Dr. Montgomery’s post-debate statement

Montgomery/Kloha DebateEditor’s Note: I have asked the debate participants to provide some final thoughts about their debate experience. Below is what Dr. Montgomery provided. I want to thank both Dr. Kloha and Dr. Montgomery  for participating. I think it has advanced the discussion of what we believe concerning Scripture. It clarified a few things and left a few things for others to clarify. Thank you again to all of the sponsors of the event (LCA, Balance-Concord, ACELC, MNCL, TXCL, and Steadfast Lutherans) especially Mr. Walter Dissen for his leadership. Thank you to Concordia-Chicago for hosting the event. Thank you Attny. Mark Stern for moderating the discussion. Thank you Mr. Scott Diekmann for representing Steadfast Lutherans at the event.

Here is Dr. Montgomery’s statement:

In my numerous public debates with non-Christians, my opponents at least admitted that they were responsible for what they wrote–and that made possible a meaningful exchange of views and the opportunity of showing factually where the truth lay. This was impossible with Dr Kloha.

In my view, Dr Kloha presents views (such as those in his dissertation and in his argument that Elizabeth and not Mary was author of the Magnificat) in theological circles where those views will be appreciated, and Lutheran positions (Chemnitz, the Preuses, et al.) in LCMS circles. He is disingenuous and his desire to please both LCMS conservatives and SBL (Society for Biblical Literature) folk who are miles away from biblical inerrancy I find schizophrenic and unethical–to say the least.

His equivocations on the Mary/Elizabeth issue were typical of his entire approach: tell the liberal scholarly community one thing, and at the same time refuse to teach or preach it in the LCMS. Double advantage: Kloha will be regarded as a pious Lutheran scholar and simultaneouslyas a modern theologian on the wavelength of all the hideous critics of Holy Scripture who present their papers annually at SBL and populate the English and European faculties of theology.

On the net, several people have aped Kloha by claiming that I have misunderstood him and am ignorant of the field of textual criticism. Every quotation from Dr Kloha that I presented is specifically documented in my paper, and anyone working through the sources cited in my notes who knows anything about the field will have to admit that I have occupied myself in depth with the current, authoritative, scholarly literature in the field. I knew well the late, paramount textual scholar Bruce Metzger of Princeton, and he much appreciated my published work. My critics have obviously not themselves ploughed through all the Kloha material–and have not even studied with any degree of care the extensive documentation in the notes to my presentation. One critic actually suggested that I know no Greek! (In fact, I majored in the classical languages and philosophy at Cornell University, have an S.T.M in New Testament, and taught New Testament Greek for years at graduate-level theological seminaries.) This kind of irresponsible criticism is sad, especially if those Facebook critics represent the next generation of LCMS pastors and teachers.

For those who think that I don’t know anything about textual criticism and have misrepresented Kloha, here is the evaluation of Dr Paul D. Wegner, director of the PhD/ThM Program at Gateway Seminary, Ontario, CA, and author of the standard text, A Student’s Guide to Textual Criticism of the Bible (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2006): “You are very correct in your critique of Kloha’s thorough-going eclecticism view. At the end of the day you have no objective criteria to evaluate the text. At least with manuscripts you have something that actually exists and not just your assumptions about which reading is favored by internal evidence. . . .Because there is so little evidence on how an author can say things and if they can ever say something new or unique causes a serious problem for the thorough-going eclecticism view. You have hit the nail on the head for the problem; is the text a revelatory construction or merely a literary one? If it is revelatory, then we must start with original or as close to original sources as possible” (personal communication, 20 August 2016).

Here again is Dr. Montgomery’s paper.

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