The Good News

Discussion of the Best News in the World, the Gospel of Jesus, and related topics

How to Interpret Scripture?

We are beginning a study in the Revelation of Jesus Christ and I was looking at resources for the study.  The Revelation is hard to understand and in my research I find that there are at least 5 approaches to interpreting the Book.   I also found some notes from a blogger I admire, Jolly Blogger, and want to give you some wisdom from him on how to interpret the Bible–not just the Revelation but all of it.  His blog was titled: Is Reformed Eschatology Hard to Understand?

Here is a clip from that blog I want to focus on.

<Quote>  First of all, it was based on the most basic and solid principle of hermeneutics and that is that Scripture interprets Scripture.

One of the key elements of the principle that Scripture interprets Scripture is that the clear interprets the unclear.  For most of my Christian life I had been trying to read and understand Revelation and Daniel’s 70 weeks in a standalone fashion.  I think it was Hoekema who said that one of the keys to his position was that he interpreted the book of Revelation in light of the rest of Scripture, not the other way around.

In other words, the book of Revelation is somewhat unclear, but throughout the Scripture there are many clear eschatological statements.  Rather than interpreting those clear passage in light of the unclear passages in Revelation, do it vice versa. <end quote>

Most lay people don’t know the basic and solid principles of hermeneutics, ie, the methods used to rightly interpret biblical texts.  Jolly Blogger gives us a few good interpretation pointers here.   The first is Scripture interprets Scripture.  With that concept no Scripture stands alone.  Proof texts become secondary or tertiary.  For difficult passages, context, background and other Scriptures are used to get to the correct interpretation.

Then my Jolly Blogger gives this illustration which is so appropo.

<Quote>But many people take a very straightjacketed approach to literalism which is closer to a sensus woodennes 2.

In one class I taught on eschatology my nemesis was a lady who was probably in her 60’s or 70’s who thought I was all wet and who questioned if I believed the bible.  At one point in the class I think we were talking about the locusts in Revelation and I was going through several potential understandings of the text.  We were about 10 or more weeks into the class and she had long since become exasperated with the drivel and error I had been trying to pass off as biblical teaching and on this day she had another meltdown and asked me why I just didn’t take it literally, I suppose meaning that these were going to be literal locusts.

I too was exasperated with her and said that I didn’t believe these were locusts for the same reason she didn’t believe we were justified by works, though the bible clearly teaches this.  She gave me a dumbfounded look, as I am sure you are doing now, but I repeated to her that the bible very clearly and literally teaches that we are justified by works.  The rest of the class was also getting a little worried, this being a presbyterian church and all.  I then quoted James 2:24 to her:

You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.
The Holy Bible  : New International Version. 1996, c1984 . Zondervan: Grand Rapids

So I asked her if she believed that a person is not justified by faith alone.  She didn’t.  I asked her why?  She fumbled around for a moment and I answered the question for her.  The reason she doesn’t believe that we are justified by works and not by faith alone is that there are many other Scriptures that factor into her understanding of justification and that influence her understanding of this particular text.  She would not allow this text to stand on its own, but took the rest of the Scriptures into account when interpreting this text.

Similarly, the reformed do not let the book of Revelation and the 70 weeks stand on their own, we interpret them in light of the rest of Scripture.  And, we interpret them according to their genre, usage, forms, etc..

But my point is that one of the big stumbling blocks is a misunderstanding of what constitutes the sensus literalis 1.

A second reason that I have frequently seen for not accepting the reformed view of eschatology is that it contradicts the teaching of many well respected and beloved teachers.  In that same class I was teaching another lady hung with the class for several weeks and finally dropped out.  When I asked her why she said she couldn’t answer my arguments, but she had been taught differently by a beloved pastor her whole life and couldn’t bring herself to think that he was wrong. <end quote>

I love these illustrations because they are very helpful in dealing with others in our church communities as we discuss scripture and their interpretation.   Realize also that I am not talking about application of a passage here,  only interpretation.

I want this out here because we all deal with a more “informed” set of non-believers today.   Most of the informed non-believers are “literalists.”   Many of the agnostics or atheists today are “literalists” to the point of being sensus woodennes 2.  They use one scripture pitted against another to “prove” there are contradictions in the Bible.  Of course, the perception is contradictions when one passage says one thing and another passage “appears” to contradict.  The point is that good hermeneutics must be applied to understand the meaning of some passages.  The classic example of incorrect interpretation of Scriptures is the three accounts of the resurrection of Jesus.  Because different details are included in each account in the Gospels, a cursory review by some lead them to conclude that these accounts are inaccurate or are not inspired.  That’s the conclusion when good methodology is not used to first understand and then interpret these passages.

For additional principles in interpreting Scripture  see here(Bible.org, Dr. James Davis) or here(Wayne Grudem) or here(R. C. Sproul) or here(Bible Interpretation–a collection of resources).

Notes:

  1. Additional explanation of sensus literalis (Analogia Scriptura).
  2. sensus woodennes special insight is needed to interpret this concept.   I believe it means off base or too rigid and becoming unuseful.

Debunking Stupid Statements about the Bible

I appreciate what Greg Gilbert has done to set the record straight about the Bible and its validity in today’s culture.   The Bible is still relevant to more than we realize.  Most people don’t realize its value to them and to those they love.

Greg wrote a piece which I am going to include below in response to a weekly tabloid

12_26_NSW_Bible_141222_15h30

Not the way we received the text of the Bible!

article on Christians.  A quote from the tabloid is relevant to the culture battles that exist today.

 

They are God’s frauds, cafeteria Christians who pick and choose which Bible verses they heed with less care than they exercise in selecting side orders for lunch. They are joined by religious rationalizers—fundamentalists who, unable to find Scripture supporting their biases and beliefs, twist phrases and modify translations to prove they are honoring the Bible’s words.

The good book is so misquoted it’s a sin!

America is being besieged by Biblical illiteracy.

Much of this seems true, especially the last two statements.

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The Darkness of Porn…the Light of the Gospel

I just read a piece by Denny Burk and it is about pornography consumption in the USA and it is not pretty.  He covered a recent disturbing article in Time magazine on the consumption of pornography in America.

The Time article was titled “Porn and the Threat to Virility” by Belinda Luscombe.

Denny did not link the article because the cover is too explicit.

Denny makes this quote from Ms. Luscombe:

A growing number of young men are convinced that their sexual responses have been sabotaged because their brains were virtually marinated in porn when they were adolescents. Their generation has consumed explicit content in quantities and varieties never before possible, on devices designed to deliver content swiftly and privately, all at an age when their brains were more plastic—more prone to permanent change—than in later life. These young men feel like unwitting guinea pigs in a largely unmonitored decade-long experiment in sexual conditioning.

Read more of this post

Evidence for the Existence of Jesus

 

See Leadership U for more data.

Look at 2:15 minutes in to get to the core arguments between the Infidel Guy and Dr. Ehrman.

40 Archaeology Facts

Evidence of people, places and times recorded in the Bible

Holy is the LORD

 

 

Historical Accuracy Of The Bible

The 1st 30 Minutes We Will Look At The 50 Artefacts Found Confirming What We Are Told, In The Bible…

Then A 3 Minute Montage of The 50 PEOPLE The Bible Mentions Confirmed, By Archaeology…  ( @ 32:30 minutes )

Followed By The Exodus, The Red Sea Crossing, And Mount Sinai…   ( @ 36:00 minutes )

PLEASE HELP THE VIDEO BE SEEN BY SHARING WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS, Thanks For Your Support…

Skeptics ridicule and historians mock, but the historical accuracy of the Bible continues to be confirmed by archeological finds.

Skeptics ridicule, and historians mock, but each time the archaeologist’s spade penetrates the soil of history they are silenced…

“It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or exact detail historical statements in the Bible.”

Did Israel Inhabit Egypt?

The journey is difficult but the results show that Hebrew relics can be found in Egypt.

Using the latest archaelogical evidence from the stables of Rameses ll to little-known ancient Egyptian texts, Egyptologist and Bible Archaeologist show that Israel did infact exist and had a presence in ancient Egypt. This is the 2003 documentary  “Who Was Moses?”

 

Dance With My Father

 

 

I Once was Lost, but now I’m Found

Six weeks ago, I was flipping discs in my usual practice spot here.DiscField

I threw 4 discs toward the trees.  I then went down and threw them in the reverse direction.   I watched the purple Diamond disc fly gently into the woods while the other three landed in the clear. I noted the speed and direction of the purple Diamond and thought it just made it into the edge of the wooded area next to the field.   That has happened many times before and I’ve been able to find every disc I have ever flipped in my practice area.

OK, I admit that early on in my “career” I flipped a yellow Mamba a winter ago and finally found him on the opposite side of the field I threw it.   How did that happen?   I don’t know.   We do have raccoons, coyotes and possums in the area.

I thought I had learned my lesson about disc colors.  I am red/green colorblind as is 8 % of the US male population.  That means for me that red and green discs are harder to find in green grass.   In the fall of the year and with falling leaves orange and pale yellow discs can be hard to find.  Overall, however, the disc colors to avoid for me are bright red and green.

Back to my lost Diamond.  I went to the woods where I saw the Diamond fly and I did not find the Diamond after looking for about 45 minutes.   Maybe I didn’t find it because it was cloudy and the light was low in the woods.

I went back the next day to search in better light and still did not find it.   I spent time in that part of the woods for 6 days because I knew we were going on vacation soon–no luck.

After vacation and while I flipped more discs in the field, I’d go by the part of the woods where I thought the purple Diamond landed.  No Diamond, no luck.

Poison Ivy In The WoodsBy this point I began going deeper into the woods were poison ivy had flourished.  I remember one morning when I headed into the poison ivy I began thinking about why I wanted to find this Diamond.  I had another red Diamond and had been using it to practice but I wanted the purple Diamond back.   Why did I want that Diamond?  I had a bag full of discs but longed for the purple Diamond.

The desire for the Diamond reminded me of Jesus.  Jesus had many sheep but He went after the one that was lost.   He momentarily neglected the safe sheep and went after the lost sheep; to find it no matter what it took!

That day I was like Jesus and I really wanted that purple Diamond.  But,  I did not find the purple Diamond.  No!

I’d go back to the woods for many day.  I followed the perceived path of the Diamond.  I analyzed whether he had the speed and height to sail over low-lying brush.  I surveyed the trees to see if he lodged on a low-hanging branch.  I’d swipe the ivy covering the ground to see if he might have slid under the leaves.

Today it has been 6 weeks since I lost the purple Diamond.   I was hitting golf balls today towards the trees where the purple Diamond had sailed.   I’ve hit many golf balls into those woods and of course I find some of the but many I do not find.   As I walked out of the woods  today, something caught my eye.  I saw reflected light for just an instance but it caused me to stop.   Could it be the purple Diamond?  It was!   My purple Diamond was lost but now he is found!   And, of course, he was right at the distance I’d thought he’d be in those woods.   The problem is that he had disguised himself amazingly well.

Can you see the disc?   He is there but he was hard to see.  I would not have seen him for a HiddenDiscmuch longer period except that the sunlight sparkled off the disc into my eye at the precise moment I passed by.

Just before I found the purple Diamond I had a thought.  “I don’t have to have that purple Diamond.  It really is okay if I don’t find it. No sweat!”

Within 10 minutes, I found the purple Diamond.

The story doesn’t end there.   I wish it had.

As I said before, golf discs have a predictable flight once you understand how to  control them.  The Diamond had a classic, beautiful ‘S’ flight and generally straight in the direction he is released.

I brought the purple Diamond up to the street end of my practice field and let him rip.  That’s right, I threw the little guy pretty hard.  He did not follow the normal straight-lined path.  The next sight I saw was the purple Diamond clipping low hanging leaves off the trees and right back in the woods!

“God you have a sense of humor,” I chuckled.  “You’re just testing me!”

This time the purple Diamond sailed into a side of the woods where I keep a huge brush pile.  I headed over quickly and sure enough, no purple Diamond that I could see. The purple Diamond did not appear to be in the brush pile.  Not in the high grass on the edge of the woods.  Not lying on the peach tree branches on the edge of the woods.  I must look deeper in the woods.   I head back into the woods.  He has got to be here, he did not go far.   Maybe I wasn’t meant to keep this disc.  Maybe I should just give it up and let him stay in the woods.

But alas, he didn’t go far.  He was in the woods and I found him in about 10 minutes.  He was not under leaves and pine straw as before.

There is no moral to this story.  Just fun for me.   If you throw discs, you are going to lose some, both temporarily and permanently.

My favorite discs are: driver: Innova Beast and Mamba, & Latitude 64 Diamond, mid range: Innova Leopard and Discraft Buzzz,  putter: Discraft Champion Pro D 150/170 gram Challenger.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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