WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL?

 

On my desk is a piece of literature mailed from an institution with which I am very familiar.  It discusses spirituality, excellence, finances, enthusiasm, and the Christian worldview.  What’s wrong with that? Thank you for asking.  First, the only theology it mentions has to do with king and kingdom, which always makes me want to ask what kingdom they’re referring to.  I already know what their answer would be.  It would contain not one word about the authority, sufficiency, and importance of Scripture; thus, the only theology mentioned has to be an errant one.

 

The real window to this publication is the term “Christian worldview”. Does anyone stop to ask why that term is used so often?  Why not just state what the Bible text tells us in relation to looking at, and living in, this world?  The reason we use such generic terms is that using the Bible text is far too limiting.  We need plastic words that will let us add things that do not come from, or agree with, the Scripture.  I challenge you to come up with one of these “worldview” statements that is not in some way an affront to Holy writ.

 

INSERTING HUMAN IDEAS INTO THE BIBLE

 

This is why so many people use the word “philosophy”.  This may be the language of the so-called intellectual crowd, but we ought to ask exactly what it means.  Why would we refer to a “ministry philosophy”?  Why not talk about a “ministry theology”, which would require a careful dependence upon the Bible text?  Philosophy demands the infusion of human perspective, rather than total dependence upon the revealed word of God.  Philosophy is really “humanology” (get over it; I know I made up that word!), which is centered on man and human reason.  Theology in its pure form is centered on the Sovereign Creator God.  If you want to claim that your philosophy is really theology, then why don’t you call it theology so that no one is left to wonder what you are adding to the equation, as if it were equal to God’s Word?  Philosophy is not a synonym for theology; it is a suspect attempt to be as wise as God.

 

Having said all that, we must ask if philosophy has value.  Of course it has value; even rocks and dirt have value.  The point is that philoso-phy loses its value when it trumps theology or even pretends to be an equal.

 

THEOLOGICAL FAD OF THE MONTH

 

It is an arrogant intellectualism that creates new brands of theology that are cloaked in philosophy.  At this point in our society, you can almost count on the appearance of a new theological fad every month.  How do we make our way through all this?

 

Actually, the problem really isn’t theology.  I often tell my students that what a person believes is not as important as how he or she arrives at that belief.  Preterism, open theism, annihilationism, and progressive dispensationalism share the same problem with all other doctrinal error. 

 

The watershed issue is not theology; it is hermeneutics.  Anyone using a flawed system of interpretation is bound to join the theological fad-of-the-month club.  There is only one biblical hermeneutic, and this system rises naturally from the Scripture text.  I speak of the system that is the normal, plain, ordinary, consistent, and literal use of literature.

 

This system makes use of the grammar, context, and historical setting at the time of its writing.  The worthy goal of this construct is the glory of God.  The one biblical hermeneutic is a science – an exact science – and is mathematical in its function.

 

Detractors would cry foul and claim that it is impossible for such a system to work with that kind of accuracy.  On the other hand, for some of us who long for a pure interpretation, it is a source of confidence.  We fully realize that fallible man will make mistakes, and a perfect interpretation is limited by what we are.  We also know that, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can come closer to truth by using the rules that God has given instead of inventing our own.  Just as the truth was placed in Scripture through inspiration, without “private interpretation”, our goal is to reject every vestige of private interpretation in our task to lift from the text the truth as it was placed there.

 

MARKING THE PITFALLS

 

The problem is that, in our own circles, we have built our own pitfalls. Obeying every rule of the one biblical hermeneutic means using all the rules like they were meant to be used.  Any one rule that becomes the rule, rather than merely a tool, will guarantee error.  Each rule found in the text will lead us to a question, not an answer.  Only when we use the one biblical hermeneutic, along with all the rules, can we be sure of finding anything near the truth that was put into the text at the time of its inspiration. 

 

Often, the problems come from the bad habit of isolating texts.  There is no way to establish a full meaning with only partial truth.  In the end, I am asking for proper attention to be given to the greatest problem in theology today: lack of a biblical hermeneutic, God’s plan for the interpretation of Scripture.

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