Sticking to the Bible


Old Bible With Sword

Introduction

      The older I get the more peace I find in sticking to the Bible, to the orthodoxy of the Old and New Testament, the direct commands of Christ and to the divine call of the apostles to make sense of it all. We may struggle to find the truth, to navigate through the many OPINIONS of man, bad teachings, cultural differences, Bible verses taken out of context, the challenges of languages, diverse Bible versions and many other challenges; however, we were not left alone to depend on our own opinions. We were given the blessing of the Holy Spirit and Godly examples to follow. There is no need to reinvent the wheel or to guess; we must stay focus on the divine. That is, 1) the divine Word of God, 2) the greatest teacher of all, the Holy Ghost and, 3) I go as far as saying, the divine methodology for biblical interpretation given by the original apostles.

A time period and a person whose method offers the most promise for attaining a clear interpretation of Scripture today

      The apostles were not perfect men, but they were the only men in the history of the world, outside of the Old Testament prophets, to receive perfect doctrine. I go as far as saying that they gave us also, the proper method of interpretation. Klein refers to the original apostles as “the first Christian interpreters.”[1]

      The Apostles left us with a very simple and yet, powerful hermeneutical system. Klein identify several such as, 1) they regarded Jesus as Israel’s promised Messiah; they acknowledge Jesus as the fulfillment of Judaism’s hope. 2) They appeal to the Old Testament to support their beliefs. Is important to point out that Jesus validated the Old Testament by quoting it and referring to it as Scripture. They interpreted the OT from radically new perspective – in light of the Messiahship of Jesus. When interpreting the Old Testament Klein points out that they a) applied Literal interpretation: The fundamental hermeneutic principle was viewing Jesus as the ultimate fulfillment of OT prophecy. The focus here was the application of typology interpretation; the idea that the Old Testament pointed at Jesus and at events to come. b) Literal-contextual Interpretation: this is the application of the Old Testament as it is; and c) Principle/application Interpretation: This is the utilization of getting a hold of examples of principles in he OT that could be applicable in current situations. 3) They revered Jesus as superior than Moses and the law.[2]

      The closer we keep these principles in minds the closer we will be to walking in truth. The Jewish Interpretation’s greatest flaw is that they miss the Messiah. With the Patristic Period we see the beginning stages of the church disregarding the Holy Spirit and the orthodoxy of the Apostles for that of these apostolic fathers. However, Augustine approach and contribution to hermeneutics can’t be ignored.

      To guard against the subjective excesses of allegory, he offered three interpretative             principles for finding the figurative meaning of difficult texts. 1) One consults what            other, clearer passages of Scripture say on the subject. 2) One consults the “rule of faith” or the apostolic interpretation of the major doctrines of Scripture. 3) If conflicting views      meet both criteria, one should consult the context to see which best commends itself.[3]

      I look at Augustine method with great respect, as it is an attempt to go back to the apostles’ way. In that regard I also respect Luther and Calvin; their high view of Scripture was a refreshing return to what truly works when attempting to interpret Scripture.

How that method aids a modern interpreter in understanding Scripture?

            It is the only way; Christ centered and Holy Ghost dependent. That system was good then, is good now and will forever be good. At the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in 2003, McCartney states,

            Hence there is a sense in which we must emulate the exegetical practice of the        New Testament writers. If we do not adopt the viewpoint of Jesus and the apostles            that Christ’s death and resurrection is the key focus of the Old Testament, thatChrist is himself the centerpiece of all God’s promises, that Christ is the true Israel, true Son of God, that the meaning of the biblical texts for the present-day people of God has to do with our relation to God in Christ, then how can our interpretation be deemed in any sense Christian?[4]

Conclusion

            As long as we have humans involve, there will always be problems. Lets face it, we are carnal folks with souls in need of restoration; we will mess up. Bias, ambitions, personal agendas and the pride of man will always get on the way of truth. However, if we keep our eyes on Jesus and stop placing ourselves at the center, if we are “…diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” we will be ok (Ephesians 4:3 NASB). If we embrace humility and find satisfaction in being the echo of the voices of the Old and New Testament writers and don’t try to speak over them… we will be ok!

Bibliography

Klein, W.W., C.L. Blomberg, and R.L. Hubbard. Introduction to Biblical Interpretation: 3rd Edition. Zondervan, 2017.

McCartney, Dan G. “Should We Employ the Hermeneutics of the New Testament Writers?”, (2003)

 

 

 

 

 

[1] [1] W.W. Klein, C.L. Blomberg, and R.L. Hubbard, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation: 3rd Edition (Zondervan, 2017), 77

[2] Ibid. 77 – 79

[3] Ibid. 87

[4] Dan G. McCartney, “Should We Employ the Hermeneutics of the New Testament Writers?”, (2003)

My Issues with Hermeneutics


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Introduction

        It is not mi intention, through this post, to dismiss the importance of Hermeneutics. Klein states that we are “in an era of increasing biblical illiteracy…”[1] and I can’t agree with him more. Furthermore, the Bible tells us “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 – NASB) I want to make it clear that I am not against any system that assists in giving us organized, structured and disciplined methods when studying and interpreting the Scripture. However, as I attempt to answer a few basic questions for this post, I will also, with great humility, present issues that deeply concerned me.

A Definition of Hermeneutics

           Hermeneutics describes the task of explaining the meaning of Scripture. The word              derives from the Greek verb hermeneuo “to explain or to translate,” while the                                    noun hermeneia means “interpretation” or “translations.”[2]

         Klein simplified the term hermeneutic by describing it as “The art and science of interpretation.”[3] Klein list several reasons to justify the need for hermeneutics. I do agree with Klein when he states, “the interpreter’s personal freedom has come with considerable risk of bias and distortion.”[4] However, bias and distortion has been around from the very beginning, when Satan tempted and deceived Eve in the Garden. Personal agendas have caused a lot of physical and theological murders through the pages of church history. Taking Bible verses out of context to conveniently fit a particular mindset continues to be a problem today and will continue to be so until the return of our Lord. It comes with the territory! In this regard I see the usefulness of Hermeneutics to be able to quickly disregard obvious atrocities when dealing with Bible interpretation. However, Klein gives other reasons to justify the need for hermeneutics that left me, either standing for the truth or, in need of a great deal of clarification.

         Klein stated, “The Bible is God’s Word, yet it has come to us through human means.”[5] This is a great talking point for an atheist or humanist who stand against the divine nature of Scripture. It implies imperfection in the way God delivered his Word to us. Klein added even more talking points to the atheist and humanist by stating, “The divine message must be clear, yet many passages seem all too ambiguous.”[6] Lastly, and this seems to be a theme through this initial reading, Klein stated that, “We acknowledge the crucial role of the Holy Spirit, yet scholarship is surely necessary to understand what the Spirit has inspired.”[7] It implies that even as the Holy Spirit plays a “crucial role”, He is not powerful enough to help us with the understanding of the Scripture that HE HIMSELF inspired. (2 Timothy 3:16 / 2 Peter 1:21) Later, Klein made his point crystal clear regarding this topic as he describes how the illumination of the Holy Spirit helps believers understand Scripture by giving us “the ability to apprehend, not comprehend, the meaning.”[8] What an amazing arrogant point of view! It is the Holy Ghost who guide us into the truth according to John 16:13, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” (NASB) Have we forgotten that God has given us the ability to know His voice and to follow him? (John 10:27) Professor Hanko stole the words out of my mouth when he states,

    From a certain point of view, the child of God needs no instruction in         Hermeneutics. If Hermeneutics is the science of biblical interpretation, it follows            from the very nature of Scripture itself that no formal instruction is necessary for a regenerated saint to be able to understand what God is saying in His Word.    Countless saints over the centuries have read the Word of God without ever           knowing the first thing about Hermeneutics, without even having heard the word. They have read Scripture, understood what God was saying to them with stark     clarity, and have taken that Word into their hearts.

      It is true that we teach Hermeneutics in Seminary as a required course for prospective ministers of the gospel. Students are obligated to learn the principles of biblical interpretation and to apply them to Scripture. But if they, with their  acquired learning, think that by these studies they have gained an edge on God’s  people, they are sadly mistaken.[9]

The importance of the following components as we search for effective ways to properly interpret Scripture

        If I focus on 1) the role of the writters of the text, I find myself handicap as, obviously, all of the writers of Scripture are long-gone. If I focus on, 2) the role of the original readers of the text, I run into two problems, a) they are also long-gone and b) I can be a victim of their own bias and personal agendas. Lastly, if I focus on, 3) the role of the interpreter then the focus is on me and that can’t be good either. I find it intellectually useful to study the cultures[10] of the day, to dig deep into the language differences[11] and so on, but at the end of the day what is the ultimate purpose of Scripture? Whose ultimate responsibility is to show us that purpose? And who will truly help us to live out that purpose?

What kind of impact does this particular participant provide on an attempt to discover the meaning of a text?

        For the sake of this post I will focus on the author of the text. At first, the Theological Interpretation of Scripture (TIS) gave me a great deal of hope. TIC is an attempt to look at Scripture in its context, the corporate and personal view of the Scripture by what was establish in the past and even what is established as truth in the present.[12] However, as Klein points out, “The danger is that TIS puts the authority of a text of the Bible not in the divine text itself but in how the church father’s, or creed, or some church community understands the meaning of the text.”[13] Therefor I see, in this initial reading of Klein, a lot of Catholic influences; the need for a “priest” to tells us what the Scripture means.

        The Bible is very clear about our need to deny ourselves. That is dying to our ideas, to our culture, to the way we are raise, to what is popular and even to what we like and everything that is against the culture of the Bible. The more we put ourselves in Scripture the more bad theology and bad interpretations will occur. The idea is for us to die to self, to come to the Lord naked, without any ideas or agendas and to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth.

How important is this component?

        To know about the author has an intellectual value; who is he, his time, the culture that surrounded him, the political atmosphere, some interesting contemporaries, etc. I suppose, in a minuscular way, knowing these things, could help us understand the Scripture a little better. However, I can’t place my hope in hermeneutics as a way to properly interpret Scripture. If that is so, then any unbeliever with the ability to read will be able to use hermeneutical tools in order to be able to understand Scripture and, we know, that is biblically inaccurate. The lost cannot see the reality of the Gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4). It is the power of the Holy Ghost that is able to navigate through all the geographical distance, cultural distance, language distance, bias and selfish agendas through the ages, etc. etc. etc.

Conclusion

      Lastly and in conclusion, I refuse to subscribe to the central idea of what the following quote is trying to communicate regarding the Bible; that it “was originally written to somebody else…”[14] Klein expanded by stating that, “Though the Bible originates through human agents in the normal circumstances of life, it is fundamentally God’s word to his people, it has an “eternal relevance.” The Bible DOES NOT ORIGINATE through human agents. John tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1 NASB). 2 Peter 1:20-21 explained this truth even further as he states, “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.” (NASB)

         Human agents were not the authors of Scripture, God is. Human agents simply wrote what the Spirit of God uttered. When it comes down to interpretations, human agents can definitely assist, God has indeed given us teachers (Ephesians 4:11), but it is only God who is able to transform, to give us revelation of Scripture and cause us to grow (1 Corinthians 3:7). Through God and only through HIM we are able to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord. (2 Peter 3:18)

Bibliography

Klein, W.W., C.L. Blomberg, and R.L. Hubbard. Introduction to Biblical Interpretation: 3rd Edition. Zondervan, 2017.

Richards, Randolph E., O’Brien, Brandon J. Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes.       Inter Varsity Press, 2012.

Hanko, Herman C. Issues in Hermeneutics. Protestant Reformed Theological Journals: 1990.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Submit your threads by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Thursday and your replies by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Sunday.

 

[1] W.W. Klein, C.L. Blomberg, and R.L. Hubbard, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation: 3rd Edition (Zondervan, 2017), 33

[2] Ibid. 39, 40

       [3] Ibid. 42

[4] Ibid. 39

[5] Ibid. 39

[6] Ibid. 39

[7] Ibid. 39

[8] Ibid. 41

[9] Herman C. Hanko, Issues in Hermeneutics, (Protestant Reformed Theological Journals: 1990), 2.

[10] E. Randolph Richards, Brandon J. O’Brien, Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes. (Downer’s Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press, 2012), 15.

[11] Ibid. 70 – 72

[12] W.W. Klein, C.L. Blomberg, and R.L. Hubbard, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation. 50

[13] Ibid. 50, 51

Are You Doing God’s Will or Your Own Thing?


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There is one characteristic of a man or a woman of God that brings all characteristics together and that is to be faithful to God. To be faithful to God means that we trust Him; to be faithful to God means that we obey Him and to obey God means that we love Him (John 14:15). To be faithful to God means to learn to die to self; that is because, being faithful to God does not mean doing the same thing year after year; being faithful to God is doing what He tells us to do faithfully.

            If I consider that God’s ways are higher and different than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9) we most also conclude that to be faithful to God forces us to deal with one little scary thing called, “Change”. There is no way to be faithful to God and remain in our comfortable zone… absolutely no way! The Bible tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).

            As we look at Abraham having to leave his hometown and his people; as we look at Moses wondering in the desert for forty years; as I see the children of Israel fighting giants to conquer the promise land and, as I look at the Old Testament prophets risking their lives every time they spoke God’s truth, I realize, very quickly, than being faithful to God will always take us out of our comfortable zone. The same can be said about the New Testament characters. John the Baptize was decapitated six months after he started his ministry announcing the coming of the Lord. All of the original disciples were murdered with the exception of John. Don’t think for a minute John got it easy, they did tried to kill him, he did suffer persecution, but most of all, the pain of seen all of his friends dying. The Apostle Paul was also decapitated.

            When I look at how comfortable many of our lives are as Christians I wonder, what are we doing wrong? We want the glory, but we don’t want to change; we want the anointing, but without having to leave our neighborhoods and our jobs. In other words, folks refuse to let go of their identity, that place where everybody knows you, where you have a degree of expertise and where you are comfortable. Very few are willing to “start all over”; they just want to continue the status quo. I am sure when they die, somebody will call them faithful for working in the same place for 20 or 30 years; my question is, did God called them to do the same thing for 20 or 30 years? I am not too sure!

            Matthew 7:21 tells us  “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” It seems like we take God’s will very lightly. I remember hearing a deacon in a church stating that God follow us and bless us as we do our thing. In other words it is God following us and not us following Him? I confronted this deacon with his stupidity, but I wonder how many even noticed the heresy of his statement.

            Jesus is not only our Saviour He is also our Lord. He becomes truly our Lord when we surrender our will to his. We can’t say that He is our Lord when in reality we exclusively follow our will. There are some special words from our Father that are only reserved for a very prestige group. These words are not reserve for those who call themselves Christians, but for those who were faithful in doing God’s will. We see those words in Matthew 5:23, “…Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” Matthew 5:23 (NASB) On the other hand, for those who were unfaithful to God and follow their own will and ways, they will hear a different set of words, “…I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” Matthew 7:23 (NASB) Are you doing your own thing? Beloved to do our own thing is to practice lawlessness.