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December 28, 2009

Comments

As a general rule, whenever someone tries to apply a Bible verse to her own situation, she is taking the verse out of context. The Bible reader should always remember that she is reading a text written by someone else to someone else.

PP - Your last sentence is the kicker. Christians often forget this. We must always put ourselves in the place of those who would be reading these words for the first time.

In the case of the Gospels, we are reading words spoken by other people to other people, written down by someone else as well who may not have been there to hear them.

I understand the premise in which many promises and passages are written with specific time and people in mind. However, are you suggesting that we skip over portions of scripture, because they were not written to modern day Christians, and in the extreme case of the Jesus Seminar folks, designate which passage is relevant to 21st century Christians?

I am speaking specifically of the "time" passages relative to eschatology- "It is the last hour," "this generation," "must shortly take place," etc. These are often interpreted (incorrectly, IMO) to somehow stretch over centuries. I believe we have to interpret Matthew 24, Acts 2, and Revelation as pertaining to events experienced within the lifetimes of the readers and hearers. R.C. Sproul's "The Last Days According to Jesus" was a big help in this regard. The modern church needs a serious re-evaluation of what "Last Days" means, as I believe we are stuck in a faulty understanding of eschatology as a result of not properly discerning the intended audience of the Bible writers.

Robert L. said:

"However, are you suggesting that we skip over portions of scripture, because they were not written to modern day Christians"

We read all Scripture in its historical context. If by "skipping over" you mean not applying certain Scripture to us today, of course, yes. We have operated like this for centuries. We don't apply Old Covenant Law to anyone today. When people say, "I follow the Bible" or "I live my life by the Bible," these phrases are meaningless. We take certain portions of Scripture to be instructive for our behavior, while others are useful for historical knowledge, but nobody I know "follows" Scripture in the strict sense that they do everything Scripture teaches. Otherwise, we'd all be killing and stoning each other for various sins, sacrificing animals, etc.

It is important to know who wrote the various books of the Bible, to whom, and for what purpose, before we can say de facto it applies to us directly. This is especially true regarding the time passages, as I mentioned in my last post.

Comments by Peter Hammond

Ronald,

Anybody who quotes R.C. Sproul concerning eschatalogical matters (as given above) holds to amillenial or postmillenial theology (or some weird concoction of the two). Because this is false doctrine, a lot of credibility is lost when they claim to have a grasp on proper hermeneutics.

Although I do agree with the video above, there was a lot left unsaid. There is always modern-day application to be gained from any scriptural passage, even 2 Chronicles 7:14. To not address this (which the video does not) is irresponsible. Yes, "we must always put ourselves in the place of those who would be reading these words for the first time" but this does not mean we cannot find something from such passages to which we can apply to our lives.

Never forgot Paul's letter to Timothy in which he said that "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." - 2 Timothy 3:16. To forget that is a slow descent to not ever applying much of the Bible to ourselves and to enter liberalism.

Careful, Cris..."Because this is false doctrine" is merely your personal opinion. There is much ambiguity concerning certain areas of theology, eschatology being one of the prime. Old Earth/Young Earth, cessation of gifts, etc., are others and I'm sure there are many zealots on each side quick to point out the "false doctrine" of the other.

Under the tent of Christianity, there is room for disagreement on many topics which doesn't mean we can't unite on the basics. We can discuss these issues without immediately categorizing the "other" side as wrong.

I don't agree with dispensationalism but that doesn't mean I tell dispensationalists to their faces they are "wrong." I would much rather have a discussion and have us each present our respective case, and refine from there. Same tactic I would use with someone from a different religion.

I do agree with you that we can always find something in Scripture to apply to our lives; nevertheless, there are specific promises made at specific times that we cannot appropriate.

"there are specific promises made at specific times that we cannot appropriate."

This is the point GK should have stuck to. As it is, he went off into the weeds where he seemed to be saying that the Church is not the 'new' Israel.

But the Church is the 'new' Israel, and the promises made in OT times to Israel do redound to the Church.

Actually, it is better to say that OT Israel simply is the Church. The promises made in OT times to the Church are still, in NT times, promises made to the Church.

GK's analogy that a promise made to one son does not apply to a second son is flawed. There is only one son: The Church.

However, GK's point about the passage can still be salvaged. This is because promises made about one time to a son do not apply to the selfsame son at times that the promise is not about. It matters not when the promise is made.

If, on Monday, I promise my son that on Tuesday he may have ice cream, I have not promised him that on Wednesday he may have ice cream. If my son comes to me on Wednesday and asks for the ice cream I promised him on Monday, I may say, without breaking any promise, that he gets no ice cream today.

Likewise, promises made to Israel about their immediate problems and times are promises made to us, the Church, but that does not imply that we can expect God to fulfill them in the Church today. The promises weren't about today. We may certainly learn from them. In particular we may see how God keeps His promises to His People, His Church. But that doesn't give us license to hold God to promises that He never made.

Well said, WisdomLover.

Before the epithet of "Replacement Theology" comes up, we must ask ourselves whether Israel was always DNA-based or if, in fact, Israel was something else (faith-based), from the beginning. I believe the "big picture," or gestalt, of New Testament teaching is that Christ's Covenant eclipses all and that, indeed, Israel has always been the community of faith in the one true God.

Whoops, got off-topic, but what the heck...

Perry,

You can refer to me as some extreme, dogmatic zealot if you want to, but I'm not afraid to call a spade a spade. Jesus wasn't afraid to be dogmatic about things either (i.e. John 14:6). I could have wasted my time and been pluralistic about it, but as Paul did in Athens (even when addressing the delicate area of other religions), I was also willing to just cut to the chase: Amillenialism is incredibily far-fetched and borderline rediculous.

From the theology that's being supported, I'm assuming most here are Calvinist? Well regarding replacement theology, WisdomLover, I'd invite you read Future Israel by Barry E. Horner (a calvinist, supported by John Macarthur). He shows how Replacement Theology stems from centuries of anti-judaism (Augustine, Calvin, Luther and on) and argues Paul's tone towards Israel in the scriptures to reveal how very wrong this theology is.

I don't think I'm arguing for replacement theology for the simple reason that there is no replacement. There is the Church, to quote C.S. Lewis' Screwtape, "spread out through all time and
space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners". Moses and Peter are both members.

Cris said: "You can refer to me as some extreme, dogmatic zealot if you want to..."

Cris, I did not refer to you that way at all, nor do I want to. I believe you are failing to see that there are many learned men and women with PhD's (of which I am not one) who, if put in a room together, would vehemently disagree on various points of Scripture. Who's right and who's wrong in this situation? John Mac Arthur, Jack Hayford, Dr. Frank Beckwith, Greg Koukl, R.C. Sproul - get them in a room and see if they agree on every point of Scripture. Throw Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, and Malcolm Muggeridge into the mix and you'd be hard-pressed to find agreement on everything. But I'd bet they'd agree on one thing: Jesus is Lord, died for our sins, and is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Things like eschatology are ambiguous and open to many different interpretations. None of us are likely 100% right on all points of it, though we may all possess a little truth.

Point is, let's not be dogmatic about that which is ambiguous, or about that for which we do not possess all the information.

WisdomLover: "I don't think I'm arguing for replacement theology for the simple reason that there is no replacement."

Again, well said. Thank you.

Blessings in Christ.

Greg - I would love to hear your take on Malachi 3: 8.

Perry,

You just said those guys would "vehemently disagree" with each other yet you chide me for vehemently disagreeing with you. I guess if one doesn't have a Ph.D, his views must remain ambiguous and doesn't have the platform to be dogmatic.

I don't think eschatology, in this sense, is ambigious.

Relax, Cris. We can all be friends and still disagree. I am not interested in proving I am "right," just throwing another point of view out there.

Be wary of fundamentalism. We all know a lot less than we think we do.

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