Hermeneutics

The Creation Narrative - Genesis 1 & 2 (Part 10)

Read the series so far.

Adam Is Tested

In the next section (2:15-17) we read of God giving the man a straightforward command:

Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you may not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was an actual tree. It is not called a symbol and need not be seen as one. I agree with Merrill that we should not think of “good and evil” in this place as contrasting values so much as an idiom for comprehensive knowledge.1 Certainly, ethical knowledge would be included, since all knowledge bears an ethical stamp, but the innocence of our first parents does not at all lead us to think they were ignorant of the meanings of the terms “good” and “evil.” God is communicating meaningfully to Adam, not speaking over his head. Every word which God speaks to Adam presupposes his ability to receive and comprehend it. Thus, the expression “to freely eat” was just as well understood as the designation “every tree of the garden.” Again the warning “in the day you eat of it you shall surely die” was God speaking to a comprehending and responsive creature. He was not speaking into the air.2

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The Purposes of Human Language

From Dispensational Publishing House; used by permission. Read the series so far.

Dispensationalism & the Literal Interpretation of the Bible, Part 3

Human language had a disruption at the incident of the Tower of Babel (Gen 11:1-10). There was an initial unity of human language; there was “the same language and the same words” (Gen. 11:1). (The KJV has “of one language, and of one speech,” Gen. 11:1. The NIV has “one language and a common speech,” Gen. 11:1.) There was an organic unity of speech. Vocabulary and syntax were a comprehensible unit understood by all.  Communication was swift. Philologists and linguists fairly agree that there was a parent language to all the languages of the world, based on similarities of vocabulary, grammar and syntax. No one knows what the original language was, although until the 19th century the theory that it was Hebrew was practically unquestioned.

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Language Requires a Rational Mind

From Dispensational Publishing House; used by permission. Read the series so far.

Dispensationalism & the Literal Interpretation of the Bible, Part 2

A third component of the image of God in man is morality. This has to do with powers which inform one of right and wrong and enable him to act accordingly. A fourth aspect is spirituality. This is the capacity for fellowship with God, to understand and participate in spiritual things, the capacity for eternal life, and the like.

A last capacity in the image of God has to do with physical considerations.

There seems to be a physical dimension to the image of God since man did indeed have a body as a result of being created in the image of God (Gen. 2:7). One way of understanding this is in the sense that Adam’s body anticipated Christ’s body in the incarnation. God made Adam’s body after the blueprint or pattern for the enfleshment He had determined for Christ. The triune God was incorporeal before the incarnation; all the persons of the Trinity were spirit beings. Physical factors regarding God at the time of creation were largely anticipatory. God, however, undoubtedly was a Christophany (a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ) when He walked daily in the garden (Gen. 3:8), and no doubt was also on Day Six when he made man’s body “from the ground” (Gen. 2:7).

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Dispensationalism Then & Now, Part 2

(From Dispensational Publishing House; used by permission. Read Part 1.)

A Renewed Understanding of Hermeneutics

My personal concerns have to do with some of the new proposals for a dispensational approach to the Bible, i.e., a critique of some of the structural points that hitherto were not characteristic of dispensational thought. One major principle will be discussed here—biblical hermeneutics. There are other factors that could be dealt with profitably as well.

Principles of Biblical interpretation are the first order of concerns in structuring a doctrine or a comprehensive method of interpreting the Bible, foundational to correct exegesis itself. Often the order is reversed. It is often asserted with vigor that Biblical hermeneutics must come from interpreting the Bible itself, i.e., a simple matter of exegesis. But this appears to be a circular procedure, i.e., using hermeneutical principles on the Bible in order to find the Bible’s hermeutical principles (to be used on the Bible).

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The Covenant in Classical Covenant Theology (Part 2)

(Read Part 1.)

If we turn to Covenant theology’s own explanations of their system we find a curious dualism of frankness and subterfuge. I do not use “frankness” in the ethical sense, just in the sense that there is sometimes a willingness to face the text and deal with what it actually says.

Likewise, by “subterfuge” I am not saying there is an unethical motive in these men, but that they almost instinctively avoid the clear implications of passages which undermine their teaching. Robertson, for example, when dealing with the inauguration of the Abrahamic covenant, carefully picks his way through Genesis 15 (and 12:1) without mentioning God’s land-promise (The Christ of the Covenants, ch. 8). He first constructs his thesis with the help of certain NT texts, and then deals with the land issue once he has a typological framework to put it in.

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Are Dispensationalists Fighting a Losing Battle?

© 2015 Dispensational Publishing House, Inc. Used by permission.

Where are we headed today in terms of dispensational theology?

This fascinating question could be answered on many levels—spiritually, biblically, prophetically, theologically, academically, ecclesiastically, culturally and in other ways.

I will seek to address this topic thoughtfully in this new series of blog articles that will run intermittently over the next several weeks. In the best case, my take on the subject will serve to provoke much further thought and discussion—rather than being considered a comprehensive answer.

Let’s start by looking at the question from a wide perspective, in terms of our current cultural situation.

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Dispensational Distinctives

(© 2015 Dispensational Publishing House, Inc. Used by permission.)

Dispensational theology rests upon a premise that is widely acknowledged, even by non-dispensationalists—namely, that God deals with people in different ways at different times in history.

There are many instances in Scripture that could be used to illustrate this point. Perhaps one of the clearest is found in Matthew 16. Here the Apostle Peter, having just been blessed by Christ for his magnificent testimony of faith in which he proclaimed Jesus to be the Messiah and the Son of God (Matt. 16:13-20), immediately receives Christ’s admonishment for his disastrous efforts to reprove the Lord Jesus after His first major proclamation of His coming death and resurrection.

“Get behind Me, Satan!” (Matt. 16:23) was Christ’s startling rejoinder to Peter at that moment.

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Whatever Happened to Literal Hermeneutics (Part 4)

From Theologically Driven. Read the series so far.

Having established two axiomatic principles of language that govern the intelligible use of words (the Univocal Nature of Language and the Jurisdiction of Authorial Intent), we need to pause, I think, to make an important qualification—not so much a third axiom of language, but an answer to a common observation that is often raised at this point, viz., that the Scriptures have two authors, divine and human.

As such, some non-dispensationalists maintain, God is able to use linguistic structures with a broad semantic/syntactical range to secretly but accurately communicate meanings additional to what the human author intended. This being the case, they reason, it is possible to affirm the two principles above but still find a loophole, unique to the Christian Scriptures, that allows two disparate streams of intentionality in a single text: the divine author intended more than or other than what the human author intended, and that’s OK in view of the inscrutable mystery of inspiration.

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