& The Bible

When people read my posts there are a few tricks that need to be employed. First, do not interpret my words. If you do, then you are importing your own ideas and thinking I am saying something I did not say. Second, If you not sure or you do not understand , clarify. That means use the comment section to ask the question you need in order to clear up any confusion. Third, I may not always be addressing the points other people make. Sometimes I use their words as an example to address a broader issue. So if you think I am taking something out of context, try to see that there is more than that person’s viewpoint out in the world today and I may be addressing those unseen problems.

With that said, this post is going to start with culture and move on from there. In the first post I am not addressing the author’s total words but the issue of culture and the Bible.

#1. Culture & The Biblehttp://defeatingthedragons.wordpress.com/2014/08/27/the-new-testament-context-and-story/

#1. It’s taken me a long time to really wrap my brain around the fact that I am just as removed from the culture, tradition, and ideologies that the writers of the New Testament were operating with as I am from the writers of the Old Testament

This is a mistake so many bible students make and I use the term ‘bible students’ to include pastors. undergrads, seminary students, scholars, and so on. It will be an all-encompassing term today.  They do not understand earthly culture nor how the kingdom of God works. There are going to be several points here so bear with me.

A. To say that culture influenced the Bible means that God’s kingdom is influenced by sin and sinful ideology.it means that God had to steal from the practices of the secular world in order to arrange his own kingdom.This idea contradicts God’s teaching of not following the ungodly for they are deceived.  It makes God hypocritical and unholy. It also taints his kingdom.

B. Bible students do not understand the make-up of culture. The ancient cultures were no different from the ones of the past 190 centuries. They are all secular in nature, the blind leading the blind, subjective and doing what is right in their own eyes. No culture is different from any other. There may be different technologies, different highlighted ideologies but life in each culture is fueled by the sin nature and not the redeeming work of Christ.

C. If Bible students use culture to ‘interpret’ God’s word then they are saying that God’s word is inferior to secular culture and that God doesn’t know what he is talking about. we might as well toss the Bible out and simply follow secular cultural rules. Culture has become the ultimate standard not God’s word. That means no salvation.  Then if bible students use culture over God’s word they are saying that believers are no longer the light unto a dark world but that the dark world is a light unto God and his word.

D. When people become Christians, they have left the earthly culture and joined God’s.  That means there are different rules to follow and that the earthly culture holds no authority over the believer. They now belong to God’s kingdom and follow his rules. They are to obey God over culture and implement his teaching into their lives in order for the secular world to see that there is something more, something better out there waiting for them. Both Jesus & God said to follow them and their ways not to follow secular culture.

And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? (MT. 15:3 NASB)

E. Bible students who take culture or use culture over God’s word are merely advertising that they do not have the answer for the world’s problems. Yet they sing, Jesus is the answer for the world today. You can’t have it both ways, either God’s word sheds light on a dark world or you have nothing with God’s word. Culture needs God’s word and is changed by it not the other way around.

#2. In graduate school, I was in a lot of discussions about the meaning and power and beauty of “story,” and how we use narratives to shape our lives and help us understand our world.

One of the greatest dis-services our Christian academic institutions have done to its bible students is to lead or allow them to stray away from the truth and pursue false ideas. The Bible is more than a ‘story’ or ‘narrative’. Without it we would not know how to obey God or know his will. Plus we would have nothing to offer a dying world.

#3. I think it would be a huge shift in American evangelical culture if they collectively admitted to this– that our understanding of the New Testament is crippled by the fact that we are so utterly removed from it.

She is wrong. if one wants the correct way to understand the NT, or the whole Bible for that matter, they need to do what Jesus aid and follow the Holy Spirit to the truth. When jesus spoke his words in both John 14 & 16 you will notice that the words ‘follow your culture’ are strikingly absent. The only people removed from understanding the NT are those who disobey Jesus’ command to follow the HS and turn to following ungodly people, ideologies and secular culture.

#2. Reading The Biblehttp://defeatingthedragons.wordpress.com/2014/08/27/the-new-testament-context-and-story/

 Christians and Jews, traditionally, do not read these books in the same manner. I

No they do not and again there is a biblical reason for this. There is no biblical teaching or command telling believers to read the Bible the way the Jewish people read it. If you want to read the Bible correctly then you follow Biblical instructions. You may want a different scripture than the ones given above in point one but there are no different instructions than what those provide. If you want another reason why we do not follow the Jewish people in their method of reading, it is because most Jews reject the NT and Jesus as the messiah.

They may be God’s chosen people but then so are true believers. The first people chosen by God have stopped reading the Bible at Malachi and have not been born again thus believers are not to follow their ideas because they do not follow the HS. God wrote the Bible, is his fully capable of telling his creation how to read it. many bible students think they are smarter than God or think that cultural practices trump what God has instructed thus they are confused when they do not understand what they are reading.

You need to get back to the basics and go to the source if you want to understand what God is saying.

#3. Studying The Biblehttp://www.psephizo.com/biblical-studies/the-spirit-and-critical-study-1/

I do not know much about the author of the website at that link but he does say a few things that apply to the theme of this post.

#1. People who read the Bible devotionally often look distinctly nervous when the subject of ‘academic’ study of the Bible comes up.

We need to study the Bible beyond just devotional reading. Jesus told us that we need to be prepared to give an answer for why we believe and we need to know what the Bible is actually saying in order to meet that situation. We also need to know answers to the questions brought to us by our children, our friends and the unbelievers in the world. Devotional reading doesn’t always accomplish the information gathering that is needed to do just that.

The key is though we believers must be like both God and Jesus in that we provide real answers not more questions or simply discussion. People need answers. To guide our academic work we need to follow the words of Jesus–ye shall know the truth…(KJV) This tells us that there is one truth out there. Paul talks about one body, one spirit, there is also one truth not many.

12 For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For [j]by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. (1 Cor. 12:12 NASB)

This is also why I can say interpretation does not matter nor is included in Christian thought. There are many truths when interpretation is used. If we do not look for the right answers then we will not find them and then we will not have any for those who ask us questions.

#2. The Spirit and judgement are brought together explicitly in John 16.8, where Jesus expounds the Spirit’s role in discerning the difference between what is holy and what is not through a process of critical discernment

He would have been fine if he had not used the last 6 words. That is not what Jesus taught or said. There are many ways the HS can bring the truth to a person. The one problem with this ‘critical discernment’ is what rules are being followed when it is being used to discover what God said? Are they secular rules of objectivity, etc., or God’s rules of using faith, etc.?  Academic studies are not wrong, we need true Christian academics to combat their secular counterparts, it is the rules academics follow that may be wrong.

Paul told us to study but he did not tell us to follow the secular world or its rules when we do.

#3. We expect to open the Bible and immediately to hear God say something to us.

This point I will agree with. Sometimes God does provide an immediate answer, other times he does not. We need to learn to be patient. The key is in studying the Bible is to believe God. if you do not believe what Moses said then how are you going to believe what Jesus said? (John 5:44-48 paraphrase). You can have all the critical discernment skills and all of the best techniques in how to study but if you do not believe then you will not get the truth. It isn’t academic studies that leads us to the truth. That is just one tool to use. You have to follow God’s rules–have faith and believe.

There are people out there called minimalists because they do not believe any part of the OT prior to The father of Ahab. They do not have the truth because they do not believe God nor have faith in his word. They make up a new history for the people of Israel and believe that instead of God.

#4. Life & The Biblehttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/06/supreme-court-creationism_n_5938940.html?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000592

The Supreme Court has rejected the appeal of an Ohio public school science teacher who was fired for promoting the theory of creationism and refusing to remove religious materials from his classroom

In today’s modern culture it has become okay to use the courts to fight back against what we think may be an injustice.  I do not agree with using the courts for problems and that thinking is based upon 1 Cor 6.  I prefer, though it is hard to do, to use the teaching ‘turn the other cheek.’ I may suffer for a while but in the long run it is a better way to go and saves me a lot of money that would have been spent in court costs and collection fees. If you are hired to teach science then teach science. In this country, my schools knew i was a believer but I was hired to teach English not preach the gospel.

So I taught English in my class time and used the opportunity to show my faith through how I taught the class, how I treated the students,how I treated my co-workers and so on. You do not have to always preach creationism or a salvation message to get the point across that you believe God. How you conduct yourself will do that for you. You do your job the way God wants and even though you may be fired you can still be respected for doing your job well. Then you have planted seeds not stumbling blocks.

In the case of that teacher, he should have just found employment at another school which would have let him teach science and creation.  The school was right in firing him for insubordination because he was insubordinate.Just as there are different ways for the HS to teach us the truth, there are different ways to present that truth. Being a bad employee is not one of those methods. The verses on preaching the gospel do not over-rule the ones on Christian conduct. You need to learn the balance.

Did religious questions come up in my classes? From time to time and I answered them honestly then went back to English teaching. The students were in my class to learn English not get religious training and by providing quality English lessons I did not undermine my Christian views and the students received a Christian example even though I never taught a gospel of biblical lesson.

Following the HS is far better than following secular culture.

#5. Interpretation & The Biblehttp://www.patheos.com/blogs/formerlyfundie/how-violence-is-justified-but-homosexuality-is-wrong-when-youre-a-biblical-literalist/

And this is how violence is justified and homosexuality is wrong when you’re a biblical literalist:

The owner of that site is on his anti-violence soapbox again and his ideas provide an excellent example of interpretation messes up one’s view of the Bible. To answer that point one must understand that homosexuality is not a subjective issue. We know exactly what it is and we know why it is wrong. There is no question about the act of homosexuality. Violence,on the other hand, is not so objective. It is very subjective and what violence means to one person is not the same definition another person holds. Some people call corporal punishment violence but it really isn’t though it can cross the line into violence.

We need to know how that owner defines the word violence before we can really respond to his objections. Does he mean that violence is running out ad attacking people simply because they are different from us? Then his argument would be moot because true believers do not do that. Jesus said

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, Mykingdom is not of this realm.”(John 18:36 NASB)

so true believers do not use violence in promoting God’s kingdom. if he defines violence to mean corporal punishment then again his argument is moot because applying physical discipline correctly is not outlawed by the Bible nor is it considered violence. it is discipline. This time Solomon said;

He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.(Prov. 13:24 NASB)

So discipline is not violence. Nor is sending people away to serve their sentences received for crimes committed an act of violence. God ordained that in the OT and Jesus did not over-turn that order in the New. The only time that could be considered violence is if the sentence was unjust and the prisoners treated very harshly. But that would be a remote connection.

So defining what violence is cannot be considered an easy task, which is why so many alternative believers have a problem with true Christian responses to their allegations. Loving your enemies doesn’t mean we allow them a free pass to rape our women, murder our children, or commit all sorts of atrocities against our people. We are allowed to defend ourselves and our people, we are allowed to have laws and imprison people and we are allowed to discipline people but how we do that needs to be grounded in scripture and God’s direction. Loving your enemies does mean we provide them aid when they need it and that Christian practice flies in the face of military charges of aiding and abetting the enemy, so we obey God first then man. It also makes us defy the legal law of helping a prisoner. No we do not help them escape but we can bind their wounds, feed them and so on. Our actions are defined by God not the world.

This is the problem with interpretation. The alternative believer will have different ideas than what God taught and they will champion their own ideas over God’s teaching because they think they are better than God himself or they want to make the Bible a human book so they can practice their ideas over God’s ways. Interpretation is not truth. It is subjective and depends upon whom is doing the interpreting and what rules are governing their lives. If they are not following God then they are following evil thus their interpretation is far from the truth as is secular culture.

Bible students need more wisdom and understanding from God before they go off to study the Bible. Receiving those two attributes will save them a lot of trouble both here and in eternity.