The following is part of an ongoing series of excerpts from an unpublished manuscript by Dr. Adams entitled Adams’ Answers in which he responds to common questions from both friends and critics.
The charge doesn’t hold water. Just because I refuse to use the jargon of the field, because I write for pastors and elders in language they can easily read, and since I do not hide ignorance behind half-understood or esoteric terminology, there are those who think that what I have to say is simplistic. I claim that my writings are simple, not simplistic.
I have spent a lifetime attempting to put difficult matters into easily understood language. My students at two seminaries will vouch for the fact that I always strongly urged simplicity and clarity in preaching. I have taught that the second cousin to truth is clarity and the brother to lying is obscurity! It is my belief that by hard work, anything—once understood—can be made simple and intelligible. It is with that conviction in mind that I always sit down to write.
Because I do not theorize, speculate, or hypothesize, there are those who think what I say is unscholarly. I admit to the charge, if that is what scholarship is all about. But, wait a minute! Ask yourself, “Would Jesus have stood up to the charge?” His clear, simple language was so different from the rabbis that people were amazed at what He had to say. But because what He said was simple, that does not mean that it was simplistic. It was at once simple and profound. I try to be a speaker and writer who is as fully in that tradition of Jesus as possible.
The same concern drove Paul who, in writing to the Colossians, asked for prayer so that “I may proclaim” the truth “clearly, as I ought to.” I consider myself equally obligated to set forth God’s truth clearly. I think that it may be fairly said that though others may not always agree with me, they understand why they don’t because they understand what I have written.
Akin to the charge of simplicity is the companion charge of proof-texting. Apart from the fact that there is a correct way to proof-text, as Jesus and the apostles showed us, I deny the charge as made. What I deny is the claim that I give the Scriptures short shrift, taking passages out of context, making them say what they were never intended to say, and the like. That is what is usually meant by proof-texting.
I ask you, does the charge stand under scrutiny? How many other counselors have translated the entire New Testament, the Book of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Psalm 119? How many others have written commentaries on all of these books? When you look at the shoddy exegesis that is so prevalent among eclectic “Christian counselors,” you will find more than enough proof-texting together with poor exegesis at its worst. I cannot accept this irresponsible charge from those who, themselves, are prime examples of what they decry. Indeed, it is time for those who hurl these missiles to reconsider their own feeble efforts at using Scripture.
When Scripture is so casually handled, when its teaching is equated with the flawed statements of men without any recognition that the two are radically different, when hermeneutics is not only a word hardly understood but a science whose fundamental principles are persistently violated, it is time for the practitioners of such an “art” to cease and desist calling names!
In other words, I challenge those who love to bypass the teachings of Nouthetic counselors on the basis that what we write is too simplistic, to come to grips with the major arguments that we set forth. That is certainly a fairer, and more “scholarly” way to go about things than to ignore these as “too simplistic” to give the time of day. It is amazing how often objectors use the ad hominem approach rather than grappling with the issues. Let’s stop that sort of thing and begin to talk sensibly, simply. One, not so insignificant issue, is how to present truth! Another has to do with the target audience for whom we write. Should we write to impress other “scholars,” or to help those who are ministering to God’s flock? Think about it!