Mike Cope's blog

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The B-I-B-L-E Here is one of the most shocking discoveries of my early life: the Bible has to be interpreted. I know that's a no-brainer. But I grew up thinking that what set us apart from all other religious groups is that we just believed the Bible. God said it. We believed it. That settled it. Other people had creeds. Others twisted it because they liked musical instruments or didn't like baptism. They put their trust in commentaries--the words of mere humans. But we just read the Bible. It helps to live an insular life if you want to hold onto that belief. Because when you begin engaging Christ-followers from other groups, you quickly realize that many of them think about the same thing. But the Bible has to be interpreted. In a sense, that happens even in the earliest stages of translation. Those translating the Bible from Hebrew (and a bit of Aramaic) in the OT and Greek in the NT have to make choices. How do they translate a passage when it's ambiguous? How do they express in English a word that seems to have a wide range of meanings? Several times I've heard people jealous because I can read the Greek New Testament. Hey, seven years of Greek and you'd be there, too! They wish they could just read what the text says. Guess what? It's a blessing to be able to do that and it's helpful to know what the original text said (as best we could piece it together from manuscripts--since we don't have any original copies of the NT books), BUT . . . you still have to interpret. Reading Greek rarely makes things more obvious. Otherwise, all the Greek-readers would be unified. We are not unique because be follow the Bible. Or because we're nervous of creeds. Or because we like the "plain meaning of the text." As I've led discussions about the ministry of women, I've often heard people say, "We shouldn't make the Bible say what we want it to say." I agree. Absolutely. But let's also be honest about this: none of us comes to scripture completely objective and unbiased. All of us are having to use tools of interpretation. I don't want to twist scripture. I want to live under its authority. But I also have to humbly admit that this is harder than I might have imagined. This recognition demands two things from us: First, it demands community. We need to read scripture together--with other Christians we know and with believers from other times, places, and denominations. As people seeking to follow Jesus, we need to rely on the insights of the larger community of faith. Second, it demands humility. Before I write off other people who disagree with me, I'd better realize how very challenging this whole task of biblical interpretation has been. And it wouldn't hurt me to remember that so many wars in the world have come because everyone has their own holy book that they believe they have the inside track on how to interpret. More later . . . .

42 Comments:

  • Growing up I saw very little of either....Community or Humility....rather I witnessed inward, self-righteous thinking and a boat-load of arguing over riduculous things about the text. For awhile, it was funny for us younger kids to watch adults behaving like kids, but then as we grew older, it became very discouraging. Someday I should chase down all of us that grew up in this enviroment and see where we are now in our faith. I suspect the results would be troubling.

    Thankfully, this place and others continue to challenge me to move beyond this history and become a Christ follower.

    Thanks Mike

    By Blogger Paul W, at 3/07/2006 05:16:00 AM  

  • Mike, thanks for these thoughts. I do wish I could read in the original languages. I believe we all need to be open to understanding for which we pray. It is difficult as best to read with understanding and almost impossible to read with wisdom. I enjoy your web log. Thanks.

    By Blogger Jerry, at 3/07/2006 05:21:00 AM  

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    By Blogger Jerry, at 3/07/2006 05:24:00 AM  

  • I am currently teaching a class we call "Bible: Book of Books" at a Christian school in Chattanooga. I have around 30 eleventh and twelfth grade students (in two separate classes) and we have been studying this subject of the interpretation of Scripture recently. It has been AMAZING to listen to their comments and to read their interpretation of different passages of Scripture. A bottom line conclusion which I had already come to but which now has been confirmed through observations in this class: we must have the grace of God for shortcomings and limitations in interpreting Scripture just as we need the grace of God in our attempt to live Scripture.

    By Blogger Jeff, at 3/07/2006 05:29:00 AM  

  • Mike-
    More and more I'm convinced of the truth in "work out your salvation with fear and trembling". It's up to us. No preacher can form our beliefs, no creed can can be so complete as to always direct us in our decisions. After Sunday's service surrounding the "Lord's Prayer", I more convinced than ever that we should call it "Our Prayer". The sovereignty of the Father, our Father, the importance of the Kingdom arriving in us every day, the desire that God's will is done, the need for satisfaction with enough today, forgiveness, forgiveness, forgiveness. I think the "Lord's Prayer" can be found in John 17:20ff: All of those who believe in me because of the messages of the Apostles (in short, the bulk of the NT) should be one. One like the Father and Son. Not identical, but one. Seeking the values found in "Our Prayer", seeking a common forever. That requires a different attitude; concern, acceptance, love, peace, celebration. No room for denominational bickering and finger-pointing. What would the world be like if we could do that??
    Thanks for what you do, Mike.

    By Blogger G'ampa C, at 3/07/2006 05:59:00 AM  

  • I definately agree with that. I used to try to argue some points in the scripture (that I think are worth arguing) with some friends of different denominations and now I believe that more importantly than argue some doctrines that time should be spent telling someone about Jesus that doesn't know anything about Him or at least has no special beliefs about certain scriptures.

    By Blogger CFOURMAY, at 3/07/2006 06:12:00 AM  

  • Mike,
    Thanks for another great post. I agree. I'm working through the book of Mark with our youth group and like Jeff, I am amazed at the thoughts rolling through their heads. How could I ever pressume to know all their is to know? Community is vitally important when we engage scripture. And we can't have that community without humility, right? If I'm not even willing to hear someone else's side of the story, haven't I cancelled both out? We are Christ followers, and I'm pretty sure he heard both sides of the story before He offered any comments.
    Thanks again Mike.

    By Blogger Logan and Katie Brown, at 3/07/2006 06:29:00 AM  

  • thanks a lot Mike, now I have the B-I-B-L-E song in my head:)

    By Blogger Clint, at 3/07/2006 06:35:00 AM  

  • Good thoughts, bro.

    Good to see that heartlight.org published your thoughts from a couple of days ago on handling crisicism.

    Interpretation is indeed where the challenge lies. I have found that my frustration can be alieviated when I realize that some individuals that I attempt to engage in conversation are using an interpretation schema that varies a good deal from my own.

    Love and acceptance must be extended in this situation to understand that even though many of us don't see eye to eye on the "issues" we are all covered by the abundant grace of God.

    By Blogger Steve Puckett, at 3/07/2006 06:36:00 AM  

  • I'm with you on the greek thing! I'm in my fourth semester, and all I have is more questions from the text. Yet it's also so much more beautiful in it's original form, so much more poetry in the text.

    By Blogger Brandon Moore, at 3/07/2006 06:46:00 AM  

  • Mike,

    I took 2 semesters of NT greek while in school and my instructor, Duane Warden, said that reading the greek NT and the english NT is like color TV and black and white TV.

    By Blogger Dallasfan, at 3/07/2006 06:54:00 AM  

  • We had a spaghetti supper Sunday nite. Amazing how many different ways spaghetti was interpreted--some unfamiliar with the law of exclusion added meatballs and mushrooms. No mention of sauce had been made but evidently, sauce was necessarily inferred. It was a good dinner for our community and most folks humbly admitted each recipe was good.

    By Blogger eddy, at 3/07/2006 07:25:00 AM  

  • Mike, just read your article on Heartlight this morning. A great piece for us preacher-types. Just a few Sundays ago I had a gentleman come up to me and tell me that he was glad I finally just let scripture speak that day (I happened to close with a few verses strung together). I couldn't tell whther he was OK with me speaking some of the other time or he just wanted scripture?! Then I thought, if we just let scripture speak, I'll be out of a job! Oh well, thank you for encouraging us and letting us know we're not alone in those backhanded compliments... wait... did I just do that? Sorry, didn't mean to. Peace,
    Jim MacKenzie, former back-up "Steve Young like" Worship leader @ Highland circa 1991

    By Blogger Jim MacKenzie, at 3/07/2006 07:26:00 AM  

  • I didn't learn about textual variants until I took Greek and Intro to NT Studies at Harding. It was a shock to find out that we didn't have the original manuscripts. To say my eyes were opened would be an understatement. At the same time, it confused me that I would have professors teach such a strict hermeneutic.

    Great post!

    By Blogger David Michael, at 3/07/2006 08:24:00 AM  

  • eddy said: "We had a spaghetti supper Sunday nite. Amazing how many different ways spaghetti was interpreted--some unfamiliar with the law of exclusion added meatballs and mushrooms. No mention of sauce had been made but evidently, sauce was necessarily inferred. It was a good dinner for our community and most folks humbly admitted each recipe was good."

    WOW! What a great analogy. I like the necessarily inferred sauce part. Most important was that each recipe was good.

    Funny!

    By Blogger Big Mike Lewis, at 3/07/2006 08:31:00 AM  

  • Very well said, Mike. I deeply appreciate it.

    By Blogger PatrickMead, at 3/07/2006 08:33:00 AM  

  • Thank you so much for this post, Mike. I'm sorry that I'm just recently realizing what that post and others have helped me understand.

    By Blogger Glenn, at 3/07/2006 08:48:00 AM  

  • It is just so complicated, Mike.

    By Blogger Beverly, at 3/07/2006 09:04:00 AM  

  • Community......what's that? :)
    Great post, brother!

    DU

    By Blogger David U, at 3/07/2006 09:19:00 AM  

  • Thank you for this post. Interpretations have been on my mind a lot lately. Our church has been wrestling with the role of women for a while, and the leadership is prayerfully moving toward more inclusion. Parts of my Christian family may leave our congregation over this. It breaks my heart that my getting up and reading a scripture or saying a prayer may cause division or hurt some of my closest friends. I wrestle with the questions: Are we right? Are they right? Do we stay the same so we don't offend? Is it my pride making me want to be up front? Will it be a sin? Could I go to hell for this? Could I go to hell for not doing this? Does it even really matter to God? Finally, after countless discussions with people at church, I just lay it at the feet of Jesus and ask the Holy Spirit to move.

    By Blogger Suzie, at 3/07/2006 09:50:00 AM  

  • Excellent comments Mike. I've recently left the Churches of Christ and embraced the idea that salvation takes place at the point of faith apart from outward works like baptism. I've had people ask me why I no longer believe baptism is for the remission of sins. I have to explain to them that I believe that because that is what the Bible says--I just don't interpret that the way I did when I was in the Church of Christ.

    Salvation is not about a long and difficult theological test in which we have to get all the answers right and only asssociate with those who have all the right answers. Salvation is about God's work through Jesus Christ to effect His kingdom. Our role is to yield to that work through faith.

    By Blogger Ahnog, at 3/07/2006 10:48:00 AM  

  • It seems that most of us agree that we all bring different tools to the table of Biblical understanding/interpretation (education, intelligence level, all kind of other "baggage"). I, too, get humbled. When you throw in the mix the fact that no originals (or probably 1st generation copies of originals) exist, I get humbled even more. And then when I can grasp the fact that, say, Paul's letters were not primarily written to me, they were written to the "Philippians" or the "Colosians", etc. (in other words, I am reading someone else's mail), then I am really, REALLY humbled. How can we ever begin to think that we have arrived at any kind of absolute truth? Can we arrive there?

    By Blogger David, at 3/07/2006 11:35:00 AM  

  • VOTE CHRISTIAN

    By Blogger college guy, at 3/07/2006 12:30:00 PM  

  • Well, I guess we can all just do what we want -- it's open to interpretation!

    It's like a CoC website FAQ I once read that had a fabulous explanation (with scripture references) of the bible-based reasons for acapella music in worship service, and that the elders had spent "many hours" in prayer and study before deciding that it was scriptural to not have instruments.

    Fast forward a year or so. Their elders and membership decided to go in a more "liberal" direction and NOW the FAQ says that after "many hours" of prayer and study, that instrumental music is all right after all.

    Hm. It makes you wonder what REALLY changed, the Bible, or the people "interpreting" it.

    By Blogger Lisa, at 3/07/2006 12:34:00 PM  

  • Great words. They make me feel welcome as I struggle with my faith and ask hard questions of myself. The freedom to be honest is freedom indeed.

    By Blogger L, at 3/07/2006 12:49:00 PM  

  • Praise God for elders and members who continue to spend hours in study and prayer. Praise God that doing such really does change people!

    By Blogger eddy, at 3/07/2006 01:09:00 PM  

  • In reference to Lisa's comments a couple of posts up....We are a weak and sinful people that, hopefully, are trying to find the heart of Christ, and be that love to a lost world - in worship; community; and, in personal journey through prayer, meditation and learning. I just wonder at times if we corporately think we've found "it" in worship style; thinking style or communication style?

    In reality, I think it's just more the fact that our whole outlook and process for now is simply on the wrong side of eternity - that is - it will always be somewhat off, not necesarily "conservative" or "liberal".

    By Blogger KentF, at 3/07/2006 01:35:00 PM  

  • Amen to Kentf. All along Jesus has been teaching us about process, not events and not firm answers. We are either becoming more and more like him or are becoming more and more hemmed in by our own expectations. If we're on The Way our understanding must necessarily change as we learn more from the teacher. Our weaknesses and misunderstandings are made perfect in Christ, eventually.

    By Blogger JRB, at 3/07/2006 02:24:00 PM  

  • GREAT POST MIKE!

    Sure, it is very complicated. But in a way, isn't it liberating to know that no one has it 100% right..or maybe in ways we all do? I remember as a very little girl(kidergarten)feeling so lucky to be going to "the right church." A few years later I remember debating the Baptist kids during lunch over music, Christmas and baptism. I hated being the only church of Christ-er in my class. Even at a young age I couldn't believe all my friends and their parents weren't going to make it to Heaven because they saw things differently than my church did. They still went to church and loved God and tried to live by the Bible. It was good to grow up and learn God is mans only eternal judge, not other men.

    I do believe in the Bible and it's authority over my life. I do not believe the Bible is some ancient mystic rule book that you must have an exact right code to interperet. Nor do I think one must have a masters degree in Bible to understand it's core meanings. God does not work that way.

    By Blogger SG, at 3/07/2006 02:37:00 PM  

  • It always amazed me growing up that we heard a lot about the importance of studying the Bible and yet no one made an attempt to teach the common member how to properly study and interpret Scripture contextually. And, I knew a lot of great exegetical Bible preachers. Yet, I don't remember one showing me how to study. It was if they would not "lower" themselves to teach hermeneutics and exegesis to the masses. Did they view us as laity and thus unworthy? I also noticed that you said all of this without one reference to the Spirit's role in properly interpretation, understanding and application. Interesting. But, of course, I was also taught that since we had the Bible we didn't no longer needed the gift of the Spirit. And, that's the a true shame. Without the "wisdom from above" we cannot properly understand or apply the words we read.

    By Blogger Theophileous, at 3/07/2006 02:50:00 PM  

  • "I was also taught that since we had the Bible we didn't no longer needed the gift of the Spirit."

    I was taught that for the first eighteen years of my life. And, of course, I no longer believe that.

    Yes, I believe in the working of the Holy Spirit in the reading and applying of scripture. Did you think I was being exhaustive? I didn't mean to imply that. There are LOTS of other things I would add.

    I would say this: my confidence is in the way the Spirit works through the community. If the Spirit is responsible for everyone's private interpretations--sane and whacky--then we have a big problem. Every day people claim that the Spirit gave them insights into passages -- insights that are at complete odds with the insights others are claiming to have received from the Spirit.

    So yes, absolutely. The Holy Spirit is involved in the enlightening of the church. And he seems to be doing his work primarily through communal study, communal prayer, and communal discipleship.

    By Blogger Mike, at 3/07/2006 03:28:00 PM  

  • you guy's are not implying that 1 Cor. 13 has another meaning other than what it implies are you?

    By Blogger Clint, at 3/07/2006 03:53:00 PM  

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    By Blogger Clint, at 3/07/2006 03:57:00 PM  

  • Mike thank you for allowing your blog to be a blank canvas that we can all paint on. I pray that as we add strokes to the pages we begin to see Jesus.

    By Blogger Clint, at 3/07/2006 03:58:00 PM  

  • I love that first paragraph, Mike. Absolutely love it:

    "God said it. We believed it. That settled it."

    I've been laughing to myself all day over those three 3 word direct sentences that I've heard in some way or another (usually in much longer, much more complicated form) my entire life and believed myself about many things way too long.

    I fully agree with you that the Bible must be, has to be interpreted. But then where does that leave us and what do you think, or what is your opinion, maybe I should say, about the question of whether there is such a thing as "absolute truth?" Or am I the only one who thought of that question very early this morning when I first read your post.

    No one else has brought this up and maybe it's way too philosophical for the direction the post and comments seem to be going and have gone all day, but I'm wondering what keeps us then from finding the Bible and everything else we may believe from it, in it, about it, in our own lives and in the world from being completely "subjective," rather than "objective?"

    I've always (well, since some discussions I had with teachers in high school classes back in the early 60s - a LONG time ago! ha!) in absolute truth. That there IS absolute truth, that it is found in God, the creater of all thing in this world, and that it is the standard by which we should measure ourselves and our lives and all, and in all, we say and do and how we think.

    I argued with my teachers that just because we might not KNOW of absolute truth or know absolute truths ourselves it did not mean that there wasn't such a thing or that it wasn't there somewhere just because we had no knowledge of it. In other words - there was this perfect thing we should be striving for or maybe to be like or to follow. I would call it GOD, I think.

    That being said - in trying to live in this imperfect world, to interpret this world and GOD and "absolute truth" through the Bible, through nature, through our minds, etc - we ultimately fail in every way EXCEPT FOR God's love, God's son Jesus Christ, God's grace - everything God is and does - in Him we "live and move and have our being."

    I guess I'm mainly just thinking about how since the 60s our culture has become caught up in subjectivity and moral relativism where anything goes, all is all right, whatever you want to think is just as good as what I want to think, whatever you want to do religiously is okay with me, "I'm okay, you're okay" (remember the book, anybody?).

    Am I wandering way out in left field here, or does anyone else here understand what I'm talking about and thinking about and trying so inadequately (I feel) to say?

    Maybe all this is a totally different subject than the one you raised this morning in your post, Mike. If so - y'all tell me to hit the road and I'll go off singing "out loud" "Oh the B-I-B-L-E, now that's the book for me, I'll stand alone on the word of God, Oh the B-I-B-L-E." Good grief!! ha! I've been singing it to myself ALL day, thanks to you, Mike!

    By Blogger Dee O'Neil Andrews, at 3/07/2006 04:13:00 PM  

  • Dee - Wonderful post. You're asking such good questions -- and making such good comments?

    Do I believe in absolute truth? Well, yes. But do we, in our fallen world with our personal biases and histories have immediate access to this absolute truth? Nope. Does that mean we're left with nothing but moral relativism? Nope.

    Such big questions. I'd love to write more. . . .

    Let me say now that I think many Christians have an almost idolatrous attraction to "absolute truth." Oddly enough, scripture isn't very interested in it. What it claims is that Jesus is the truth. How do we know? According to John's gospel, we commit our lives to him and we begin living out that truth.

    By Blogger Mike, at 3/07/2006 04:23:00 PM  

  • Thanks for the clarification, Mike. Thanks.

    But when you say:

    "Let me say now that I think many Christians have an almost idolatrous attraction to "absolute truth." Oddly enough, scripture isn't very interested in it. What it claims is that Jesus is the truth. How do we know? According to John's gospel, we commit our lives to him and we begin living out that truth."

    - I understand what you're saying, believe me, I understand. But where does that leave us with the REST of the world? The, let's face it, majority of the world? Those in our culture we (claim anyway) we are trying so hard to reach and to whom we proclaim the "good news" about Jesus Christ?

    In other words - if we say Jesus Christ is TRUTH (which I believe with the depths of my heart), but then we practice "I'm okay, you're okay," except for maybe, just maybe, a couple of - what shall I say - informed consensus of the group doctrines and precepts, which tend to flucuate from group to group, then are we REALLY living out that truth as God would have us do? Are we really as deeply commited to finding and discerning that "absolute truth" in such a way that others - unbelievers or those who have some semblance of some kind of belief - will find salvation through what we share with them?

    Or am I here DEFINITELY getting off into deep waters totally apart and separated from what you posted this morning? Part of the reason I may sound a little fragmented here in this comment is because I've been reading and commenting on Ray Fleming's excellent post today and following all of his leads he inserted in it which is much more philosophical in nature, but along some of the same lines (and his blog is definitely worth following for those of you of such a bent, as I am) as the conversation and discussion here.

    I don't know. In the end, I rely on faith, grace, the blood of Jesus Christ, God's unending and neverending love for me as His dear child and I believe this with all my heart.

    Like you say, Mike, I've committed myself to Him and I'm trying to the best of all of my abilities to live out that truth, as capably and unwaveringly as I can. And I've found that even in the depths of my own inadequacies God is there to shine His light through me to others when I seek to follow Jesus - the absolute TRUTH and LOVE of the world and all mankind.

    P. S. I WOULD like to hear your further thoughts on this, though, Mike - in particular, what I'm saying about the 60s forward moral relativism. I read Bill Banowsky's book "The New Morality" following his famous (fabulous, anyway) debate on the "new morality" with Anson Mount, the (at the time) "religion" editor for Playboy magazine (am I the ONLY one who remembers all these long ago things? Am I THAT ancient??) and I thought it was outstanding. At the time it made a tremendous impression on me, although I haven't read it in years, so maybe everything on this issue and topic is now moot (is that "lawyer talk" or what? ha!). But it just seems to me that that thinking - subjectivity in all things, with subjective "love" ruling all - is now utterly invasive and permeates the society and world we live in.

    Is it just me that sees our culture and world this way? Am I just an "old fogey" here to think that there can be certainty found in at least SOME things God says to us and communicates to us through the Bible? (And I am NOT talking about the old "God said it. We believe it. That settled it." mentality - believe me. I'm WAY not saying that.)

    I am basing what I'm saying here on many discussions I've had with all sorts of so-called, self-proclaimed "spiritually" minded people (who have given up "organized" religion, churches and everything else remotely religious) people who think that - hey - they're okay. They believe in "God." They've figured out what's good for them and, hey, you can do what you want, as long as you don't mess with "their" variety (interpretation?) of spirituality and "religion." More power to you. Whatever works. And yet they lead lives (as far as I can see) with lots of moral relativism. They let "love" guide them. Whatever feels good and helps them along the way.

    I'm stopping. Sorry about that. I just wonder how on earth we're (I'm) supposed to try to reach these people who I care so much about, but feel are no where close to what God would have them be. I don't know. Do you have any thoughts on any of these complicated subjects, Mike? Any you have time to share? I'm listening. Always.

    By Blogger Dee O'Neil Andrews, at 3/07/2006 07:15:00 PM  

  • I only have to wonder if post-modernism will have some positive effect before it passes on to the deep end.

    By the way, when I got into your class this semester, I didn't know who you were and had very little interest in your name being on the professor line. Thanks for giving all of us good reason to think otherwise.

    By Blogger Benjamin Covington, at 3/07/2006 07:58:00 PM  

  • I believe there is an absolute truth for each individual. I honestly believe there are things that are sinful when I do it, but possibly not sinful for someone else. For example drinking. If I drink a beer I feel awful about it and feel like it is a sin for me because if someone sees me or someone finds out about it the I feel like I have failed at setting the example of Christ. Some people can drink a beer and not feel ashamed or sinful. It does say in the bible that drunkeness is the sin not taking a drink. If you truely have Jesus then you should know your absolute truth. I came to this conclusion from studying the book of Hebrews.

    By Blogger CFOURMAY, at 3/07/2006 09:26:00 PM  

  • A note to Dee...(hope you don't mind, Mike)
    Interesting questions, with interesting consequences when you really get down to it. Where does love end and being spiritually nosey begin? I wish I had the answer.
    Sorry to add a question to a question, but here goes: What does it mean to love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, then love my neighbor as myself? I struggle with that every time I think of it. In my clearest moments of faith I think it means for me to long for the return of Jesus as a bride longs for her husband, her true love, her one and only. If he really has my heart first and foremost, the rest of me will follow, bringing those I love with me, if at all possible. All the "Whatever you think" ideas and suit-yourself and post-modernistic perspectives become a form of idol worship because he does not have my heart, I do. Morality is only a hobby if it is not related to my heart being in the Lord's hands. The most critical truth in the world is that Jesus died for us all because he wants our hearts, our devotion. Obedience, morals, values, service; all will follow, if he only has my heart.
    From my own perspective, I am also painfully aware that when those don't follow, I am guilty once more of selfishness, and the battle Paul describes is still going on inside me. Thank God for his amazing grace!
    C

    By Blogger G'ampa C, at 3/07/2006 09:34:00 PM  

  • "Let me say now that I think many Christians have an almost idolatrous attraction to "absolute truth." Oddly enough, scripture isn't very interested in it. What it claims is that Jesus is the truth. How do we know? According to John's gospel, we commit our lives to him and we begin living out that truth."

    Mike, what do you mean when you refer to "absolute truth"?

    By Blogger Holmes, at 3/07/2006 11:29:00 PM  

  • You said, “…my confidence is in the way the Spirit works through the community....Spirit is involved in the enlightening of the church. And he seems to be doing his work primarily through communal study, communal prayer, and communal discipleship."

    ----------
    Mutual accountability in proper translation is important. But, do not limit the Spirit’s work to primarily “communal study, communal prayer and communal discipleship.” That might make you more comfortable, but the Spirit fills whom he wishes, as he wishes, to the degree that he wishes, with the particular gift he wishes, I Cor. 11. There are some who have NEVER had formal Greek training or biblical hermeneutics and exegesis. Yet, they have a full measure of the Spirit and supernatural insight. I'm encouraging you to never exclude the Spirit factor from proper biblical interpretation. God placed his Spirit in each of us. This includes the illiterate as well as the seminary-trained. The Spirit reveals the deep things of God to our spirit. There are things we will not ordinarily see or hear with our formal training, I Corinthians 2. Such insight does not come from communal participation. It is available only from the Spirit, v. 10. The “wisdom from above”, James 1, comes from the Father, not communal participation. It is available only through the avenue of personal (not communal) prayer. God gives it out without partiality. So, I’m simply asking that with your emphasize critical study, not to neglect the Spirit factor. This is vital in any discussion of proper biblical interpretation. Without the insight of the personal indwelling, bible study/translation is a mere academic exercise.

    By Blogger Theophileous, at 3/08/2006 07:36:00 AM  

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