Showing posts with label Interpretation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Interpretation. Show all posts

Sunday, July 07, 2024

What Does Your Proof Text Prove? (31)

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

Have you ever played Telephone Tag? (Maybe where you grew up people called it Broken Telephone or Chinese Whispers.) It’s a game played sitting in a circle. It begins when someone outside the circle whispers a sentence to a person selected at random, who then whispers it to the person on his right. The message continues around the circle until it reaches the person sitting to the left of the original starting point, who then declares aloud what he thinks he heard.

If the circle is large enough, you’ll frequently find the product of the exercise bears little resemblance to the original message.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Translation is Interpretation

The late Eugene Peterson translated The Message directly from the original Greek without reference to other English versions of the New Testament in hope that he could capture the rhythms, idioms and subtleties of the original language for a modern audience. That’s a laudable goal, and if Peterson’s efforts help new Bible readers engage with the text and older readers hear it in a fresh way, then they will not have gone to waste. We use The Message from time to time in our weekly Bible study, and it almost never fails to provoke a reaction. When Peterson is “on”, he can be brilliant, and even when he’s off, he tends to get the conversation started with a bang.

Monday, March 04, 2024

Anonymous Asks (292)

“Why are there so many Christian interpretations?”

Knowledge is fundamentally divisive. The moment any of us determines to “get to the bottom” of this or that subject, he begins to depart from the popular narrative about it. One possibility is that he gets labeled a conspiracy theorist and marginalized by society. Another is that he becomes an expert and people start turning to him for advice.

Any exposure to increased information, true or false, creates divisions.

Friday, February 02, 2024

Too Hot to Handle: Thinking God’s Thoughts After Him

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

The German mathematician Johannes Kepler once responded to a question about his work in astronomy by saying “I was merely thinking God’s thoughts after him.” If that’s true in math or science or any search for “small-t truth”, it’s most applicable when we come to the study of God’s word. Explaining “Big-T Truth” for our fellow believers so they may grow up in Christ is one of the most important tasks ever given to men, and the challenge to do it right is described by Peter in the words “whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God”.

Tom: IC, we were just emailing each other about a sequential exposition series you’ve been sharing with other men in your own local church. Describe for our readers the small problem you’ve encountered and have needed to work at overcoming in the process.

Wednesday, April 06, 2022

On the Supposed Misuse of the Old Testament

Online commentators argue that the apostle Paul misuses the Old Testament.

Some of these are garden-variety cranks, determined to prove all English versions of the Bible inaccurate. They insist reading the Jewish Tanakh is the only way to go. There’s really no placating people like that. Others set Paul against Jesus, maintaining that only the words of Christ really matter, and that the writings of the apostles are unreliable, inferior and downright wrong. Still others, like Pete Enns, object particularly to Paul, arguing that he read the Old Testament out of context, failing to respect what its authors intended to communicate.

How does the average Christian reply to such accusations?

Friday, February 25, 2022

Too Hot to Handle: How Do You Read It? (1)

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

We’ve done maybe seventy of these exchanges now on various subjects, Immanuel Can. But what we’ve never done is a post on commonly misunderstood scriptures. Everybody does those. I’m feeling left out.

So why don’t we just do it like the Lord Jesus did with the lawyer and ask the questions, “What is written? How do you read it?” That’s a pretty solid precedent to work from.

Tom: I’ll start. Let me lob you a softball here, IC.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Mining the Minors: Amos (33)

Prophetic language in scripture is always more difficult to interpret from a distance.

This uncertainty is especially common when figurative language — a regular feature of the prophetic word — is in play. When a prophecy is fulfilled in a generation or less, its original audience has little difficulty unpacking a nicely turned figure of speech and applying it to their own situation. On the other hand, a 2,700 year distance from the events about which the prophet has spoken or written severely limits the modern reader’s ability to dogmatize about specifics.

The historical record just isn’t that comprehensive, and the culture and language barriers to understanding the text as its original readers understood it increase with every passing generation.

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

Bible Study 05 — Comparison [Part 5]

Another instalment in the re-presentation of our 2013-2014 series about studying the Bible using methods deduced from the Bible itself. The series introduction can be found here.

The first Bible study tool we are discussing is comparison, specifically comparison of words and phrases in the original language.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Untwisting God’s Words

Tertius once told me about something that happened to him many years ago, when he was a young Christian. He had started to study the Bible with a friend who had a particular mainline church denominational background.

One day he received an angry letter from his friend’s priest, who was upset about the idea that two lay people were attempting to read and understand the word of God without his “professional” help.

“No prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation,” declared the priest, quoting part of 2 Peter 1:20. From this, he expected Tertius to see that it was just wrong for a person not approved and trained by church authorities to dare to read and understand for himself.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The Wrong Word

Sometimes we’ve just plain got the wrong word in our Bibles.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I know translators are highly skilled people. In almost every case when it was first translated it was the right word. It was clearly understood by its audience. It was the best English equivalent in its generation for a particular Greek or Hebrew expression.

But languages evolve. Meanings morph. Sometimes they even reverse themselves. Words that worked in one generation no longer transmit the intended message without causing confusion, eroding our ability to grasp what the writers of the word of God were trying to tell us. More than a few beloved expressions hang on well past their expiry dates.

My candidate of choice? The word “grace”.

Thursday, May 06, 2021

Getting Reading Right

So I got talking with a guy the other day.

Those of you who know me know I’ve made my career among secular people. Philosophy being my thing, I’ve had a lot of conversations with a lot of different sorts of people — many very far from Christian. But in this case, I was talking to a youngish Christian who had been pulled sideways by reading too much of the Unitarians and various Gnostic sects before getting his grounding in scripture. He’s got shaken about the general reliability of scripture, the Trinity, the deity of Christ, and a variety of other issues, and he’s working his way through them.

I asked him what he thought was the touchstone of truth. He’d already expressed doubts about large sections of scripture, so I wanted to know what he was relying on to show him what was reliable and what wasn’t.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

When the Holy Spirit is Silent

We love building narratives, don’t we.

Sometimes the tales we tell each other represent reality. Other times we are simply reading our own impressions, default assumptions and prejudices into the text of scripture.

I was in a conversational Bible study recently. Our subject was Acts 15 and the “sharp disagreement” between Paul and Barnabas over whether or not John Mark, who had previously deserted them in Pamphylia, should accompany them to encourage the believers in Asia where they had planted churches and preached Christ. The disagreement, if you recall, was sharp enough that Paul and Barnabas parted ways. Barnabas took Mark and went with him back to Cyprus. Paul chose Silas and went through Syria and Cilicia.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Magination Run Wild

Ah, liberal Christians.

How they do let their Maginations run wild sometimes.

You’ll see what I mean in a minute.

First, a little history ...

Lining Things Up

The Maginot Line was a massive French fortification that ran 943 miles between the Alps and the English Channel. The brainchild of Minister of War André Maginot, it was designed to repel attacks from Germany. The horrors of the trench warfare in the first “War to End All Wars” had persuaded the French of the need for better national defenses. The Maginot Line had everything going for it: super thick concrete, steel-wedge gun turrets that were impervious to bombardment, large, air-conditioned living areas for troops, supply storehouses, its own railway …

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Failure to Choose is a Choice Too

The other day I came across a paperback a few years old credited to a number of generally reputable authors and entitled Hard Sayings of the Bible.

Why not? There are more than a few commonly misunderstood or genuinely obscure sayings in scripture to work with, perhaps even enough to fill a decent-sized book.

But I wonder if we don’t make some sayings harder than they should be.

Some Christians tend to mistake indecisiveness for graciousness. Thus a waffling, cover-all-the-bases interpretive position may be thought humble when it is merely uncommitted. A failure to point out the logical fallacies on the other side of a scriptural question may seem charitable when it is merely cowardly.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Too Clever For Their Own Good

Far too often the mere existence of a biblical record of how fallible, sinful men behave is taken as evidence of what God prefers.

That’s a mistake, whether it is done by unbelievers attacking the character of God and the morality of his instructions, or by believers looking to the frequently sub-optimal choices of Old Testament patriarchs for their standards of acceptable Christian behavior.

We can and should learn moral lessons from history, of course, but it is foolish to go beyond what is actually written. When we do, we are often being too clever for our own good.

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

A Structural Analysis of Psalm 107

Sometimes the best way to understand something is to try to put it inside your own frame of reference.

The book of Psalms is a compilation of poetry written at various times and places by a bare minimum of eight different godly men with diverse personalities and interests. Some were theologians writing poetry, and some were probably poets writing theology. This means, as you would expect, that there are psalms with obvious and ornate structures (Psalm 119 comes to mind, where the letters of the Hebrew alphabet start each section of the psalm), as well as others that appear to be structured very simply (Psalm 15 is a single question and its answer) or have very little noticeable structure at all (Psalm 117, for example, is so brief that any analysis of its structure is near-pointless).

Pattern recognition is more useful in some passages of scripture than in others. Psalm 107 is definitely structured.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Hyperbole and Analogy

When trying to understand individual psalms, three questions are helpful to ask:
  1. How was this psalm understood by its original audience?
  2. To what other circumstances might this psalm legitimately apply?
  3. Where is Christ in this psalm; and, conversely, where is he not?
The first and third questions are easily understood, even if it is sometimes tough sledding to find the answers to them. The second requires a little explanation.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Seeing What We Want to See

Christians cannot agree across the board about what the Bible teaches. If we could, there would be no need for denominations, and there would be a single, clear, accepted interpretation of every verse of scripture.

Wouldn’t that be nice? But it ain’t so, and we all know it.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Nouns and Pronouns

Pronouns are noun-substitutes. They save us from cluttering up our sentences with unnecessary repetition. A long string of names can be easily replaced with a four-letter pronoun like “they”, saving all kinds of space.

I’m not telling you anything new here. We learn this in grade school.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Reports and Opinion Pieces

When Israel reached the borders of the promised land, while the mass of the nation continued to camp in the wilderness of Paran, Moses sent twelve men to spy out the land of Canaan.

He did not do this on his own. God gave the instructions directly, and he even insisted the spies be of high caliber: “every one a chief”.

In hindsight, there were probably several very good reasons for this.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Too Hot to Handle: All Greek If You Want It to Be

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

In an article appropriately entitled “Premarital Sex: Is It A Sin Or Not?” Charles Toy of contends it’s … not:

“There is no passage of the Bible that references premarital sex as a sin against God. The association between sin and premarital sex is a new Christian idea. The only possible reference to premarital sex being a sin in the Bible is in the New Testament. This premise although, is generally dismissed by theologians because the Greek word πορνεία, or sexual immorality is commonly incorrectly translated into the English word fornication.”

Tom: In our earlier discussion, we discovered we agree that Mr. Toy is wrong about the association between sin and premarital sex being a “new Christian idea”. It actually goes back to Genesis. So his first point is inaccurate.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

How Not to Crash and Burn (32)

Some proverbs are absolutely straightforward. Perhaps most were in their day. For example, when we read “An evildoer listens to wicked lips, and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue,” it is all-but-impossible to misunderstand. Much might be said by way of application, and examples could be cited both from scripture and personal experience, but the basic concept is not the least bit enigmatic.

Others? Well, time, linguistic and cultural differences have a way of obscuring meaning.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Semi-Random Musings (9)

It’s funny how the visible man and the Lord’s man are often confused.

Years ago, I attended a church where the most noticeable, likable, impressive presence was a tall, distinguished-looking gentleman who greeted visitors warmly at the door week after week. His family was well known and he had been associated with the same church for decades, so his name was one with which Christians from other churches were always most familiar.

It took me a month or two to realize that almost all the spiritual energy in that church was coming from elsewhere.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Untwisting God’s Words

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Novelty for Novelty’s Sake

Everybody loves novelty — even Christians. Not infrequently, to almost everyone’s regret, Bible teachers feel compelled to give it to them. Nothing gets the attention of a jaded or even a mature audience like a new twist on an old theme, or flipping a well-known phrase so that it jars the ears.

Have you heard about the “Prodigal Father”? No prizes for correctly guessing which parable of Christ is getting a pair of truly original online treatments this time.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Getting Reading Right

The most recent version of this post is available here

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

On the Supposed Misuse of the Old Testament

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

On the Mount (34)

How firm is your foundation? For many Christians, that question is largely theoretical.

See, it’s when the rain falls, and the floods come, and the wind blows and beats on the house that its owner discovers the true value of the foundation on which he has built. Stack Western believers up alongside the apostles, the martyrs and the heroes of the faith over the last two millennia, and it’s a fair bet most of us have never seen more than a few dark clouds in the sky and the occasional bit of spatter.

Which accounts for a fair bit.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Two Verses, Three Interpretations

My preferred interpretation of yesterday’s kingdom parable has precious little in it that directly applies to the church, so I thought today we might consider two more verses from Matthew 13’s prophetic look at the kingdom of heaven from the perspective of the first century Jew.

In this case, the text is even shorter than yesterday’s parable (at least in English), but the folks that gave us chapters and verses in our Bibles elected to chop this verse in half.

And so long as we’re all talking about the same two verses, what does it really matter how they have been divided?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Magination Run Wild

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Truth Out of Balance

When I’m working, I leave my car in a seven-storey public parkade across the street from a hospital. Recently it was thought prudent to increase the number of available parking spaces for disabled drivers, so the necessary repainting was done and the usual signs posted.

That would have been fine, except that the increase in disabled spaces was an order of magnitude greater than the need it was intended to address; ten times the number required even in the busiest hours of the average day. Virtually the entire second floor of the parkade is now empty morning, noon and night. Thirty drivers who would otherwise have paid for space in this busy downtown parking lot are stuck looking for accommodation elsewhere, and the City loses the revenue from their daily custom. On the bright side, the strategy virtue-signals magnificently, so the town hall clerks and administrators are likely unperturbed.

Christian instruction can be a bit like that parkade. We only have so much space in our craniums. A truth stressed out of proportion pushes other truths out of place.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Words, Words, Words

Back in 1971 warmed-over sixties folkie Pete Seeger penned this little ditty:

“Words, words, words in my old bible
  How much of truth remains?
  If I only understood them
      while my lips pronounced them
  Would not my life be changed?”

It goes on. Seeger riffs on the Constitution, oral tradition and written history in much the same vein. But his tone is meditative rather than rebellious. He has no new “truth” to declare with his usual hippie bravado. In fact, he seems to wish he could find some of that rare truth in all those “words, words, words”.

Because, yeah … if he understood them, his life would most surely have been different.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Semi-Random Musings (4)

Dr. Jordan Peterson likes to say the Bible is “hyperlinked”, by which he means something along these lines: that the earlier writings inform the later ones, and the later writings explain the earlier ones. Despite having been written by numerous different authors, it’s one great connected web of spiritual information.

Without giving away everything IC and I expect to discuss this Friday, we’re taking a similar position on the subject of daily Bible reading: it takes all of God’s word to interpret any given portion of it accurately. Bits and pieces here and there will not get the job done.

Other Christians take a different view.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Legitimate Usage

Here and there in my daily browsings I stumble across atheists in the process of diligently constructing monuments to unbelief. These often take the form of websites attempting to debunk Bible prophecy.

Two totally unscientific observations: (1) the preferred strategy of many atheists is to throw every conceivable objection at the proverbial wall in hope that one or two will stick; and (2) most such objections arise from unfamiliarity with the text.

But not all.

Monday, October 30, 2017

New and/or Reactionary

Gary McIntosh has written an intriguing guest piece for Christianity Today on the subject of the history of spiritual gifts profiles, and it raises a bigger question concerning the validity of new movements and trends within Christendom.

Given a minute, you’ll probably think of half a dozen examples of what McIntosh means by “spiritual gifts profiles”. Books, seminars and platform ministry on the subject of gifts are found everywhere these days. These attempt to inventory and describe each of the spiritual gifts given to believers by the Holy Spirit of God with a view to helping Christians recognize the gifts they’ve been given and use them more effectively for God’s glory.

But McIntosh points out that this level of attention to the gifts is a fairly recent phenomenon; perhaps not quite big enough to refer to as a “movement”, but certainly a notable trend.

And to some people anything new is automatically suspect.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before

Six times in Matthew 5 (v21, 27, 31, 33, 38 and 43), the Lord Jesus refers to things his audience had heard said. Some of these things are the direct commands of God through Moses in something very close to their original wording. Others appear to be rabbinical interpretations that expand on the originals.

In all cases, the conventional rabbinical readings are inadequate. So instead, the Lord infers from the Law of Moses principles of conduct and modes of thought by which his listeners might strive to exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees.

Hearsay, it appears, was not good enough.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Private Interpretation

I believe all scripture is breathed out by God. That’s not a new idea and it won’t shock anyone here. Holding and maintaining that view of the Bible is one of the marks of orthodoxy going back to the first century.

I’ve been enjoying the book of Job recently, every word of it God-breathed and profitable. But that does NOT mean every word of it is correct.

No, really.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Too Hot to Handle: The Christian View of Premarital Sex [Part 1]

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

In an article appropriately entitled “Premarital Sex: Is It A Sin Or Not?” Charles Toy of contends it’s … not:

“There is no passage of the Bible that references premarital sex as a sin against God. The association between sin and premarital sex is a new Christian idea. The only possible reference to premarital sex being a sin in the Bible is in the New Testament. This premise although, is generally dismissed by theologians because the Greek word pornei, or sexual immorality is commonly incorrectly translated into the English word fornication.”

Tom: Immanuel Can, what say you?

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Wrong Word

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Libels and Labels

People love labeling stuff.

This is not without good reason, I think. In bringing the animals to Adam to see what labels he would put on them, God dignified both, granting the man authority and the animals identity. It was also an immensely practical thing to do. Imagine the complexity of having to forever refer to “that big leathery thing with tusks and a hose for a nose” or “the small furry black thing that lives in my house that is not the same as the slightly larger small furry black thing”.

You can see why we have taken to labeling things like fish to water. It simplifies life.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Recommend-a-blog (24)

Are you a young Christian diligent in your pursuit of truth, burrowing into the scriptures daily and digging up every resource you can find on the side to explain those things you encounter there that don’t initially make perfect sense to you?

Well, I’ve got just the thing for you: it’s a new atheist app.

No, really. This is a useful tool, if only as a window into the mindset of active disbelievers who are expending an awful lot of time and energy trying to turn others from faith in Christ.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

The Race Metaphor

Yesterday I talked a little bit about images and figurative language in scripture. I think sometimes we can end up reading more into a Bible metaphor or simile than the Spirit of God ever intended. Or we get caught up in the details of the picture itself and fail to grasp the spiritual reality it is meant to depict.

The writer to the Hebrews talks about running a race:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us …”

Here the writer and his original Hebrew audience (that’s the “we”; the rest of us are simply reading someone else’s mail) are compared to men and women running a race. We do well to ask ourselves two questions. Firstly, what is this “race” that is to be run? Secondly, what are the specific intended points of agreement between running and whatever it is this “race” is intended to typify?

Monday, April 03, 2017

Quote of the Day (31)

It helps to know what we’re looking at.
Figures of speech in the Bible have limits, as most people who are regularly obliged to listen to sermons are well aware.

A word picture is a helpful way to describe a particular aspect of a spiritual reality. Unsurprisingly, we find the word of God to be full of them: images from the parables of the Lord Jesus, the poetic metaphors of the Psalms, the similes of Isaiah or the illustrations of the apostles — lovely, practical stuff sufficiently simple and clear to express profound truths even to our children.

Taken beyond their intended range, however, these figures quickly devolve into goofiness and bad doctrine.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Playing Word Games

Keeping laws cannot save us, as we were reminded earlier this week. God gave his law to Israel for the purpose of demonstrating to mankind our total inability to consistently abide by whatever rules we might make for ourselves, not so that we could accumulate sufficient spiritual brownie points to inspire St. Peter to open the gate of heaven just a crack and let us squeak through.

That being understood, laws still serve a very useful purpose. They cannot by themselves reclaim a single lost human heart, but a society in which the majority of citizens recognize and respect the rule of law will do notably better over the long term than a society that operates only on the principle of the will to power.

We are currently observing the abandonment of the rule of law south of the (Canadian) border.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

People Whom One Cannot Instruct

Perhaps if we dropped this on their heads ...
Wayne Grudem devoted years of his life to understanding and expositing a single word in a single verse.

Why, you may ask? Good question.

In an article entitled “Personal Reflections on the History of CBMW and the State of the Gender Debate”, Grudem asks himself the same thing: “Why did I spend so much time on this?”

What he discovered is that nobody’s listening. At least, nobody’s listening that wasn’t listening already.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Ask Not For Whom Rob Bell Tolls

Universalists, as I mentioned in a previous post, are people who wrongly believe everyone, no matter how willfully and determinately wicked, will eventually be saved.

Popular pastor/author Rob Bell has been called a universalist, though I don’t believe he describes himself that way. His book Love Wins is arguably the most well-read recent exploration of the subject, stirring up a fair bit of evangelical dust upon its release in 2011. However, if you want to argue fine points of universalist doctrine (or even broad strokes), Bell’s not your guy. Even his most ardent supporters (like Greg Boyd) admit Bell prefers asking questions to providing stringent proofs, and is more of a “poet/artist/dramatist” with a “fantastic gift for communicating in ways that inspire creativity and provoke thought” than an actual Bible teacher.

Too bad, really. Those of us waiting for a well-reasoned, serious defense of universalism from scripture will continue to keep our eyes peeled.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Other Fly in the Ointment

The careful student of scripture, as I have pointed out in two recent posts, gets his cues about appropriate Christian behaviour and church order from instructions found in the New Testament. Historical narrative in the Bible provides us with much useful information, but it should not be considered authoritative in the same way as is a direct commandment.

That’s a useful principle to observe if you want to avoid confusion. God is probably not calling you to exterminate idolatrous Canaanites, slay giants with a slingshot or lead a slave uprising in Egypt. Likewise, he probably does not expect you to perform miracles, speak in foreign languages you don’t understand or predict a coming famine.

Still, every rule of interpretation seems to have its occasional exception, which is lamentable in that it requires us to exercise discernment rather than simply checking boxes. Oops.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Weights and Mirrors

In two previous posts, I’ve tried to distinguish between: (1) historical narrative in scripture, and (2) the commands of God — basically, between description and prescription.

Why? Well, because people frequently crack open “holy books” in search of answers to questions that are very personal, and reading historical narrative as if it is God’s direction for your life can lead to considerable confusion — like the atheist who thinks the Bible says ritual castration will get you into heaven. I suspect the Lord would prefer that we not experience that sort of muddled thinking. My advice is to read commands as commands, and history as history.

But let me play devil’s advocate for a moment and point out a fly in my own ointment, if you will.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Inbox: Description vs. Prescription

In response to the post Is and Ought, Tertius writes:

“Long time Bible readers will make such distinctions, but perhaps not know the way to explain to others why they must be made. You have put a well packaged set of rules for interpretation and application in their hands and so are helping teachers how to teach; a much needed service to the Church.

An example or two of the common mistake of using the descriptive in the narrative in Acts as though it was prescriptive would be a useful addition.”

I agree. I think we can probably find several.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Is and Ought

The Bible tells it like it is, and most times it tells us what we should do about it. But not always at the same time, and not always in the same place.

Much of the Old Testament record is very dispassionate; very ‘just the facts, Jack’. Sure, from time to time an inspired author offers his editorial comment, but this is a rarity. Most of the time, we are simply getting a record of what happened. Those who need to find an application to their own lives beyond the obvious must in many instances look elsewhere in scripture to do so.

To fail to note the difference between the parts of scripture that are prescriptive and those that are merely descriptive is to invite confusion.