Sunday, April 28, 2013

Matt Waymeyer on "preaching the Word of God"

I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 2Ti 4:1-4

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Council on Dispensational Hermeneutics

There are some interesting dispensational discussions on this site:

Council on Dispensational Hermeneutics

An informative note from Dr Stallard discussing the concept and hopes driving the CDH:

The Council on Dispensational Hermeneutics at Age Four Dr. Mike Stallard, Baptist Bible Seminary

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Holy Spirit a goddess?

"Moshe Rabbenu, I’ve got a few questions for you: How much does the Torah passed down in your name reflect what you actually said and did and experienced? And now that you have crossed over to the other side, how much space is there between your experience and articulation of God and the God whom you now know in eternity? Why couldn’t you find a woman from your own folk you could stand long enough to marry? And is the bias against women in the Bible directly related to your domestic issues? And Elijah, I have a couple of questions for you too: how does being taken bodily up into heaven in a chariot of fire actually work? Does your body phase in and out of solid matter cohesion like in a transporter beam? Is heaven on the other side of a wormhole? When you killed the four hundred fifty prophets of Baal but not the four hundred prophets of Asherah was it because you really didn’t mind a little goddess worship on the side? Are we feminists right in saying that Asherah was just the Canaanite articulation of the Holy Spirit and not really another God? Those are just some of my questions. I don’t know if Peter had questions or if he just wanted to be in the presence of his holy and revered spiritual ancestors." (Emphasis mine)

I may get smacked for citing so much content from someone else's blog in one hit. But that's life. The above derisive rant wasn't penned by a scornful atheist or your run-of-the-mill radical feminist. These are the words of a minister. In fact, the author is an Associate Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia.

As Dan Skogen notes:

"Rev. Dr. Wil Gafney ordained Episcopal priest who teaches the future leaders and pastors of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America."

Is that how a faithful Christian minister should behave towards the Word of God and the Holy Spirit? Or is the basis for judging what actually constitutes the Word of God founded on whether it agrees with one's ideology? Is whatever fails to meet one's criteria subject to mockery?

Two posts ago I blogged about gay activism and suggested that academics within the Lutheran denomination are beginning to use their selective brand of "hermeneutics" to champion the practice of homosexuality, same-sex marriage and a host of other social ideologies. Judging from Gafney's comments, significant elements within the ELCA are already happily wallowing in the depths of heresy and paganism.

Why would an organization, with the high pedigree that the Lutherans have historically enjoyed, allow people like Gafney to teach at their seminaries?

I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2Ti 4:1-7

I could quote a few more Pauline verses that would be germane to all this and thereby generate the proverbial "gnashing of teeth". Of course, many will hasten to point out that Paul was a misogynist who got some basic things wrong because he was raised in a patriarchal society. Moreover, they'd argue that a lot of the stuff in his epistles is irrelevant to "modern needs" and must be filtered through the lens of the appropriate hermeneutics.

Sadly, the secular media embraces these examples of "Christianity" because their narrative is complementary to where the main-stream media believes an "enlightened society" should be heading. But are these examples truly faithful presentations of God's Word to the unbeliever and babe in Christ?

"Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. Act 20:28-31

My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. Jam 3:1

Speaking of hermeneutics, according to Gafney:

"Because of what all seminary professors, biblical scholars, seminary trained clergy and religious leaders and careful critical readers of scripture know: we all interpret everything we read or see, including (and not just) sacred texts. Yet there is a misperception that texts – especially religious texts – are independent of interpretation, that their meaning is whatever the literal text says, with no nuance or room for interpretation. And Those who get to say that the text means what it literally says to them, are those with power, frequently white, male, heterosexual, cis-gendered, able-bodied, frequently clergy (with or without seminary education depending on the tradition)."

Are these people actually looking at the texts and sifting out subtle "nuances" that have "room for interpretation"? Or are they beginning with modern diversity-derived presuppositions, and then cherry-picking what they need from wherever they can in Scripture?

I recommend Dr. Robert L Thomas' "Evangelical Hermeneutics - The New Versus the Old". See especially chapters 13 and 14 (Evangelical Feminism & Evangelical Missiology) in regards to the subject of this blog. See Gary Gilley's book review HERE and also note the articles:

Redemptive-Movement Hermeneutics - Part 1 

Redemptive-Movement Hermeneutics - Part 2

Further reading:

Gods and Goddesses

Yahweh and Asherah (Michael Heiser)

Biblical Hermeneutics: Foundational Considerations 

The Hermeneutics of Evangelical Feminism

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Not Losing the Gospel

Some wise words from D. A. Carson via The Gospel Coalition:

On Not Losing the Gospel in the Next Generation

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Rossing's Hermeneutics of Diversity, Gay Activism & Revelation

Yes, they are all somewhat connected - at least in my little world.

Last year I stumbled across Lutheran Minister Barbara Rossing's "The Rapture Exposed" and thought it would be an interesting read. Rossing is considered to be a leading scholar and one of the go-to persons when it comes to debunking the "Left Behind" genre. Her 2004 book is still being praised by those who are academically offended by the likes of Tim LaHaye, Jerry Jenkins and Hal Lindsey, yet know zilch about dispensationalism or any other people connected with it.

In my opinion, the only thing Barbara Rossing exposed was her lack of biblical integrity, inattention to detail, and a proclivity to mine quote sensational tidbits by the wrong people as if they represented the normative dispensational view. You'll note later that her issue wasn't really rapture timing, although she brought Bob Gundry into the mix (for some credibility?). Essentially, she wanted to make the LB franchise look stupid and inept because its fundamentalist positions conflicted with the type of ideology she holds sacred. Rossing caricatured dispies as irresponsibly anti-Green, anti-Earth and dangerously pro-Zionist, even to the point that they conspired to usher in Armageddon:

"Eschatology is something I am working on in relation to environmental issues and the LWF climate change program, how we can move away from the escapist, earth-denying eschatology of a text such as 2 Peter 3 to embrace a more new creation-oriented eschatology." ~ Rossing

She also had some unique insights on Revelation and wrote a book on the subject - just to set things straight. I haven't read it but, judging from "Exposed", I can only guess how Lutheran Ministers Joseph A. Seiss and George N. H. Peters might have reacted to her view of Revelation.

Glad I got that off my chest.

Her name recently popped up again as I was reading some news items regarding the current push for same-sex marriage, and how various Christians are handling it. I did some digging around and found a number of self-described Christian websites that have been set up to "biblically" defend the practice of homosexuality.

I also discovered that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), of which Rossing is a member, has been wrestling with the "gay" issue for some years. In a 2005 Lutheran Advent publication, I found an article called In casting Revelation as a “survivor” show, Tim and Jerry miss the boat. Author Cathy Ward-Crixell notes:

When my friends found out that I was reading Left Behind, their reactions were telling. None of them thought I was reading it for fun or because I agreed with authors Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Instead, they made slightly guilty, slightly disgusted faces. “I know I should read it, but I just can’t,” one of them said. “I guess I’ll have to read it sometime,” another said. “I know people in my congregation do.” I found Left Behind to be disturbing, infuriating, and ridiculous. But I am grateful that since I read it I have a better idea of what fundamentalists are doing to the book of Revelation. The most subversive book in the Bible, one filled with hope for diverse groups in an oppressive culture, has been transformed by Left Behind into violent, sexist, homophobic propaganda. Lutherans can’t afford to ignore Left Behind or to think of Revelation as too weird for mainstream Christians. We must claim the hope Revelation offers and not let LaHaye and Jenkins’ assertions about what is “biblical” speak for us.

In the very next paragraph she writes:

Homosexuality is “out”: Amy Johnson Frykholm interviewed Left Behind readers from various church and social backgrounds. Her conclusions are published in Rapture Culture: Left Behind in Evangelical America. She describes “a position that is common among readers and common to the books—that homosexuality is a sign of the depravity that leads to the end of the world”

The publication is centered on "diversity" and a thinly-veiled defense of homosexuality. In fact "diversity" seems to be the sacred paradigm embraced by the ELCA. Notably, one gentleman even suggests that it's time to: "...close our Bibles for a few months. We won’t find the answer we’re looking for there—at least not in the places we’ve been looking." 

In one internal ELCA paper (apparently "Not for publication or citation") entitled Diversity in the Bible as a Model for Lutheran Hermeneutics, Rossing explores the "different types of biblical diversity".

Given the statements above it's not difficult to conclude where Rossing's paper is really heading. On the one hand, she affirms the "joy" that Lutherans derive from studying Scripture "together with others", yet she deftly segues into the inevitable warning that the Bible "can also become the locus of conflict."

You know, the stuff that fundamentalists obsess and attack others about: "war and peace, creationism versus evolution, slavery, economic issues such as usury or wealth and poverty, interfaith issues of Jews and Muslims, social issues such as roles of women, divorce, or homosexuality."

She notes that (pardon my citations): "Christian history shows that it is possible to use the Bible to foster intolerance and justify absolutist claims for one’s own biblical position over against the reading of others." 

Of course, what I think she really means is that her anti-LB-fundamentalist books are okay, even though they don't tolerate that particular view...because...well...because she's right.

Rossing regards the Bible as theologically diverse. Some clear examples for people like me would have been appreciated. I didn't go to seminary and hadn't realized that harmonizing biblical layers was a no-no:

"Some of the most fascinating diversity is not simply between different biblical documents, but also between different voices represented within a single document. This is especially the case in the Old Testament—the way in Genesis, for example, we can identify and retrieve different theologies of the Yahwist as contrasted to the Priestly writer, as seen in their different creation accounts. We need both creation accounts, with their different theologies and contexts. The richness is lost if we simply harmonize the layers."

This is the sort of fodder the ELCA feeds its congregation:

"The Bible is God’s word. But it is God’s word spoken differently through different communities and authors in different contexts. It is not a single monolithic book dropped from heaven. It is a library of voices. Various communities in the biblical conversation understood God’s word in different, even competing ways. The early church in its wisdom included many voices in the canon, canonizing not just one view but a range of views."

It's obvious to me that what drives ELCA hermeneutics is its obsessive need to embrace diversity at the expense of faithful theology. They're trying to cleverly find ways to keep the Bible relevant to modern needs rather than letting God's Word speak for itself. In other words, the ELCA has embraced a culturally driven hermeneutic. It uses that paradigm to achieve its activist goals. They interpret God's Word based on cultural needs. They are looking for escape clauses for justifying same-sex marriage, rather than sincerely seeking God's will.

Alan Kurschner of Eschatos Ministries recently touched upon the gay activism issue HERE and HERE. He warns that the church will be affected, and those who remain faithful to God's Word may be forced to go underground. He has hit the nail on the head!

Not that long ago, two Australian pastors were jailed*, ordered to pay hefty court costs, and ordered to take out newspaper ads for a public apology; all because they'd preached a sermon against Islamic jihad. Ironically, one of the pastors was originally from Pakistan and had suffered under Islamic persecution. The sermon was delivered at their church in a closed setting. Members of the Islamic Council of Victoria infiltrated the church and recorded the sermons.

* Correction: They were threatened with jail.

Think about how gay activists may walk into any church in the U.S. and monitor what is being taught regarding practicing homosexuality in respect to God's Word. In the current climate, that will have very real consequences for faithful Christians and pastors.

In contrast, the ELCA won't be bothered by such concerns. As Dan Skogen notes in Exposing the ELCA, they've already embraced same-sex marriage.

Some recommended resources:

Fred Butler of Hip and Thigh has spent some time on Answering the Claims of Gay “Christian” Apologetics.

Dr James White of Alpha & Omega Ministries responds to Matthew Vines' Gay Apologetics speech in "Gay Christianity" Refuted!

Frank Turk: Not That There's Anything Wrong With That (a continuing conversation)

Kevin Zuber: Exposing Barbara R. Rossing’s The Rapture Exposed