Posts tagged ‘hermeneutics’

April 4, 2012

So, You Need an Education to Understand the Bible? How Dare You Say Such a Thing

by Max Andrews

I recently shared a previous post of mine in which I discuss my response to the atheist objection that God is a moral monster on Facebook.  Referring to my comment that understanding the Levitical law requires an advanced knowledge of hermeneutics an agnostic/atheist responded:

Are you saying that a person can’t judge morality without some fancy education?

No, this is not what I’m saying at all.  My point is that you don’t learn the hermeneutical approach to understanding the laws and commands in the Old Testament in a first year hermeneutics class.  However, if one wants to have a deep knowledge of the material one does need an education on it.  This doesn’t mean you have to get a degree in it but you do need to be well read on hermeneutics.  Somehow Christians and non-Christians have a stigma suggesting that it’s offensive if a certain degree of knowledge is required to understand something.  How is this offensive? Surely, the Bible can be understood without a degree in theology or biblical studies but to understand it with depth you will have to read and learn.  We do we demand such simplicity?  If a cosmologist says that I need an advanced knowledge of relativity theory and quantum theory to understand the early models of our universe should I be offended? No. There are certain antecedent conditions that must be met in order to really understand something with meaningful depth.  It’s the process of learning and getting an education.

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March 2, 2012

What Does the Bible Say About Tattoos, Beards, and Blood?

by Max Andrews

Tattoos, beards, and consuming blood is mentioned in the Bible in Leviticus 19.26-28.  These verses prohibit tattoos, trimming the edges of one’s beard, and consuming blood.  Christians often find themselves puzzled as to what we should do with these types of verses.  Are we allowed to have tattoos today?  Well, that’s important for me since I’m covered in tattoos.  Are we allowed to trim the edges of our beards?  Should we let them grow out?  Have you ever had a medium-rare steak with just a little bit of blood in it?  I’ve provided an exegesis of this passage of Scripture in hopes to help others understand how we should understand this passage and provide insight as to how the Old Testament Law applies to us today.

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Leviticus is the sequel to Exodus.  At the heart of Exodus is the Sinai Covenant, though it is rarely mentioned in Leviticus.[1]  Leviticus explains how covenant worship should be conducted (chs. 1-17), how the covenant people should behave (18-25), and then closes with a section of blessings and curses, entirely appropriate to a covenant document (26).[2]  The book enshrines the laws by which the religious and civil organization of the primitive theocracy in Canaan was to be regulated.  [3]  Leviticus is given in a treaty format consisting of naming the suzerain, giving a historical prologue explaining the background of the treaty, stipulations, a document clause (covenant context), blessings and curses, and the divine witness[es].[4]

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February 16, 2012

Can You Lose Your Salvation? A Molinist’s Perspective

by Max Andrews

FOCUS:  Can a born-again believer lose his or her salvation while simultaneously affirming God’s sovereignty and human free will while being consistent with Scripture?[1]

An Examination of the Perseverance of the Saints Doctrine

Apostolic warnings against apostasy pose a difficulty for the classic doctrine of perseverance of the saints because either the warnings seem superfluous or else it seems possible for the believer to fall away after all.  The attempt to construe the warnings as the means by which God effects perseverance fails to distinguish the classical doctrine from a Molinist doctrine, according to which believers can fall away but if fact will not due to God’s extrinsically efficacious grace.  A Molinist perspective is coherent and, unlike the classical doctrine does not render superfluous the apostolic admonitions.[2]

The traditional doctrine of perseverance states that not only will the saints maintain grace and salvation, but literally cannot fall from grace.  (It is very important to approach these and understand these texts in light of appropriate exegesis.) However, this seems to ignore numerous Scriptures, which warn the danger of apostasy of those who deliberately fall from grace:

Rom. 11:17-24; I Cor. 9:27; Gal. 5:4; Col. 1:23; I Thess. 3:5; I Tim. 1:19-20; II Tim. 2:17-18; Jas. 5:19-20; II Pet. 2:20-22; I Jn. 5:16

Perhaps the most prominent:

Therefore leaving the elementary teachings about the Christ, let us press on the maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the death and eternal judgment.  3And this we will do, if God permits.  4For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.  7For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings for the vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; 8but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed and it ends up being burned.  Heb. 6:1-8 (NASB)

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February 13, 2012

The Theological Advantages of Molinism

by Max Andrews

For a context of where I’m coming from concerning Molinism please see my previous posts:

  1. Middle Knowledge in a Nutshell
  2. Why I’m Not an Arminian
  3. Why I’m Not a Calvinist
  4. God Controls Everything–Good and Bad
  5. Overpower–Is God Ultimately Responsible for Everything?
  6. The Pelagian Equivocation
  7. The Singular Redemption View of the Atonement
  8. Does God Ever Literally Change His Mind?–Yes
  9. Is a Molinist Concept of Providence Discomforting?
  10. Word of the Week Wednesday: Supralapsarianism

Advantages

  1. Holds a high view of God’s sovereignty while holding to an equal and uncompromising view of human free will.
  2. Provides a better model for understanding how it is simultaneously true that God’s decree of election while His rejection of the unbeliever is conditional.
  3. Affirms the genuine desire on the part of God for all to be saved in His universal salvific will  (which is problematic for the Calvinist) claiming that God loved the whole world (John 3:16) yet, Christ has a particular love for the Church (Eph. 5:25).
  4. God control’s all things, but does not cause all things.
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January 23, 2012

Does God Ever Literally Change His Mind?–Yes

by Max Andrews

Think about it for just a moment. Does God ever literally change his mind or course of action?  The Christian tradition usually sides with the, ‘No.’  Well, if you say know let me ask you something. What would you do with cognitive, so-called, anthropomorphisms concerning peitionary prayer or changing his course of action (i.e. God changing his mind in response to prayer or sparing Ninenveh)?  The traditional hermeneutic concerning anthropomorphisms approaches these statements as literary elements in which God expresses himself through human or animal terms that teach something true about God.  Expressions like “the right hand of God” or “the eyes of the Lord,” for example, communicate something true of God’s strength and knowledge.  But what does the concept of God’s changing his mind communicate? For example, if indeed it is anthropomorphistic?  If God in fact never actually changes his mind [due to prayer], saying he does so doesn’t communicate anything truthful.  It is simply inaccurate.[1]

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December 29, 2011

Geisler’s Denial of Inerrancy–The “Shot Heard ‘Round the World”

by Max Andrews

Norman Geisler has recently released a new addition to his “Licona Letters” condemning Mike Licona.  Geisler is very emphatic that there be a differentiation between inerrancy and interpretation.  Under this Geislerian understanding of inerrancy, interpretation and inerrancy simply have a formal distinction but are essentially conflated.

[Such] a disjunction of interpretation from inerrancy as Licona makes is contrary to the nature of truth itself…. So, a formal distinction between interpretation and inerrancy does not mean there is an actual separation of the two.[1]

Additionally, Geisler argues contra Licona[2] that the grammatico-historical hermeneutic is neutral.  Geisler argues:

[The grammatico-historical] method does not approach the Bible with a historically neutral stance.  After all, it is not called the “literal” method for nothing.  It assumes there is a sensus literalis (literal sense) to Scripture.   In short, it assumes that a text should be taken literally unless there are good grounds in the text and/or in the context to take it otherwise.  As a matter of fact, we cannot even know a non-literal (e.g., allegorical or poetic) sense unless we know what is literally true.  So, when Jesus said, “I am the vine” this should not be taken literally because we know what a literal vine is, and we know that Jesus is not one.  Further, the literal [grammatico-historical] method does not reject the use of figures of speech or even symbolic language.  It only insists that the symbols have a literal referent.  For example, John speaks of literal angels as “stars” (Rev. 1:20) and a literal Satan as a “red dragon” (Rev. 12:3).  However, the literal [grammatico-historical] method does not allow one to take a literal historical persons (like Adam) or events (like a resurrection) as not literal history.

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December 26, 2011

Auctoritas–A Response to the Geisler Controversy

by Max Andrews

I have been reviewing, critiquing, and commenting on the controversy between Norman Geisler and Mike Licona for a few months now and I haven’t commented on it for a while hoping that all of this would soon pass.  With much dismay I was terribly wrong and it appears to have gotten much worse.  There are several happenings I would like to reveal and discuss some new critiques of the situation.  For my previous posts please see:

My Support and Endorsement of Mike Licona

The Disputatio–A Response to Norman Geisler in Defense of Mike Licona

In Promptu Ponere–A Response to Norm Geisler’s Petition Against Mike Licona

A Response to Tim Rogers and the Geisler Camp

Caveo Cavi Cautum–A Second Look at Geisler’s Petition Against Licona

Tekton’s Geisler Carol Cartoon

Tekton Ticker recently released a satirical version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol depicting Licona as Bob Crachit and Geisler as Scrooge adopting a plot driven towards this controversy over inerrancy rather than Scrooge’s distain for Christmas.  I’m not going to offer much critique on this simply because this shouldn’t have warranted the response from an SES alumnus as it did. You can see Tekton’s response here.  However, I cannot ignore its absurd response completely but here are the six reasons why Tekton should/would be brought before the school for review:

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December 13, 2011

Communication Breakdown

by Max Andrews

The following is a guest blog post by Mike Burnette.  Mike “MoonDog” Burnette is a newly retired U.S. Air Force veteran who has worked 30 years for American Forces Radio & Television and commercial radio stations.  Mike has a Bachelor’s in Telecommunications from Liberty University and an M.A. in Public Administration from Bowie State University.  He is now a media consultant and creator of “MoonDog’s Media House.” He has proven success increasing the attractiveness and effectiveness of communication, awareness, understanding, participation, and production of key themes and messages for television, radio, and social media.  You can view his website at moondogsmediahouse.com.

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We now live in an over-communicated global society where, as the great philosopher Harry Nilsson said, “Everybody is talking, but I don’t hear a word they’re saying.” Language has become so abstracted in popular culture that quite often our words have no logical relationship with objective meaning or purpose. In our conversations we give nearly no thought to this deeper meaning or purpose. Our communication today is so riddled with self-stylized, relativistic blathering that we have no idea what we’re hearing. Francis Schaffer warned us of this in his book, The God Who Is There; however, most of us continue to speak as though the listener should understand our meaning—and we should understand theirs–that’s the danger!

Communication expressed by a person, relative to their own self-created truths is an unfounded bridge to relativism–in their attempt to say something of objective meaning–they’ve said absolutely nothing.

I believe there is objective meaning and purpose founded in God’s natural and special revelation. It is in God’s Word that we discover objective truths–that there is one God, the world was created, and that it’s wrong to lie, steal, kill, etc. It is from that foundation we can communicate that “this is good” or “this is bad” and “I know what you mean.” All other serious attempts for a universal communication may be, at times, illuminating, but ultimately is a bridge to nowhere.

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November 26, 2011

Caveo Cavi Cautum–A Second Look at Geisler’s Petition Against Licona

by Max Andrews

I have to give credit to someone else for the post.  I never went back through Norm Geisler’s petition to check if his reference to the ICBI statement was accurate.  I guess most of us simply took him to be honest and quoted it accurately.  To much disappointment it appears that we have been mistaken and Geisler conveniently left out important statements from the ICBI statement.  Below is the comparison between the ICBI statement and Geisler’s use of it.  For complete transparency, please view the ICBI document here. (What appears in black is taken from the ICBI statement, what appears in red is Geisler’s use of the statement, and what appears in blue is a note of comment).

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November 25, 2011

A Response to Tim Rogers and the Geisler Camp

by Max Andrews

I was quite encouraged when someone forwarded an email to me containing this blog post by Pastor Tim Rogers. I’ve recently been defending Mike Licona along with several other scholars, i.e. Paul Copan, William Lane Craig, Gary Habermas, et al. from unwarranted accusations from Norman Geisler. (You can see my posts listed at the end of this response). The reason why I was encouraged was because it seemed that the Geisler camp wasn’t really listening or paying attention to our responses and arguments (contra Geisler’s refusal to read footnotes). To much disappointment, my enthusiasm was quickly squandered when I read the response offered by Pastor Rogers. You can view his response on his website pastortimrogers.com.

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