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Featured Biblicists and Pharisees

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Martin Marprelate, Aug 1, 2020.

  1. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    What is the difference between one who calls himself a biblicist and a Pharisee?
    Here are a few differences that come to mind..

    1. The Pharisees held to a woodenly narrow interpretation of Scripture, which they wrongly supposed to be 'literal' or 'biblical.' 'How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter into his mother's womb and be born a second time?' 'How can this man give us His body to eat?'

    2. The Pharisees supposed themselves to be the arbiters of Scriptural interpretation. 'Have any of the rulers or Pharisees believed in Him?'

    3. They had an unseemly pride in their academic qualifications and despised those who lacked them. 'How does this Man know letters having never studied.' 'This crowd that does not know the law is accursed.'

    4. They had a love of position and authority without the ability to fulfill them. 'They love the best places at the feasts.......etc.'

    5. They had an exaggerated view of, and confidence in, their Scriptural knowledge, which was entirely without foundation. 'They answered and said to him, "Are you also from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee.'

    6. They demanded that others conform to their shibboleths. 'But some of the sect of the Pharisees rose up, saying, "It is necessary to circumcise them and command them to keep the law of Moses.

    7. They had a sleazy way of giving false compliments to people they despised. '"Teacher, we know that You are true and court no man's favour........."
     
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  2. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    "Biblicism" is "adherence to the letter of the Bible" (Webster's). The first known use of the word is 1805. A Biblicist is one who holds to what is called a "literal" interpretation of Scripture. This incorporates forms of speech and genre, of course. I believe, for example, that the Earth was created in six days. I believe death entered the world through Adam (prior to his sin there was no death).

    Pharisees maintained a strict observance to traditions surrounding the Law. They added to the Law a tradition to help them keep what was commanded in Scripture. They believed the observance of the Law belonged to the people rather than the Temple.

    A Pharisee is the exact opposite of a Biblicist. Where a Pharisee would add to Scripture a Biblicist would turn directly to Scripture.

    Excess can be problematic, of course, because we are all human.
     
  3. Calminian

    Calminian Well-Known Member
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    So are you admitting to pharisaism? You seem to be pretty dogmatic about what you wrote above.
     
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  4. atpollard

    atpollard Well-Known Member

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    Strictly my personal experience, but a Pharisee is wrong in his beliefs but easy to understand while a “Biblicist” might be correct in his beliefs (or not) but trying to get a simple answer to a simple question from a Biblicist is like trying to nail Jello to the wall. ;)
     
  5. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    Yep. You get a verse. Ask what it means and you get "it means what it says". :Laugh

    Most are in between, though. We call those at the very end of each spectrum (the "hypers") "nuts". :Wink
     
  6. Reformed

    Reformed Well-Known Member
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    I think what Martin is getting at is that the Pharisees took a wooden approach to literalism.

    John 6:52 Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?”

    When someone says they take scripture literally, do they really take it literally? Is Jesus an actual door? Is Jesus a loaf of bread? Is Jesus a real lamb? I have posed these questions to those who identify as literalists and they act as though I have insulted their intelligence. A common reply is, "Of course not! Use some common sense. Of course Jesus is not a loaf of bread." When they respond that way they have conceded my point. The truth contained in scripture is literal, but the words often are not. Instead of pigeon holing oneself on a position on interpretation, an effective student of the Bible will consider context. Who is speaking? Why are they speaking? To whom are they speaking? What are they saying? The more questions a bible student asks the better they will be in understanding scripture. That is basic hermeneutics.
     
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  7. Reformed

    Reformed Well-Known Member
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    Another attribute of Pharisees is that they often cannot see their own error. Even when they do acknowledge it they cannot bring themselves to correct it.
     
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  8. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    I think that there are extremes. A Pharisee may take a wooden approach but what distinguish them was less their approach to Scripture and more their application and extra-biblical doctrines.

    Paul, for example, was not ignorant when it came to the use of language. It would be impossible to be a Pharisee who never ran into the occasional metaphor.

    But where they were to remember the Sabbath they added laws to make sure the people observed the Sabbath. Their theology replaced Scripture. Their commentary on Scripture became their religion.
     
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  9. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    What did the Word say concerning "Pharisees?"

    They were "blind." And a "blind guide" was worthless.
    They were legalistic, adhering to the letter of the Law rather than the spirit.
    They were "holier than thou" such that they were glad they were not like others.
    They did not enter and prevented others from entering the kingdom.
    Like leaven and bread, they corrupted the whole of the word of God.
    Whitewashed on the outside but inside self indulgence.
    The acted together, like a wolf-pack, seeking to destroy those holding differing views.
    They liked the adoration of people.
    They were lovers of money
    They were hypocrites.

    Therefore, today, if one was a Pharisee at heart, they would claim not be a Pharisee. But they would charge others as being "like a Pharisee." Basically the "tell" is they are fault finders, pointing out what they see as the faults of others. Sound familiar?
     
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  10. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    I thank God then that I am not a biblicist. '....God, who has made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life' (2 Corinthians 2:5-6; c.f. Romans 2:28-29; Romans 7:6).
     
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  11. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    I thank God that each of us has our understanding of Scripture. He reaches down to us and loves us.

    All "Biblicist" means is that we "do not go beyond what is written" (1 Corinthians 4:6). I wish you and others shared this position. It would make coming to a mutual understanding much easier.

    But I also know that people, being people, often have to trust in extra-biblical means. I believe God uses these traditions to communicate the gospel.

    So I try hard not to judge other servants of Christ (Romans 14:4). That is not my place. My place is to be faithful to what I have been given.

    I do believe in the sufficiency of Scripture. That you are thankful to reject that view is not my business. God is a God of means. I have witnessed God use extra-biblical means and traditions to communicate to men biblical truths to include the gospel.

    So if for you not "going beyond what is written" would be a stumbling block then I am also thankful God has used extra-biblical tradition to communicate to you in a meaningful way.

    At the same time I am thankful for those of us who can observe that passage and trust in God's Word as sufficient, being careful not to add to or go beyond what is written.

    I am also thankful that we are not one another's judge. We can discuss differences and debate understandings. But in the end we are accountable to God and not one another.

    Blessings
     
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  12. Dave G

    Dave G Well-Known Member

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    Being firm and uncompromising in one's beliefs can indeed look like Pharisee'ism, but to me, there is one component missing...
    Personal pride, achievement and a "looking down the nose" at those who are not "up to his level".

    I've never known Steve to exhibit those "qualities", but from my perspective, he is very sure of what he believes and teaches.;)
     
  13. Dave G

    Dave G Well-Known Member

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    I agree.
    But I have also seen where some questions tend to warrant a complex answer, because there are some subjects ( like doctrinal ones ) that the Bible doesn't have a simple answer for.

    Then again, perhaps I need to understand what a "biblicist" really is.:)
     
  14. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    Post #10 could tell a different story :Laugh

    (sorry... The "I thank God I am not a Biblicist" was too ironic to pass up.....:Biggrin)

    The Pharisee took his stand and was praying like this: ‘God, I thank You that I’m not like other people.. Luke 18:11
     
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  15. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    All it means is someone who interprets the Bible literally. This includes recognizing figures of speach, linguistic tools, and genre.

    Doctrine is the application of Scripture, and is more involved.
     
  16. Alan Gross

    Alan Gross Well-Known Member

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    'letterism' is the issue. It has no place in literature.
     
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  17. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    Leaving aside the delightful irony and hypocrisy of the non sequitur above, FYI, all the Reformed Confessions, including the Baptist 1689 Confession (1:1), to which I subscribe, teach the sufficiency of Scripture. I and my fellow church leaders are required to subscribe to that doctrine in writing each year, and I left a church in the past because it had ceased to uphold it.

    You have given two definitions of 'Biblicist.' Firstly the one from Webster's Dictionary: "adherence to the letter of the Bible" and secondly, "someone who interprets the Bible literally. This includes recognizing figures of speach [sic], linguistic tools, and genre." I can well believe you hold to the first; I have seen no evidence of your ability to recognize figures of 'speach' etc. Especially, you seem incapable of comparing Scripture with Scripture, which is why your interpretations tend to be wooden, lifeless and, of course, wrong.

    But the Lord Jesus Himself says, "The words I speak to you are spirit and they are life" (John 6:63). They are to be interpreted and understood spiritually (1 Corinthians 2:14).
     
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  18. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    I am not confessional.

    And you are wrong. Perhaps you would reconsider. This is what I posted (bold added to help you) :

    "Biblicism" is "adherence to the letter of the Bible" (Webster's). The first known use of the word is 1805. A Biblicist is one who holds to what is called a "literal" interpretation of Scripture."

    That does not mean a" wooden" interpretation. It means we are to understand spiritual things by the Spirit BUT these spiritual understandings are NOT DIVORCED from the text of Scripture.

    Your tradition is important to you, and I respect that. But tradition is not a second special revelation added to the Bible.

    I do not require you or any other person to hold my same view of Scripture. I do believe Scripture is" God breathed" in that the actual words (in the original language) are divinely inspired. I believe Scripture complete and sufficient. Where we seem to disagree is you do not like it that I believe we are not to go beyond Scripture in doctrine pertaining to the faith.

    And that is fine. I reject liberal methods of interpretation BUT I do not believe those who do not are less Christian.

    We are not accountable to one another, Martin. You are free to use whatever method you use to develop doctrine. I personally stick with Scripture. I believe we have to have that degree of objectivity. You disagree. That is OK as we are not united by our understanding of how Scripture should be interpreted but by Christ.
     
  19. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    What are examples of "liberal methods of interpretation?"
     
  20. atpollard

    atpollard Well-Known Member

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    I left a church because the Pastor believed that ALL scripture was allegorical and written to teach us how to live. The miracle stories in the Gospel were just that ... stories, parables, fables.

    Probably a "Hyper-Liberal" example, but it may point at an answer.
     
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