Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Tonight, we’re going to be continuing our look at becoming a thinking Christian. I wish to thank Joel for his suggestion for tonight’s topic as he played Devil’s Advocate saying essentially that there was no need for this thinking stuff. Just give me Jesus and the Bible!
Unfortunately, this is an all too common idea in Christian circles. Of course, this isn’t to dismiss Jesus or the Bible. They are essential. It’s to deal with this attitude that the life of the intellect does not help the Christian. It’s a kind of position taken that sounds so spiritual but is oh so not.
To begin with, which Jesus do you mean? Do you mean the Arian Jesus of the Jehovah’s Witnesses who is the archangel Michael and is in no way God? Do you mean the Jesus of the Mormons who is the spirit brother of Lucifer? Do you mean the Jesus of Islam who is the greatest prophet before Muhammad and is virgin-born and a Messiah? Do you mean the Jesus of orthodoxy who is the second person of the Trinity?
Of course, the last one is the correct answer, but the answer is important. Those are all different Jesuses that Paul warned us of in 2 Corinthians. When it comes to Jesus, any old Jesus won’t do. How do you know which Jesus is the correct one? That’s when you get into Christology and thinking.
We get our doctrine of Christology from Scripture, although it does take philosophy to understand a lot of it. What about the Bible? A lot of people pride themselves for instance upon interpreting Scripture literally. The reality is however that there are several parts of Scripture that are not to be taken literally.
How do you know what hermeneutic to use? (Hermeneutics is the art of interpretation) You get that from an understanding of reality. The Bible does not tell you how to read it. It assumes that you are a good reader. In many ways, you must approach the Bible like you do other texts. You realize there are ways that languages operate to communicate reading and whether to take the text literally or not.
Why can’t you get it from the Bible? Because you have to interpret the Bible when you read it to understand it. Even if you are interpreting the text literally, you are still interpreting it. Where do you get the hermeneutic from? Basically, reality. It’s the same way you believe your five senses are giving you valid information about the world.
Do you always interpret the Bible literally? No. Consider it like reading Shakespeare. There are times you will interpret it literally and times you will not. How will you know? It will require you study literature and understand genres. It’s not an easy task, but it must be done. One can pride themselves on taking the text literally and then see what happened when Dake did the same thing in his Study Bible. Ever wonder where Benny Hinn got the idea that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit each have a body, soul, and spirit? Look to Dake.
What about the Holy Spirit? Unfortunately, a lot of people when wanting to interpret a passage of Scripture point to the Spirit as telling them what the text means. This is not the role of the Holy Spirit and frankly, I get concerned when people toss the Holy Spirit around to justify their interpretations because of a lack of study on their part. There’s nothing spiritual about doing that. In fact, I’d say it’s an insult to God that we punt to Him often to excuse our ignorance.
The idea is instead that the Holy Spirit works with you in interpretation by illuminating you on the meaning of the text when you understand it. When you understand the text, the Spirit helps you in seeing how you are to live under the truth of the text. The Holy Spirit is not to be a personal answer-man for when you don’t understand something in the Bible.
Also, if you are a believer in the book, you should be familiar with many books. Don’t be so arrogant as to think you have been the sole beneficiary of the truth of Scripture. Instead, read from those who have spent their lives studying the biblical languages and the art of interpretation. (And some of us could be greatly helped by taking the time to learn those languages, myself included)
Remember. Because something sounds spiritual, that doesn’t mean it’s good. Not everyone is to be an intellectual, but no one who is a Christian is to be an anti-intellectual.