The Christian and Church History

From Faith Pulpit, Summer 2015. Used by permission, all rights reserved.

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

As I study church history, 2 Timothy 3:16 and 17 is a comforting passage. When one studies the discipline of church history, many unsettling episodes present themselves. We often wonder how people could make the decisions they did, and even more, how they justified those decisions with the authorities they used.

We as Bible-believers have the benefit of going back to the divine source—the Word of God—as our authority. Whether we realize it or not, we are affected in the way we think by the events of the past. And it is true that no person or group can be completely isolated and not use their own personal understandings to interpret the Bible. Further, try as we might, we often struggle to understand the context of the Old Testament and even first-century Christianity.

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From the Archives: God Gave Us a Book

Can the supernatural and the natural realms talk together? Is communication possible between God and people? This crucial question polarized our nation’s founding fathers. All of the founders believed in a supernatural realm—God was a given. But a few of the founders insisted that God created the universe to run on its own without Him (a view known as Deism). For all practical purposes, these men dismissed the very possibility of communication between the natural and supernatural realms.

Since the early influences of Deism, American culture has been shaped by the anti-supernaturalist philosophies of biological evolution and secular humanism. Secularism is not merely anti-religious, although it is that. Secularism is, more fundamentally, an utter denial of the sacred and thus a disaffirmation of the indispensability of a supernatural realm—a supposition rendered reasonable by the theory of biological evolution. Whereas Deism was stuck with a Creator (albeit a silent one), evolutionism eliminated the notion of a Creator and completely eradicated the necessity of a supernatural realm. Secularism stands in at this point to assert what evolutionism suggested: supernaturalism is a myth.

It would seem that most Americans today embrace some form of evolutionism (fueled by evolutionism’s monopoly of the public education system), but few Americans are pure secularists. Surveys indicate that most Americans pray, and praying evidences at least a wishful hope in the existence of a supernatural realm (which goes far to explain the angst secularist educators suffer when public school students talk to God). Despite the inroads of Deism and secularism, many Americans still believe in a supernatural realm with which communication is possible. Read more about From the Archives: God Gave Us a Book

The Role of the Holy Spirit in Interpretation

The theological term most commonly used by theologians to express the role of the Holy Spirit in biblical understanding is illumination. While the term isn’t directly used of the Holy Spirit, the concept is present, for example in John 1:5 and 1:9, “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it… the true Light which coming into the world, enlightens every man.” In this context Jesus is the Light, and His enlightening or illumining work is accomplished with everyone.

But if Christ illumines everyone, to what extent does the Holy Spirit illumine? Does the Bible even teach that the Holy Spirit illumines, or is illumination by the Holy Spirit a theological rather than exegetical concept?

Three views

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The Preservation of Scripture: Its Process and Form

Originally posted January, 2010 as “Preservation: How and What?”

The doctrine of preservation of the Scriptures has been hotly debated in recent years. Much has been written and said, but most of the rhetoric on the subject has been closely connected to defending or rejecting one view or another on the translation issue. The result has often been that important foundational questions have been overlooked in a rush to get to conclusion A or B in the translation debate.

Among the neglected questions are these: (1) what process did God say He would use to preserve His word and (2) what form did He say that preserved word would take? Both of these are subsets of another neglected question: What does Scripture actually claim (and not claim) about it’s own preservation? Read more about The Preservation of Scripture: Its Process and Form

The Testimony of the Organic Unity of the Bible to Its Inspiration

(About this series)



The argument for the inspiration of the Bible which I am to present is that drawn from its unity. This unity may be seen in several conspicuous particulars, upon some of which it will be well to dilate.

1. THE UNITY IS STRUCTURAL. In the Book itself appears a certain archetypal, architectural plan. The two Testaments are built on the same general scheme. Each is in three parts: historic, didactic, prophetic; looking to the past, the present, and the future. Read more about The Testimony of the Organic Unity of the Bible to Its Inspiration

Discernment and Revelation, Part 1: Five Views

(From Think on These Things. Used by permission.)

Discernment, one would think, is an extremely positive quality. In a world with incalculable numbers of voices calling us to travel many different directions, discernment is invaluable. However, when used by those involved in spiritual formation, discernment is defined as the discipline that enables one to know when a person has supposedly heard the voice of God.

Spiritual formation leaders do not question that God speaks to us today apart from Scripture, but they do believe that since God is speaking there has to be a means whereby we can discern the voice of God from our own thoughts.

Adele Ahlberg Calhoun writes in her Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, “Discernment opens us up to listen to and recognize the voice and patterns of God’s direction in our lives.”1 Ruth Barton further explains, Read more about Discernment and Revelation, Part 1: Five Views