In a changing society Christians continue to struggle with the ability to communicate the Gospel. This course is constructed in such a manner as to assist the believer in an effective presentation of the message that God has given. The Bible is the revelation of God himself. It is the very Word of God and requires of us the best we can give in passing on the absolute truth contained in it.

 

At the beginning

 

With this in mind, it is essential that we ask questions about the truth found in the Bible that we are required to transfer to those around us. To do this we must begin with some questions.

 

(1)            How did the truth get in the Bible? This question is answered clearly in II Timothy 3:16 and II Peter 1:20, 21. God used inspiration to accomplish this. Of course he used human writers but supervised the writing in such a manner that it was “God-breathed.” The writers were “borne along” in such a way that the material was of no private interpretation. That is how God’s truth entered the Bible.

 

(2)            The second question is: How can we get the truth back out of the Bible? Inspiration is limited to the original manuscripts, but the Holy Spirit is active in the process of retrieving that truth. In I Corinthians 2:13, 14 we find the Spirit as the Teacher and Illuminator of Scripture. His oversight is such that correct interpretation will allow the truth to come from the Scriptures in a trustworthy manner.

 

This process requires that certain rules be followed to ensure that we avoid private interpretation. In fact, if everyone would use the same rules for biblical interpretation, or a hermeneutic, everyone would arrive at the same conclusion.

 

How can we know what those rules are? The answer is that they are self-revealing; that is, they rise from Scripture.

 

Grammatical Interpretation. All literature must be understood in the grammar relating to the language in which it was written. So the grammatical rules and language usage of Hebrew (some Aramaic) and Greek are needed.

 

Contextual Interpretation. All literature is set in a context and for the original meaning to be kept it must be understood in its context, both macro and micro.

 

Historical Interpretation. All literature is written in a historical setting. The Bible can only be understood by accurately reviewing the setting of the text at the time of writing.

 

Literal Interpretation. All literature is expected to be literal unless the text reveals that it is poetry or fiction. While this is greatly misunderstood by some, the fact is that all Scripture must be viewed as literal. We expect the text to mean what it says. If the text tells us we have symbol or a picture that is literally what the text says. We let the text speak for itself. The interpreter has not right to the use of an allegorical system or a spiritualization of the text.

 

The Glory of God. The great centerpiece of the Scripture is not man but God. The primary subject and goal of all the Bible is the Glory of God. If this is first, all other things will follow. All other systems of interpretation are man-made and prevent the truth from rising out of the Scripture.

A Hermeneutical Summary

 

The one system of biblical interpretation that comes directly from scripture is the normal, ordinary, plain, consistent (literal) hermeneutic. The rules that the text requires you to use are grammatical, contextual and historical. The end result is the Glory of God.

 

The backdrop of Apologetics

 

The first step to an effective apologetic is a biblical hermeneutic. (1) This is the system by which we discover the truth in the Word of God. (2) What then follows is the discovery of truth and a theological content that leads to a system for theology. (3) Once these two are in place we are faced with the issue of how to utilize truth. That would mean: how to communicate this truth. That is, a practical view of apologetics is a system of communication.

 

This discipline is not meant to be only an intellectual exercise. It is not about quick tongues that can win debates. Apologetics is a process and system for the purpose of passing the truth of God’s Word to others. This is a skill to which all effective witnesses of the Gospel need to give attention. In the end, however, the believer must depend upon the Holy Spirit in transferring this life-giving message.

 

It is true that our communication of truth means that we share “the whole counsel of God” with others. Foundationally, it seems the Gospel is the centerpiece of this task. We may fail to convince someone about baptism, and that might end in disobedience. To fail in communicating the Gospel has eternal consequences.

 

Further definition

 

Apologetics is about communicating truth. It is also about defending truth. You will find this issue in many of the things you will read for this class. Apologetics is not a new concept, neither is the use of the word. To give an answer is also an apologetic.

 

The Bible uses the Greek word, apologia. gives some insight through the context of use. Acts 19:33; 22:1; 24:10; 25:8; 25:16; 26:1, 2 are just some of the places that illustrate this. These also demonstrate how this tool was used in biblical settings.

 

System of thought

 

Much of this course includes an attempt to understand how people think. The history of thought and the underlying conflict of thought are here as well. The reason for this emphasis, such as demonstrated in the text you are reading, is that all of the mega-ideas described are existent in society today.

 

Finally, the historical debate between “faith and reason” is primary as we set out to answer the world before us. The debate between the centrality of God and man is not new nor is the one between grace and nature. They all fall into the same genre. You will in the end of this course be able to access properly the ‘over and under’ concept that contrasted the views of Plato and Aristotle. We need to understand this because that is what you will face when you go out into the marketplace today to communicate the Gospel.

 

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