Interpretational Beliefs

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Deacon, Jan 30, 2014.

  1. Deacon

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    What are your feelings regarding the characterizations of what one author calls "Biblicism", a conservative evangelical method of interpretation?

    Rob

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    Definition: Biblicism - A particular theory about the style of using the Bible defined by a constellation of related assumptions and beliefs about the Bible's nature, purpose and function.

    Biblicism's 10 Beliefs
    1. Divine Writing: The Bible, down to the details of its words, consists of and is identical with God's very own words written inerrantly in human language.
    2. Total Representation: The Bible represents the totality of God's communication to and will for humanity, both in containing all that God has to say to humans and in being the exclusive mode of God's true communication.
    3. Complete Coverage: The divine will about all of the issues relevant to Christian belief and life are contained in the Bible.
    4. Democratic Perspicuity: Any reasonable intelligent person can read the Bible in his or her own language and correctly understand the plain meaning of the text.
    5. Common Sense Hermeneutics: The best way to understand biblical texts is by reading them in their explicit, plain, most obvious literal sense, as the author intended them at face value, which may or may not involve taking into account their literary, cultural, and historical contexts.
    6. Solo Scriptura: The significance of any given biblical text can be understood without reliance on creeds, confessions, historical church traditions, or other forms of larger theological hermeneutical frameworks, such that theological formulations can be built up directly out of the Bible from scratch.
    7. Internal Harmony: All related passages of the Bible on any given subject fit together almost like puzzle pieces into single, unified internally consistent bodies of instruction about right and wrong beliefs and behaviors.
    8. Universal Applicability: What the biblical authors taught God's people at any point in history remains universally valid for all Christians at every other time, unless explicitly revoked by subsequent scriptural teaching.
    9. Inductive Method: All matters of Christian belief and practice can be learned by sitting down with the Bible and piecing together through careful study the real "biblical" truths that it teaches.
    10. Handbook model: The Bible teaches doctrine and morals with every affirmation that it makes, so that together those affirmations comprise something like a handbook or textbook for Christian belief and living, a compendium of divine and therefore inerrant teachings on a full array of subjects including science, economics, health, politics, and romance.

    From the The Bible Made Impossible by Christian Smith
     
  2. OldRegular

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    One overarching problem I see is that there is no mention at all for the necessity of the guidance of the Holy Spirit in understanding Scripture. The way this is written any person through diligent study can understand the teaching of Scripture completely. I believe that is wrong.

    On this first reading I take exception to #'s 4, 5, 8, 9, and 10.

    As for #4 I believe that there are some Scripture that can be understood by a reasonably intelligent person. However, that is not universally true and may not be true for the majority of Scripture. If what this statement claims to be true what are we to think about the following:

    John 14:26. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

    John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come

    1 Corinthians 2:13. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.


    As for #5 I am reminded of Ryrie's face-value interpretation. Taken at face-value what does the following Scripture teach?

    John 6:53. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

    Now to #8. In the book of Genesis we are told that God took the life of Judah's second son because he refused to take a deceased brother's wife {Tamar} and raise up a son for his deceased brother. Now I don't recall that there is ever any Scripture revoking this practice but somewhere along the way it stopped!

    Genesis 38:6-10
    6. And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, whose name was Tamar.
    7. And Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD slew him.
    8. And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother’s wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother.
    9. And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.
    10. And the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore he slew him also.


    As for #'s 9 and 10 I would simply say: "Not without the Holy Spirit!"
     
  3. preachinjesus

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    A worthy question.

    However, let's point something out from the get go...Christian Smith is a sociologist and, as I understand him, not a believer. So we begin by pointing out that he is not a trained theologian and has little actual experience with any kind of bibliology outside of his own observations. His book, The Bible Made Impossible, isn't charitable for most around here. (BTW, his stuff on millennials is pretty much great.)

    I can't agree with this.

    The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy can't agree with this. If for no other reason than this makes biblicism out to be proponents of the dictation theory of inspiration. The Bible itself denies the dictation theory of inspiration.

    I would nuance this a bit and note that special revelation is different than general revelation.

    No, but the principles are there.

    I agree.

    Yes and no. Sometimes we look so closely at Scripture we only end up seeing the different kinds of moss on the trees instead of the forest containing them...

    But there are reasonable points to be made by drawing out the social context and other important aspects of the biblical text. Not all genres lend themselves to "plain text readings."

    Okay, I wouldn't call it Solo Sciptura but I don't have a problem with this.

    The catch here is "all related passages" which is hard to define since when we look at the hermeneutical methods of the biblical authors themselves we find stuff we'd never do with a text.

    Fair enough, the caveat at the end helps make sense of this one.

    Sure.

    The Bible is limited to its context and though it might contain unique revelatory insight via observational data, it is not a science textbook, an economics text, a health text, a political manual, or a romance novel (though Song of Songs has me rethinking this one...)

    Thanks for the thread. :thumbsup:
     
  4. go2church

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    About 3/4 of the way through the book, interesting read. Without touching on every point, I pretty much agree with the point he is trying to make. It's remarkable how people who love the bible, are so often prone to abusing the text.
     
  5. Deacon

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    Well I picked up The Bible Made Impossible by Christian Smith, yesterday and am only through chapter 1.
    The author is Christian (not evangelical); as noted above he's a sociologist, not a theologian.
    In the opening chapter , using examples from book titles to statements of faith, he makes a strong case for the popular application of these principles of interpretation.

    I'd say he's characterized the popular position fairly.
    Sure there's nothing about the Spirit's role, Old Reg, but that too is part of the problem - there are so many different interpretations people claim are inspired by the Spirit.

    I presume the rest of the book will deconstruct these principles.

    Rob
     
  6. kyredneck

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    OK, I've not read the book, 99.9999% certain that I will never read the book, but the OP stirred me to read some reviews on the book, and, lo and behold, dumb me, 'Biblicism's 10 Beliefs' are what the author views as 'the problem', these are what he has identified as ten unworkable 'assumptions' from the evangelical approach that has resulted in the ‘pervasive interpretive pluralism’ of today.

    (just in case there's anyone else out there as dumb as me and failed to perceive this from the OP) :)
     
    #6 kyredneck, Jan 31, 2014
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  7. Earth Wind and Fire

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    I don't think I would be interested in reading this either then.
     
  8. kyredneck

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    Well, that's not the reason I'll probably not read it (I'm simply not the book worm like some of our on board scholars are), the author actually believes that 'Biblicism's 10 Beliefs' are not evangelical enough:

    "...Smith argues that this theory fails to take into view the multivocity of scripture and in fact is not evangelical enough. Throughout, he contends that he is not abandoning the inspiration and authority of the scriptures and he speaks vigorously against liberal Christianity as an alternative.

    What then does he consider to be the alternative? While acknowledging his limits as someone writing who works outside the field of theology, he proposes that a Christocentric reading of scripture can help us, both in helping us distinguish what is central to the scriptures and for what we should be looking as we read them — how we approach this book. He points us to the fact that scripture is the narrative of God’s redemptive work in the person of Christ and all of it points to him...."
    http://blog.emergingscholars.org/2013/08/book-review-the-bible-made-impossible/
     
    #8 kyredneck, Jan 31, 2014
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  9. Earth Wind and Fire

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    Oye.....another PhD.:rolleyes:
     
  10. Yeshua1

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    A+, to God all of us followed those principles here on the board!
     
  11. thisnumbersdisconnected

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    Another of his issues, apparently, is that Biblicism can't possible be viable because (his words from The Bible Made Impossible) this work that ...
    In other words, he objects to the truth of biblical inerrancy because so many different interpretations come out of the same texts. What he fails to realize is that regardless of how many interpretations there are, God's meaning stands alone.

    Many, perhaps most, as in some cases with the most difficult passages, may fail to grasp God's teaching, but that doesn't mean that the lack of human understanding derails the concept of inerrancy. It just means many, or even most, scholars and biblical students are too dense to grasp those passages, and in fact some may not become known to us at all, this side of heaven.

    We can nonetheless see from such passages a glimpse of what God is speaking of, and attempts to articulate it in ways we can understand it enable us to build on doctrine we do understand. Smith is blaming God and His word for our failure to comprehend. That's ridiculous.
     
    #11 thisnumbersdisconnected, Jan 31, 2014
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  12. kyredneck

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    I agree with the statement from the article I posted:

    "As I have done such previously, I encourage you to read a book before you comment upon it...."

    I wasn't really commenting on the book, just clarifying (what I initially missed) what's contained in the OP.
     
  13. Yeshua1

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    Think that is due to Him, as having been mentioned by here. of denying the role of the Holy Spirit to illuminate the scriptures to our understanding!

    I would see all of his points are pretty valid, but that one MUST factor into all of this the work and role of the Holy Spirit!
     
  14. Archie the Preacher

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    With only a beginning glance:

    When ever I find an invented word - 'Biblicism' - to describe someone else's views or thoughts, I am immediately suspicious. For instance, the word 'reactionary'; meaning anyone who objects to the implementation of communism. With that admission, I allow my jaundiced eye to peruse...

    Okay, he said with some reservation in his voice.

    As understood or devised by Christian Smith, that is...
    More or less correct - Christians do, in good faith, argue about the meaning and scope of the word 'inerrant'. And I think some might ask for acknowledgement of the difference between 'inspired' and 'God's very own words'.
    Sort of true; leaves out the part about specific directions to individuals - "Mike, I want you as a missionary to Africa. George, you be a good plumber and a Sunday School teacher where ever you live". It also leaves out the work of preachers and teachers who assist in the explanation of the Bible.
    It certainly has all the basic information and principles for Christian belief and life. I'm sure there are 'details' that are supplied as mentioned in #2.
    Yes, in that 'any...person' is NOT required to read the Bible in the original languages (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek) in order to understand what God is saying. No, in that he completely misses the action of the Holy Spirit - available only to believers - in the full comprehension of the Bible. I am certain ANY reader can understand the basics of salvation.
    Does anyone see the contradiction in the statement? "... as the author intended... which may or may not involve... contexts." Really? How does one read 'author intent' while ignoring 'context'? (This is my big problem with the KJV; what was 'literal' in 1611 is not 'literal' now.) The direct wording of ancient Hebrew when translated into English can be deceptive without explanation. The simplest example of that is in Genesis when '... Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived...' I remember as a fairly small child thinking I was pretty sure women didn't get pregnant by shaking hands. (They don't, I was relieved to find.)
    This is one of Smith's purported 'beliefs' that is deceptive; it is in the nature of a half-truth. Yes, the Bible itself is the source of our knowledge of what God tells us and of what is expected of us. However, without an understanding of the languages involved and the word meanings involved, the bare text of the Bible is of limited use to us. I will agree with this part, all the creeds, confessions and traditions are useful IF and ONLY IF they are based on and do not contradict or ignore the express message of the Bible. Most of the ones currently extant are in fact, 'built up directly out of the Bible from scratch'; and that scratching has been going on for a long time.
    I'm sure someone can misuse this, but I'll agree if applied exactly as written. For instance, all the sections on 'love' agree - but various words in various languages translate to 'love'. To confuse 'phileo' with 'eros' can be tragic. Additionally, to conflate God's Grace with God's Justice is simply bad thinking.
    This is essentially correct; God's will does not change, but the details do. We don't offer lambs as sacrifices anymore, and for good reason. However, this is another of the principles that gets ill-used. Every time I hear the phrase "Times have changed, and..." I get a hive reaction. As with other 'beliefs', the author leaves out the work and influence of the Holy Spirit.
    This is essentially the same statement as #3, #4, and #8 in some regards and requires the assistance, guidance, direction, indwelling and so forth of the Holy Spirit. No, a devout atheist cannot read the Bible, study it and write a doctrinal thesis on the Trinity. All the devout atheist can determine is his need for salvation.
    Not so much as the emphasis Smith imputes, at least to me. I know people who find some regimen in life that helps them lose weight, clear up acne, make peace with their parents and immediately label it '...Biblical...' At times, the ecclesiastical authorities have made the Bible a science text. The Bible certainly has comments on all of life; but was never intended to serve as the "Junior Woodchuck Manual", if anyone remembers that. (I for one, have never found a recipe for brownies or a trig function table.)

    My feelings? I don't do 'feelings' well. My factual reaction is this is part of a thesis to discredit Bible study of those who disagree with Christian Smith. It strikes me as somewhat 'straw man' in nature as it implies false ideas which can be attacked and discredited easily. In short, I'll pass.
     
  15. kyredneck

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    My sentiments also. I consider myself a 'biblicist', but it's much more immensely simpler than what's articulated in those ten 'assumptions'.

    So, have you read the book?
     
  16. go2church

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    Just so everyone understands, Smith thinks the ten points in the op are problems. Doesn't think they are correct ways to handle the bible.
     
  17. kyredneck

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    OK. Thanks for that! :)
     
  18. Yeshua1

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    too bad for him, as those are the right points to understanding the bible correctly, IF you addas point 1 that we must be born again, and have the illumination of the Spirit!
     
  19. Archie the Preacher

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    Red Neck

    If I get to pick, I prefer 'Bible reader and believer'. As I said, I am rather suspicious of other people's labels, especially ending with 'ist'.
    My apologies, I should have mentioned; No. I have not read the book cited. You will all have to pardon my rush to judgement, but if that list is accurate, I've got other things to do more important.
     

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