The Need for Hermeneutics

The Need for Hermeneutics A while back, I spoke at an event for homeschooled graduates and asked the audience to respond to the question, “Do you believe that the 66 books of the Bible are, in the original manuscripts, the inspired and inerrant word of God?” 98% of the attendees at this Christian event affirmed their faith in the Bible. That was both comforting and odd, especially since on 91% of the attendees identified themselves as belonging to the Christian faith. However, in conversation with many of these same young adults, they seemed to have no ability to actually apply the Bible contextually to their lives. In discussing an issue, if I quoted a Scripture verse, many would say, “Well, that was in the Old Testament, so that does not apply,” or “That is in the gospels, which was written to the Jews, so that does not apply to us,” or “That was written by Paul, who was a homophobe and a male chauvinist,” or “That epistle was written to a specific group of people at that time regarding specific problems in their culture, so you can’t apply that to us as American Christians,” or “That is just your interpretation,” or “You are taking that out of context,” etc., etc. The question I am often led to ask them is, “”Is there anything at all in the Bible that you believe actually applies to you?!” The problem is, they really don’t know. They are sure something in there probably does, but they kind of randomly pick and choose which parts they like. What this does is essentially strip away their supposed belief in the Authority of Scripture. Christian Apologist, Cornelius Van Til used to say, “The Bible is authoritative on everything of which it speaks. Moreover, it speaks of everything.” This group of young adults has adopted a Postmodern view of the interpretation of the Bible, which is skeptical about any objective claim of definitive knowledge or certainty. I would encourage you to teach your children about how we got the Bible. Teach them about the compilation of the Canon of Scripture. Teach them about why the Bible is true (as opposed to the Quran or other religious books). Explain to them why the 66 books of our Bible can be trusted, and why the Gnostic “gospels,” the Apocrypha, and other Pseudographical books are NOT included in our Bible. As a family, study some sound books on Biblical Hermeneutics (the study of how we study...

Will a Trained Child Depart?

Will a Trained Child Depart? “Train up a child in the way he should go (on his own customized path), and when he is old/older/grown he will not depart/will return.” (Proverbs 22:6) This passage has given parents and Bible teachers fits for many years. There are lots of different explanations regarding what this text is teaching (including a few I’ve included in the verse above). If we do our job correctly as parents, does that mean that our children will never go down the wrong trail? What then of the dozens of families we know who trained their children well (imperfectly, but in the right direction), and their children rebel? Does it mean that if we train our children correctly, they may still rebel for a time, but then they will come back to our faith later, when they have gotten the rebellion out of their system? What then of the families we know where the rebellious child never does return to the faith? So which is it? Will they never depart or will they return? I believe the answer to both questions is: Yes. And No. Here’s what I mean: I believe the Proverbs are speaking about general truths, not making absolute truth claims. I don’t think there is any way we can assume that the Proverbs are absolute statements that are true for all people, in all places, at all times. For example (please consider): “Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones.” (Proverbs 3:7-8, NKJV) Are all godly people you know healthy? Or what about this: “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.” (Proverbs 10:4, ESV) “The generous soul will be made rich.” (Proverbs 11:25a) Are all the diligent, hard-working (or generous) people you know rich? (I didn’t think so!) “No grave trouble will overtake the righteous, but the wicked shall be filled with evil.” (Proverbs 12:21, ESV) Do you know any righteous who have ever had grave trouble? “The hand of the diligent will rule, but the lazy man will be put to forced labor.” (Proverbs 12:24, ESV) Unless he goes on welfare! “Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings.” (Proverbs 22:29a, ESV) Have all the skilled craftsmen you know met with world leaders? “The eye that mocks a father and scorns to obey a mother will be...

Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics

For the past couple of years, I have been talking about the importance of Christians studying Biblical Hermeneutics. Hermeneutics is the discipline of study by which we learn how to read, interpret and understand the various books and literary genres of the Bible. I have often been asked what books or resources I recommend. I like: Principles of Biblical Interpretation, by Louis Berkhof. I also highly recommend checking out some of the books by D.A. Carson. However, their books are a bit academic, and some people find them a bit challenging. I just discovered Youth Apologetic’s Training’s FREE online course on Hermeneutics and would encourage you to check it for yourself and/or your teen: Biblical Hermeneutics Made Simple Check out Michael Boehm’s articles here: http://youthapologeticstraining.com/category/doctrine/hermeneutics/ Israel Wayne is an Author and Conference Speaker and Director of Family Renewal, LLC. He is the Site Editor for...

How to Win an Argument with a Biblically Literate Christian!

How to Win an Argument with a Biblically Literate Christian! I’ve learned (from Facebook) the fastest ways to be dismissive of someone who has a stronger Biblical argument than you. 1. Say, “Don’t judge me!” This seems to be the only “Bible verse” that EVERYONE knows. They will have no choice but to bow the knee!  2. If that doesn’t work, say, “You are taking the Bible out of context.” This will send them running with their tail between their legs!  Even if they post the ENTIRE BIBLE, stick with this one. 3. Tell them, “That is just your interpretation.” This works for anything. Even, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” can be dismissed with this (and the previous) argument. 4. If someone quotes something from the Old Testament, just say, “That doesn’t apply. That is the Old Testament. We’re under grace, not the Law.” If someone quotes something from the New Testament, say, “That was just to their culture, it doesn’t apply to ours.” 5. This one is a killer! When faced with a Scripture that you simply can’t refute any other way, say, “I prayed about it, and God showed me that this is the opposite of what you believe!” This argument is airtight! They won’t dare argue with God! 🙂 6. If all else fails, resort to name-calling and personal insults. These are the best ways to ensure that you never end up having to change your position on anything! The only other recourse is to actually read and study the Bible for yourself, so you know what the Bible really teaches. But that, of course, takes effort and diligence. These six methods will save you a lot of time and hassle. Israel Wayne is an Author and Conference Speaker and the Director of Family Renewal, LLC. He is also the Site Editor for www.ChristianWorldview.net   “Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.By graur razvan ionut, published on 22 August 2010 Stock Photo – image ID:...

The Regulative Principle vs. The Normative Principle

The Regulative Principle vs. The Normative Principle I believe that a huge number of disagreements between Christians come from a fundamental difference in the way we do Hermeneutics (the discipline of how we study, understand and interpret Scripture within its various literary genres and historical contexts). Reformed theologians have created a couple of concepts to help them discuss worship within the church: The Regulative Principle and The Normative Principle. Typically they ONLY apply these principles to the discipline of Ecclesiology (how we do worship in the church), but I believe that the concepts behind them are useful for Christians as handles to help us get ahold of why we disagree on so many issues. The Regulative Principle This principle teaches, in essence, that we may only do that which God has actually prescribed in the Scripture. So in worship, we should not, for example, engage in skits for church, or “special music,” because these things are not prescribed by God as the function of believers as they meet in an formal setting for worship. (I’m not arguing for or against those things, just giving an example of a Regulative-type argument.) The Normative Principle This principle says that we may do anything that God does not strictly prohibit. If God doesn’t say NOT to sing from a hymn book, or use PowerPoint, or show a Batman movie, or have a weight-lifting team break bricks with their heads, etc., then it should be allowed in corporate worship. As I said, I believe these distinctions reflect fundamental, epistemological differences regarding the way we read and apply God’s word to matters of life and practice as believers. Paul dealt with this tension in Romans 14 when he discussed Christian liberty. Some Christians feel they have liberty to do anything that God doesn’t outright forbid, and other feel they need to stay close to what is encouraged and directed in Scripture. The Forbiden “You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’–but not everything is good for you. You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’–but not everything is beneficial.” (1 Corinthians 10:23, NLT) When Paul says here that “everything is permissible,” he CLEARLY DOES NOT mean  EVERYTHING, for in 1 Corinthians 6 and Galatians 5 he gives a list of behaviors which, if practiced as a lifestyle, with no turning and repentance, will keep you from eternal life. But within the spectrum of what God does not forbid (The Normative Principle) Paul is clear that you MAY do it. It’s a...

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