Is it possible for one to know all there is to know about theology by just reading the Bible for themselves? Join Andrew, Alastair, and Derek as they deal with the idea of Biblicism and balance between isolated readings of scripture and implicit faith in church traditions.


Intro + the meaning of biblicism [0:00 – 2:30]

The difference between being “biblical” and being a “biblicist”  [2:30 – 6:00]

Differences between biblicism in the popular and academic areas [6:00 – 9:25]

Alastair gives even more examples of biblicism [9:25 – 12:35]

The difference between what someone like Martin Luther did with the Bible and what folks mistakenly do today [12:35 – 15:17]

The arrogance of being anti-historical and the humility of orthodoxy [15:17 – 17:55]

Alastair drops a “bombshell” interpretation of the Bereans in Acts 17 [17:55 – 18:45]

What happens when we disagree with historical interpretations of texts/doctrines [18:45 – 21:50]

How to deduce from the text and evaluate history [21:50 – 27:15]

Why a surface level reading of the text inhibits biblical meaning + Conclusion [27:15 – 34:01]


Being Biblical™: When the Bible Becomes a Brand

If you’re interested in supporting the show financially, you can check out our Patreon here.

Finally, as always, follow DerekAndrew, and Alastair for more tweet-sized brilliance. Thanks to Timothy Motte for his sound editing work. And thanks to The Joy Eternal for lending us their music, which everybody should download out of gratitude for their kindness.

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Posted by Caleb Wait

Caleb Wait (MATS, Westminster Seminary California) is a writer and the producer of Mere Fidelity. He and his wife Kristin have two children and live in Northern California. You can follow him on Twitter @calebwait and he invites you to email him at


  1. rogerwmbennett April 5, 2019 at 9:19 pm

    Did Derek wink when he gave as an example of deduction from good and necessary consequence “the eternal procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son”? What a wonderful example of (false) tradition creeping in unacknowledged!


  2. The chief problem that I see with biblicism is that it establishes a standard that cannot be implemented in any practical sense. We are always going to rely on some tradition, the question is whether we will acknowledge that tradition or not.

    Evangelicals may tout notions of biblicism, and criticize those traditions that make express reliance on Christian tradition. But any external observer of evangelical polity can easily see that the movement relies on a certain unspoken tradition, which is the narrative concerning the emergence of a middle-class white culture in the industrial era, and principally in the Anglosphere.

    As a product of that cultural narrative, I have to concur that it’s a narrative that has done me well. But few such cultural narratives remain socially meaningful for more than 4-6 generations. And we’re likely at a point where our unacknowledged tradition in evangelicalism requires retooling. But biblicism is getting in the way. Because we’ve conflated the enduring teachings of Christianity with culturally conditioned practical wisdom, the close of the industrial era is causing far more pearl-clutching than it ought. In an earlier era, biblicism implicitly meant that we weren’t going to require you to check your Americanism at the door. Over time, we shifted to the point where biblicism gave us the liberty to begin creating theological defenses for those very American values. Is it any accident that evangelical accounts of “biblical manhood” look little different from the portrayals of masculinity captured in John Wayne movies? Hardly. But biblicism forced us to reimagine such culturally conditioned wisdom as eternal truth. That, of course, explains why many evangelicals find themselves forced to make a choice between the Trinity and John Wayne. Because we have failed to acknowledge explicitly the role of tradition in shaping our practices as evangelicals, we lack a framework that allows us to prioritize the Trinity over John Wayne, or even just to cast John Wayne aside as a useless cultural archetype in a post-industrial era.

    There can be no such thing as biblicism. The question is whether one’s reliance on tradition will be acknowledged explicitly or whether it will go unacknowledged and undebated. Christian movements that chart the former course appear to stand the test of time and weather cultural change. Christian movement’s that chart the latter course typically die out once the cultural scene has changed.


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