Hermeneutics

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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Whatever Happened to Literal Hermeneutics? (Part 2)

(From Theologically Driven. Read the series so far.)

This blog post is fairly ambitious, seeking to answer two questions: (1) How can we prove the existence of universally “received laws of language”? And, assuming they exist, (2) Who gets to decide what those laws are in the absence of an explicit biblical statement of those laws?

My answer to the first question may seem a bit unnerving, but hopefully I can make a recovery with the explanation. My answer, simply, is that we can’t prove the existence of universal laws of language. That’s the nature of a transcendental—it can’t be proven, only assumed. But what we can do is to demonstrate that people universally observe certain laws when they use the medium of human language; in fact, they cannot cogently do otherwise. This is what logicians sometimes call “transcendental” argumentation.

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Whatever Happened to Literal Hermeneutics? (Part 1)

(From Theologically Driven)

For decades it was assumed, by both sides of the debate between dispensational and Reformed theology, that the primary distinction between the two models (there were really no other viable evangelical options in the early days) was hermeneutical—dispensationalists held consistently to a “literal” reading of Scripture (and most importantly the OT prophetic portions of Scripture), while the Reformed were comfortable with a nonliteral (e.g., spiritual or typological) interpretation of those same texts.

Anthony Hoekema, for instance, reflecting this understanding from a Reformed perspective, wrote in his chapter of The Meaning of the Millennium,

Premillennialists, particularly those of dispensationalist persuasion, are committed to what is commonly called the ‘literal’ interpretation of Old Testament prophecy…. Amillennialists, on the other hand, believe that though many Old Testament prophecies are indeed to be interpreted literally, many others are to be interpreted in a nonliteral way. (172)

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Book Review - Invitation to Biblical Interpretation

Andreas J. Köstenberger, Richard Patterson
Kregel Academic & Professional (2011)
Hardcover, 896 pages

This large volume has already positioned itself as a premier textbook for hermeneutics for evangelicals. The authors; one an OT commentator, and one a NT commentator, have put a lot of thought into their production. The publisher has produced an attractive, well planned volume.

But why buy this book over others? The collaboration of Klein, Blomberg and Hubbard,Introduction to Biblical Interpretation (2nd ed.), covers all the main introductory issues. The Kaiser/Silva Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics (2nd ed.), intriguingly allows digression between the authors. Bauer’s Inductive Bible Study updates Traina’s famous manual. I am partial to Zuck’s Basic Bible Interpretation as a “safe” starter. And, of course, there are many others. So what does this book have going for it?

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An Interview on the State of Contemporary Dispensationalism

Editor’s note: This interview dates back to last fall, but I only recently discovered it—and found it quite interesting. The interview was conducted by Adrian Isaacs, M.Rel., Th.D (Cand.). He interviewed Dr. Christopher Cone for dissertation research at Wycliffe College, University of Toronto.

Isaacs: In your estimation, how would you describe the current level of scholarly, academic discussion regarding dispensationalism within the overall evangelical academic community (eg. virtually non-existent, some discussion exists, still a fair amount of discussion)?

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Trying to Get the Rapture Right (Part 11)

(Read the entire series.)

As I bring this series to a close, I want to provide some summaries of the various rapture positions, along with a few pros and cons. Of course, I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, and I understand that much more could be said in support of each position. Still, my main goal has been to come at the doctrine from a slightly different angle and to present the theological issues which arise.

Posttribulationism

The posttrib position is that the church goes through the Tribulation. Proponents of this view rightly call attention to what they see as a natural correspondence between the Second Coming of Jesus and the rapture of the Church. Christ only comes once, they say, and it makes no sense to seek out any other event slotted into God’s calendar seven years before that great event.

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Covenants: Clarity, Ambiguity, and Faith (5)

Read the series so far.

As I have said, at the most rudimentary level covenants are for the purpose of reinforcing plain speech about specific things. They do this formally in the terms of the covenant and its obligations upon specified parties. God holds human beings to the very words of their covenant oaths (Jer. 34:18, Ezek. 17:15c). The Bible also indicates that God “keeps covenant” (Deut. 7:9, Neh. 9:32, Dan. 9:4). We would expect no less from Him who cannot lie and who does not change.

Of all verbal communications, written and oral, surely the most steadfast and adamant are covenants. And surely the least ambiguous and fluid would also be covenants?

The oaths in the covenants

The oath is the decisive ingredient in any covenant. We have already taken a look at the oath which the people took in answer to God’s Book of the Covenant in Exodus. Now we need to examine, if only briefly, the oaths of the other Divine covenants which can be easily spotted in Scripture. (There are certain covenants of a speculative nature which it is impossible to pin down in the text of the Bible. These include the three theological covenants of Reformed covenant theology; the so-called “Adamic” and “Edenic” covenants of some sectors of Dispensational theology; and the “Creation” covenant of New covenant theology).

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Covenants: Clarity, Ambiguity, and Faith (Part 4)

Read the series so far.

If it were up to us …

If the Lord had relied upon men to fulfill their duties before fulfilling His oaths there would be no reason at all to make covenants in the first place. He was on the safest ground possible, and could have promised the universe without having to concern Himself about fulfilling anything. We all fail. Christians know that unless God is faithful to stand behind His promise in the gospel, we are all done for. Salvation under the New Covenant blood of Christ cannot depend upon us. Inner spiritual perfection is even more impossible for us to achieve than the outward obedience of the Law (1 Jn. 1:8, 10). If God’s promise of salvation and eternal life depended for an instant on our works, heaven would have one human inhabitant—Jesus!

It is for this reason that God only made one bi-lateral covenant with men: the Mosaic covenant. Exodus 24 records the solemn oath which the children of Israel took:

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