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Featured David Chilton's Hermeneutics

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by John of Japan, May 16, 2017.

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  1. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Several here on the BB, especially Iconoclast, have touted David Chilton's books as unanswerable. My first thread in answering this unanswerable "theologian" (with mail order degrees) was to show that he had no training in Greek. With this thread I'll show his weird hermeneutics. Folks, if your hermeneutics are messed up, everything you say about the Bible is suspect. In his classic work, Bernard Ramm calls hermeneutics "one of the most important members of the theological sciences" (Protestant Biblical Interpretation, p. 1). Klein, Blomberg and Hubbard wrote, "To avoid interpretation that is arbitrary, erroneous, or that simply suits personal whim, the reader needs rules or principles for guidance. A deliberate attempt to interpret on the basis of sensible and agreed-upon principles becomes the best guarantee that an interpretation will be accurate" (Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, p. r).

    Remembering that Gary North is not a theologian, nor does he even have a BA in Bible, here is where you can find Chilton's books in pdf form by the publisher, North: David Chilton: Free Books to Download

    North claims that Chilton is unanswerable in the forward to Days of Vengeance. The truth is, it is so poorly done with such lousy hermeneutics that scholars dismiss it out of hand. But one scholar, actually a friend of Chilton's, has done a negative review of that book here, especially criticizing Chilton's hermeneutics: <Option>SW197--The Aftermath of Jewish Wars
     
  2. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    For the record, I've twice asked Iconoclast if he agrees with Chilton's "interpretive maximalism," and he has not answered (while accusing me of not answering points). This is only one of a number of things he never answered on his six threads about spiritualizing. I'll get to this weird view of Chilton soon, but if you are interested, his explanation occurs in the introduction of his commentary on Revelation.
     
  3. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    First of all, here is a bizarre quote from Chilton's Days of Vengenace (DOV from now on): He writes that "some early Church Fathers (e.g. Justin Martyr) adopted premillennial literalism because of their heathen background, to which the Biblical literary genres and imagery were unfamiliar. The orthodox, 'Augustinian' view represents a more mature understanding of Scriptural symbolism and a more consistent Christian worldview' (DOV, 494, fn).

    Do you get that? According to Chilton, the early church fathers practiced literal interpretation because they still thought like heathens! To Chilton, they were unspiritual because they never got over their heathen upbringing. They never walked in the Spirit, they never grew in grace, they always misunderstood Scripture, and therefore it is right to spiritualize. What insufferable arrogance! For the record, this includes almost all of the early church fathers up to Origen, not just "some," as Chilton says. They were almost all clearly premillennial and they certainly interpreted literally.

    Something else that Chilton either misses or purposefully hides is that "spiritual" interpretation did not begin with Augustine. It began with the non-Christian Jew Philo (c. 20 BC-50 AD). Then, Origen (AD 185-254), he of the bizarre and heretical theology. In Origen's time, though, the allegorical method ("spiritualizing") did not catch on. Finally, Augustine (AD 354-430) popularized the method. So it took 300 years for Christians to figure out they weren't interpreting the Bible correctly, according to Chilton.

    The truth is the literal method of the early church fathers is the natural method, as modern linguistics proves. Give a Bible to the average tribesman or third world person and how would they interpret it? Literally! You would have to teach them the allegorical method of Augustine, Chilton and Iconoclast, because they would not naturally interpret that way. And guess what: in my missions trips to 3rd world countries I have found many of those (literally interpreting) Christians to be full of love for the Lord Jesus Christ, committed to follow Him in spite of persecution, and very spiritual.
     
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  4. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    You're not turning into Van, are you? :eek: :Roflmao
     
  5. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Help! I need counseling! :Roflmao
     
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  6. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    There are some very good books on pre Mil/A Nil/Post Mil viewpoints, but neither him or North would qualify on that, as neither not really that much into doing a proper exegesis of the bible, more like cram their pet theology into it!
     
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  7. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    So, what is this "Interpretive Maximalism" (IM)? Chilton discussed it in DOV, pp. 36-39. Here is the basic idea:

    Everything in Scripture is ‘symbolic.’ Jordan calls this ‘interpretive maximalism,’ an approach that harmonizes with the interpretive method used by the Church Fathers, as opposed to the ‘minimalism’ that has characterized fundamentalist-evangelical commentaries since the rise of rationalism.” (DOV, 37)

    Now that's just bizarre. Absolutely everything in Scripture cannot be symbolic, or we would never understand anything. Are the nails of the cross symbolic? If so, what? Whose symbol is right, yours or mine? I say they were NAILS, nothing more nor less.

    What about the game the soldiers played at the foot of the cross? They gambled for the robe of Jesus. Now there is a splendid novel by Lloyd Douglas called The Robe, but even he did not make the game the soldiers played symbolic. It was a gambling game, pure and simple.

    Another strange thing about IM is the claim by Chilton that it "harmonizes with the interpretive method used by the Church Fathers." Which church fathers? Apostolic? Early? Nicene? Post Nicene? You see, this is a very vague statement by Chilton meant to sound scholarly, but which will only impress the ignorant.
     
    #7 John of Japan, May 16, 2017
    Last edited: May 16, 2017
  8. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    Basically, another way to use allegory and spiitualizing everything!
     
  9. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Correctamundo. But it's even more devastating to proper exegesis than normal allegorical interpretation, because the more you "spiritualize" the more obscure the literal meaning becomes. Remember that Augustine taught three levels of interpretation, but at least he acknowledged the literal meaning first. Chilton often doesn't do that. He looks for the hyponoia (spiritual meaning of Augustine) right off.
     
  10. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    The thing that him and others seem to miss big time is that the scriptures many times will use "spiritual" language and imagery, that is describing things that are really concrete and real in nature, such as hell being a consuming fire, whether a physical flame or not, is describe a real state apart from God!
     
  11. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    I don't want to defend Chilton, whom I've hardly started reading yet, but there is another side to this.
    The ECFs and their over-literal interpretations were responsible for two serious errors picked up on by the Church of Rome.
    'This is My body.' 'For My flesh is food indeed and My body is drink indeed.' Well what could be clearer than that? Why do we not take these words literally? Perhaps we should all believe in Transubstantiation. :eek:
    '.....Born of water.....' 'The washing of regeneration.' I think Justin Martyr was the first to speak of baptism as 'regeneration.' He was followed by almost all the other Fathers and baptismal regeneration is taught today by the Church of Rome.
    The Lord Jesus said, "However, when He, the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth.' The truths of Scripture are spiritually discerned (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:14).
     
  12. Berean Theologian

    Berean Theologian New Member

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    The literal method to interpreting Scripture is never the "natural" method. It may be necessary at times, but Scripture determines its own required method. One has to look at the author, audience, context, culture, language, and literature. If all of that demands a literal interpretation, then interpret it literally. If all of that demands a "spiritual" or allegorical interpretation, then interpret it allegorically. Only primitive theologians seem to think that Revelation should be interpreted literally. The same can be said for the Genesis creation account. The truth is, the literal method requires the least amount of diligence, so people flock to it. As soon as people look at Revelation with literary styles in mind, the literal method is immediately disregarded for what I call the biblical method. The fact is this: the Bible was not written to us or to third world people. It is literature that was written to specific people in a specific literary style. We can love God and be good people by just reading one or two literal chapters, but we won't fully understand it until we actually study it and abandon our 21st century presuppositions.
     
  13. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    Hello B.T. Welcome to the B.B. If you have not already done so, will you please post a short bio on the Introduction Forum? Thanks! :)

    I agree with most of your post, and all of it up to a point. If a Scripture text is poetry, it must be interpreted as poetry and allowance made for imagery etc. If it is apocalyptic, it must be interpreted as such. But Genesis is largely prose, and presents itself to us as history. It should therefore be interpreted as such and the plain meaning should be to the fore.
     
  14. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Can you source this? I don't remember reading it anywhere. I teach church history, so you would be helping me out if you can source it.

    My view is that when a source is obviously figurative, as was the statement here from Jesus, it is natural to interpret it figuratively. Most people easily understand figures of speech, unless they have been indoctrinated otherwise like Catholics have been. I mean, there was Jesus sitting before the disciples with His flesh and blood intact. So there is not reason whatsoever for whoever it was to originally interpret His words as anything other than figurative.
    Granted, but that doesn't nullify my point.
    The problem starts when you say that "literal" cannot be "spiritual." Many literal statements in Scripture are about spiritual reality. For example, in John 14:1-3, Christ was speaking of a real, physical place. If that is denied, then Heaven becomes a spiritual but non-corporeal place of some kind, and therefore physical resurrection is a myth. But our physical resurrection, based on the physical resurrection of Christ, is a spiritual reality. If an atheist refuses to believe that, it does not become ergo something only spiritual people can know, but is a physical truth taught by the Holy Spirit to our spirit.
     
  15. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Nice start to your life on the BB--an insult. :rolleyes: But welcome anyway.
     
  16. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    I have a feeling that this thread is going to go off the rails fairly quickly. :Coffee But I will soldier on with Chilton's absurdities. Here is a quote from Chilton illustrating IM:

    So the "spiritual" meaning here to Jordan and Chilton is that the "certain woman" is Eve, Abimelech is Satan, the stone is Jesus Himself, and the millstone overcomes tyranny (even though the Zech. passage referenced has no stone in it, much less a millstone!!).

    Wow, that is absolutely terrible exegesis, even if one follows an allegorical method. There is nothing (zip, zero, nada) in the text from which to draw these conclusions, but Chilton (following Jordan's IM method) drew them out of thin air.

    As Bernard Ramm's classic work says, "If there are no cues, hints, connections, or other association which indicate that the record is an allegory, and what the allegory intends to teach, we are on very uncertain grounds" (Protestant Biblical Interpretation, rev. ed., p. 24).
     
  17. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    Folks, putting aside the snarky remarks, the idea of minimizing the scope of our interpretation is very important. When scripture says the natural man cannot understand the things of the Spirit of God, the bogus view would be to maximize the interpretation and say it means "all the things of the Spirit of God." But the minimalist would ask, "What is the least God is saying" and the answer is "some of the things of the Spirit of God."

    Over and over again we see folks that expand, dare I say add, to scripture and then build bogus doctrine on the expansion. Try using Minimalism as a component of your Hermeneutics and the actual truth of scripture will leap from the page. One of my minimalist rules is if the straightforward literal sense makes sense, seek no other sense.
     
  18. OnlyaSinner

    OnlyaSinner Member
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    I was taught that a prime rule of hermeneutics was, "If the plain sense of scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense."
     
  19. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    I didn't mean to suggest that there was a fully-fledged doctrine of Transubstantiation among the Church Fathers. Obviously, that did not get sorted out until 1215 and the 4th Lateran Council. But it seems to have been there 'in embryo.' Ignatius of Antioch, in his Letter to the Smyrnaeans (Chap.7) writes concerning the Docetics, "They do not confess the eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ which suffered for our sins and which the Father by His goodness raised up again."
     
  20. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob Administrator
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    If one ops for the allegorical hermeneutic, the Bible doesn't say anything objective. It becomes subjective - the passage is interpreted as "what it means to me" - with no authority or absolutes.

    Reflects on the first attack on God's Word, back in the Garden. God gave a command that was plain, literal, absolute but the IM hermeneutic was obviously employed by Satan - "Did God really say/mean that?" Still used today to try to reduce the Word of God into the "what does it mean to you" mentality of modern man.
     
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