Bibliology

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.

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Rules of Affinity, Part 3: The Negative Application

Posted courtesy of Dr Reluctant. The series so far.

These guidelines (the “rules of affinity”) test the distance between a given theological proposal and the actual textual references alleged to lend them authority. As already mentioned in previous posts, all the major non-negotiable doctrines of the Christian Faith have a strong affinity with the wording of the biblical text. Under the Grid of Category Formulations of these Rules of Affinity, all these first level doctrines are C1 and C2 (category 1 and category 2) doctrines. Doctrinal propositions which are arrived at by the consent of several converging biblical texts to bring about an “inference to the best explanation” are C3′s. C3′s are open to revision if better scriptural conclusions from clear texts are forthcoming.

The two other categories in the Grid, which reveal little or no affinity between the words of Scripture and the doctrines supposed to be borne out of it, are C4′s or C5′s. These categories are heavy on inference and light on affinity. They are chock full of human reason and empty of clear, definable connection to the verses which are being unfairly summoned to support them.

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"The question ‘What does this verse mean to me?’ often takes precedent over the prior question, ‘What did the author of this verse mean by it?”

“[M ]any Christians have unwittingly imbibed a postmodern approach to scripture through a failure to properly distinguish between interpretation and application.

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The Preface, Part 4: Marginal Notes in the King James Version

Republished with permission from Theologically Driven. (See also: previous installments in this series.)

The King James-only view argues that only the 1611 KJV is the Word of God in English. All other versions or translations are so corrupt that they are not to be used, nor be appealed to as the Word of God. Most KJV-only advocates contend that the printed Greek text from which the KJV was translated, commonly called the Textus Receptus (TR), is inspired and inerrant, and the KJV is the only translation that accurately translates the TR. But this is not true. The New King James Version (NKJV) is also translated from the TR. Being TR based, the NKJV cannot so easily be discounted by KJV-only proponents. Therefore, they seek to find other ways to disqualify the NKJV.

A common complaint against the NKJV by KJV-only advocates is the use of notes provided by the translators. For example, D. A. Waite says:

The diabolical nature of the New King James Version shows itself in their printing all the various readings of the Greek text in the footnotes. They print all sides and take their stand in favor of none of them. By so doing, they confuse the readers. The editors have made no decision as to what God’s Words really are (Defending the King James Bible, p. 125).

William P. Grady sounds a similar warning:

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Rules of Affinity - Classifying Relationships between Doctrines and Their Supporting Texts

Posted courtesy of Dr Reluctant.

What I call “The Rules of Affinity” are a relatively straightforward device whereby a theological proposition (e.g. that a sinner is justified by faith) is compared with the texts of Scripture by which it is supported to disclose how closely those passages agree with the proposition in question.

Thus, a theological proposition may be adduced which has either direct “one-on-one” relation to a text of the Bible (e.g. justification by faith, or that God created the world), or strong reasons for deriving the doctrine from certain texts of the Bible (e.g. the doctrine of the Trinity); or it may have little or nothing to do with any scriptural passage brought forth to substantiate it, especially once the passage is viewed within its context (e.g. propositions such as the covenant of grace or infant baptism).

It is understood, of course, that the wrong texts may be mistakenly employed in support of a sound doctrine. These “rules” will help ferret out such misapplications by highlighting the weak link between text and proposition. This does not mean the proposition must be discarded automatically. It may be that other texts of Scripture can be brought forth to fully support the doctrinal proposition. In which case, ones scriptural case for a certain theological belief will only be bolstered. On the other hand, if after successive attempts to align the Bible with a given doctrine fail to produce any clear relationship between them, the proposition must be held to suspect or even spurious.

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Dreams, Out of Body Experiences & Visions

Reprinted with permission from Voice, March/April, 2012.

Many Christians have read popular accounts about people who claim that they have been in heaven and have come back to report on it or that they have died and hovered over their own bodies before being brought back to life. Some of the people in my congregation have read Heaven Is For Real and 90 Minutes in Heaven, as well as other books, and have taken them as real descriptions of heaven.

Does the Bible have anything to say about these phenomena or the many accounts of visions and dreams about spiritual matters?

This is a timely topic since there are many who accept these accounts as not only being factual but as direct revelations from God. Yet someone may ask what is the harm in believing these accounts? The answer is threefold. First, we have a complete revelation from God in the Bible and we do not need any further revelation (including dreams and visions). Second, Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 12 that he was transported to heaven yet he was not allowed to speak of what he saw in heaven. Third, there are people who take these visions as confirmation that they are going to heaven when they are actually lost.

Three passages to keep in mind

As we begin to discuss the topic at hand, we need to consider three Bible passages to give us some important insight: Ecclesiastes 5:3, 2 Corinthians 11:14-15, and 2 Corinthians 12:1-4. Whereas none of these passages are definitive when it comes to the topic of dreams and visions, they are helpful to give us a framework for discussion.

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Me. Here. Now. Should We Read Our Experiences into the Bible?

A few years ago I visited a mentally disturbed young woman at a psychiatric hospital in our town. As we talked, she showed me her Bible, opened to Genesis one, and told me how the chapter had taken place in her life, point for point in the past few days. Then she proceeded to explain each day’s events as her own last six days. As kindly as I possibly could, I told her, “No, this only happened once in the past, long before you or I were ever born. If you want to be glad because the God who created everything also exists in your life, I affirm your thinking but Genesis 1 was all in the past. It happened once.”

“Oh,” she said, “I see.” Then we had a sensible conversation. At least for the time of my visit, we agreed on Genesis 1.

Extreme, you say? To be sure. The lady’s interpretation, however, was the extreme form of an error frequently made by Christians trying to make sense of their Bibles. Many Christians interpret passages of Bible history in terms of what they are experiencing. Please don’t misunderstand my intent. I am not criticizing application, which can legitimately be many-sided from any given Bible passage. I am talking about the process, which says, “For me, this is that.”

The most refined form of experiential Bible interpretation is the existentialist interpretation technique of Rudolf Bultmann. Bultmann, an expert in the New Testament, was convinced that existentialist philosophy laid the right foundation for understanding the Bible. The Bible is not directly God’s Word, he said, but rather God’s revelation concealed in human words. And the truth revealed will be ever new. The believer must experience God himself as he reads. That is the revelation.1

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By What Authority?

Reprinted with permission from As I See It. AISI is sent free to all who request it by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com.

The question of “tradition” in the New Testament

The Bible declares its own Divine inspiration through the superintending work of the Holy Spirit over the authors:

Knowing this first that no prophetic utterance in Scripture comes from the [prophet’s] own motivation. For the prophetic utterance never came from human will, but while they were being carried along by the Holy Spirit, men spoke from God. (2 Pet. 1:20, 21; all translations are my own)

All Scripture is God-breathed. (2 Tim. 3:16a)

It likewise affirms its absolute truthfulness and freedom from factual error, Psalm 19:9b (among several places):

The fear of Yahweh is pure, standing for ever;

The judgments of Yahweh are true; they are completely just.

Furthermore, the Bible teaches its own all-sufficiency in matters of theological and spiritual truth, in short, its finality as the authoritative source of doctrinal beliefs and Christian practices. This is clearly the proper inference, the reasonable corollary of its Divine inspiration, as Paul plainly affirms:

All Scripture [literally, writing] is God-breathed, and [therefore] useful for doctrinal instruction, for conviction, for correction, for training in righteous conduct, so that the man of God may be completely equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16, 17)

Or, to restate it: the inspired Scriptures are an all-sufficient source for proper beliefs and conduct for every Christian. In short, they lack nothing necessary to becoming a Christian (“They are able to make you wise regarding salvation through faith in Messiah Jesus,” 2 Tim. 3:15) and growing to full Christian maturity. It might be said that they have “100% of the necessary daily requirements of all spiritual nutrients, vitamins and minerals.” They are, in a word, complete, and therefore the final and exclusive authoritative source of what Christians are supposed to believe and do. None other is necessary, or available.

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