Thursday, September 27, 2007

Humilty in Exegesis and Theology

I am very much from the school that holds the exegesis of the Bible in its original languages in very high regard. We say that we can know the meaning of Scripture (i.e., authorial intent) through a study of the vocabulary, grammar and syntax, literary context (of the passage and entire book), historical-cultural context, etc.. And fortunately for us, we live in a time in which we have a multitude of tools and scholarship to evaluate each of these things.

As dry as such rigorous study may sound, it results in a beautiful, vivid (and accurate) view of Scripture. I simply cannot see Paul's rhetoric in Colossians without understanding the Greek language. If I fail to see rhetoric, double entendres, syntactical structure, etc., I risk failing to see the argument of the entire book. Rigorous study of the parts of a book help me understand the whole. Understanding the whole helps me refine my study of the parts. So I completely affirm the usefulness of this rigorous method of study because I believe God's Word is authoritative and worthy to be understood as fully as possible. We need Bible teachers who can study like this and teach the Word to others. I affirm this school to which I subscribe.

But recently God reminded me of something: No matter how I study (how long, how deep, etc.), only His Word is innerant, not my word about his Word. We (protestants) cry out against the notion that a man could be infallible and declare doctrine perfectly. But many of us, if we were pope, would practically affirm this doctrine of papal infallibility. The pope is fallible unless it is me. Of course none of us would say that, but we hold our interpretations and our doctrines high, sometimes risking their elevation above Scripture itself. Let us be humble, study hard, teach confidently but not arrogantly, and keep asking that God would give us insight into His Word.

Most of all, so long as it depends on us, may we never let division arise in the body of Christ because of differing views on tertiary issues.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Chiasm in Col.1:9-12?

In this passage, many understand the four participles in 1:10b-12a to modify the infinitive in 1:10a (i.e., "bearing fruit," "increasing in the knowledge of God," "being strengthened," and "giving thanks" all relate to "walking worthy of the Lord."). Thus 'walking worthy' entails the actions of the four participles (which Harris takes as circumstantial).

But if the participles modify the infinitive, would they not appear in the accusative case (cf. 1 Tim 2:8; Titus 3:2)? How do adverbial participles usually modify infinitives. [I'm not sure . . . I'm asking].

The prepositional phrases (en/eis pas) boxed above seem to indicate a few points about the structure of these clauses:
  1. Each prepositional phrase is connected to a verbal (infinitive or participle).
  2. The order 'eis' - 'en' - 'en' - 'eis' may suggest chiasm. If this is the case, it is possible that the phrase 'increasing in the knowledge of God' is emphatic.
  3. The clause containing the participle 'giving thanks' actually begins with the eis pasan of v11b (i.e., 'giving thanks to the Father in all endurance and patience with joy').
  4. If chiasm is present, it may suggest that all the verbals (infinitive and participles) modify the finite verb "be filled" (as suggested above). In this case, the clauses would likely indicate the result of being filled with the knowledge of God's will.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

is God's Word boring?

Is God's Word boring to the average Christian teen (or even adult)? If so, why?

I recently read an article that has got me thinking a lot about this. What do YOU think? Here's an excerpt with the link:
"[Students] would much rather IM about God on a computer, watch The Passion of the Christ to be sensationalized by the gore of the crucifixion, or listen to a CD/MP3 of the latest pop worship music than thoughtfully reflect in God’s Word. These may all be good spiritual tools, but they fail to utilize the mind. Joshua 1:8a reads, “This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it.” The phrase “meditate on it day and night” is a deliberate discipline of chewing on, mulling over, rereading, and processing God’s Word. This is an ongoing intellectual process, engaging the mind to come into a full and proper relationship with the Almighty."
- Kent Millen, "Why Christian Young People Don't Think and What To Do About It."

I'm afraid that Millen is on to something big. Through my own experiences in junior/senior high school, youth group (as a teenager), and youth ministry (4-5 years), I cannot remember too many teens who looked forward to Bible study - maybe to games, maybe to snacks, maybe to friends, maybe to trips, maybe to awards, but not to the joy of digging deep in God's Word and putting it to practice. Now games, friends, trips, etc. are all great, but the school systems offer those same opportunities!

Maybe teachers are fault (i.e., youth leaders, youth pastors, etc.). Maybe we have not clearly communicated the necessity of the Word of God in the Christian life. Some would say that it is just too hard to compete with the 'flashiness' of youth culture. As a result, many try to build flashy youth programs and activities to get students involved. I love Millen's quotation of Spurgeon: "
If you have to have a carnival to get them to church, you need to keep having a carnival to get them back."

Now I'm not against 'cool' events or creative ways to get students learning (like Bible Quizzing!), but why don't more Christians (teen or adult) have a natural (or perhaps supernatural) desire to read and reflect upon the Word? Why do I struggle to wake up 45 minutes early to spend time wrestling with God's Word, thinking, "What does this mean and what should I do about it?"

We often claim that Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship. I agree! But a relationship requires communication, and that requires Bible study and prayer! If I'm not reading and reflecting on God's Word, if I'm not spending time in prayer, what does that say about my relationship with my Savior, the Almighty?

What do you think?

[By the way . . . I'm thankful to have a good group of youth at Maywood! This article speaks to a general situation in America, not necessarily to my specific context.]

Purpose of this Blog

As the title suggests, this blog exists for the sake of truth. I hope that through discussions on this blog, we learn and deepen our convictions about what is true.