The first group is a set of ideas or methods used to approach the study of the Word of God. I have called them The Sacred Cows of Bible Study, in one of my other articles, so I won't go into detail here. Here they are: Literalism
The literal interpretation of the bible. Law of Context
The notion that context is all important to understanding the bible. Historical Approach
The use of scholarly analysis to bring out the meaning of the bible. Systematic Theology
The attempt to construct a comprehensive theory that explains the entire bible. The Scholars and the Scholarly Approach
All of these 'sacred cows' are part and parcel of a scholarly approach to the Word. Fundamentally, this is a form of worldly thinking, and an attempt to achieve worldly acceptance of theology as an academic discipline. Now this should tell us right off the bat that there is something wrong with this picture. First, in this approach we are using the ways of the world to expound on the word of God, Second, we are seeking the approval of man in our efforts. It shouldn't be too hard to find scripture that speaks against these ways. [Let that be your homework assignment.]
We need to see that this approach is automatically and inherently immature, period, end of discussion. It will not lead us into the depths of God's word, but only into 'foolish disputing' and fruitless dead ends.
I recently picked up a copy of Introduction to Biblical Interpretation at a used book sale. It was published in 1993 by Word Inc. Three authors and an editor, all carrying the title Dr. and all from Denver Seminary produced this 500 some page scholarly tome. The back dust jacked carried glowing recommendations from luminaries at Gordon-Cromwell Seminary, University of Aberdeen, Fuller Theological Seminary, Asbury Theological Seminary, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Trinity Western University. Are you impressed yet?
Now to see what these gentlemen really knew about biblical interpretation, I consulted the index of subjects at the back of the book. Typology is mentioned on only 4 pages, and considered in depth on two additional pages. Allegory is covered on only two pages. Symbols and symbolism were not even listed.
In their analysis of typology, it quickly became clear that they based everything on understanding what the 'biblical authors' intentions were. This shows a clear lack of faith in the divine inspiration of the bible. What were Moses' intentions when the Lord told him to write his words in a book? If Moses had any sense at all, his intent would be to write the words of God in a book! So if you focus on Moses' intentions, [or any other biblical author's], you completely miss the idea. What were God's intentions in speaking these words in the first place?
Since the meaning of biblical passages in not always precisely clear, to make an understatement, you have to ask the author to explain things to you. [We call this, in Christian jargon, inquiring of the Holy Spirit.] To put it bluntly, the bible is deliberately vague, confusing, and boring. [Try and find a preacher who will admit that.] You need the Spirit to reveal the meaning. The authors of this work clearly acknowledge this need, but they get it all backward. Their teaching is that while the Spirit is needed, correct interpretation relies more on careful study and analysis of the text. Their acknowledgement of the need for the Spirit is pure lip service. What you really need, according to the scholars, are dictionaries, commentaries, word studies, and social-historical research; and the proper methods to use them. Could this be a case of the blind leading the blind?
Now the bible is there for anyone to study, not just trained scholars. Religion would have the people depending on the clergy; the rabbi's, priests, and ministers; especially the theologians. But the bible tells us directly that wisdom and understanding come from the Lord, not from study. True we are told to study and meditate on the word, but also to seek the Lord for wisdom. The bible is a sealed book except to those who have ears to hear.
When I first got saved and came into a Christian church, it was a Pentecostal styled denomination called Full Gospel. [Oddly enough this denomination considered itself non-denominational.] One of the first things we were taught is that God is going to bring a great end time revival and harvest. This I later learned is a keystone of what is called Pentecostal Theology. We were shown various scriptures, references to the latter rain, etc, and taught how these were seen as pointing to such a harvest. Other denominations did not teach this at all. I had long been puzzled as to why some could see this and others couldn't.
Let's put it another way. Where some look in the bible and see end time revival and harvest others only see end time falling away, [apostasy] and judgment. Well as the skeptics argue, end time revival and harvest is just not there. That is unless the Spirit shows it to you, it's just not there. But once you receive it as divine revelation, then it becomes obvious. [A similar issue could be: Is the church the bride of Christ?]
All the scriptures that suggest revival and harvest mean nothing to the skeptic because he hasn't got ears to hear! As Faith comes by hearing, you can conclude that they simply are just weak in faith. They are not hearing from the Spirit in this area. And that's likely to be because of stumbling blocks or strongholds in their thinking. But we are to avoid 'foolish disputes' with our brothers who are weak in the faith. There is no point even arguing with them about some of these issues. Their understanding is darkened; to them the books of the bible are sealed.
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