Friday, August 17, 2018

PreacherCast Episode 5 - 8/17/18 - "What Happens After Death? - Part 1"

This is episode five of THE PREACHER CAST, and today we'll consider this week's grand jury report which opens the Catholic Church abuse scandal further; look at five ways the #MeToo movement will affect the future of churches; we'll look at two ways pastoral abuse scandals have been handled (one badly, one handled well); then consider why you can't share the good news of the gospel without also sharing the bad. I also recommend a new DVD documentary pushing against the BioLogos "ministry's" claim that Adam was not historical. In the show's MAIN SEGMENT, we'll consider what the Bible says about what happens after death and why you should be ready to answer this question as a Christian.

Biblical Literary Forms

"Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep” (John 10:7).

The Bible uses many literary devices and forms, and if we are going to interpret the Bible literally (according to its letter and literature), we must become familiar with these. Today we will look at a few of the most common.

First of all, the Bible often uses the language of appearances, as when it says “the sun rises.” At such points, the literary form of the Bible is not that of a technical treatise, but of common speech. If someone showed up with a supposed letter from King Solomon and it said, “The horizon of the earth dropped to reveal the sun at 6:55 a.m., the fourteenth day of the month, Jerusalem Standard Time,” we would know such a document was a fake.

Second, while the Bible is often precise, it occasionally uses round numbers. An example of this is the estimate of 5,000 people who were fed by Jesus. It would be foolish to insist that exactly that many people were present at the event. If the newspaper says 15,000 people turned out for a ball game, do we say the paper is in error?

Third, the Bible sometimes uses hyperbole, or intentional exaggeration, in order to make a point. If it says “all Capernaum turned out” to hear Jesus, we are not to assume every single person, including sick and dying people, came out. It is the same as if we today said we went to a party and “everybody was there.”

Fourth, the Bible uses metaphor as a literary form. When Jesus says He is the door of the sheep, we are not supposed to take that in some crass physical sense. On the other hand, Jesus says of the communion bread, “This is My body.” The church has debated whether or not Jesus meant this as a pure metaphor.

Fifth, the Bible uses anthropomorphic language, describing God in human terms, as when it says God stretches forth His arm, etc. Accommodating Himself to our need, God describes Himself in human terms.

Remember the Bible must be interpreted in terms of its literary forms. When the Bible presents something as actually happening, then it happened. But when the Bible uses a figure of speech, we must be sensitive to it. Reread John 10:1–18. What figures of speech are found here?

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Literal Interpretation

"Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy" (Psalm 98:8).

People sometimes ask me, “you don’t interpret the Bible literally, do you?” The way this question is phrased assumes that surely I could not possibly be so ignorant as to take the Bible literally. I quickly answer, “Of course I do.” I say it as if obviously anybody who knows anything will interpret the Bible literally.

I go on to explain what this business of interpreting the Bible is all about. Literal interpretation means interpreting according to the “letter.” What does the text actually say? We should be seeking the plain sense of the meaning of the text when we come to the Bible. We are to interpret the Bible according to its letters and its literature, according to the way it is actually written.

Sometimes people think because the Bible is the Word of God, we dare not read it the same as other books. This inclination has led some people to seek all kinds of hidden meanings in the text. We have to say, though, the Bible is written in ordinary human language—nouns are nouns and verbs are verbs. The Bible is inspired and inerrant, but its meaning is found in its plain literal sense.

God did not inspire passages of Scripture many years ago to tell us answers totally unrelated to the literal meaning originally intended. We cannot, for instance, go into the Bible and find a statement that says the Word of God flies through the air (for instance, Zechariah 5:1), and then say this is a prophecy of radio and television. Certainly, God uses the Scripture to speak to us, but the message is always consistent with the literal interpretation.

Because the Bible is literature, literal interpretation means we have to be able to recognize the literary form in which parts of the Bible come to us. The Bible contains poetry, symbolic prophecy, historical narrative, letters, and so forth. Tomorrow we will begin to look at these forms.

Despite their popularity and easy reading, paraphrase editions of the Bible preserve less accurately the literary forms of Scripture. Precise interpretation, which can be difficult, becomes more so. If you use a paraphrase, consider also consulting major translations (NASB, KJV, NKJV, ESV) for further benefit.

SBG - Episode 9 - "The Transmission of the Bible"

Episode 9 - "The Transmission of the Bible" - Our host, Matthew Dowling, continues the discussion of God's revelation with an episode on the transmission of the Bible. We discuss the Bible's ancient history and how it came down to us today in a vast richness of manuscript evidence.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

What is Hermeneutics?

"And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself" (Luke 24:27).

When Jesus explained Scripture to the two disciples, He was interpreting the Scriptures. In fact, the Greek word Luke used in this passage is the word from which we get the word hermeneutics, the science of biblical interpretation. As we saw yesterday, there is only one meaning to the text of Scripture, though there are multitudes of implications and applications. The science of hermeneutics helps us to understand the objective messages of Scripture.

There are three major methods of interpretation used today. The classical method, used by Bible-believing scholars, is the grammatical-historical method. This method strives to discover the original meaning of the texts by studying the historical situation in which the events took place and were written. Thus, the grammatical-historical method seeks to bridge the gap between the time Scripture was written and when it is being interpreted.

The second approach, which developed among eighteenth- and nineteenth-century evolutionary scholars, is the “religious-historical” or "historical-critical" method. It assumes religion, along with everything else, is evolving from the simple to the complex. This school brings the evolutionary presupposition to Scripture and denies the Bible means what it says. For instance, when the Bible says Abraham worshiped one God, they contend that cannot be true. Monotheism, they say, cannot have evolved so early in history. The religious-historical method sets aside the statements of the text in favor of an overarching theory that the text is forced to fit.

The third approach, which developed in the twentieth century under the impact of existential philosophy, is the “existential” method. This method says that God speaks through the Bible to each person directly, regardless of what the text actually says and meant when it was written. This completely relativistic approach denies all absolutes and abiding principles.

Proper interpretation of Scripture demands that we have an understanding of the historical and cultural setting of the Bible. If you have not already done so, undertake a careful study of biblical history and culture in order to aid your interpretation of Scripture.