Monday, January 30, 2006

Exegetics, exegetica, and on and on...

If you meet someone and they say to you, "I'm a an exegete and apart from me, you can have no knowledge of the gospel, of who Christ is, of what salvation is like, and of what the effect is to be when the gospel is applied to the life of the believer", then don't waste your time talking with him. Because I've already done it and it is useless. Exegetics itself is an extremely useful tool. It's the man behind the exegetics that has the potential to make it dangerous. The remark in question was as follows:

"Apart from exegetics, we have no knowledge of the gospel, of who Christ is, of what salvation is like, and of what the effect is to be when the gospel is applied to the life of the believer."

We are apart from God. Exegetics is also apart from God. God brings us into reconciliation with Himself through providing His Son to us for the purpose of bringing us into a relationship with Him that allows us to be in His presence. Let's not forget that exegetics is a man-made science which we use to look back at the words of the church fathers and ascertain, as close as we can, what they said. Or much more importantly what those God inspired authors were told. Even in that way, exegetics is especially limited in rendering an understanding that is complete by itself, in light of these statments of Paul's in 1 Cor. 2:

10[b](T)For to us God revealed them (U)through the Spirit;

. 12Now we (X)have received, not the spirit of (Y)the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God,
13which things we also speak, (
Z)not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

1 Cor. 6-7:
6Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are (A)mature; a wisdom, however, not of (B)this age nor of the rulers of (C)this age, who are (D)passing away;
7but we speak God's wisdom.

4and my message and my preaching were (F)not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of (G)the Spirit and of power,
5so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on (
H)the power of God.

I think God just spoke for Himself.

Nothing stated here is suggesting we should discard exegetics. Nor that anybody even wants to. However, exegetics can be right and it can be wrong, depending on it's practice in the fallen hands of any given man.

One of the problems during our practicing of exegetics is, we don't always do our business by doing what God said above, "...combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words".

The apostles could not always refer to, when given the available words in our fallen world, find one to convey God's Spirit-worldly intended meaning. Much of the time the apostles are actually introducing semantic definition and ideas within their message that hitherto did not exist, laying the groundwork for a new dictionary of words which only the bible has the definitions for, and therefore would be beyond the reach of any Greek lexicon or Hebrew dictionary.

In many cases the apostles were semantically incorrect, in our terms, but in all cases, do render their final intended meaning clearly with their surrounding statements.

The main problem in exegetics is that certain issues and meanings will never be agreed upon, within the practice of exegetics. The finest exegetes in the world now and forever will disagree. For that reason, I believe, exegetics, as a science, must fall into a subcategory, in the pursuit of meaning, within a larger body of discernment. It's all about discernment. And prudence. I'm surely not going to do a very good job clarifying those two virtues here, but possibly in some future posts I can have some fun and build on what I can extract from the bible about them. I'm simply trying to remove some roadblocks placed in front of the average believer by poorly done exegetics which may cause that believer to stumble in his efforts to cut through the confusion when seeking biblical Truths. I certainly do not claim to have the whole scheme figured out yet, and frankly I'm sure I never will have it completely, but in general, what I've said here appears to me to be accurate, and a fine starting point to continue from, while proceeding down the bramble infested highway of Christian growth.

The mind of the person in the opening illustration of this post is unduly empowering himself when he speaks,"Apart from exegetics,we have no knowledge of the gospel, of who Christ is, of what salvation is like, and of what the effect is to be when the gospel is applied to the life of the believer". And by assuming power in that fashion it is taking over control of the self contained and self empowered truths of the bible. What we have in this speaker is a very powerful human mind that has not grasped the well seasoned discernment it needs to aquire before it can properly apply exegetics towards biblical Truths.

Exegetics is a critical aid if we are to understand God's word, but poorly done, it can be useless. Dead. Poorly done exegetics can leave people with dangerous man-made conclusions involving the message of God's Word that may hinder the work of the Spirit in them and hinder their understanding of what Christ was sent here to do for them. So be careful.

I'm out of time so here are some proverbs that are truly enjoyable for me to contemplate with regards to the studying of the whole bible, therby allowing the Lord to speak its single meaning to us on His own terms.

Hope this stimulated as much thought in you as in me. Thanks for looking in. Any feedback would be relished, especially more in the way of critical counsel or correction, than in the way of agreement. Some edification please. No desire to debate, just to be corrected, insightfully, and share, and grow and be reconciled, towards the goal "of us all being in the one mind of Christ" which He asks us to strive after.

Those proverbs I mentioned:

God refers to the urtterances of His mouth saying "They are all straightforward to him who understands,..."

"and all desirable things cannot compare with her

"On the lips of the discerning, wisdom is found"

"Where there are many words, transgression is unavoidable,..." It just makes you pause and
think doesn't it.

"I, wisdom dwell with prudence, and I find knowledge and discretion."

"From everlasting I was established...when He established the heavens I (wisdom) was there".

"a false balance is an abomination to the Lord". Watch your perspective.

"The Lord will not allow the righteous to hunger". If He is referring to food, then He would feel even moreso about spiritual food. Jesus said "I am the True bread from heaven...", "Those who eat of Me will never hunger."

"But we have the mind of Christ". That is quite a gift.

Monday, January 23, 2006

I Like That..

I couldn't help but visit the Pontificators blog just out of curiosity and found time to inadvisably inject my own underdeveloped remarks about the theological discussion at hand. And while I didn't use the phrase "like flies trying to find their way out of a fly bottle", I sort of like that. I was intrigued by the fact that this person below, presumably, a Catholic, agreed with me, hopefully suggesting a possible much-encompassing accuracy to our remarks. Or we could be way off. At any rate I thought it was cute and had to snatch it up for the record even though I'm not sure what the bulk of his remark is talking about. But you know how those genius' are sometimes:

34. Spirit of Vatican II Says: January 23rd, 2006 at 3:16 am
We wander in what Todd Saunders, above, calls the circular theological trap, like flies trying to find their way out of the fly-bottle.
What is missing is consultation of what the Council called THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES.
The Gospel articulates itself truly only within open dialogue with the questions of contemporary humankind. A self-contained Christian discourse is by that very token false, an idol.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Talking About Scripture Together Without Talking In Circles

My goal in this blog is to provide inquirers with a quick read on who I am and why. To post my perspectives while not really asking or posing any questions, although without discouraging comments either. Hopefully, filling in some missing information for those who need to know more about a comment I've made somewhere else in the blogisphere or elsewhere. And probably partly, to provide a record, in print, for myself, of thoughts and opinions I have. Primarily to frame who I am for anyone who is curious.

The blogisphere is by far the best means yet for dissecting ideas with others on-line. No more or no less useful than the care and attention given it by those who use it. Therefore, a lot of wasteful arguing often ensues. I remember at one point in my twenties watching Phil Donahue quite a bit and seeing, show after show, the crowd never working toward a resolution of the question at hand. How tiresome that got. How without any use that is. Since there was no agreement even being strived for most of the time, I couldn't justify wasting my time getting all worked up over the issues when noone was really looking for a solution, but only for things to be seen their way.

The same thing happens in the blogisphere. Luckily, in the Christian blogisphere we can refer to the Truth. The bible. Our God tells us He is not the God of confusion. So if what a person finds themselves saying in these blogs is confusing, or not clearly backed up by scripture, or is backed up by scripture but simply not being represented clearly by that person, then how worthwhile is your time being spent? Perhaps you should be studying more and talking less, therby letting the whole of your studies in God's word season inside of you a bit. As long as you see how He is the Truth, the Way, and the Life, then you have the most important victory available to you. That's why I try to be quiet. That's when I learn the most. That took me a long time to learn and primarily through time after time making a fool of myself by speaking too soon. I can still do that. I'm sure it will be a lifelong battle to learn how to wait until I've weighed my words carefully before I turn them loose.Very few things are as important as that.

I have a funny way of blogging. I tend to come back to a post for days after I have posted it and fine tune it and fine tune it. It is a record of my thoughts about something that I am trying to say as completely and effectively as possible, oftentimes for my own future reference. So with that in mind, the following is a comment I posted on the comment page of someone elses blog. It doesn't really matter where or even what the question was. It took me an hour to write and I want to preserve alot of the thoughts contained in it about debating things in the bible that are less than clear, and my opinion on part of the approach we as Christians need to keep in mind, as we dialogue on what the bible says to us individually.

I find it unsettling and disheartening that when I meet other Christians and want to share in conversation about things in Gods word that each of us finds exciting, that we can't, because we don't believe in the same thing. That we're talking from different theologies, or differing bible translations or some other difference. People get defensive. That's wrong. Christian biblical truth has been muddled by many great thinkers who stopped short of trying to strive to be of one mind, that is ultimately Christ's, as He has instructed us to do. He tells us we have the mind of Christ. I suppose that is a combination of having God's word and the Holy Spirit to help us understand the wisdom and knowledge that is contained in it. He is not a God of confusion and fragmentation. There are a lot more sensible things to be said on the subject than I am going to say right here, that's for sure, but this, and what follows, is a start.

Comment Reference:
I think if we all went by "what we can know for sure" from the bible, then we would be attaining more closely to "the unity of the one mind of Christ". It's terribly easy to speculate further about the real meanings of God's word that are not real clear, and in my opinion, harmless if done in the right way, but is also sternly warned against. And some very sensible arguements are made against speculating (I use the word "speculations" from the NASB) as well, by the apostles that should be easily understood. We want to know it "all" though, as the presently fleshly children of God, and it can be very divisive. The average person covets that power of all-knowledge. With very bright men all through history, it has been shown that their modest power can go wildly wrong. But at least we've stopped slaughtering each other over it for the time being.

My point is that there is much more that we wish we could know than we have been permitted to know given the information revealed to us by God, by His design I believe, and we have to contain ourselves wisely in the zealous pursuit to know more of it. Yet, instead, we tend to fret about it and warn each other Christians about our own imaginings and speculations. That is a wasteful fleshly undertaking which has gained almost truthlike acceptance, to me testifying also to the abundance of mutually unaccepting denominations.

There is nothing more enlightening and productive than active dialogue and even lively debate towards growth and understanding of God's word. But then draw back and conclude in what we can know for sure and letting each man struggle with the unknowable in his own way. This battle of theologies we are in in the Christian world, to me is a classic example of being "in Apollos" or "in Cephas" or "in Paul" or "in Calvin". We are told, and have seen, it causes problems. It caused big problems for the Anabaptists in Calvin's day as well as many others. That's a dramatic example, but how is a person sopposed to process all of that history. Calvin got some big ones wrong! Some of his conclusions are revolting to other Christians when put alongside other things we are told by God, for sure, about salvation, assurance, the sinful nature, etc. And his speculations have caused alot of unrest in the body of Christ. They have helped many but might their absence have helped many more? Now, I have but little other choice than to speculate myself.

It seems to me that today there are "Calvinist's" who see the incompleteness of Calvin's ideas and are trying to pick up where he left off and attempt to complete his ideas. That is a worthwhile undertaking. It is just hard to watch the continued fall out amongst Christians from his radical views.

So let us know what we can know, but demand that it pass the test of scripture. If it's not made clear then we are fools to suppose to finish God's work for Him. If it's not made clear by Him then don't give it undue importance that does not come from Him.

There is only one Truth, one right answer. I think sometimes we "think that away" in an effort to over explain things that don't need over explaining.

Divergent viewpoints can be healthy and they can be destructive, even fatal. (I need to find some scripture to back that up, I think it's there somewhere).

Just some points to ponder.

...Yearning for that peace in the Body of believers that is probably not reasonable to think will come on this earth until that great day.

Until that great day, Todd

See you next time!
I was fiddling around and I accidentally wiped out the picture of my daughter which I had up as a post for no particular reason, but I thought just to be complete I had better repost it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

For the Record

Posted by PicasaO.k. It looks like I've figured out how to post pictures at last. My daughter.

Viewer Caution Advised

Posted by Picasa Me. In the flesh. Just in case you were curious.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Just Museing About Something for a Minute...

I have absolutely nothing intelligent to say about Covenant Theology, and it is as follows.

It strikes me, in the small amount of time that I've been able to devote towards understanding Cvt. Th., that it is weighted down by the appearance to me that it is some of God's students trying to solve a riddle. It simply renders God's word as too much of a riddle for which we cannot be sure of the answer. It seems as though the answers to the problem of the lack of certainty of meaning in the lesser clear areas of God's word, which are maybe more numerous than not, are attempted to be answered by many great men coming up with great ideas about great possibilities of meaning . Many of the great thinkers differing from one another. Almost like, in their striving, they are trying too hard. Proving their own minds but not doing enough for the general Christian consciousness that is looking at the same word of God; giving something for people to work from but too often something incomplete to cling to as well. I can't help but have come to my mind the early Calvinist's burning of all of the Anabaptist's who were of no use to them in waging holy war.

My stating this in this way is certainly not fair to Cvt. Th. folks. It's one-sided. But this is my opinion and I consider Cvt. Th's. to be my cherished brothers in faith. This is not even intended to be a criticism, we all know we have our doctrinal differences, and even what they are, I'm just musing and getting a few thoughts down, and therby hoping for you to know me a little fuller. Your brother... thanks to God.

I've weighed Calvinism and Arminianism and Lutherinism and all of the ism's and see intellectually gifted men who were able to help right the course of misguided collective mainstream Christianity during their time, and all of them, simply get some parts of the Word just flat wrong. So it seems clear that you would not to fully align yourself with any of them but be well advised by all of them, continueing on down the path they've helped to correct.

I see theology as a science. Science has limitations. We have to read too much into science for it to have anything more than practical limited use. Science is a blessing in the way that it has much practical, earthly utility. There is so much more that we can't know. It's fun to guess but while we are guessing, know that we are guessing. Thankfully, all of the important things, we can truly know.

Don't get so bold with your theology as to try and clarify things that are not. They will prevail and remain unclear. I'm speaking now to all people who have spent years of excitement hungering over God's word and desiring to please Him, and trying to study and obey His gospel. How much are we supposed to know? Volumes and then it stops, leaving the most tantilizing questions unanswered. That's our answer. We are expected to know much; that is, to know God through His word and through His Son, and then, to just be assured. To be assured, in spite of the rest of our unknowing. Might that we all would remember to rest together in that faith. As much as possible, along the way home, together.

Looking forward with hope and faith, Todd