Rules of Affinity, Part 4: Negative Application Continued

Posted courtesy of Dr Reluctant. Catch up on the series so far.

1. In this piece I shall match up more theological beliefs with these “Rules of Affinity” in order to show the negative use of those rules. I have tried to find respected sources to interact with so as not to be accused of soft-targeting. This is from G. K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, 32:

Adam was to be God’s obedient servant in maintaining both the physical and spiritual welfare of the garden abode, which included dutifully keeping evil influences from invading the arboreal sanctuary…(my emphasis)

Beale gives Adam a responsibility to guard the original creation from “evil influences.” But there is nothing in Genesis 2 or 3 which encourages this (the verb shamar in 2:15 can mean “guard” or “protect” and could have the serpent in mind, but nothing is said about “influences” plural). Certainly, God allowed the serpent into the Garden, but the only warning given to the man is the prohibition in Gen. 2:16-17. The serpent tempts Eve and Eve tempts Adam. It is Adam’s capitulation to his wife which is given as the reason he disobeyed God’s command (see Gen. 3:17. cf. 1 Tim. 2:14). Could Adam have ejected Satan out of Eden? Where is that indicated? And what of this talk of a plurality of “evil influences”? One will look in vain for such things in the texts Beale employs. We thus give the statement above a C4 rating.

Accordingly, essential to Adam and Eve’s raising of their children was spiritual instruction in God’s word that the parents themselves were to remember and pass on. (33)

Beale is writing about Adam and Eve before the Fall. Where does he get this “essential” teaching from? From inferring it on the basis of the inferred proposition above. (Notice that if this were true it would strongly imply that if they didn’t pass on their remembrances each generation would be threatened with spiritual death and the curse!). This adds a condition that God did not command. This is a C5 inferential statement.

Just as God had achieved heavenly rest after overcoming the creational chaos…

Neither the text of Genesis 1 and 2, nor any other Bible text, speaks even indirectly of God having to achieve “heavenly rest” by “overcoming…creational chaos.” The “rest” of Genesis 2:4 simply indicates the cessation (shabbat—“to make an end,” etc), “of all the work which He had done.” That is, the work of the previous six days. This “overcoming chaos” language comes from pagan creation myths being read back onto the Genesis narrative. C5.

…and constructing the beginning of his creational temple…

There is no text of Scripture which even comes close to describing the pristine creation as a “creational temple.” It may be argued that the aggregate testimony of several other passages leads to such an inference, which would make it a C3. But it is better to speak in terms of the Tabernacle, and especially the Temple, as “remembrances” of Eden (see Allen P. Ross, Recalling the Hope of Glory, chs. 4 and 5. Ross is far less speculative than Beale.), in which case this statement could well qualify as a C3. In the “Rules” we are putting forth, a C3 is not strong enough to build upon, even if it may well be true.

…so Adam presumably would achieve unending rest after overcoming the opposition of the serpent and the opposing temptation to sin and extending the boundaries of the glorious Eden temple around the entire earth. (40)

Beale is trying to parallel Adam’s function with one he thinks he sees in God at creation. But God is nowhere said to be “overcoming creational chaos.” Indeed, this way of wording it makes it appear that the amorphous world of Gen. 1:2 was somehow not good. Beale’s presumption, which is common in covenant theology, is just that—a presumption. Another instance of tying one inference to another without solid biblical evidence. C5! Later on in the book he has two whole chapters on the church being Israel which are based almost entirely on inferences drawn from other inferences, and with no engagement with contrary views. As we have shown, this is not the way fundamental doctrines are formulated and supported (see part 2).

2. Moving in a different direction, let us examine a typical assertion by someone who professes to speak in tongues. It usually goes something like this: “God has given me a prayer-language through which I draw closer to Him. This is not a human language, but like an angelic tongue.”

Then the scriptures are produced for each assertion:

For one who speaks in a tongue [meaning “language,” as in the phrase “he speaks in his native tongue”] does not speak to men, but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries. But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church. (1 Cor. 14:1-4 NAS)

The reason the tongue-speaker speaks not to men, but to God is not here a good reason. It is because “no man understands him.” This becomes more acute once 14:21 is read: “So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe, but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers, but to those who believe” (1 Cor. 14:22).

Unless one is going to cause a major contradiction with this plain declarative C1 text (the only one which explicitly tells us what tongues were for) it is not possible to hold that God has bestowed a private “unknown” prayer-language. The negative connotation of verses 2 and 4 plus this statement in verse 22 make the “prayer-language” assertion look heavy on special-pleading.

This is only compounded by 1 Corinthians 13:1-3:

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Each of these “ifs” are not actualities but exaggerated hypotheticals. Paul is not saying he speaks a supposed “angelic language.” All angels in scripture appear to speak human languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek). Hence “the tongues of men and of angels.” Paul did not give his body to be burned (v.3b). He did not understand “all mysteries and knowledge.” (v.2). Therefore, the proposition above does not hold water. It is a case of an experience searching for a biblical excuse. Given the number of inferences needed to produce it, it must be assigned a C5 in this system.

3. Consider this statement:

From the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, God appointed the seventh day of the week to be the weekly sabbath; and the first day of the week ever since, to continue to the end of the world, which is the Christian sabbath.—Westminster Shorter Catechism, Answer to Question 59: “Which day of the seven hath God appointed to be the weekly sabbath?

The scriptural backing for this answer is Gen. 2:2-3; 1 Cor. 16:1-2, and Acts 20:7. The first clause appeals to Genesis 2, which does say that “God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” It does not say anything about a “weekly sabbath” or the length of its observation. As it stands, therefore, there is a large “propositional distance” between the verse and the teaching it is being used to bolster. Thus, the clause is loaded with unsupported human inference and cannot get more than a C4. Exodus 20:11 might have been drafted in to help; in which case the clause, though requiring more corroboration, could scrape a C3 ranking (Of course, old-earthers who believe the “day” in Gen. 2:2-3 was millions of years long, and/or is still in continuance, would have more explaining to do and would thus weaken the link between the two passages!).

As proof for the proposition that the first day of the week is the “Christian sabbath” which will “continue till the end of the world” we get 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 which says nothing about the sabbath and is about “the collection for the saints,” which was to be done “on the first day of the week”—presumably because that is when the saints met. Acts 20:7 refers to Paul and others coming together to break bread on the first day of the week at Troas. Again, there is nothing in the verse to support any teaching about a Christian sabbath to be observed till world’s end. As the 1 Corinthians passage is speaking about something totally different than what the Westminster Divines use it for their use of it ranks a C5. It is an inference based on another inference which goes in search of a biblical pretext. The Acts 20 usage gets a C4 since it does at least refer to coming together to break bread and hear the teaching of the Word.

It could be that there are better texts with closer affinity to the “Answer” to Q.59 which could be called upon. The negative application of the Rules of Affinity help one to reexamine this question. Utilizing the Grid this way can stop over-confident announcements that “this is what the Bible says.”

4. But what about a verse like 1 Corinthians 15:29?

Otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?

This is a proof-text used by Mormons for their practice of baptism by proxy for dead relatives and such. Such baptisms were also practiced by Gnostic leaning groups, at least in the second century (See Craig L. Blomberg, 1 Corinthians, NIVAC, 299). The fact is we simply have no idea what this baptism was about. The Apostle does not approve of it, but he does argue from its current use, whether inside or outside of the Church we cannot tell. Because of this vagueness the best initial rating for the statement “some people, whether Christians or not, we cannot tell, were baptized for those who had died, and Paul argues that the practice would be pointless if the resurrection was not physical” would be a C2. Any assertion that people today ought to follow this practice would push the confines of Paul’s statement and could not rise above a C3. Once any doctrinal explanation is introduced for baptism by proxy such an “explanation” would rank a C4. Therefore, any practical use this verse could be put to would rate at C4 and would thus be very doubtful.

5. I have been asked about how the seven dispensations common in Dispensationalism fare under these rules. I tend to agree with Charles Ryrie’s view in his book Dispensationalism (1995) that those stewardships called (whether properly or not) “Law,” “Church,” and “Millennium” can be arrived at easily enough (see especially chapter 3 of Ryrie’s book). I would give them a C2 or C3. The same can be said for some “dispensation,” rather minimally defined, before the Fall in Eden and before the Flood. Each of the proposed seven dispensations would merit at least a C3. Of course, what use they are for composing a system of theology is another point altogether!

[node:bio/paul-henebury body]

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Caleb S's picture

I have read the application with regard to the first of the five points, and it has immediately raised at least one red flag in my mind.

First, I must raise a disclaimer. I made a few comments in the previous installment, and I quit commenting because of two reasons. (1) I did not have the time, and (2) I was consistently getting views attributed to me that I never stated or held. I just don't have the time to keep doing damage control all the time. So, with that said, I'm jumping back into the discussion (perhaps unwisely), but nevertheless I'm jumping back in, and it may be exceedingly brief. I would appreciate it if my words were not read into all the time. Thanks.

Second, this point will actually deal with something in the opening article. The issue that I would like to address is the issue of "historical context". The opening article seems to be critiquing based upon an a-historical view of a literal hermeneutic (or at least "less" history than Beale's) rather than a historical-grammatical view. Because of this, the tendency is to cast the discussion once again as covenant theology error. I'm referring to this statement.

Quote:
But God is nowhere said to be “overcoming creational chaos.” Indeed, this way of wording it makes it appear that the amorphous world of Gen. 1:2 was somehow not good. Beale’s presumption, which is common in covenant theology, is just that—a presumption.

Now, this may be truly something from covenant theology, and my point here may very well be demolished by furnishing the necessary tie from covenant theology to "overcoming creational chaos". I would only point out that there are covenant theologians who are very much against the above interpretation. Van Til would certainly be one, as I am certain that he was very much against the introduction of "chance" into a biblical worldview. His piece, "Why I Believe In God," should be sufficient to support this statement. He was very much in favor of God's sovereign control of all things. There is no room in his theology for "chance". While not explicitly rebutted by Van Til, I do think that it is safe to say that he (a covenant theologian) would be very opposed to such a concept. The point being this, tossing around the words "covenant theology" in a negative way at whim is not good; something needs to reining that it a bit more.

And this brings me to the point that what may very well be at issue here is rather your version of a literal method void of those historical elements that Beale is bringing into the discussion. Perhaps calling your position "a-historical" is overstated. However, it is not overstated to say that you are not bringing into the discussion the same historical influences that Beale is bringing.

Moving closer to the point, the Pentateuch was not written in a vacuum, nor was it written in our day and age. It was written in a different time period, which had a different mental context. (This is one of my big critiques of the typical view of "literal" as being normative) The people of that day and age had a different worldview. "How different" may be up for some debate. However, it was not our norm!

The opening post makes the following critique regarding the issue of "creational chaos".

Quote:
This “overcoming chaos” language comes from pagan creation myths being read back onto the Genesis narrative.
Well, that is a convenient statement to make. It sure saves a lot of work. If you had said that תֹ֙הוּ֙ וָבֹ֔הוּ (Gen 1:2 WTT) , when searched in the use of the OT, has a typical connotation found in situations of barrenness (like a desert) and lifelessness, then I would have taken your words more seriously. But you can't just dismiss historical details as being irrelevant by just the wave of the hand. It seems that what is really at issue is that you don't take into account the historical issues that Beale is taking into account. Also, the reason why they see "creational chaos" is that they see a parallel of sorts between the common understanding of Ancient Near Eastern (hereafter abbreviated ANE) culture with the creation account. It is common in ANE culture to view God as combating a sea monster or overcoming the chaos of the sea, and so the interpreter takes this into the water elements in the creation account. Also, I think that the Hebrew words above have a close "affinity" to the name of a sea monster. Therefore, people make the connection in that way, or that is how I crudely understand it. So, while your comment "may" be true; it does not deal with the issues that those interpreters are dealing with; and so it largely just looks like you are just flippantly hand-waving the relevant historical data away.

Here is another example. The following is your response to Beale's statement about creation being a temple.

Quote:
There is no text of Scripture which even comes close to describing the pristine creation as a “creational temple.” It may be argued that the aggregate testimony of several other passages leads to such an inference, which would make it a C3. But it is better to speak in terms of the Tabernacle, and especially the Temple, as “remembrances” of Eden (see Allen P. Ross, Recalling the Hope of Glory, chs. 4 and 5. Ross is far less speculative than Beale.), in which case this statement could well qualify as a C3. In the “Rules” we are putting forth, a C3 is not strong enough to build upon, even if it may well be true.

Again, it seems that you don't want to take into account or make the same historical connections that Beale is taking into account. Again, the author of the Pentateuch did not write the books in a historical vacuum, nor did he write the books in what we would consider "normal" according to our standards. The books were written with an ANE view of history. Beale and others have investigated the creation account (ch 1-2) and have found words that have strong connections to temple. Further, it is common for the ANE person to have viewed creation as God's setting up His temple. I must confess, at this point, that I am certainly going on hearsay. A friend of mine is working on a paper over Genesis 1-3 and its connection to a great number of things. I also vaguely remember reading Hill and Walton's books "OT Introduction" or "OT Today", and they wrote something similar. The point here is that the rules of affinity need to take into account a much more nuanced view of literalness. While Beale may very well be taking a "literal" view of the words of Genesis according to an ANE mindset, you seem to be taking a "literal" view of the words of Genesis void of the historical context that he is bringing to the table.

Restatement and Summary: I agree with you that "creational chaos" is not a good thing, but I disagree with the way that you dealt with it. Further, I really think that your view of "literal" (upon which the whole structure of discerning affinity is based) needs a bit more clarification to relevantly critique Beale using the rules; the clarification would be to adequately deal with how "literal" is impacted by history (namely the temporal worldview affecting elements that affect language and how it is understood).

Those are just a few opening thoughts. I'll go ahead and read the other 4 points now.

Caleb S's picture

Please allow me to give another example of the rules of affinity. I will makes some statements about the use of English phrases. I will present the phrase, and then I will make a statement about it. Then, at the end some observations will be made.

(1) "to twist your arm"
-Forcing

(2) "to beat a dead horse"
-revisiting an already over-discussed topic

(3) "to bite your head off"
-He's a bit volatile right now.

(4) "to bend over backwards"
-I'm trying the best I can.

(5) "to chill out"
-You need to regain a calm rational state of mind.

So, according to the rules of affinity, how do my statements measure up to what was stated? I will make a few observations. My statements about the phrases did not correspond to a literal sense of the words. To support this statement, it is necessary to "at least try" to think like a foreigner trying to learn the English language. If I'm a foreigner, and I hear "bend over backwards", then I'm going to be prone to read that in a literal way, and I would be wrong. It does not mean to literally bend over backwards. It is a metaphor! Its meaning goes beyond the literal depiction of the words themselves. And this last sentence is a nuance that I think that the Rules of Affinity need to take into account. Sometimes, the meaning of a word, phrase, sentence, etc goes beyond the literal or surface meaning of the words. In English, this is so obvious that it is intuitive; however, it may not be as obvious when dealing with a document written thousands of years ago to a different culture. I'm not saying that we cannot understand the meaning; all that I'm saying is that our understanding of "literal" as we use it to critique various statements, needs to be a bit more careful and precise.

So according to an overly wooden view of literalness, then my statements would not be on the C1 level. However, if "literal" is nuanced to include non-literal language (when then is it still called "literal"?), then my statements would be on the C1 level.

Paul Henebury's picture

Caleb,

I see you are back again and with the same hang-ups. I shall have to content myself with this initial reply for now. You say you don't wish to be misrepresented, and I shall try not to do so by taking you at your own words. But you have again misunderstood the Rules of Affinity and misrepresented me. You attempt to link the RoA with your view of wooden literalness, and then appear to want to hog-tie me with it. Once again I am measuring affinity between the theological propositions and the texts used to prove them. Where outside information not found in the text of scripture (in this case ANE parallels available to very few interpreters in History) is deemed necessary to come to an understanding of a proposition, the "Rules" disclose what is going on. "Literalness" does not come into it aside from the fact that where there is close affinity between text - say "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth," and proposition, say "God created everything," the Rules demonstrate this "affinity" I have pointed out to you that all the fundamental doctrines display this kind of affinity.

Now, this is beside the point, but like many objectors to the literal sense you represent it as not being sensitive to figures of speech. Notice you translate your examples of figures of speech into ideas to be taken "literally." This can be done with biblical texts and theological propositions dependent on them. A good example of this would be anthropomorphism.

But Beale has to rely on extra-biblical materials to explain his proposition. You appear to think that Gen. 1:2 can be related to "creational chaos." (?) Quite what the world as "unformed and unfilled" has to do with e.g., Marduk overcoming Tiamat and creating from her I don't know. Many OT scholars would not agree that the idea of chaos is in Gen. 1:2, but that of preparation. Those OT scholars who do will often display an alarming propensity to judge the Bible by extraneous sources. You do not like what I say about covenant theology. Well, I'm far from being the only one. But I might have objected to some proposals of dispensationalism and perhaps you would not have objected? But Beale is a covenant theologian and I have consistently seen assumptions treated like facts in his and other CT's works. The Van Til reference leads us astray I think.

But that is a little off-subject. The text of Genesis does not support Beale's use of it. He needs ANE documents. You say I'm interpreting in a historical vacuum. But I'm not interpreting at all. I'm measuring affinity! As the next number will point out, the "Rules" do not take the place of Grammatico-Historical Hermeneutics (or any other hermeneutics for that matter). Thus, your argument is misdirected.

Your position is that hermeneutics will appeal to ANE parallels. They may or may not. Whether ANE parallels illuminate Scripture (they surely don't interpret it), and to what extent is an ongoing discussion (I even alluded to the fact that A. Ross differed from Beale's use of parallels in his less adventurous treatment of creation as a "temple."). I rated Ross's more conservative treatment (i.e. it stayed closer to the wording of the biblical text) a C3. Beale more speculative and ANE dependent treatment merited C4-C5. That is what the Rules of Affinity brought out.

From my perspective it appears that if you can equate the "Rules" with "literal interpretation" you can dispense with them. You certainly harp on about literal interpretation as if that is your goal. Maybe not, but you are clearly averse to bringing a doctrinal proposal before the "Rules" to show how they fail to work. As I told you before, ones hermeneutical presuppositions do not effect the outcome, but do show themselves up in the Grid. You admit Beale uses ANE parallels to interpret Scripture but then want to avoid the resultant distance that arises from inferring from an outside source.

This is an aside, but your argument also seems to recommend that we scout around in extra-biblical sources to interpret the Bible. What about the sufficiency and clarity of Scripture?

I shall try to say a bit more tomorrow, but you need to drop this equating of the RoA with "literalness."

Your brother,

Paul H.

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Paul, passing this one on from from http://sharperiron.org/comment/44408#comment-44408 ]JLS in the Forum Revamp thread :

Quote:
...one possible question for Paul Henebury. I have really elnjoyed his "Rules of Affinity" articles. I also have a "pet peeve" with the sloppy or nonexistent support people find for their positions. Am I the only guy that just does not see the Bride of Christ TAUGHT in Scropture. I have no problem with the image. But I don't see it supopirted or proved by the usual passages cited. Would it be fair to rank that idea as a C4 or 5 concept?
JLS

For my part... the decisive factor in whether "Bride of Christ" is C1-5 is what's being asserted about the Bride.
That there is a "Bride of Christ" is evident Rev. 21.2, 2Cor.11.2, John 3:29-30.
That these refer to the church is less direct, but a little logic gets you there pretty fast. Hard to see how 2Cor.11.2 and Eph.5:25-26 could be taken otherwise. I'd be inclined to call it C2.
But the claim some make that Bride is only Baptists... is there a C9? Biggrin

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Even though Paul's a passionate defender of dispensationalism, the Affinity concept is not a dispensational concept. It just looks at one aspect of relationship between assertion and text.

Surely we can agree that texts have varying levels of directness in relation to the assertions we make based on them.

So even if one grants a historical-theological factor in interpreting these texts (which everyone does in varying degrees), the historical-theological factor is a separate question from the affinity question. In the case of really strongly historical-theological factoring in the interpretive process, I suspect some would be willing to frankly acknowledge that though some of these theological positions have a distant affinity to their texts, that doesn't weaken them.

But I don't want attribute that idea to you if isn't your view. It would be interesting to explore how you see that, though.

But a claim can have very distant (or even no) affinity to a text and still be true. I have no Scriptures saying that I'm sitting in my chair typing a post, but I'm quite sure that's what I'm doing. (Of course, I'd never call where I'm sitting "theology," but my point is that affinity and certainty are not precisely the same thing)

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Caleb S's picture

Paul Henebury wrote:
You attempt to link the RoA with your view of wooden literalness, and then appear to want to hog-tie me with it.
My attempt was to critique a potential misuse or misunderstanding of the RoA. That was the reason why I brought up the issue of wooden literalness. It was never my argument that RoA necessarily implied a woodenly literal approach. Nor did I try to hog-tie you with it. I have been try to make a few points that demonstrate that measuring the affinity of something is not quite as simple as it may seem.

Allow me to explain a bit more. When you measure the affinity of something to something else, then you must "know" the meaning of both. However, knowing the meaning is intricately tied up into issue of hermeneutics. And issues of hermeneutics are also tied to one's theology. And then we have come virtually full circle, where we are trying to test and see if one's theology measures up to what Scripture says.

Again, I'll explain again. In order to measure the affinity of a statement with the Scripture supporting it, then you must know what the Scripture says. You must know its meaning. However, meaning can be conveyed in many different ways. Meaning can be conveyed through the use of metaphor; the examples have already been given. However, if in one's test of affinity, one did not know that metaphor was being employed, then a faulty measure will result. Likewise, people's meaning are intricately tied to their culture. For example, people sometimes (in internet conversations) can read into "election" passages their own democratic America. We the people elect the president. An election is by definition something done by the will of the people (or so we hope to some extent). However, it would be extremely wrong to critique a historical Arminian or Calvinist view of election with that standard. The cultural definition of the term would cause one to misunderstand the term, and so the measurement of the affinity would be significantly off. THIS IS EXCEEDINGLY COMMONPLACE in discussions over Calvinism and Arminianism. The Arminian by a certain understanding of affinity will say that there are simply no verses that support Calvinism, and the Calvinist will say that there are simply no verses that support Arminianism. It should be quite clear that both are employing something else when they measure the others statements as to their affinity to Scripture. However, it is easy to see the reason for the difference because both are taking into their hermeneutic different assumptions or presuppositions. At any rate, it is not quite so simple as to produce labels representing affinity distance.

I agree that the RoA are useful and helpful, and I have never disparaged their use. However, their use is a bit more complicated than one may assume, and that has been my point all along.

Quote:
Once again I am measuring affinity between the theological propositions and the texts used to prove them.
And that is what I've been dealing with, even though you say that I'm misrepresenting you.

Quote:
Where outside information not found in the text of scripture (in this case ANE parallels available to very few interpreters in History) is deemed necessary to come to an understanding of a proposition, the "Rules" disclose what is going on.
But that is precisely the question. Is it outside information? Is it possible to make such a clean bifurcation between the text and the culture and mindset in which it was produced? Are we to simply ignore the human element inherent in enscripturation?

Again, the statement here seems a bit naive, for you have to know the "meaning" of the text at issue in order to measure the affinity, and arriving at the meaning must necessarily involve issue of interpretation and hermeneutics, when then brings us back to the issue of how significant the historical context plays into arriving at the meaning of the text.

Quote:
"Literalness" does not come into it aside from the fact that where there is close affinity between text - say "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth," and proposition, say "God created everything," the Rules demonstrate this "affinity" I have pointed out to you that all the fundamental doctrines display this kind of affinity.
And I agreed completely with the fundamental doctrines section. But again, how are we discerning "meaning"? In your example one could easily point to the fact that you assumed "heavens and earth" to be representative of everything. That is the words "heavens and earth" must "mean" something more than the mere words themselves. There are rhetorical devices where both ends of a spectrum are presented to include all things in between them. Then "heavens and earth" would include both the earth and the heavens and everything between them. However, if one is going a very literalistic rout, then heavens and earth may not include "everything" depending upon how rigidly the term "heavens" is understood. Is it the "sky"? The Hebrew word could be translated that way. It could be a singular heaven because the word can be taken singularly or plural. In short, measuring the affinity of even "heavens and earth" to "everything" may not be as simple as envisioned in the first place.

Quote:
Now, this is beside the point, but like many objectors to the literal sense you represent it as not being sensitive to figures of speech.
The potential is certainly there when the use of the term literal may exclude the non-literal from some people's minds. My critique there is nothing more than my wish that we would use words that are more precise and not conflated into meaning everything under the sun.

Quote:
Notice you translate your examples of figures of speech into ideas to be taken "literally." This can be done with biblical texts and theological propositions dependent on them. A good example of this would be anthropomorphism.
Yes, and the allegorical approach takes the allegory into a literal sense, and so does the spiritualizing of the words. They are all literal; everything is literal. We are all literal, and now "literal" differentiates nothing. Here, I'm just reacting to an abuse of the term that I've seen elsewhere, not necessarily from you, Dr. Henbury.

Quote:
But Beale has to rely on extra-biblical materials to explain his proposition.
And that is precisely the question. Does he? Is the historical culture so divorced from the text of Scripture that you can say such a thing? What meaning then does "historical" grammatical approach to Scripture have?

Caleb S's picture

Quote:
You appear to think that Gen. 1:2 can be related to "creational chaos."
False, I gave my reason for not seeing it as related; it is an improper relation because one would have to use the words quite divorced from their common use in order to accommodate a supposed historical parallel.

Quote:
(?) Quite what the world as "unformed and unfilled" has to do with e.g., Marduk overcoming Tiamat and creating from her I don't know.
You are presupposing that your English translation is the correct meaning here, thus you are not seeing the connection. However, if you were reading the Hebrew, then you would see the similarity. Howbeit, the similarity is not sustainable.

Quote:
Many OT scholars would not agree that the idea of chaos is in Gen. 1:2, but that of preparation. Those OT scholars who do will often display an alarming propensity to judge the Bible by extraneous sources.
Well that is nice, but what are their reasons? That is where my points have been hitting.

Quote:
You do not like what I say about covenant theology. Well, I'm far from being the only one. But I might have objected to some proposals of dispensationalism and perhaps you would not have objected? But Beale is a covenant theologian and I have consistently seen assumptions treated like facts in his and other CT's works. The Van Til reference leads us astray I think.
The point that I made, and you are skipping over, is that you need to connect the covenant theology to the aberrant view in a better fashion. All that I see is a gross non-sequitar. He may be a covenant theologian, but what of his "covenant theologianness" makes the connection necessary? What I have pointed out makes the connection not at all necessary, for it may very well be a different point all-together. The connection could rather be that Beale has a different view of the historical impact of enscripturated culture elements than you do. Now, then this has nothing at all to do with covenant theology, unless you can connect that different view of history with covenant theology.

Quote:
But that is a little off-subject. The text of Genesis does not support Beale's use of it. He needs ANE documents. You say I'm interpreting in a historical vacuum. But I'm not interpreting at all. I'm measuring affinity! As the next number will point out, the "Rules" do not take the place of Grammatico-Historical Hermeneutics (or any other hermeneutics for that matter). Thus, your argument is misdirected.
I took the liberty of underlining your words here. I believe this to be the crux of the disagreement. You are saying that you are not interpreting at all; you are just measuring affinity. However, I must disagree. You must know the meaning of the words themselves (from Scripture) in order to measure the affinity between them and the theological statement made about them. And you cannot know the meaning of the words themselves apart from hermeneutic considerations. You say that my point is another matter and misdirected; however, I completely beg to differ. I cannot see how you can measure affinity apart from possessing the meaning of the text, and I cannot see how you can possess the meaning of the text apart from hermeneutic considerations. If there is "one" paragraph that you respond to, then please let it be this one.

Quote:
Your position is that hermeneutics will appeal to ANE parallels. They may or may not.
Agreed. However, you can't just handwave the parallels away; they have to be argued against. And that was my point.

Quote:
Whether ANE parallels illuminate Scripture (they surely don't interpret it), and to what extent is an ongoing discussion (I even alluded to the fact that A. Ross differed from Beale's use of parallels in his less adventurous treatment of creation as a "temple."). I rated Ross's more conservative treatment (i.e. it stayed closer to the wording of the biblical text) a C3. Beale more speculative and ANE dependent treatment merited C4-C5. That is what the Rules of Affinity brought out.
And yet, the discussion never dealt with the issue of how connected meaning is to historical context, and that was my point. And apart from meaning, then affinity cannot be judged.

Quote:
From my perspective it appears that if you can equate the "Rules" with "literal interpretation" you can dispense with them.
This is not my point. The application of the rules requires meaning, which requires hermeneutical considerations, which gets us back to the issue of how we arrive at meaning. Then, literal interpretation becomes hugely significant.

Quote:
You certainly harp on about literal interpretation as if that is your goal.
That is not my goal, nor was it ever.

Quote:
Maybe not, but you are clearly averse to bringing a doctrinal proposal before the "Rules" to show how they fail to work.
That has never been my argument. Nor am I averse to their use. I'm just trying to play them out a bit more fully to make one use them more cautiously and responsibly.

Quote:
As I told you before, ones hermeneutical presuppositions do not effect the outcome, but do show themselves up in the Grid. You admit Beale uses ANE parallels to interpret Scripture but then want to avoid the resultant distance that arises from inferring from an outside source.
Once again, you have made a statement that I completely disagree with. That is actually good, for it helps us to get to the heart of the issues. You say that "ones hermeneutical presuppositions do not effect the outcome" of the RoA; I must strongly disagree. One hermeneutical presuppositions absolutely do affect the outcome, for they determine how you will arrive at the text's meaning, and apart from knowing the meaning of the text, then you cannot measure a theological statement's affinity to it.

And again, is there distance from the outside source? Is it really outside, or is it in the mind of the one writing the documents of Scripture, and thus very connected to the meaning of the words that he is writing?

Quote:
This is an aside, but your argument also seems to recommend that we scout around in extra-biblical sources to interpret the Bible. What about the sufficiency and clarity of Scripture?
Here you raise an excellent point. What about the sufficiency and clarity of Scripture? When I read that yesterday, I immediately thought about "The Art of Biblical History". It is a book that I read a while back, and I'm forgetting the author at the moment, but he made a good point about this very issue. But unfortunately, I cannot find the book!! And now I have more questions about who took it, or where did I misplace it, or who did I loan it to and forgot, etc.

At any rate, I think that we can agree that not all portions of Scripture are equally clear. Otherwise, Peter would not have stated about Paul what he did (some things hard to be understood). While I agree that my response here (on this point) has much to be desired, I hope to hit this a bit more thoroughly in the future.

Quote:
I shall try to say a bit more tomorrow, but you need to drop this equating of the RoA with "literalness."

Your brother,

Paul H.


Did I ever equate the two?

christian cerna's picture

i agree completely. the tongues given as a spiritual gift, were real, human languages, foreign to the person who had the gift. being real, human tongues, they could be understood by any person who spoke that language. this was a sign of God's spiritual power, for the unbelievers would know that these people did not normally speak these languages.

Caleb S's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Even though Paul's a passionate defender of dispensationalism, the Affinity concept is not a dispensational concept. It just looks at one aspect of relationship between assertion and text.

Surely we can agree that texts have varying levels of directness in relation to the assertions we make based on them.

So even if one grants a historical-theological factor in interpreting these texts (which everyone does in varying degrees), the historical-theological factor is a separate question from the affinity question. In the case of really strongly historical-theological factoring in the interpretive process, I suspect some would be willing to frankly acknowledge that though some of these theological positions have a distant affinity to their texts, that doesn't weaken them.

But I don't want attribute that idea to you if isn't your view. It would be interesting to explore how you see that, though.

But a claim can have very distant (or even no) affinity to a text and still be true. I have no Scriptures saying that I'm sitting in my chair typing a post, but I'm quite sure that's what I'm doing. (Of course, I'd never call where I'm sitting "theology," but my point is that affinity and certainty are not precisely the same thing)


-Yes, we agree that texts have varying levels of directness in relation to the assertions we make based on them.
-I am calling into question the assumption that the historical-theological factor is a separate question from the affinity question. They are intricately connected.
-Agreed, a claim can still be true given a very low affinity to Scripture.

Paul Henebury's picture

Caleb,

Although you have taken a long time to say it, I think I begin to grasp your point. But I still don't accept it, and I still think you have a motive lurking behind your objections. I'm sorry but I find you extremely hard to pin down. You seem to me to say contradictory things:

I said you seem to think Gen. 1:2 can be related to "creational chaos." You reply,

Quote:
False, I gave my reason for not seeing it as related; it is an improper relation because one would have to use the words quite divorced from their common use in order to accommodate a supposed historical parallel.

But then you also write, after I point out that "Beale has to rely on extra-biblical materials to explain his proposition."

Quote:
And that is precisely the question. Does he? Is the historical culture so divorced from the text of Scripture that you can say such a thing?

You don't agree with Beale but you think he gets his view from the text! I am quite sure he does not, and I would be fascinated to see you prove that he does. But what you say next is decisive:

Quote:
What meaning then does "historical" grammatical approach to Scripture have?

Well, I think you badly mistake the meaning of "historical" in grammatical-historical (G-H). It does not refer to scanning ANE documents and archaeological discoveries to use to interpret the Bible. And for a very good reason. They are partial, debatable, and non-inspired. "Historical" explanation, in the sense of G-H hermeneutics, cannot be done via the vagaries of historical research, but via the biblical context.

Note well:

Quote:
"Certainly,the more an interpretation depends on inferences (as opposed to explicit statements in the text), the less persuasive it is. If a historical reconstruction disturbs (rather than reinforces) the apparent meaning of a passage, we should be skeptical of it...A good criterion for assessing the validity as well as the value that a theory [i.e. a historical reconstruction ] may have for exegesis is to ask this question: Could the interpretation of a particular passage be supported even if we did not have the theory? A good interpretation should not depend so heavily on inferences that it cannot stand on its own without the help of a theoretical construct. A theory about the historical situation may help us to become sensitive to certain features of the text that we might otherwise ignore, but it is the text that must be ultimately determinative."
- Moises Silva in Walter Kaiser & Moises Silva, Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics (2nd edition), 179. Emphasis in original.

The data used by Beale to arrive at his theory of God overcoming creational chaos is derived from extra-biblical sources, and unless you are prepared to prove otherwise I feel no obligation to continue this line. External historical-cultural data can help illuminate the background of biblical texts, but they must never be allowed to have any control over the interpretation of the text itself. Once this is permitted we end up with the work of Peter Enns on the ancient biblical worldview and J. D. G. Dunn's "New Perspective on Paul." The Bible alone must determine its meaning. To hand interpretative control over to Bible backgrounds is to hand the authority of the text over too.

The "historical"in G-H plays a definite second fiddle to the "grammatical." This is seen in many manuals, but some good examples are Roy Zuck's Basic Bible Interpretation, and John Sailhamer's essay http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/44/44-2/44-2-PP193-206_JETS.pdf ]"Johann August Ernesti: The Role of History in Biblical Interpretation."

In the next post I shall quote L. Berkhof to the same point. In other words, what you propose in the way of linking the text of Scripture so tightly to its culture is not G-H hermeneutics.

In addition to this confusion, your critique would let in an unstoppable relativism into hermeneutics. If the Bible must be related to its culture in the way you suppose, then as our knowledge of ANE culture increases our interpretations could change. This would threaten any normative interpretations. It would also open us up to the charge of what C.S. Lewis called "Chronological Snobbery," in which newer ideas are deemed superior because they are newer.

You refer to V. Phillips Long's book The Art of Biblical History which is about the problem of determining real history in the biblical narrative. It doesn't really touch on whether culture is decisive for understanding Scripture, but from what he says about the priority of the context I doubt you have found an ally!

What you need to do is to prove your notions by examples using the Rules of Affinity...

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

Paul Henebury's picture

As I say, you are not easy to comprehend or pin down. You have a concern about identifying metaphor etc., which you think I haven't taken into account. I have. The presence of figures of speech or clear genres can be accommodated within the Rules of Affinity. But the context is the decisive thing. If you can show a difficulty here please demonstrate it with the RoA. It is you who have gone on about "literal" and "non-literal" not me. Any solid work of G-H hermeneutics will nuance the word - it is not a technical term (neither is "meaning"). Figures of speech, parables, poetry, etc. all lend themselves easily to plain terminology. A "literal" interpretation of "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day" would be along the lines of the poet's speaking of a woman's beauty; her bright eyes and perhaps her zest for life. It would not be a picture of despair and depression and disease. To get that interpretation I would have to import a lot of inferences to build up my picture. The RoA would uncover this.

You zoomed in on my line about not being involved in interpretation but measuring affinity. Well, I didn't give an interpretation. You state:

Quote:
I cannot see how you can measure affinity apart from possessing the meaning of the text, and I cannot see how you can possess the meaning of the text apart from hermeneutic considerations

Instead of taking us down a profitless theoretical detour (I am well aware of Thiselton, Vanhoozer and the rest), let me state that whichever "meaning" one arrives at, it must comport with what the words themselves can sustain in their context (You have said this too). Thus, we are back to "affinity." True, reading a text always involves interpretation at a basic level. If this is your point I have no problem with the correction. But it really isn't. I perceive another motive, which is to allow in doctrinal formulations with less than clear correspondence to their "base-texts" or proof-texts. I may be wrong, but from your previous comments about the theological covenants I sense that's it. The reason we have courses on hermeneutics is to understand what we are doing when we interpret. This can involve the process of exegesis too. I did not engage in such interpretation in the example I was citing (Beale). While it is true that ones choice of hermeneutics will determine in large part which theological options are allowed and which ones aren't, these theological conclusions can be fed through the "Rules" to show whether the base-texts really do support the conclusions or whether the conclusions come from elsewhere (e.g. other texts, or a system of theology already in place, or ANE parallels).

If the conclusions of a chosen hermeneutics can be fed through the RoA then although there is some inevitable overlap (both are dealing with texts!), the two cannot and should not be equated. The "Rules" do not replace hermeneutics or exegesis, although these can be utilized around the "Rules." But if hermeneutics and exegesis are used to derive a theological proposition and that proposition is run through the RoA, then clearly they are different from the RoA! In my case above, I simply read Genesis 1 & 2 and did not locate Beale's "creational chaos" teaching anywhere there.

In a previous comment you wrote:

Quote:
It is common in ANE culture to view God as combating a sea monster or overcoming the chaos of the sea, and so the interpreter takes this into the water elements in the creation account

You several times accused me of dismissing parallels with a wave of the hand. I don't dismiss them. But I don't read about them in Genesis! You are incorrect in saying the ANE creation-myths "view God as combating a sea monster." They depict a god (small 'g') in combat. Do you read this in Genesis? Where? Are you letting these parallels unduly influence your reading of Genesis. You at least seem to think they should (you are not easy to understand since you also appear to say you don't see a parallel). I have shown above that you are not viewing the role of historical background correctly.

Now if someone sets forth a theological proposal which involves items seen nowhere in the context then we have to go back a step and examine any underlying propositions and their scriptural supports to see how they influence the initial proposal. How much is being inferred from other sources? The RoA can help show this in both cases.

You raise the example of Gen. 1:1 with my proposition "God created everything." If "heavens and earth" equates to everything this would be a C1. If your improbable alternative of "heavens and earth" equaling "the sky and planet earth" were true then it would only rate a C3. More corroborative texts would be needed. I don't know of any off-hand, but I do know of several texts which would support the "everything" view. So we could examine the context more by doing a little exegesis. We would soon conclude that Gen. 1:1 has a kind of merism and does indeed stand for "everything." This conclusion strengthens the original pre-exegetical C1! The exegesis is not a part of the RoA, they kick in once a proposition is given and a text is appealed to.

I disagree with your claim about Arminians and Calvinists. They both try to find clear texts in support of their proposals and they both tend to discredit the others' use of proof-texts. Both could be fed through the RoA to show areas of affinity and "distance."

Caleb, what you need to do is cease talking around the "rules" and demonstrate your objections with the rules. I don't want to carry on a one-sided discussion where you can keep asserting things without demonstrating how the RoA are impacted. I had more to say, but this is surely enough for now.

God bless.

Paul H.

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

Paul Henebury's picture

Aaron, your post deserves an answer:

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Paul, passing this one on from from http://sharperiron.org/comment/44408#comment-44408 ]JLS in the Forum Revamp thread :

Quote:
...one possible question for Paul Henebury. I have really elnjoyed his "Rules of Affinity" articles. I also have a "pet peeve" with the sloppy or nonexistent support people find for their positions. Am I the only guy that just does not see the Bride of Christ TAUGHT in Scropture. I have no problem with the image. But I don't see it supopirted or proved by the usual passages cited. Would it be fair to rank that idea as a C4 or 5 concept?
JLS

For my part... the decisive factor in whether "Bride of Christ" is C1-5 is what's being asserted about the Bride.
That there is a "Bride of Christ" is evident Rev. 21.2, 2Cor.11.2, John 3:29-30.
That these refer to the church is less direct, but a little logic gets you there pretty fast. Hard to see how 2Cor.11.2 and Eph.5:25-26 could be taken otherwise. I'd be inclined to call it C2.
But the claim some make that Bride is only Baptists... is there a C9? Biggrin

In response to Aaron and JLS I would first of all want to say that one of my respected teachers, Dr Mal Couch, did not think the Church was the Bride of Christ. But let us have a go:

Proposition: "The Church is the Bride of Christ."

Texts: 2 Cor. 11:2 - For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. - This could be a simple metaphor for Paul's reconciliation ministry, but it appears to be more than that, since the "betrothal" language does call to mind the Church as a Bride. For that reason I would call this a C2 or C3. Personally, I would lean toward the latter.

Eph. 5:25, 31-32 - Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her... For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.
- Here there is a strong connection between Christ and the church and Christian marriage. As above, it does not say the church id Christ's Bride, but it does make a comparison. For that reason I would rate this a C3 with the one above.

Jn. 3:29-30 - "He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. 30 "He must increase, but I must decrease.
- The obvious problem here is that the context is very Jewish and precedes the formation of the Church at Pentecost. Does John have the Church in mind? Umm? That's a pretty big inference. C4

Rev. 21:2 - And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.
- The context is important here. Nothing is said in the chapter about New Jerusalem being the Church, and we must notice the language of analogy "as a Bride." Yet in verse 9 she is called "the Lamb's wife." (C2) Moreover, there is a marriage supper of the Lamb in 19:9 (C3). Also "New Jerusalem is mentioned in connection with a church in 3:12 (C3).

So on the strength of these texts I would assign this a C2 or C3 proposition (sorry JLS!)

The Baptist Bride would justifiably be a C9 Smile

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

christian cerna's picture

With regards to whether the church is the bride, i believe that the Church is the bride of Christ. I think that though useful, the "C" system is not a perfect system, and can be influenced by a person's subjective view of certain passages. One person might grade a passage a C-3, and someone might grade it a C-2.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

(Ephesians 5:25-27 ESV)

If these verses don't show the Church being presented as a bride, I don't know what does...

Paul Henebury's picture

I agree Christian, the reason I would let it slip to a C3 is because there is a bit more to it than the verses above. Nevertheless, C3's remember, are inferences to the best explanation, and so are "safe" to be included in a Statement of Faith.

You say "though useful, the "C" system is not a perfect system," and I agree. But it is (I think) a real help in making us more self-conscious of what we are doing - particularly, how we are constructing our theology. Just think, if Person A thinks "the Church as Bride of Christ" deserves a C1 or C2, and Person B assigns it a C3, not only is it easier to track how each person comes to their rating, but both parties are being helped to tighten up their theology. I think that is all good.

The only people who will not like the RoA are those whose theologies are top-heavy with weak affinity between text and proposition. My examples tried to show this. I picked on the theological covenants of covenant theology, for example, because of the massive amount of influence these inferred covenants are allowed to wield within the system. The Rules of Affinity do show that there is good reason to think again in this area.

Thank you for your comment.

God bless,

Paul H.

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

Caleb S's picture

Paul or Dr. Henebury,

Thank you for your response; I very much appreciate it, and I will think it over for a bit. After the first read, I noticed that it definitely dealt with the issues that I was aiming for. Thank you.

Caleb

Paul Henebury's picture

Caleb, I am glad to have helped. Your questions have helped me think through my positions and for that I thank you.

I would like it if you felt free to call me,

your brother,

Paul

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

christian cerna's picture

Paul Henebury wrote:
Caleb, I am glad to have helped. Your questions have helped me think through my positions and for that I thank you.

I would like it if you felt free to call me,

your brother,

Paul

Thank you for taking the time to reply to our comments. Your insights are very helpful to us.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Paul, I found it interesting how you worked through the "Bride of Christ" question: rating each text-assertion relationship, one passage a time. I wonder though, if "affinity" shouldn't also take into account what passages say when considered together rather than individually?
That is, in your thinking, can half a dozen passages that relate to a proposition at C3, add up to an overall affinity of C2?

Seems to me that this is what we actually do with the doctrine of the Trinity, for example?

...and then those who weigh historical theology more heavily in the interpretive process (or perhaps bring it into the interpretive process earlier) might suggest that affinity itself has to be historically evaluated when multiple texts are involved. But maybe by the time you get to that level of complexity, it's really not affinity we're talking about anymore.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Paul Henebury's picture

Aaron,

I believe the "Rules" first need to be applied to each base-text brought forth to support a proposal, and then the cumulative force of those ratings should be run through them, or else given a mean. In the "Bride of Christ" example there were C2 and C3 affinities. BUT I have found that the base-texts used will quite often (though not really in this case) prove a part of a statement in, say, a Statement of Faith. This means each phrase or clause will sometimes have to be sifted. Take, for example, what I said about the Trinity:

Quote:
The Trinity – Proposition: “[1 ] God exists as one substance yet in [2 ] three distinct yet eternally inseparable ‘Persons.’ [3 ] Each ‘Person’ is co-equal and divine yet existing in distinguishable intra-relationships and functions with one another. God is one yet three, though in different modes of being.” – Deut. 6:4 C1; Matt. 28:19 C1 or C2; Jn. 1:1-3 C1, 18 C1 ; 14:15-17 C2; 20:28 C1; Acts 5:3-4 C2; 2 Cor. 13:14 C1; Heb. 9:14 C2, 10:28-29 C2.

I have separated three main teachings within the statement as well as assigning each text a rating on the Grid. No one verse covers all three teachings, yet the base-texts do accomplish the task together - first in defending each separate truth, and then the whole statement is covered by their conjoined voice. The doctrine is arrived at by the agreement of C1 and C2 texts. It is a C2 formulation or proposition because the degree of affinity is not direct (as with creation) but very strong. Thus, I define a C2 formulation this way:

Quote:
C2 = a proposition based on a strong inference from the witness of several C1 passages combined, thus producing an inevitable doctrinal conclusion.

Does that help?

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

Ed Vasicek's picture

Paul, you have written another excellent installment. Thank you!

As far as the Bride of Christ goes, I think it is also important to consider the language of John 14:1-6, which connects Jesus' departure to that of a bridegroom going to prepare a place for his bride and then to surprise his bride by returning and whisking her away.

This is probably pretty low on the chart itself because it is a mere single inference, but it does contribute to the idea that believers make up the Bride of Christ.

And that brings me to something I have mentioned before, the deductive check. If you have a C2 belief like the church (or believers) as making up the Body of Christ, you can bring that belief back into the Scripture and see if it matches what we see.

Thus if I conclude that the church is represented as the Bride of Christ, and then I go to John 14 (understanding the ancient Jewish wedding customs), it fits like a glove. The deductive check adds an additional assurance that the proposition is correct.

"The Midrash Detective"

Paul Henebury's picture

This is an astute observation Ed. What you suggest guarantees that reason does not hold a magisterial role in our theologizing, but does serve an important subsidiary role in comprehending and correlating biblical truth.

Your brother,

Paul

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Paul wrote:
Does that help?

Yes, it does, thanks.
I'm still curious to knkow more whys and wherefores though.

If I understand accurately, you're persuaded that when an assertion is based somewhat on the relationship between texts and less on the text-to-assertion relationship (wow... I'm really feeling the need for some diagrams!) it's best to analyze text-to-assertion first.
It's not obvious to me why it should work that way. But it isn't your view that "affinity" is the only thing that matters, am I right?

On the whole I'm probably inclined to give "deduction" a "more magisterial" role in the building of theology... but at the proposition level it's probably both possible and useful to exclude it during part of the process and just focus on affinity.

These are things I've never thought much about before so I'm finding it all quite interesting.

Last year I did some teaching (and learning) in logic and discovered the difference between the syllogism and propositional logic. But they're both mostly about relationships between statements and not about the quality of the individual propositions themselves.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Paul Henebury's picture

Quote:
If I understand accurately, you're persuaded that when an assertion is based somewhat on the relationship between texts and less on the text-to-assertion relationship (wow... I'm really feeling the need for some diagrams!) it's best to analyze text-to-assertion first.
It's not obvious to me why it should work that way. But it isn't your view that "affinity" is the only thing that matters, am I right?

I'll have a stab at this rather complex quote Wink

1. As every text has a context it must be treated in context before it is tethered to another text elsewhere. This is at least in principle in not in practice. Thus, we can all be called back to it.

2. We must discriminate between fully explicated doctrines and their blunt presentations in brief statements of belief. By that I mean, the doctrine, say, of justification be faith may be given a C1 rating based on several textual links in Romans and Galatians. The NT clearly teaches it. But fleshing out the doctrine involves both exegesis and systematizing (diachronic & synchronic approaches). Nevertheless, if we are going to get dogmatic after it all I think the Rules of Affinity may be applied to make us think again or make us more comfortable with our views.

3. "Affinity" is not everything, especially word-for-word affinity. Still it helps if we can tell a JW that salvation is "by grace through faith, not of works" by reading an Apostle! There is room to wander through the connections and possible outcomes/affects of each doctrine in service of the goal to think God's thoughts after Him. Yet affinity is never left behind. Why? Because our proclivity to be doctrinaire is always hovering about.

4. When you say you'd be more inclined to give "deduction" a more prominent role in building theology I am fine with it. But sometimes (often?) theological disputes circle around texts in the evangelical world, and I therefore am hesitant to declare the RoA redundant in any phase of theological formulation.

5. Of course, the RoA depend heavily upon the two main supports of logic - the law of non-contradiction and the law of identity. But when we understand that each assertion that appeals to a text is open to examination then the quality issue will raise its head.

Must dash.

P.

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

Ed Vasicek's picture

Paul wrote:

Quote:
Of course, the RoA depend heavily upon the two main supports of logic - the law of non-contradiction...

Herein lies the problem with the RoA and hermeneutics in general.

Although the Bible does not contradict itself, there are seeming contradictions from our viewpoint and those messy paradoxes and antimonies that get in the way. Because God's thoughts are higher that ours, and because truth is not the same as whole truth, and because Biblical authors may define terms differently (IMO, James uses the Jewish understanding of "justification," i.e., vindication before men) whereas Paul uses a legal (forensic) definition, even direct interpretation can lead us astray, strange as that sounds.

So we can take direct statements that could lead us astray (for example, Jesus is a man or Jesus is God are two half-truths sometimes asserted separately) by making partial truths whole truths. So we need to take direct statements weighed against and harmonized with other statements to develop an all-inclusive paradigm against which to evaluate interpretation, yet, at the same time, those paradigms need to be challenged and re-evaluated via inductive Bible study (the true spirit of Sola Scriptura). Otherwise one could just as solidly conclude that justification is by works.

"The Midrash Detective"

Paul Henebury's picture

Thanks again Ed for an astute observation.

Quote:
So we can take direct statements that could lead us astray (for example, Jesus is a man or Jesus is God are two half-truths sometimes asserted separately) by making partial truths whole truths. So we need to take direct statements weighed against and harmonized with other statements to develop an all-inclusive paradigm against which to evaluate interpretation, yet, at the same time, those paradigms need to be challenged and re-evaluated via inductive Bible study (the true spirit of Sola Scriptura).

You are exactly right. That is why I do stress the role of context in assessing the texts. The RoA are not fool-proof. They are simply a device to help us be more self-conscious of the moves we are making when asserting our doctrines. And just as sticking to grammatical-historical hermeneutics (traditionally understood) does not settle interpretative questions but provides possible conclusions - some better than others - so the RoA train our reading of texts and our hooking them to theological assertions.

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

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