What Is Sound Doctrine concerning the Doctrinal Importance of Narratives in Scripture?

In a recent thread, the following comments were made:  

Yes, it's God doing this, but we need to keep in mind that Deuteronomy 34:6 is not law, but rather narrative, and trying to derive doctrine from narrative is extremely dangerous business. 

Again, narrative passages tell us what happened, but not always the why.  That's why it's extremely dangerous to try to derive doctrine from narrative passages. 

The passages used by Rajesh to justify his position are narrative, description and not prescription, and hence it's (again) extremely dangerous business to try and draw doctrine from these narratives.

This is one view concerning what is sound doctrine concerning the doctrinal importance of narratives in Scripture. When someone makes an assertion that something is so, they are responsible for proving that what they assert is so.

The maker of these comments, however, has provided no support for his position beyond mere assertion. Mere assertion is not proof.

What is sound doctrine concerning the doctrinal importance of narratives in Scripture? Who decides what is the correct view and what is not?

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RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

 

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

I don't understand why you are adding the part about execution "by any means." Even if you are now modifying your answer to talk about criminals rather than all people, I don't see how the context of the command supports a position regarding burying people who've been executed by other means other than hanging. The verse tells us why the body must be removed from the tree and buried the same day. It's because, as the verse says, "(for he that is hanged is accursed of God;)" If they didn't bury the hanging victim the same day, then their land would be defiled. So this command that the executed person has to be buried is a command that is specific to "hanged people" and not people who've been executed by other means.

 

 

Wrong. The passage does not teach that the person was executed by hanging. The hanging was something in addition to the person being put to death.

Deuteronomy 21:22 And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death,
and thou hang him on a tree:

The text does not say, "He be put to death by hanging him on a tree."

 

What? Are you saying that the Israelites would stone people, or execute them some other way, and then put them up in a tree? What would be the purpose in that? Seriously now, this verse was talking about execution by hanging. Why else would they be put on a tree?

Maybe I'm misreading you and you're just trying to make a sarcastic joke.

No, I am fully serious. You are misreading the verse.

"A hanged corpse. 21:22-23. Hanging a criminal on a tree was not for the purpose of putting him to death. Rather, after he was executed for a capital offense . . . his body was hanged on a tree as a warning to all who saw it not to commit the same offense (BKC: OT, 301)."

Here is a biblical example:

2 Samuel 4:12

And David commanded his young men, and they slew them, and cut off their hands and their feet, and hanged them up over the pool in Hebron. But they took the head of Ishbosheth, and buried it in the sepulchre of Abner in Hebron.

josh p's picture

RajeshG wrote:

 

josh p wrote:

 

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

 

josh p wrote:

 

Ok just answer if it's possible to do. Obviously there are extremes on both ends. The excesses of Second Temple Judaism on one and the "no creed but the Bible" obscurantism that has paved the way for so much liberalism in the church on the other. Still, I think you would admit that part of the Historical-grammatical hermeneutic includes the historical part. Do you affirm that? Do you recognize that, in order to study and understand our Bibles we have to learn about ancient eastern culture? Or is this "not the subject of this thread"? 

 

 

I do not care about talking about anything else. My Bible is sufficient to teach me about the doctrinal importance of narratives. Examining how the Bible itself uses narratives is fully legitimate in understanding that subject. What God has revealed about that subject is what is essential to profit from.

 

 

I am responding within the focus of the thread and asking a related question. Why won't you answer? 

 

 

Because I am not interested in discussing anything other than the specific subject of the thread. 

It's directly related. The thread is about hermeneutics regarding narrative passages. You claim that anyone who disagrees with you must provide a Bible verse that describes hermeneutical method. I'm showing that is not possible by asking you to do the same with other areas you likely affirm in order to illustrate that you cannot. You think you have proved your point by saying "you can't prove I'm wrong in the Bible."I'm demonstrating that you can't use the Bible like that. 
 

Also, you are discussing the duet. passage in a thread supposedly about something else. 

RajeshG's picture

josh p wrote:

Also, you are discussing the duet. passage in a thread supposedly about something else. 

I would like to completely stop discussing the subject of the other thread in this thread, but other people keep bringing it up. So much of this thread has been wasted discussing everything but the subject of the thread.

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

 

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

 

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

I don't understand why you are adding the part about execution "by any means." Even if you are now modifying your answer to talk about criminals rather than all people, I don't see how the context of the command supports a position regarding burying people who've been executed by other means other than hanging. The verse tells us why the body must be removed from the tree and buried the same day. It's because, as the verse says, "(for he that is hanged is accursed of God;)" If they didn't bury the hanging victim the same day, then their land would be defiled. So this command that the executed person has to be buried is a command that is specific to "hanged people" and not people who've been executed by other means.

 

 

Wrong. The passage does not teach that the person was executed by hanging. The hanging was something in addition to the person being put to death.

Deuteronomy 21:22 And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death,
and thou hang him on a tree:

The text does not say, "He be put to death by hanging him on a tree."

 

What? Are you saying that the Israelites would stone people, or execute them some other way, and then put them up in a tree? What would be the purpose in that? Seriously now, this verse was talking about execution by hanging. Why else would they be put on a tree?

Maybe I'm misreading you and you're just trying to make a sarcastic joke.

 

 

No, I am fully serious. You are misreading the verse.

"A hanged corpse. 21:22-23. Hanging a criminal on a tree was not for the purpose of putting him to death. Rather, after he was executed for a capital offense . . . his body was hanged on a tree as a warning to all who saw it not to commit the same offense (BKC: OT, 301)."

Here is a biblical example:

2 Samuel 4:12

And David commanded his young men, and they slew them, and cut off their hands and their feet, and hanged them up over the pool in Hebron. But they took the head of Ishbosheth, and buried it in the sepulchre of Abner in Hebron.

So even if you are right about this, that doesn't change my point that the Deut verse is talking about a specific subset of people and not about the general population.

Now, regarding 2 Samuel 4:12, if I use your method of drawing principles from a narrative, I can see that God approves of "desecrating" bodies in certain ways after death. That would be a logical principle from this narrative, wouldn't it be? 

Bert Perry's picture

josh p wrote:

Judging by the title of the thread, this wasn’t meant to be about interacting with individual texts. I thought that was what the other thread was about. However my, and others, concern is your handling of the scriptures. You are on a Christian forum. Expect to be challenged when you interpret the Bible the way you do.

Also, if you recall, you and I were having a profitable discussion about the scriptures until I challenged your hermeneutical approach at which time you told me you didn’t have time to hear from others. You then started this thread. What was the point if you don’t have time to hear from those who disagree with you? Is this just another blog for you?

No man is an interpretive island Rajesh. I’m thankful for your love of the scriptures but you evince an unwillingness to accept disagreement. If you don’t wish to continue with me that’s fine. That of course will not stop me from responding on this public forum as I see fit.

Reality is that this is the third (at least) time Rajesh has made a post specifically in response to my points that his exegetical methods violate basic logic.  The first was Rajesh arguing that it was OK to use guilt by association fallacies, the second was a rejection of the notion that ideas have logical consequences ("assailment by entailment"), and the third is this one.  One might note that it's three pretty clear personal attacks on me. (that would be the ad hominem fallacy, Rajesh--time for you to put up another post saying how that's not a fallacy, I guess)

The significance of what's going on here is that since the Bible is a book, and the doctrines of the authority and perspicuity of Scripture require first that we use ordinary definitions of words in the vernacular/common language, and moreover that we adhere to the laws of logic.  As I've demonstrated in other threads, if we allow guilt by association arguments, we can basically discredit anything, because Romans 3:23.  Everybody's guilty, thereby nothing is clean, so we might as well just stop breathing, I guess.

 If we refuse to discuss the logical consequences of ideas, what we're doing is short-circuiting the ordinary processes of exegesis and hermeneutics--it is a body blow to the First Fundamental and Sola Scriptura.  Logical consequences are part and parcel of the rhetorical process, not some kind of sin that needs to be expunged.  In the case I was addressing, YES, it is very, very significant that you were, as did Frank Garlock and others before you, recycling the racist rhetoric used against African-Americans in the early to mid 20th Century.  You cannot assail rock & roll (or jazz, or blues) on the grounds of supposed links to the Yoruba culture without assailing the intermediate genre of black spirituals and black Gospel.  You cannot single out the genre from African-Americans (while ignoring the guilty associations of white peoples' music) without them catching on to what you are doing.

Same thing with this.  If we are to have any coherent doctrine of Sola Scriptura, we need to handle the Biblical genre as they are, literarily.  Narrative (or history) is not supposed to be handled in the same way as poetry, didicatic passages, Torah, Gospel, prophecy, and the like.  Here's a great little article linked yesterday on SI that says the same thing that Fee's How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth notes, and for that matter proceeds simply from the definition of narrative.  It is what happened, not necessarily what should happen, and getting from the first to the second point requires a good strong look at the broader Biblical context, cultural context, geographic context, and more.

Rajesh, I'm praying for your repentance here, because what's going on with your reckless use of narrative to try to create doctrine where the Apostles and Christ saw none is in effect body blows on the First Fundamental and Sola Scriptura.  I don't know what is going on in your mind that you've so easily discarded what I'm sure was taught to you at BJU, or why you can casually admit that you are 15 years past actually looking at interpretive resources, but this is bad news.  You need a reset, starting with a good look at Fee or the Gospel Coalition article.  Read, understand, apply, repent.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

***** MODERATOR NOTE *****

OK, we've mentioned this before, but let's get rid of the "calls to repentance."  All that's going to happen with those is a 5th-grade argument like "You.  No You.  NO YOU...."  If you want to do this personally in a private message, and you know and respect each other well enough to give spiritual input, that's different.  But let's keep this out of public discussion.

Next time, I'm just going to blow the post away, even if it contains other good info.  It's too much work to have to edit posts into acceptability.

Dave Barnhart

RajeshG's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

Reality is that this is the third (at least) time Rajesh has made a post specifically in response to my points that his exegetical methods violate basic logic.  The first was Rajesh arguing that it was OK to use guilt by association fallacies, the second was a rejection of the notion that ideas have logical consequences ("assailment by entailment"), and the third is this one.  One might note that it's three pretty clear personal attacks on me. (that would be the ad hominem fallacy, Rajesh--time for you to put up another post saying how that's not a fallacy, I guess)

The significance of what's going on here is that since the Bible is a book, and the doctrines of the authority and perspicuity of Scripture require first that we use ordinary definitions of words in the vernacular/common language, and moreover that we adhere to the laws of logic.  As I've demonstrated in other threads, if we allow guilt by association arguments, we can basically discredit anything, because Romans 3:23.  Everybody's guilty, thereby nothing is clean, so we might as well just stop breathing, I guess.

 If we refuse to discuss the logical consequences of ideas, what we're doing is short-circuiting the ordinary processes of exegesis and hermeneutics--it is a body blow to the First Fundamental and Sola Scriptura.  Logical consequences are part and parcel of the rhetorical process, not some kind of sin that needs to be expunged.  In the case I was addressing, YES, it is very, very significant that you were, as did Frank Garlock and others before you, recycling the racist rhetoric used against African-Americans in the early to mid 20th Century.  You cannot assail rock & roll (or jazz, or blues) on the grounds of supposed links to the Yoruba culture without assailing the intermediate genre of black spirituals and black Gospel.  You cannot single out the genre from African-Americans (while ignoring the guilty associations of white peoples' music) without them catching on to what you are doing.

Same thing with this.  If we are to have any coherent doctrine of Sola Scriptura, we need to handle the Biblical genre as they are, literarily.  Narrative (or history) is not supposed to be handled in the same way as poetry, didicatic passages, Torah, Gospel, prophecy, and the like.  Here's a great little article linked yesterday on SI that says the same thing that Fee's How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth notes, and for that matter proceeds simply from the definition of narrative.  It is what happened, not necessarily what should happen, and getting from the first to the second point requires a good strong look at the broader Biblical context, cultural context, geographic context, and more.

Rajesh, I'm praying for your repentance here, because what's going on with your reckless use of narrative to try to create doctrine where the Apostles and Christ saw none is in effect body blows on the First Fundamental and Sola Scriptura.  I don't know what is going on in your mind that you've so easily discarded what I'm sure was taught to you at BJU, or why you can casually admit that you are 15 years past actually looking at interpretive resources, but this is bad news.  You need a reset, starting with a good look at Fee or the Gospel Coalition article.  Read, understand, apply, repent.


 

More of your lies. I never advocated using guilt-by-association fallacies.

You are the one who fallaciously used GBA repeatedly to link me to people whose views had some similarities to mine but whom I did not consult at all in deriving my own views. I extensively proved that your claims were completely false and fallacious.

Your tactics of trying to paint me as being a racist are not going to work. I already refuted your blatant intellectual dishonesty about that subject by showing that my condemnation is of occult music wherever it has been originated and used and not just that from one place in the earth or of one people, etc. Honest people can easily see your persistent misrepresentation of me and my views in this regard.

As for your nonsense, novel attempts to explain the biblical data about burial as being more or less cultural due to a supposed shortage of wood in Israel and the Near East, you have been proven again to have set forth a bogus, worthless, and false explanation for the biblical data--an explanation for which you have not provided and cannot provide any credible sources who set forth the same view. You are the one who needs to learn how to handle the Bible properly.

Your totally false claim about my having set aside what I learned at BJU is another example of your blatant false claims. I have done no such thing. I am using techniques of doing subject studies and other approaches to advanced theological and interpretational techniques that were taught to us in several classes. It is you who does not know how to handle Scripture properly.

You fancy yourself to be a paragon of logical, exegetical, hermeneutical, applicational, and interpretational virtue, but the reality is very different from your self-estimation.

Since I am not allowed to say further what needs to be said about you and your lies, dishonesty, misrepresentation, etc., I will let the reader of my comments understand. May God have mercy on you.

I will continue to set forth in detail what I believe is true and sound handling of God's Word.

RajeshG's picture

In the Law, God commanded,

Deut. 25:4 Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.

A plain reading of the text would indicate that this command concerned the care of oxen and did not have anything to do with what should be done with humans.

Paul, however, cited this passage and explained its importance for NT believers:

1 Cor. 9:6 Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?

7 Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?

8 Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also?

9 For it is written in the law of Moses, thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?

10 Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.

What God said in Deut. 25:4 was not just truth about what had to be done for oxen; it also directly was divine instruction that He inspired would be written for our sakes as NT believers.

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

Now, regarding 2 Samuel 4:12, if I use your method of drawing principles from a narrative, I can see that God approves of "desecrating" bodies in certain ways after death. That would be a logical principle from this narrative, wouldn't it be? 

False. This passage makes no mention of God's doing what was done or commanding David to do those things with those bodies. Nor is there any basis in the passage for arguing that He approved of their doing those actions.

Moreover, there are not many (or even any [I have not checked]) other passages (as there are for burial as acceptable to God) that correlate with it to show any divine approval of such actions.

By way of strong contrast, Deut. 34:6, one of the key historical narrative passages that I used, explicitly speaks of God as having done the action and no human had any part or say in determining anything about what God chose to do. Just because that revelation about divine actions is in a historical narrative passage does not mean in any way that revelation about God is any less significant or applicable than it would have been had it been in any other kind of passage that was not a narrative.

Regardless of what kind of passage explicit revelation about God is given in, it is always significant.

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

 

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

Now, regarding 2 Samuel 4:12, if I use your method of drawing principles from a narrative, I can see that God approves of "desecrating" bodies in certain ways after death. That would be a logical principle from this narrative, wouldn't it be? 

 

 

False. This passage makes no mention of God's doing what was done or commanding David to do those things with those bodies. Nor is there any basis in the passage for arguing that He approved of their doing those actions.

There no basis in the passage for saying that God disapproved of the action either, is there? It's awfully hard to insist on God's approval or disapproval simply from reading the actions in a narrative.

Quote:
Moreover, there are not many (or even any [I have not checked]) other passages (as there are for burial as acceptable to God) that correlate with it to show any divine approval of such actions.
Well, since this is your position, maybe you can answer the question you asked me on page three of this thread. "So who decides how many examples are enough and on what basis will that be a valid criterion and who decides what that valid criterion will be?"

Quote:
By way of strong contrast, Deut. 34:6, one of the key historical narrative passages that I used, explicitly speaks of God as having done the action and no human had any part or say in determining anything about what God chose to do. Just because that revelation about divine actions is in a historical narrative passage does not mean in any way that revelation about God is any less significant or applicable than it would have been had it been in any other kind of passage that was not a narrative.

Regardless of what kind of passage explicit revelation about God is given in, it is always significant.

The fact that God buried Moses does not indicate that God disapproves of any other body disposal method. It simply means that burial is one of the body disposal methods that God approves of.

Bert Perry's picture

Regarding guilt by association and racism, here's Rajesh's personal blog's link to two articles that argue that the "roots of rock & roll lie deep in the soil of voodoo" and "rock music is a door to the occult world via percussion". 

Judge for yourself.  My view is that Rajesh's source, a Mr. Brennan, is more or less recycling the same kind of rhetoric that's been used for over a century to denigrate the music and culture of African-Americans, and it works strongly off guilt by association fallacies.  

Regarding justifying guilt by association fallacies, here's Rajesh's own blog on the subject.  What did he mean by that?  Look here.  Judge for yourself.

Regarding the question of whether cremation was even practical in Israel and other parts of the near East/"Orient", we again have Ezekiel 4 & 15, which clearly describe the use of dried manure and vine trimmings for fuel, and the rest of Scripture, which clearly indicates masonry as the common method of building and wood as the luxury good for paneling and such for kings. 

(let's be serious here; in what culture are manure and grapevines preferred as a fuel when logs and such are available?  Anybody ever had their wife say "this fire is really romantic, but what it needs is a few cowpies thrown on it!"?  Of course not)

For that matter, we have the reality that cremation as an ordinary method of disposing of a body is never mentioned in Scripture.  If indeed there was enough wood to cremate, why isn't there any record of it?  It's not like God doesn't mention the other sins of Jacob.  

You can mock the argument if you like, Rajesh, but it's not like nobody ever noticed before me that Israel is an arid country where collecting the ~500kG typically used for a cremation in India might be a bit more difficult.

Really, that's the basis of my disagreement with Rajesh's hermeneutic, or rather lack of hermeneutic.  He seems to be perfectly comfortable jumping from an observation to a conclusion, and that's simply not how we ought to handle any part of Scripture, let alone narrative.   That's why using narrative to establish doctrine is extremely dangerous business--there is simply a lot of work that needs to be done to answer whether it's something universal or cultural, whether something observed was even practical, and the like.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Bert Perry wrote:

Regarding guilt by association and racism, here's Rajesh's personal blog's link to two articles that argue that the "roots of rock & roll lie deep in the soil of voodoo" and "rock music is a door to the occult world via percussion".

While I also disagree with Rajesh's hermeneutic and his views on music, I think it's a complete stretch to tie these articles (or Rajesh's points about music) to "racism."  The fact that African music is behind much of rock, jazz, etc. does not at all mean that any criticism of such music must be racist in nature.

While others may have used racist arguments against certain types of music, I haven't seen that in Rajesh's SI threads, except as an accusation against him.  Let's just deal with the actual specifics being argued.  There is plenty there.

Dave Barnhart

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

 

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

Now, regarding 2 Samuel 4:12, if I use your method of drawing principles from a narrative, I can see that God approves of "desecrating" bodies in certain ways after death. That would be a logical principle from this narrative, wouldn't it be? 

 

 

False. This passage makes no mention of God's doing what was done or commanding David to do those things with those bodies. Nor is there any basis in the passage for arguing that He approved of their doing those actions.

There no basis in the passage for saying that God disapproved of the action either, is there? It's awfully hard to insist on God's approval or disapproval simply from reading the actions in a narrative.

I never claimed anything about God's approval or disapproval of those actions in 2 Sam. 4:12. You are the one who suggested that I would do something with that information so I responded to your faulty claim.

Bert Perry's picture

Dave, it is plainly racist, and for why, consider what is meant when someone uses the word "voodoo" in our culture--e.g. "voodoo economics".  In short, it connects the mind with primitive people sticking pins in dolls, seeking fortunes, and sacrificing chickens and goats, Live and Let die kinds of malevolence and such.  

So when that word is applied to historic African-American music styles, yes, it is perjorative, and yes, it is racist.  It's also how that very phrase was used a century ago by people who made no bones about their racism.  (and it's an argument that, with minor modifications to make it less objectionable, is more or less recycled by the likes of Bill Gothard and Frank Garlock)

A side note is that it's also historically incorrect, as African voodoo was a religion not of the Yoruba, but the neighboring G'be , and a large portion of American blacks were not from either group.  It's also worth noting that the Haitian/U.S. versions of voodoo are, according to P.J O'Rourke in Eat the Rich, derived from the Masonic rituals O'Rourke's father was involved in.

I'll stop there, but suffice it to say that one could write a book length refutation of the links Rajesh endorses.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Bert Perry wrote:
Dave, it is plainly racist, and for why, consider what is meant when someone uses the word "voodoo" in our culture--e.g. "voodoo economics".  In short, it connects the mind with primitive people sticking pins in dolls, seeking fortunes, and sacrificing chickens and goats, Live and Let die kinds of malevolence and such.

"Primitive" is not a race.  Appalachian music is also "primitive" in some ways, and that isn't necessarily a pejorative.  The same would apply to early American "shape-note" music, which I also enjoy, but is in many ways, primitive when compared to European classical music.

Quote:
So when that word is applied to historic African-American music styles, yes, it is perjorative, and yes, it is racist.  It's also how that very phrase was used a century ago by people who made no bones about their racism.  (and it's an argument that, with minor modifications to make it less objectionable, is more or less recycled by the likes of Bill Gothard and Frank Garlock)

Racist people using a particular argument does not make the argument itself racist.  And the fact that Garlock or Gothard used some wrong arguments about music doesn't make them (or their arguments) racist either.

I also criticize some types of music that are largely found within certain cultures.  The fact that I don't like that type of music or find it particularly valid does not make me racist against the people that created that music.

Quote:
I'll stop there, but suffice it to say that one could write a book length refutation of the links Rajesh endorses.

I won't disagree with that, but I still don't believe that makes those links racist.  I briefly skim-read both articles today.  I wouldn't recommend them, but I didn't find them racist either.

Dave Barnhart

RajeshG's picture

1 Tim. 5:17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.

18 For the scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.

In this case, Paul formulated a prescriptive command for NT believers on the basis of biblical statements given in both the OT and the NT to the extent that the NT existed in his time:

Deut. 25:4 Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.

Matt. 10:10 Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.

Luke 10:7 And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.

Plainly, the prescriptive statement in Deut. 25 that Paul cited as part of the basis for his command did not have anything to do with ministerial compensation. It wasn't even a command concerning humans.

The other Scriptural support that Paul cited for his command pertained to statements of Jesus that are recorded in two gospels. Neither of those statements was expressed in the form of a command.

What we see here is Paul's formulating a prescriptive command from (1) a prescriptive statement in the Law that explicitly had nothing to do even with humans and (2) from statements uttered by Jesus that expressed divine truth but were not stated as commands.

 

JD Miller's picture

Numerous examples have been given of NT passages where a narrative was referenced along with a prescriptive command.  Many have pointed out that those narratives referenced in the NT along with a prescription were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  

My question for Rajesh:  Since we as Christians have the Holy Spirit, do you believe we have the same authority as Jesus and the apostles to make prescriptive links with narrative passages in a similar way that Paul did.  I do not believe that we do.  I believe that the apostles had special foundational guidance that we do not have today, but I know some of my Pentecostal brethren do not share my views on that.  I would just like clarification on your view, since that would have a direct connection to how narratives are applied today.

RajeshG's picture

JD Miller wrote:

Numerous examples have been given of NT passages where a narrative was referenced along with a prescriptive command.  Many have pointed out that those narratives referenced in the NT along with a prescription were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  

My question for Rajesh:  Since we as Christians have the Holy Spirit, do you believe we have the same authority as Jesus and the apostles to make prescriptive links with narrative passages in a similar way that Paul did.  I do not believe that we do.  I believe that the apostles had special foundational guidance that we do not have today, but I know some of my Pentecostal brethren do not share my views on that.  I would just like clarification on your view, since that would have a direct connection to how narratives are applied today.

 

Jesus was a special case; as incarnate Deity, everything that He said was infallible, inerrant, perfect, etc. in every way. He had the Spirit in ways and to an unlimited measure that the Scripture writers did not.

We do not know exactly how the Spirit directed Paul and the other Scripture writers to write what they did in Scripture. I do not believe that we have the exact same authority that they did.

Nevertheless, I reject the notion that we cannot derive any prescriptive statements from any narrative passages in any way. To take that position is to deny what Paul under inspiration of the Spirit teaches in Scripture.

Similar to but not exactly in the same way as Paul did in 1 Tim. 5:17-18, I believe that we can and must formulate prescriptive statements about many subjects that are not directly addressed by prescriptive statements that are explicitly stated in Scripture. We can and must do so based on the totality of what God has revealed in Scripture about those subjects either explicitly or implicitly (including from certain kinds of narrative passages) by correlating all of that revelation thoroughly by comparing Scripture with Scripture.

JD Miller's picture

Rajesh, do you believe that certain people have a special gift for knowing when a narrative is descriptive and when it is prescriptive and if so, do you believe that you have that gift?

RajeshG's picture

JD Miller wrote:

Rajesh, do you believe that certain people have a special gift for knowing when a narrative is descriptive and when it is prescriptive and if so, do you believe that you have that gift?

No, I do not believe any such thing.

AndyE's picture

JD Miller wrote:
Numerous examples have been given of NT passages where a narrative was referenced along with a prescriptive command.  Many have pointed out that those narratives referenced in the NT along with a prescription were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  

My question for Rajesh:  Since we as Christians have the Holy Spirit, do you believe we have the same authority as Jesus and the apostles to make prescriptive links with narrative passages in a similar way that Paul did.  I do not believe that we do.  

My answer is yes.  The only thing the NT authors have over us is inerrancy.  I think these cases show legitimate application of OT passages to NT times, and that anyone should be able to connect the dots and come to the same conclusion.  Think about how Paul argues his case in 1 Cor 9:9, "is it for oxen that God is concerned?"  Paul is not basing his application on inspired apostolic insight, but on insight than anyone ought to be able to glean from that passage.  

For me the question isn't, are OT narratives legitimate sources for modern day application, but how do we learn from those passages correctly so that we can apply them legitimately in today's context.  

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

AndyE wrote:

 

JD Miller wrote:
Numerous examples have been given of NT passages where a narrative was referenced along with a prescriptive command.  Many have pointed out that those narratives referenced in the NT along with a prescription were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  

 

My question for Rajesh:  Since we as Christians have the Holy Spirit, do you believe we have the same authority as Jesus and the apostles to make prescriptive links with narrative passages in a similar way that Paul did.  I do not believe that we do.  

 

My answer is yes.  The only thing the NT authors have over us is inerrancy.  I think these cases show legitimate application of OT passages to NT times, and that anyone should be able to connect the dots and come to the same conclusion.  Think about how Paul argues his case in 1 Cor 9:9, "is it for oxen that God is concerned?"  Paul is not basing his application on inspired apostolic insight, but on insight than anyone ought to be able to glean from that passage.  

For me the question isn't, are OT narratives legitimate sources for modern day application, but how do we learn from those passages correctly so that we can apply them legitimately in today's context.  

So for you, does the inerrancy of the NT writers make the difference in allowing their applications to be biblical command for us?  In other words, can applications we make from the scripture today by "connect[ing] the dots" be seen as prescriptive on others or only on ourselves?

Dave Barnhart

Larry's picture

Moderator

The only thing the NT authors have over us is inerrancy.

Um, isn't the difference inspiration?

AndyE's picture

Larry wrote:

The only thing the NT authors have over us is inerrancy.

Um, isn't the difference inspiration?

Yes that is the reason for their inerrancy.  Agreed.

AndyE's picture

dcbii wrote:
So for you, does the inerrancy of the NT writers make the difference in allowing their applications to be biblical command for us?  In other words, can applications we make from the scripture today by "connect[ing] the dots" be seen as prescriptive on others or only on ourselves?
If the application is valid, then yes is should be seen as prescriptive.  I think God expects us to connect the dots and order our lives accordingly.  Jesus takes the Sadducees to task in Mark 12 because they did not connect the dots properly.  Jesus says they are "quite wrong" because they did not go from "I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob" to "He is not God of the dead but of the living."  

And it's not just OT narrative, it's the entire Bible.  We have to take the entire Bible and learn how to apply it to our lives in the 21st century.

RajeshG's picture

AndyE wrote:

And it's not just OT narrative, it's the entire Bible.  We have to take the entire Bible and learn how to apply it to our lives in the 21st century.

My treatment of what Paul did in 1 Tim. 5:18 supports this point based on his use of two different kinds of passages.

Bert Perry's picture

RajeshG wrote:

<snip>

Nevertheless, I reject the notion that we cannot derive any prescriptive statements from any narrative passages in any way. To take that position is to deny what Paul under inspiration of the Spirit teaches in Scripture.

Similar to but not exactly in the same way as Paul did in 1 Tim. 5:17-18, I believe that we can and must formulate prescriptive statements about many subjects that are not directly addressed by prescriptive statements that are explicitly stated in Scripture. We can and must do so based on the totality of what God has revealed in Scripture about those subjects either explicitly or implicitly (including from certain kinds of narrative passages) by correlating all of that revelation thoroughly by comparing Scripture with Scripture.

It's worth noting that nobody ever said on this forum that we cannot derive prescriptive statements from narrative, but rather it was pointed out that it is extremely dangerous business to do so due to the nature of narrative.  It requires serious looks at culture, geography, and really a level of humility to say "this is what is not obvious here".   The same follows even in other genre when one is addressing things that are not the central point of the passage.  It's not impossible, but it takes a lot of due diligence.

 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Dan Miller's picture

I have not followed these threads. I'm just amazed every day at how they grow.

What I (and I think others) would find interesting, Rajesh, is if you would give an example of an attempt to make a prescriptive conclusion from a descriptive OT narrative that you believe was done poorly. In other words give a case of someone else who concluded that some command was binding today because of an OT narrative and you don't agree that that is binding. And why not?

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

AndyE wrote:

 

dcbii wrote:
So for you, does the inerrancy of the NT writers make the difference in allowing their applications to be biblical command for us?  In other words, can applications we make from the scripture today by "connect[ing] the dots" be seen as prescriptive on others or only on ourselves?

If the application is valid, then yes is should be seen as prescriptive.  I think God expects us to connect the dots and order our lives accordingly.  Jesus takes the Sadducees to task in Mark 12 because they did not connect the dots properly.  Jesus says they are "quite wrong" because they did not go from "I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob" to "He is not God of the dead but of the living." 

And it's not just OT narrative, it's the entire Bible.  We have to take the entire Bible and learn how to apply it to our lives in the 21st century.

I agree with much of this, but you didn't answer the question as to whether (or when) a personal application can be prescriptive for others.  I agree that I need to read and apply the Bible, both for myself, and for those under my direct authority.  What I don't know is whether an application I made from scripture that I am convinced is valid can be made prescriptive on others outside my direct authority, since my applications are not made with inerrant inspiration, even if I do have the illumination of the Holy Spirit.

Dave Barnhart

AndyE's picture

dcbii wrote:

I agree with much of this, but you didn't answer the question as to whether (or when) a personal application can be prescriptive for others.  I agree that I need to read and apply the Bible, both for myself, and for those under my direct authority.  What I don't know is whether an application I made from scripture that I am convinced is valid can be made prescriptive on others outside my direct authority, since my applications are not made with inerrant inspiration, even if I do have the illumination of the Holy Spirit.

If you are not the direct authority over someone, all you can do is try to influence people to what you believe to be correct.  Sort of like Dave Ramsey -- he can say it is wrong to go into debt but since he is not my direct authority, I don't have to obey to him.  I can evaluate his reasoning and decide if he is correct or not.   We do this sort of thing all the time here on SI.  People make claims; we evaluate and decide on the merits.

In a local church context, I feel like people ought to have the freedom to suggest things to other members, but they should be mindful as to any official position of the church or church leadership on the matter.  Ultimately, based roughly on Rom 14, if the church has received a member and his activities as being consistent with the Christian faith (i.e., received him) then I don't think a person ought to "cause a problem" over one of those activities. 

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