dr. Gage has never taught or endorsed the quadriga in the classroom. That is an absolutely slanderous and errant accusation put forth by Sproul as a whip word to stir controversy and spin theological superiority. If he listened to Gage’s lectures he would know this but he never listened to Gage’s lectures in full. He only reviewed snippets taken completely out of context. Gage does make students aware of literary genres in the Bible – the epic, lyric, comedic and tragic but certainly doesn’t use Aristotle’s genres as a biblical hermeneutic.

    Dr. Gage’s job as a professor is to push students beyond their preconceptions, to challenge what they believe only in order to boldly defend it, and to push you outside of the fundamentalist box. He has made statements for which he has apologized for and he rightly needed to do. He has shown humility during this process. This whole ordeal is tragic and traumatic to witness in any organization, especially the church. But anyone who has sat under Dr. Gage and who knows his heart would absolutely confirm that these allegations are untrue and that he’s not the supposed heretic or Biblical “myth”ologian that you are trying to make him out to be.

  10. As to the question regarding Gage’s use of the Quadriga, I personally never heard him say that word in class. I did, however, hear him advocate the use of Sensus Plenior (lat. the fuller sense) which I take to be an equivalent though perhaps more general term for Quadriga. Sensus Plenior, said Gage, is the basis for typology (or at least his own approach to typology) and refers to the use of the OT in the NT. According to Sensus Plenior (hereafter SP) OT writers did not understand the full import of their words. Rather, God intended additional meanings not found in the literal sense. These additional senses were used by NT writers as they wrote their Gospels and epistles. Furthermore, not only was this technique used by the NT writers, but we too can use this technique to when interpreting Scripture. In short, SP maintains (counter to WCF 1.9) that the meaning of any Scripture is not one, but manifold. And Gage by his advocacy of SP also shows himself to be counter-confessional.

    You mentioned that you found the evidence presented against Gage was unconvincing: that he was making a don’t throw the baby out with the bath argument, and that he said although some aspects of medieval interpretation were excessive, we should not reject the whole medieval scholarship simply because it is medieval. I also heard Gage make similar arguments. Gage makes the reformers sound like a group of theological hacks who for no good reason had an animus against any scholarship done prior the 1517. This is an argument the Romanists often use, and it is slanderous. Instead of slashing and burning as Gage would have us believe, the reformers applied the biblical principle of “test all things and hold to what is good” to the writings of the church fathers and medieval scholastics. Luther, Calvin etc. did not reject the whole of medieval (or ancient) church scholarship as Gage claims, but rather those teachings that did not agree with Scripture. The reformers rejected the Quadriga, not because it was medieval, but because it was fallacious. Always.

    This is because the Quadriga does not make use of valid deductive logic to establish conclusions, but instead relies on imagination, intuition and feeling all which are subjective. My feelings are not your feelings, and both differ from those of Dr. Gage. The rejection of the laws of logic also cause Gage to run afoul of WSC 1.6 which states “The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit or traditions of men.” Unfortunately, there seems to be no mention of this problem in the Knox Board’s case against Gage.

    I cited the example from the John-Rev project because Gage claims that SP, which just like the Quadriga makes use of subjective process to find additional meanings in a passage of Scripture beyond what can be logically deduced, is the basis for his typology. Gage ascribes a typological sense to the Battle of Jericho which finds its antitype in the destruction of Babylon in Revelation, but he cannot prove this by plain statement or necessary inference. Therefore based on his own words to my OT class, that SP is the basis for typology, I assert that he is using SP to make the connection between the two events, even if he does not expressly say so in the John-Rev Project.

    For my part, I was very surprised to find Gage assert a type-antitype relationship between Rahab and the Whore of Babylon. To do this, Gage forces a parallel between the account of Rahab’s rescue from Jericho and the fate Babylonian Harlot in Rev.17. But the fate of the two harlots is quite different. In Joshua, the harlot Rahab was rescued from the city of Jericho. In the John-Rev Project Gage attempts to convince his readers that Rev.17 speaks about a whore “dwelling in the great city,” who, just like Rahab, was rescued from the destruction of Babylon, which he describes as a whorish city. But there are two big problems here. First, Gage would have his readers believe that just as there was a whore dwelling in Jericho, so also Rev.17 teaches that there was a whore dwelling in Babylon. To quote the John-Rev Project, “Dwelling in the great city was a whore.” But this is not what the Bible teaches. Rev.17 says that there is a “great harlot” (17:1) identified as “Mystery, Babylon the Great” (17:5). The Babylonian Harlot is not identified as a harlot dwelling in a whorish city, but instead the Babylonian Harlot, according to John, is the city. Second, the respective fates of Rahab and the Babylonian Harlot are also very different. Where Rahab was rescued from Jericho, John describes the fate of the Babylonian Harlot in these words, “And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire” R17:16). The great harlot identified as Mystery Babylon the Great in Rev.17 is destroyed, not rescued. In seeking for hidden typological senses in Scripture, Gage has ignored his own advice and has not read the text closely enough.

    Now it is bad enough for someone to hold to unbiblical ideas, but it is far worse to teach them to others, especially unsuspecting students and churchgoers who believe that they can trust the words of a seminary professor. Dr. Gage claims to be reformed, but his theological process really represents a return to the Dark Ages. He is leading his followers back to Rome and to destruction.

  11. As a former graduate of Knox who sat under Dr. Gage, I would like to respond to the last entry. The John-Revelation project has been taught for years at Knox. Dr. White, the dean of faculty, was involved in teaching this material as well. I sat in many lectures on John’s gospel as the key to understanding John’s Revelation and there is no question that Warren Gage is Reformed. Why is there a link to this project on the Knox website if it is problematic? His theology was never called into question until recently.

    I am appalled that people who call themselves Christian’s and claim to love the Reformed faith can accuse others of being heretics. Warren Gage has never denied the Westminster Confession of Faith and has been held in high esteem, even among the facultiy and staff of Coral Ridge and Knox. Dr. Kennedy was usually the one who decided who would preach. Warren Gage was asked to preach on Sunday evenings even before Dr. Kennedy officially retired or became incapacitated. I find it strange that as soon as Dr. Kennedy is buried Dr. Gage is accused of heresy. This seems very suspious to me.

    If you accuse Gage of heresy you will have to accuse the Reformers, Patrick Fairbairn, Vern Poythress, Robert Murray McCheyne, and Edmund Clowney of heresy for their use of typology. This whole debate on Warren Gage has become a witch hunt. Many Reformed men have said this, but we have fallen into a love of scholasticism that is a real danger. If our love of scholastics does not lead to greater love for the brethren or greater love for Christ it becomes a form of Phariseeism. I hope the PCA or Knox/CRPC is not guilty of becoming so puffed up with knowledge that we abandon our love of Christ and one another, which is a summation of the law of God.

  12. Dr. Gage is the man. When you speak as many languages as he does, know the scriptures as well as he does, study as long as he has and are respected by as many people as he is than you can have an opinion. Until then, go to Osteens church.

  13. Has anyone any ever claimed inspiration and inerrancy for the Westminster Confession?!

    Why then, we’d better be careful when trying a man byt IT, rather than by the whole tenor of Scripture!

    A

  14. The WCF makes Paul (rather the Holy Ghost!) out to be a heretic, for saying that the clear animal husbandry law of Moses telling owners to not muzzle the Ox was ACTUALLY spoken through Moses to the CHURCH, regarding providing materialy for its ministers.

    NOTE: Paul does NOT make it an APPLICATION, but says the latter NT meaning was ALWAYS the REAL one!

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