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Saturday, November 15, 2008

I've been contemplating my hermeneutics

I was just talking with a friend named Scott earlier, and one of us brought up the Koine Greek language and we were talking about how it was the common language of that day (when the New Testament was written, that is). I actually like to think about this because it just points out the fact that God meant for the common people to be able to read and understand His words as He gave them. I also pointed out the fact that many of us would be able to read certain portions of Scripture that we would consider to be plain on the surface such as Ephesians 2:8-9:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

I think that if any of us were to be talking to, say, a Roman Catholic, at some point in the conversation we’d be tempted just to read this passage to them slowly and say, “SEE?!” Well, I sometimes find myself feeling the same way when I’m talking to some people about Romans 9:1-8 or some other passages, so I decided to just paste one of those passages up here and emphasize certain words that I’d like everyone to consider (I mean really think through instead of just brushing them aside because it doesn’t fit with your theological structure) by making the words bold or underlining them or putting them in all caps.

So that’s what I’m gonna do now. And I’m taking for granted that everyone knows the context of this particular book of the Bible (the old, shadowy, typological realities being replaced by the fullness of the prophesied blessings and inheritances), and I’m just taking one text and putting it out there for everyone’s consideration.

And without further ado…

For you (that means YOU as a believer) have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, "If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned." Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, "I tremble with fear." But you HAVE COME (...pause...) to Mount Zion AND to the city of the living God, THE HEAVENLY JERUSALEM, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly (ie. the CHURCH) of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect (the perfected saints in heaven), and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." This phrase, "Yet once more," indicates the removal of things that are shaken--that is, things that have been made--in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for RECEIVING a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.
(Heb 12:18-29 ESV)

I like to read the things that I've put emphasis on right after "But you have come to..." (you have come to Mt. Zion; you have come to the heavenly Jerusalem; etc.) I just get so excited when I read passages like these, even when they're not as clear to my brothers who don't see the fullness of the blessings with which we've been blessed.


Char said...

Hey Mike.

On the simplicity of the scriptures, got some (more) Calvin for ya;

For it was not without an admirable arrangement of Providence, that the sublime mysteries of the kingdom of heaven have for the greater part been delivered with a contemptible meanness of words. Had they been adorned with a more splendid eloquence, the wicked might have cavilled, and alleged that this constituted all their force. But now, when an unpolished simplicity, almost bordering on rudeness, makes a deeper impression than the loftiest flights of oratory, what does it indicate if not that the Holy Scriptures are too mighty in the power of truth to need the rhetorician’s art?

Institutes 1.8.1

Mike said...

It's kinda late, and I'm looking at a long night, so I may be wrong in how I read this...

Ok, I'm gonna say that it's a positive comment. Thanks Char!

I guess Calvin's agreeing with my simplistic way of just letting the text speak for itself. Ya know, I wish I could post an audio because it loses something in the translation to text. I like to read and emphasize all the important little parts--that really let's the text speak for itself!

And you were arguing for a teaching Magesterium!

Char said...

Calvin's just saying along with you that the scriptures are simple. They don't contain sophistry, nor do they need it-all the weight is in the truth of them. So no one can claim you just believe this because of the fine sounding arguments!

He felt like this was why there was a mix of beautiful poetry in a book like Isaiah (showing it could be done) and simple unadorned language (he cites Jeremiah here but I disagree with him-Jeremiah's anguish is deep and exquisite).

When was I arguing for a magisterium? You were the one quoting Augustin. What's your view of sola scriptura anyway?

Char said...

How'd the paper turn out anyway?

Dramatized Exegesis