22 June 2006

How we "do" Christianity, and the reverse

by Dan Phillips

It's funny/sad how some false notions are like movie monsters.

It doesn't matter how many times or how utterly Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, or countless other baddies are decimated. If the box-office is good enough, they'll be back again for another round of bloody cliches.

I recently read the solemn remark that Christianity is not a relationship with a book, it is a relationship with God. The writer further said that he did not believe that Jesus rose from the dead because he read it in the Bible, and he expressed the hope that this was true also of every reader.

Ah, it's back again. Calvin killed it, Luther killed it, Owen killed it, Machen killed it, Clark killed it, Henry killed it, Schaeffer killed it. Yet here it is, and as sure as squash is yucky -- surer, some will say -- many will "discover" and embrace this notion anew today, as if it had never been decisively and utterly killed over and over again already.

So, let me say first that I'm perfectly happy to be a disappointment to the writer, in this regard. You ask me how I know He lives? The Bible tells me so.

One of my heroes, the great J. Gresham Machen, was asked to write on "My Idea of God," and these were his opening words:
If my idea of God were really mine, if it were one which I had evolved out of my own inner consciousness, I should attribute very little importance to it myself, and should certainly expect even less importance to be attributed to it by others. If God is merely a fact of human experience, if theology is merely a branch of psychology, then I for my part shall cease to be interested in the subject at all. The only God about whom I can feel concerned is one who has objective existence, an existence independent of man.

But if there be such a really and independently existent Being, it seems extremely unlikely that there can be any knowledge of Him unless He chooses to reveal Himself: a divine Being that could be discovered apart from revelation would be either a mere name for an aspect of man's nature – the feeling of reverence or loyalty or the like – or else, if possessing objective existence, a mere passive thing that would submit to human investigation like the substances that are analyzed in the laboratory. And in either case it would seem absurd to apply to such a Being the name of "God."

This is the point at which genuinely Christian theology parts company from everything else. Whence comes your knowledge of God? What is its basis? What is your authority for anything you say about Him?

When a writer or speaker fills the air with God-statements bespattered with "I think" and "I feel" and "I just have to/can't believe," you can be fairly sure he's not doing Christianity. He is not telling us about God. He is telling us about himself.

I don't say that he or she isn't a Christian. There are frames of mind in which the holiest saint doesn't "do" Christianity very well. But whether or not the person is Christian, that way of "doing" theology isn't. It is a frame from which no good, and no God, can come.

It should be beyond argument that Christianity should have something fundamental to do with Christ. If so, there is no doubt that Christ-religion is a religion of the Bible first and foremost.

To start with the most forehead-slappingly basic touchstone, I'd ask this: Tell me something about this "Christ" you say you believe in.

If even one intelligible word is offered in answer, two things will necessarily be true about it: (1) it will be a doctrinal statement; and (2) it will either be directly from the Bible, or it will be false at worst, or trivial at best.

Was your "Christ" virgin-born, God incarnate, come in fulfillment of prophecy to effect atonement for His people? Did He live a sinless life? What did He teach, what did He say, what did He do? What did He command, promise and threaten? How did He die? What happened then? What happens next? What does any of it mean? What should it mean to me?

Any truthful, consequential answer to any of those questions will come from the Bible.

Suppose we have dealt with that fact, and are ready to concern ourselves with what Christ actually taught. What do we learn?

We learn that Jesus Christ never spoke disparagingly nor disdainfully of the written revelation of His Father, nor of His own words, nor of the future words of His apostles. Quite and radically to the contrary, none spoke more highly of God's verbal, then enscripturated, revelation. It was the very word of God (Mark 7:13). It was not capable of being broken (ou dunatai luthenai he graphe, John 10:35).



He spoke just as highly of His own words, which were spirit and life (John 6:63), and would stand for all eternity (Matthew 24:35). In fact, it is most instructive to see the connection between close study and retention of His words and a vital relationship with God. Did Jesus bifurcate the two? On the contrary, He hinged the one upon the other:

Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him." 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, "Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?" 23 Jesus answered him, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me" (John 14:21-24)

This cannot surprise anyone whose concept of Christianity comes from Christ, rather than religious tradition, cultural fads, or personal vapors. After all, Christ said that the distinguishing mark of a genuine disciple, or student, of His was continuing in His word (John 8:31). Only thus can one know His freeing truth (v. 32).

(An aside: surely at this point someone would want to burst out, "What?! What about love? Love is the distinguishing mark of a Christian!" To which I'd respond, "How do you know that?" And I hope the reply would be, "Because I read it in the... oh.")

But, even all that aside, how does the mystics' favorite apostle, John, see Christian worship and spirituality? What he says is too often overlooked, or over-glanced:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life-- 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us-- 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. (1 John 1:1-4)
First, the foundation is the apostles' own abiding knowledge of Christ (v. 1). They verbally transmit that knowledge to others (v. 2), in writing (v. 4). By those words, readers have "fellowship" with the apostles and, through that fellowship, they have "fellowship" with the Father and the Son (v. 3).

Therefore, "fellowship" with the First and Second Person of the Trinity comes by means of "fellowship" with the verbal revelation which the apostles passed on, in keeping with Christ's promise (John 14:26; 16:13; cf. 1 Corinthians 14:37; 2 Peter 3:2, 15-16).

Thus we know what we know of the Father and the Son, and we enjoy the fellowship we have with the Father and the Son, by means of the words of the apostles.

Nor was Paul's thought any different. To single out but one example, have you ever noticed how the great apostle describes conversion in Romans 6? How would you describe it? Repentance, coming to faith in Christ, coming to Christ, being born again -- all true. But notice how Paul describes conversion, almost in passing, in Romans 6:17 -- "But thanks be to God that you were slaves of sin, but you submitted from the heart to the pattern of teaching to which you were committed" (my literal rendering). Conversion is, among other things, submitting to a pattern, an example, a standard of teaching, of doctrine. And how do we, in our day, encounter the pure doctrine Paul had in mind? We have no apostles.

But we do have their writings.

So do we have fellowship with writings, or with God?

It's a false dichotomy.

God tells us that we have fellowship with Him by means of the words that He moved men to write.

To the degree that something else, some other method or direction, entralls us -- to that degree, we are no longer "doing" Christianity.

Dan Phillips's signature

109 comments:

Noldorin_Calvinist said...

Interesting and excellent points... It is hard for some people to make this connection that you have made, forgetting verses like 2 Peter 1: 2-4. They try to look outside the Bible for getting things they don't think it provides. It is a shame... Thanks again for your insightful posts.

DJP said...

Matt Gumm's good thoughts on false veneration for the Bible (that really isn't veneration for the Bible at all) just came to my attention. He deals with un-Biblical approaches to the Bible. He comes to this area from a different angle, and offers some great cautions and directions.

centuri0n said...

What? Matt Gumm?

I just wanted to say that if it weren't for this blog, you and I wouldn't have any relationship at all. Some people might think that would have been better for all mankind, but my opinion (a-hem) is that they are wrong.

So do I have a relationship with a blog, or with Dan Philips?

DJP said...

We have a relationship?

Steve Sensenig said...

I want to preface my remarks by saying that I don't take any issue with anything in this post. I think the post is accurate in what it says.

But to go one step further with it, I want to ask a question that often nags at me in topics of this nature. What, then, of the Holy Spirit? If everything we need to know is in the Bible, and if the only means of fellowship with the Father and the Son is through the Bible, of what use is the Holy Spirit? Merely to seal us?

I'm honestly not trying to open up the cessation/continuation discussion again, but for those of us who are not on the cessation side of the fence, this continues to be a bit disconcerting.

I agree with you that it is a bit of a false dichotomy to ask whether you have fellowship with writings or with God. However, it's not completely an illegitimate question. Jesus told the Pharisees that they searched the Scriptures thinking that in them (the Scriptures), there was life. Yet, He told them, they point to Him. He is the life.

It is not the writings themselves that give us that life. And so, while it may be a false dichotomy to ask if you fellowship with writings or with God, I would still submit that it is possible for some to think they are truly fellowshiping with God just because they read and value the writings.

The writings point us to Jesus Who is the revelation of God, but that same God Who was revealed in the fleshly incarnation of Jesus also dwells within us in the Person of the Holy Spirit.

So I don't believe in the resurrection solely on the basis of "I read it in the Bible". I believe in it for that reason and the fact that His Spirit bears witness with my spirit that it is true.

Sorry to ramble!

steve :)

Kim from Hiraeth said...

I am mentally beginning to think of you as "Dan, the MAN!"

Another great post. I shall be linking to it today.

Mike Y said...

Dan,

Great article. I just don't get how a man can profess Christ and a relationship with God apart from the bible. If our relationship is by faith, and faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, then our relationship is with the word of God. You know, if A=B and B=C then A=C?

But what do I know?

And about love, folks have a notion of love that is very inconsistent with the word of God. Even their concept that God is all love and no wrath is distorted. But this isn't uncommon. There has been, and will continue to be, those who will serve the god of their imagination.

Thanks for the passage by Machen too. It was edifying to read his thoughts on this.

-Mike

Mike Y said...

Steve,

The Holy Spirit does more than seals us. According to scripture, he brings us to repentance, imparts faith to believe, illuminates spiritual truth to the children of God, and leads us.

But all of this works in conjunction with scriptures, or it becomes mysticism.

-Mike

DJP said...

J/K

Actually, Frank, that's a really excellent point. Mostly, you and I have had a written relationship back and forth. And it is a relationship. In one way or another, to one degree or another, we've shared our thoughts and hearts, and gotten to know each other a bit better.

But I hope you'd agree that if it were possible to meet in person, you'd take the opportunity. It would flesh out and fill in gaps left by the inadequacy and incompleteness of words. And so, it would be a mistake if anyone got the idea that the Bible is all we ever want or hope to have in our relationship with God. Because of the Bible and its truths, we all look forward with eager hope to the day when we shall see Him as He is, when our eyes will behold the King in His glory, when what we've known and believed will be realized and fulfilled in what we see and experience, unmediated.

Now, add to that the statements that the Bible makes about itself. As fun as our correspondence can be, it doesn't have the power and life and reality that the Bible claims for itself (Psalm 119; Proverbs 6:20-23; Hebrews 4:12, etc. ad inf.).

Really good point.

(Aah! others were too fast, and I too slow! This was supposed to go up right behind my "We have a relationship" post!)

DJP said...

Thanks, Mike.

You started me thinking a bit further. Is it perhaps like asking, "Do I have a relationship with my wife, or with her mouth, or with her larynx?" I think we'd think that was either a stupid question, or a set-up for a joke. My wife's mouth/larynx is a means by which she speaks to me, by which I know her. The words she speaks unfold her heart.

Now, we all recognize the validity of the point, I'd hope. But none of us (nor our wives) would predicate of our words what the Bible predicates of itself. We wouldn't liken our words to spirit, life, fire, swords, eternality, pure and unassailable truth, and so forth.

From the lesser to the greater.

Steve Sensenig said...

If our relationship is by faith, and faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, then our relationship is with the word of God. You know, if A=B and B=C then A=C?

Whoa. Logic police. Pull over!

"comes by" does not equal "equals". It is referring to means, not equality. So, no, that verse does not reduce to A=B, B=C, A=C.

steve :)

DJP said...

Steve, it's really simple. The words of Scripture are given by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). Giving Scripture the place it assigns itself is honoring the Spirit of God. It's just silly to say in effect, "Listening to what the Holy Spirit spent sixty-six books saying seems to leave no place for the Holy Spirit."

DJP said...

Oh, and one more thing, Steve. Common misconception. Jesus never faulted the Pharisees for taking Scripture seriously. He faulted them for not taking Scripture seriously, and/or burying it under human tradition (Mark 7:1-13; John 5:39-47).

Steve Sensenig said...

Dan,

Understood. And I was trying to make my point a little bit hyperbolically (f that's a word)!

But doesn't that still preclude any ongoing need for the Holy Spirit today, since the writing of those books is past tense? Mike mentioned that the Holy Spirit "leads us". But in cessationist terms, this "leading" doesn't seem to amount to much of anything. (I hope that's not overstating the point.)

I honestly don't say any of that to be difficult. (or "silly", for that matter)

Two-for-one, since I see your latest comment while I'm previewing:

It wasn't that they took the Scriptures seriously while missing the point that the Scriptures pointed to Himself? John 5:39 was the passage to which I was referring. If I implied that I thought their fault was taking it too seriously, that was not what I meant. What I see there is Jesus saying that they took the Scriptures seriously, but missed the point.

steve :)

DJP said...

Thanks, Steve, but I think that saying it's a false dichotomy really says it. It is just like saying, "Yes, I know I'm justified by the blood of Christ, but doesn't that leave Him with nothing to do to atone for my sin?" Yes! Exactly! It leaves Him with nothing further to do, except apply what He's already done!

Now, we immediately recognize that anyone who downplays the sufficiency of the blood of Christ is committing a serious error. But we're less ready to recognize the equally serious error in all the similar arguments whose net effect is to degrade the Scripture from the place the Holy Spirit Himself gives it.

And once again, on the Pharisees, no. Missing the point, and burying it under tradition, is failing to take it sufficiently seriously. Or so Jesus says (John 5:46-47).

James Spurgeon said...

steve, of course the Spirit still speaks to us. He leads and guides us. He convicts us. He chisels away at our character conforming it into the image of Christ. He does all this through the word. It is the Spirit who illuminates the word and makes it alive to us.

"Open thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things . . . "

Out of where?

The idea that a cessationist somehow doesn't allow for the Holy Spirit speaking to us is utter nonsense.

Kim said...

As I was reading this, I was thinking about Matt Gumm's post, and here you've already mentioned it.

Another excellent post.

Steve Sensenig said...

For some reason, I'm having trouble articulating my thoughts today, and I feel like I'm sending the wrong messages. So I'll leave it at that on this topic.

I wish I could articulate what it is that still doesn't add up for me in what you guys are saying, but I need to just let it go for now and see if it becomes more clear to me down the road.

Dan, thanks for your interaction. I'm sorry that you think I still don't get the point of the Pharisees and their misapplication of Scripture.

Be blessed, guys.
steve :)

DJP said...

That's because you haven't read everything NT Wright ever wrote, Steve.

(Kidding! Just kidding!)

Steve Sensenig said...

ROFL, Dan!! :) Actually, I haven't read any NT Wright yet.

steve :)

James Spurgeon said...

steve, I have noticed that for some reason the continuationists always assume that the cessationists have a low view of the Spirit and his role in our lives. To what degree that assumption is true, I know not. I have also noticed that cessationists assume that continuationists have a low view of Scripture. To what degree that assumption is true I'll leave for others to decide.

My point here is this. Whether you are a cessationist or a coninuationist know this: God speaks to us today. He does so through the Spirit through the Word. Even a continuationist must admit that anything a "prohet" has to say must be checked out by the word and pass the guidelines given by the word.

Am I right or wrong about that?

So, in the end, both must hold the owrd in primacy, admit that the word is given through the Spirit and that the Spirit speaks to us through the word and any subjective impressions we get must be validated by the word or they are not to be trusted.

Again, am I right or wrong about that?

Therefore, whether one is a continuationist or a cessationist he had better be a person of the Book.

Isaiah 8:20 (KJV)
To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

Jerry Wragg said...

Steve –
Your questions are good ones. John’s gospel clears the matter up with the following progression:

14:16-17 – The Spirit of Truth is the comprehensive “helper” who abides with and in the disciples
14:19-21 – Through the Spirit, Jesus and the Father are with and in the believer
14:25-26 – Jesus’ words are those the Spirit “brought to remembrance” so the disciples could write it all down (inspiration)
15:5-7 – Jesus abides in the believer by means of His word abiding in the believer
15:10 – Just as Jesus was abiding in the Father’s love by obeying His word, so believers abide in the Father’s love by means of the same
15:11-17 – Full joy, love, and sanctified fruit come from obeying the word of God
15:26-27 – The Spirit’s work is to testify of Christ (scripture) through the authors of scripture
16:1-15 – While Christ was with the disciples He spoke a direct ministry into their lives. When the Spirit came He brought Jesus’ words (His self-revelation) and only Jesus’ words (v13)
17:17 – Sanctification comes only by the word

The reason I'm convinced that the Spirit actively and dynamically works through His word (and only via that instrument) is because I'm thoroughly convinced of the living and abiding relationship between Jesus Christ (the final revelation of God) and the inspired scriptures (the living and abiding revelation of Christ). In other words, since the incarnate Logos (Word) fully explains the Father (Jn 1:18; 5:37-47; 6:45-46,61-63; 7:16-17; 8:19; 10:38; 14:6-31), and since Jesus sent the Spirit (of truth) to "disclose" everything (Jn.17:7-8) that the Father wanted to reveal (i.e. the Father's words...Jn.14:16-24; 15:26-27; 16:5-15; 17:1-21), and since the Apostles wrote everything as the Spirit brought it to remembrance (Jn.16:13), and since the Spirit-inspired scriptures claim to be that adequate revelation given by Christ through His Spirit "...that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3:17), then I can rest in knowing that the "living and active" word of God is being used by His Spirit to fully "sanctify [me]in [the] truth" (Jn. 17:17) as I obey it. In fact, this is how I "experience" God's active and dynamic working (Phil. 2:12-13).

Excellent post Dan!

DJP said...

James, I don't think I've ever read a defense or presentation of the leaky-Canon position that doesn't start out praising the Word, and end up degrading it as insufficient.

centuri0n said...

Dan:

I'd be up for a mug of root beer any time you're in the neighborhood. It'd be a battle to see which of us could get the other to make the root beer come out of the other's nose first.

Not kidding. :-)

Carrie said...

Excellent post, Dan. This one was timely for me.

Broken Messenger said...

God tells us that we have fellowship with Him by means of the words that He moved men to write.

Dan, so was the concept of "bibliolatry" the real driver for this article? I'm not personally not convinced on the idea, though I do believe that we can make ourselves an idol through justifying sinful actions by the Scriptures. I'm asking because it seems that you were all set-up to make the claim against it, but it doesn't really seem like you ever got there. Maybe this is just a take off of old ground? Anyway, just curious.

Brad

contratimes said...

Dear Mr. Phillips,

Alas, I am late to a party built around (sort of) my own words.

I can't tell you how disappointed I am that you should essentially craft a straw man out of what I said. Apparently it does not bother you to ignore the totality of my point; nor does it bother you to suggest, shamelessly, that I may be something of a saint doing theology badly. My devotion is utterly objective, and it is in this objective fact: That Jesus Christ is Lord, risen from the dead, irrespective of the fact that such news is also written in the Scriptures. I have not besmirched the Scriptures here; I have honored the witness of the Apostles -- the testimony of the Church as Witness -- which preceded scripture by decades. The people of the early church were converted without recourse to a single New Testament verse; they were converted by the power of objective facts reported by objective witnesses who were not first writing things down. That this goes to the heart of "Sola Scriptura" is evident, utterly and completely. Scripture alone? Impossible.

You throw down a gauntlet: Can anyone say anything about Christ without recourse to Scripture or doctrine? Perhaps I can: perhaps I can cite Josephus? But you leave yourself a wondrous out by separating "doctrine" from "the Bible," and, in so doing, leave the door wide open for me to solidify my point. Doctrine is something that the Church systematizes and teaches; and, while our very own Bible tells us that Jesus did and said far more things than all the books of the world could contain, we know THAT THE DOCTRINE OF THE CHURCH WAS INITIALLY FORMED WITHOUT RECOURSE TO A NEW TESTAMENT. And what was that doctrine? It was: He has risen, just as He said He would, and thus He is truly our Lord. Plus, we know that doctrine is those truths culled from Scripture. Doctrine is not the Scriptures themselves. Otherwise, "doctrine" and "the Scriptures" would be identical.

What of the Bible, really? Are you saying that truth about God is only contained in the Bible? Nonsense. Even the Bible PROVES that to be false. Doubt me?

Read this from Acts 17:24ff:

24The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'

What do we find here: we find the very canonization of pagan poetry, that in pagan poets we find God's Word, truth about the God of the Universe, the Father of our Savior. Who were those poets? They were probably Epimenides, Aratus, and possibly the Stoic Cleanthes. Plus, it seems John was comfortable finding truth in Stoic thought in the preamble to his gospel. Of course, he is entitled to so redact, because his authority as a witness qualifies him to find truth in Stoic philosophy, and to show where that truth falls short or is augmented.

Would it be wrong to say this: That the Bible is not the Word of God; it is the Word of The Church? Is not Jesus the Word of God? What of these conundrums:

When King David writes in Psalm 119:11 that,

I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you…


David is not saying that those very sentences are the words he hides in his heart, is he? And when he says in Ps. 119:105 that "Your word is a lamp to my feet…", David is not talking about the word he just wrote in verse 105, right? In fact, David is referring to some other word, right, something other than the word he is writing? Otherwise he is storing in his heart his own words.

Similarly, when the writer of Hebrews 4:12 describes the word of God this way:

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart…

the writer is not referring to that sentence, is he? How does that sentence divide "the soul and spirit, joints and marrow"? How does that sentence judge the "thoughts and attitudes of the heart"? It doesn't do any of those things, and is thus referring to something other than itself, namely the Word of God of which the word of the Church proclaims.

Lastly, if Luther, who abhorred vast chunks of the New Testament, "killed it", as you say, why would Clark and Henry have to kill it too?

I think that you should be more careful attacking a brother's theology as you have mine. Reducing me to a person who "feels" and "thinks" in some sort of subjectivist's bathtub is one of the worst things you could have intimated about me. That you were kind enough to keep my name out of it -- which is good since you've built your case around a fragment of what I said -- gives me no small comfort. This is no game; and it is not about winning some sort of on-line honors. This is about the Gospel, where it is, what it sounds like, and who is proclaiming it.

And as I've said elsewhere, and I'll say it again, "We are not known as Christians by our orthodoxy, but by our love. Orthodoxy without love is dead. In fact, orthodoxy without love is not orthodoxy."

You may have been orthodox in dealing with my heresy, but it was not loving, not one whit. You may disagree. But at least know this: I will die for Christ, His Church, His Word, and His Creed. That may be a lot of subjectivism to you, but I'll live with that.

Peace and mirth, always, to you.

Your brother in Christ,

Bill Gnade
Contratimes
Contratimes@hotmail.com

Karen said...

Regarding Steve's comments and the responses: I suspect if we think about doctrine and practice the subject clears up some. The Spirit can and does lead in the Christian's experience regarding practicing the faith in a way I think Steve was getting at. The Bible is the standard for both, but we tend to be more on the open sea when practicing the faith and here the Spirit can be seen as more of a guide. The metaphor of course suggests the study of doctrine is a different thing and is done more on or near the shore.

Alot in the above paragraph can be nit-picked by anyone desiring to do so, but the main point is the Word of God gives us doctrine like armour (armour of light), but then with its practical teaching it gives guidance and commands, but the practical side is done away from the Book. It needs the Word in one's heart, and this is more the realm of the role of the Holy Spirit in the Christian life.

(Oh, boy.)

Brad said...

I’ve been thinking about this issue myself recently and was glad to see this post. I read down through the comments and see that Jerry Wragg has challenged us to review John 14-17. I did so. Unfortunately, I can not come to the same conclusion as Jerry.
What I see is continual references to the Counselor and Jesus living with us and being with us. 14:17, 20. Jesus tells us that He and the Father “will come to him and make our home with him.” Certainly, as God would if He were living “in” you, he promises to teach us all things. 14:28. Since He is the Spirit of truth (14:17) He will presumably guide us to truth. The parable of the Vine and Branches is not about keeping ahold of the Bible (although I certainly know that is part of it). Rather, it is about Jesus “remaining in us.” (15:4). We are told to “remain in” Jesus in 15:4 and 7. If we remain in Him (and His words remain in us) we are told we can ask, and it will be given. The Counselor will “testify” about Jesus in 15:26. The Counselor will convict the word of guilt (16:8), and He will guide us “into all truth.” He will speak only what he hears from the Father.
So what I see is an indwelling, continuing, dynamic, personal relationship with the God of the Universe. I do see that I “learn about” that indwelling through Scripture. In fact, the gospel story is so amazing that I am sure that I never would have guessed such a story, outside of scripture, in a million flights of spiritual fancy.
I too have a very high view of scripture. I don’t want to make it say something that it doesn’t. But, I simply can’t read these verses to say that “I will send you Apostles a counselor who will cause you to write things down and then, after that, my relationship with you will be only through those words. I will no longer indwell you. Or, if I do, it will only be for the purpose of reminding you to read your Bible.” I know that grossly oversimplified what y’all are saying; but that’s how it comes across.
The difficulty I see with my own position is that it potentially leaves me open to all sorts of gaseous influence masquerading as “the Spirit.” I know that. And, I know that the Counselor will not today contradict anything we find in scripture. Thus, I must continually return to scripture as my guide. But, I don’t see the scripture telling me that it is either/or Spirit/Scripture.
Thanks for the bandwidth.

In Him
Brad

DJP said...

Brad -- no idea what you're asking, which makes answering hard.

contratimes -- any way of boiling your 1000+ words to fifty or so? Was there a question there?

Brad again -- what, briefly, do you make of the sufficiency of Scripture?

Gummby said...

Dan: Thanks for the link. I'm speechless.

Of course, it had Cent coming over to disagree with me (agreeably, which is suppose is better than the other way 'round). At least you got him to come over to my site, something that I don't seem to be able to accomplish on my own very often. Oh, and if you do stop in to Siloam, make sure I know about it so I can drop everything and make a run up there. I love root beer!

Bill said: THAT THE DOCTRINE OF THE CHURCH WAS INITIALLY FORMED WITHOUT RECOURSE TO A NEW TESTAMENT

This is only half right, though. The New Testament had not been written down, but clearly the teaching was there (from things like 1 Tim 6:20 & Jude 3). So it isn't as though no doctrine existed until it was written down. Once it was written down, however, it was made a fixture--a permanent reference point for all future generations.

Bill also said: "We are not known as Christians by our orthodoxy, but by our love. Orthodoxy without love is dead. In fact, orthodoxy without love is not orthodoxy."

I totally agree that to have orthodoxy without love is worth about as much as any of the other things spoken about in 1 Cor 13. But alas, love without othodoxy is...take your pick--emergent, liberalism, new age, whatever. The problem is that you can't truly love God if you don't know Him.

Too many people claim the love of God for them without actually knowing who God is. A great example of this was on a recent Larry King Live, where person after person claimed God's love for homosexuals "just as they are." You can read the transcript here. The problem with this line of reasoning is that the God they are talking about doesn't exist--at least not if you believe the Bible.

Regarding orthodoxy, an issue I brought up in my post is that orthodoxy does not automatically equate to Phariseeism, despite the popular conception to the contrary. Jesus (and Paul, for that matter) had both orthodoxy and love--would that we all would try to be more like them, whichever side of the fence we lean more toward.

To Steve Sensig: I won't try to provide all the answers to of what use is the Holy Spirit?, but I will present for your consideration this passage from Paul:

6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—

10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
(1 Cor 2:6-16).

4given said...

"as sure as squash is yucky" (just had to repeat that... it made me laugh)

Good post. Thank you.

Brad said...

djp:

There are two "brads" on the board. I'm the second "brad" comment. Sorry.

If your "sufficiency of scripture" question is put to me, then I'm afraid I understand the quandry. I know scripture is supposed to be "sufficient." 2 Timothy 3:16-17 reads, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." I got that.

But then, what do I do when that scripture tells me that the God of the Universe will come dwell in me, etc. John 14-17 (as Jerry instructed us to read). I understand that scriputure is, as it says, "useful." But certainly that indwelling Spirit has got to be useful for something too, other than merely to remind us to read out Bible.

So, this is where I am right now: I see scripture as useful (what a weak word) for teaching, correcting, etc. But I also see an indwelling Spirit of God, working in me for those same purposes (a "relationship"). This isn't a God I just read about; this is a God that lives in my being.

In doing so, I am not trying to look outside the Bible for vague spiritual uplift. I'm trying to understand and live out the very relationship with God that the Bible says I have. And what I hear in some of the commnets is a near rejection of that "relationship" part.

Please...this is a comment, but it is also a question. If I am misunderstanding part of this discussion; fill me in.

Brad no. 2

DJP said...

Okay Brad... er, brad... uh...

Look, one of you's just going to have to change your name!

What do you make of my previous response to the same question? To wit:

The words of Scripture are given by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). Giving Scripture the place it assigns itself is honoring the Spirit of God. It's just silly to say in effect, "Listening to what the Holy Spirit spent sixty-six books saying seems to leave no place for the Holy Spirit."

...plus what the post points out that the Bible itself says about our relationship with God?

donsands said...

A very well written post. Very solid teaching as well.
Thanks Dan.

I probably love the Bible too much. Could someone be too doctrinally inclined?

Mike Y said...

Gee, I go away to get a haircut and everything breaks loose.

Dan, thanks for explaining me.

contratimes, I think I differ with your presupposition that doctrine comes from the church, which is why I would have further issue with what you're trying to explain.

Just to be clear, I didn't come to my calvinistic stance by reading anyone in particular. I arrived here by diligently searching the scriptures and trying to systemetize what I believed. It just so happens that others have done this before me and there are similarities.

But the Holy Spirit is an active agent in the Christian's life, first renewing the heart and mind, then imparting faith to believe, then illuminating doctrinal truth. But that faith and that truth does not exist apart from the word of God.

And if one wants to argue whether God existed before the bible, etc., that's fine. But since I believe he predestined this and elected me before the foundation of the world and before the establishment of measureable time, it seems moot to discuss.

Anyway, there you have it.

-Mike

Brad said...

djp:

"The words of Scripture are given by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). Giving Scripture the place it assigns itself is honoring the Spirit of God. It's just silly to say in effect, "Listening to what the Holy Spirit spent sixty-six books saying seems to leave no place for the Holy Spirit."

Yes, I read your "relationship" section. Good words. We do have fellowship with Him through his holy word. But, ya know, his holy word says that He's not a far off being, or a blogger in another state. It says He Lives In Us. Therefore, we can have relationship with through his Word. But why are we refusing to acknowledge that we can have relationship with Him through his indwelling Spirit? Or, as I said, is the indwelling Spirit just there to remind us to read our Bible so we can learn about that far-off God?

You seem to be arguing for either/or (Bible/Spirit); I'm arguing for both.

Brad no. 2

DJP said...

Brad/brad/whatever < g >, you ask, "why are we refusing to acknowledge that we can have relationship with Him through his indwelling Spirit?" I'd say a better question would be "Why are we insisting on redefining the relationship He Himself depicts in Scripture?"

Find me something that I have denied of what the Bible says is the normal, everyday ministry of the Holy Spirit to every Christian, and I will change my position.

As for the rest, I hope you'll forgive me referring to an earlier post, Delight and de danger of de metaphor. I think it applies here.

The danger: One takes a single Biblical truth (or metaphor), and just goes with a flow of free-association. For instance: the Bible says God is my Father. Well, fathers play with their children, sit them on their knees, and buy them popcorn. So I relate to God as a Heavenly Knee, Frisbee-thrower, and Popcorn-Buyer.

And so, the Bible says God indwells us. You could ask, What does that mean to you?, and build your doctrine and expectations on that.

Or you could ask, What does the Bible say that means?, and build on that.

I'm advocating the latter.

David Cho said...

Dan,

I take it from contratimes' comment that this myterious writer you are making a case out of is contratimes.

Wouldn't it be prudent and fair to cite the source explicitly so as to give your readers an option to read his context in its entirety? Dr. John MacArthur recently spoke of naming names.

If I had a beef with what I read here, and decided to blog about it, I would certainly attribute the source to here.

So is this from his blog, or one of his comments he left here?

DJP said...

I decline the invitation to get off-topic, David.

Jerry Wragg said...

Brad (the one DJP is addressing – I think??) –

Your question reveals the problem. You seem to be upholding a dichotomy between the Spirit’s indwelling “everyday work” and Scripture’s “everyday guidance”.
My original point was the same as djp’s, namely that the Spirit never intended to grow, sanctify, relate to, minister, guide, lead, comfort, convict, encourage, exhort, admonish, protect, enlighten, love, and nurture us apart from our reading, meditating upon, being renewed in, and obeying His (the Spirit of Truth) holy, “living and abiding” word!
In fact, that’s the point of Jesus’ continual reference to the Spirit’s coming as “another helper” who would inspire the disciples to record all that He said (the spoken words of Christ are life through the Spirit – John 6:63). If you take these promises of the Spirit’s teaching ministry to be for every believer throughout history, then this presents problems, beginning with John 14:26.

If Jesus means He will, through the Spirit and in the exact same way universally, “teach [every believer] all things, and bring to [every believers] remembrance all that [He] said…”, then this would necessitate the direct inspiring of all Christians to have written scripture. Why? Because none but the disciples were there during His ministry to “hear” what He originally said. In other words, this could only have been a promise directly to them that He would bring to their remembrance everything He had told them, and that by the Spirit’s “paraclete” agency.
If, on the other hand, someone concedes the point and agrees that the means by which the Spirit “teaches” us is through the inspired written revelation given to the Apostles, then the original point is moot. Then the only question would be whether the Spirit is still directly “teaching us” and “bringing to our remembrance” new insights not explicitly found in the Bible (obviously another, but related concern).

Djp is right in asserting that we must let the Spirit Himself tell us what He purposed to do with the written revelation, and not our notion of “relationship” dictating how we view scripture. By the way, if we are sanctified by the truth (Jn. 17:17), then does this eliminate the work of the Spirit of Truth? Not at all, for that is how the Spirit does His renewing (and intimately relational) work.

Brad said...

djp:

Thanks for the response. Are you dealing with all of the refernces to the Spirit "living in" us, etc. by passing them off as mere metaphor? I'm just trying to understand where you're coming from.

If that's the case, then aren't you falling into the trap of declaring anything that doesn't fit your theology as "myth." I'm sure you don't want to be part of that crowd.

In fact, that's why I'm asking. It sounds like that's what you're doing and I just want to give you a chance to explain, either way.

Thanks for the time

Brad the lesser

DJP said...

the brad -- what I said in my previous post to you is what I'm trying to say. It doesn't seem you've dealt enough with what I've said, to warrant my saying more.

Rhology said...

Mmmm, steak.


...

And, good word, Dan.

Vynette said...

All this talk about the Holy Spirit, aka the 'Spirit of Truth', provokes me to ask a leading question.

Christian church doctrines such as the Trinity and Virgin Birth are not based on the New Testament but are mere remnants of pagan mythology that should have been tossed out at the Reformation!

This fact can be demonstrated.

So how can the 'Spirit of Truth' illumine what is so patently and proposterously false?

Or are the adherents of these doctrines under some sort of mass delusion?

Please stop associating the Jesus of the New Testament with the pagan doctrines invented by early church fathers through sheer ignorance of Hebrew modes of thinking and expression.

I realise I'll never overturn such heavily-laden tables but..."the zeal of the Lord of hosts has eaten me up".

Mike Y said...

Huh? Okay, either get some coffee or bring in the night shift for this one.

Karen said...

"Christian church doctrines such as the Trinity and Virgin Birth are not based on the New Testament but are mere remnants of pagan mythology"

Salika, salaam, first of all. Now, have you read the New Testament?

Not to mention the Old Testament.

Steve Sensenig said...

I've been gone all day since my earlier interaction on this post, and there was a lot to read when I got back.

As I've read some of the responses, it makes me wonder -- where does the Spirit speak of only working through the written Word? Someone somewhere in the mess of comments here said that we should look at what the Spirit actually said He would do.

The problem with a lot of this thinking is that it does ignore the fact that the early church did not have a "New Testament" written down. And this is where it really does become a cessationist/continuationist discussion because the cessationist believes that the Spirit worked differently pre-canon than post-canon. But I do not see anything in Scripture that indicates that the Spirit only offered to work through the written Word.

For that matter, in these discussions, everyone is quick to talk about "sufficiency" of Scripture. But the passage referenced ("All Scripture is...useful...") does not say all Scripture is sufficient. It says it is useful. And, indeed it is.

God does not hide behind a book. He does not limit Himself to only giving us a book. And I believe this is the point that Brad (one of them, I guess) was making. The ultimate revelation of God was in Jesus. Yes, we learn a lot about Jesus through the Bible, but the goal (by Jesus' own words, as recorded in Scripture) is for us to be "in Him" and for Him to be "in us".

Like it or not, there is a danger of putting the written "Word of God" above the actual, living Word of God, which is Jesus. And if you want to hold to a belief that the only way the Holy Spirit works today is through pointing us back to the Word, I just don't see how you get that from Scripture itself.

What in the world am I missing??

steve :)

Mike Y said...

Steve,

If the argument is against elevating written scripture, perhaps I can concede the point. However, I won't be persuaded that the early church had no notion of the word of God, just because the printing press didn't exist. Even the Hebrews had the word of God passed on to them. In fact they had to memorize it.

The problem I see with your position is that without scripture, how do you know what is of God and what isn't?

"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.[1John 4:1]"

What are we to test them against? Now, I'm pretty sure that John knew the Holy Spirit would indwell the believer. He should have gotten the memo on that one.

So, what do we test and against what? God's word and the Holy Spirit must work in conjunction with one another. Without the scriptures we have mysticism. Without the Holy Spirit, we have self-righteousness.

-Mike

Vynette said...

Karen,

I don't know whether to take your question as facetious or not - one never knows these days.

You can judge the answer to your question by the fruits I produce.

I'd be altogether too humble to direct anyone away from this blog to my own, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

And these are desperate times...nothing less than a new Reformation will do.

Brad said...

Mike:

Ya know...we might just be saying the same thing! Here's some snippets from my earlier comments (to djp):

"You seem to be arguing for either/or (Bible/Spirit); I'm arguing for both."

"Thus, I must continually return to scripture as my guide. But, I don’t see the scripture telling me that it is either/or Spirit/Scripture."

And, here's what you say:

"So, what do we test and against what? God's word and the Holy Spirit must work in conjunction with one another. Without the scriptures we have mysticism. Without the Holy Spirit, we have self-righteousness."

To which I would say, "Amen." I have not been arguing for some subjective "set adrift" version of being "led by the Spirit." I know better than that.

Brad

joythruChrist said...

Squash is yucky? I love squash. Is that one in the Bible?


Great post.

Mike Y said...

Brad,

Glad to hear it. Working out discussions on the blog can be tough at times. Sometimes I miss something someone is saying.

-Mike

DJP said...

Vynette -- You can judge the answer to your question by the fruits I produce.

Yes, and the fruit we can all see is what you say. And what you are saying is denying the God of the Bible, who is presented in the Bible as one God eternally existing in three distinct Persons both in the Old and New Testaments. Your position is that of an unbeliever.

This is not the place to re-invent the wheel. If you want a good start on some study of the Biblical materials, Warfield's ISBE article is a good start. But if you want to peddle and preach that (or other) heresy, don't do it here.

DJP said...

Steve, Steve -- again and again you present yourself as wanting to be known as a nice, likable guy who is fascinated and enthralled with the blank spaces in between the lines of Scripture. Is that the legacy you want?

So, I guess, in a sense, you've got me: nothing in the Bible says, in so many words, that the Holy Spirit won't speak to you, Steve Sensenig, through a tire iron, American Idol, a tree frog, or a Bob's Big Boy hamburger. I admit it. Nothing says He won't whisper "Booga-booga!" in your ear every morning at 9am sharp, PST. Nothing says He won't levitate a pancake before your face, and write His message to you in maple syrup. We could go on, and on, about what it doesn't say.

You're just "stuck," like every other Christian, with a Bible that says that the Holy Spirit has provided for you a book that gives you one hundred per cent of what you need to know of God and His will, and to live the Christian life and please God (Psalm 19:7-14; Psalm 119; Proverbs 6:21-23; 2 Timothy 3;15-17, etc. ad inf.)

That really seems to bother you. Every time you're confronted with those riches, every time it's you who leap in with "But but but."

This suggests to me that you are discontented with what God has given. Sorry. Wish I could help you. But I, and better than I, have tried, and you've just got this bug. Want my advice? Here it is: Lose the bug. Focus on the riches God has provided. You'll find that, just as the Holy Spirit moved the writers to teach, it is sufficient. You may lose some favored notions. The gain will infinitely outweigh them.

Or you can spend your life making a rep for that fascination with blank spaces. Every time someone honors the Holy Spirit by affirming His gift of Scripture and His work in and through it, try to divert the discussion into the spaces.

Or maybe you could write a book about all the wonderful eternal truths the Spirit has whispered directly to you, Steve Sensenig, apart from Scripture. Include in it all the eternal, inerrant, extra-Biblical truths whispered to others' ears over the last 1900 years.

It'd sell a million, and TBN would be your daddy.

This would be my only request: do it after you have mastered, both intellectually and practically, all the truths already revealed in the Word of God.

Deal?

j.greear said...

I have a little trouble figuring out exactly what Phillips is addressing here. I see 4 possible options.

1) those people that separate their knowledge about Christ from the Bible, making statements like, "Christ unites us, but doctrine divides us," or "we interpret the Bible by Christ" (meaning that they can say certain parts of the bible are wrong because they don't fit it into their preconceived notions of what Jesus should be like.) Phillips is right that we know nothing about Christ apart from the doctrines of the Bible.

2) those popular preachers that like to base everything in experience and then look to the Bible for a passage where they can say, "see, the Bible says this too." Phillips would again here be correct that the source of Christian knowledge and experience is the Scriptures, not some spiritual experience in our lives.

3) Perhaps his words could be construed as a subtle attack on Descartes approach to God that starts with nothing but "cogito, ergo sum" and tries to reason toward God. If that is the case, then again, I think he is correct that revelation is the modus operandi of epistemology vis-à-vis reason.

(4)If Phillips means that Christ never pointed outside of His words for verification of His truth claims then I would say Phillips muddles the arguments pretty substantially. Phillips would be suggesting that Paul never pointed to the people who were eyewitnesses of the resurrection, Jesus never pointed people to His works as proof of his veracity, John doesn't use the blind man in John 9 as an example of someone who appeals to the miracle in his life to verify theology, or that the Apostles did not make frequent reference to the miracles of prophecy.

donsands said...

Thanks for being a good pastor, Dan. Jer. 3:15

Steve Sensenig said...

again and again you present yourself as wanting to be known as a nice, likable guy who is fascinated and enthralled with the blank spaces in between the lines of Scripture. Is that the legacy you want?

All I have ever tried to present myself as is an honest questioner. Your extension of that to "fascinated and enthralled with the blank spaces in between the lines of Scripture" is a major distortion of my questions.

nothing in the Bible says, in so many words, that the Holy Spirit won't speak to you, Steve Sensenig, through a tire iron, American Idol, a tree frog,...[snipped more ridiculous hyperbole]

Dan, show me one place where I have ever argued for this kind of stupidity. This is "reduction to absurdity". When have I treated your arguments as such? Have I ever engaged the doctrines presented on this website with such childishness? If so, point it out to me, and I'll be happy to own up to it. But your mockery of my questions seems completely unwarranted from my perspective.

This suggests to me that you are discontented with what God has given.

First of all, I have a much higher regard for God's written Word than your juvenile insults acknowledge. Apparently, you don't think that of me, and I regret that somehow you have gotten a gross distortion of my position.

This is not an issue of being discontent with what has been given, Dan. And in taking that position, you set up exactly what others here have been suggesting: It's an "either/or" to you. But don't misrepresent the other position as one of discontent. I am fully content with everything that my heavenly Father has given me. I just want to make sure that I know and am open to the full extent of what He has given. I happen to think that your position runs the risk of leaving us short. That's not to say it does actually come up short, but I feel it may run the risk of it. That was what was being explored in this thread...at least until you decided to respond with your latest comment.

I don't have any illusions of being able to convince you of the appropriateness or validity of my questions at all, given your attitude displayed so vigorously in this last comment, but allow me to state something rather bluntly here for your understanding, Dan:

Sometimes people ask questions, not because they don't believe what's being said, but because they really desire to work through the issues they believe.

The discontent comes, not with what God has given, but the "party line" answers -- you know, things like using a verse from the Psalms to teach some truth about the entire canon of sixty-six books, most of which were unwritten at the time. (Is it possible that the Psalms were written prophetically about this complete canon? Sure, it's possible. And I'm willing to consider those types of possibilities.) Or redefining "useful" to mean "100% sufficient". My issue is not with God, Dan. You can say what you want to about me personally, but you have absolutely no right to stand in judgment of my attitude toward God or what He has given. Again, at the risk of repeating this point too clearly, my discontent is with the arguments presented. Not necessarily even the conclusions, and certainly not with God Himself.

I'm not here to gain reputation points, or to earn your favor, Dan, or any of the other Pyromaniacs. I come here for challenging interaction on issues that I may not fully understand or agree with.

It's a shame that one has to wade through elementary-school, schoolyard rhetoric on occasion to be able to work through the issues presented.

Steve Sensenig said...

Mike wrote: The problem I see with your position is that without scripture, how do you know what is of God and what isn't?

Mike, you misunderstood my position. I am not in any way, shape, or form arguing against Scripture. Never have, and I can't imagine I ever would.

I'm sorry if that wasn't clear earlier.

steve :)

Mike Y said...

Steve,

You really are arguing against scripture, even if you don't think you are. And I'm really not trying to attack you on this, so I hope you'll be patient with my observation.

When you said God does not hide behind a book. He does not limit Himself to only giving us a book. And I believe this is the point that Brad (one of them, I guess) was making. The ultimate revelation of God was in Jesus. Yes, we learn a lot about Jesus through the Bible, but the goal (by Jesus' own words, as recorded in Scripture) is for us to be "in Him" and for Him to be "in us".

Like it or not, there is a danger of putting the written "Word of God" above the actual, living Word of God, which is Jesus. And if you want to hold to a belief that the only way the Holy Spirit works today is through pointing us back to the Word, I just don't see how you get that from Scripture itself.


Apart from scripture, how do we know we're in him? Again, 1John dealt with this and instructs us to test such spirits to see whether they're of God. I previously asked how we were to do this. Well, it's through the scriptures. John makes this clear in chapter 5. It was the purpose for even writing the epistle.

It seems we keep getting to this notion of a time when the word wasn't physically recorded. But this doesn't ever mean his word didn't exist. It was still preached and it was still taught despite the lack of mass production. Otherwise, we're really arguing against preservation. And we're arguing either against inerrancy or for a type double inspiration that blessed the printing press.

Since the dispensing of the Holy Spirit to the believer, both the Word and the Spirit must work in conjunction with one another in order for us to discern spiritual truth vs. a false spirit or false doctrine. And for this reason, I am so very adamant that we express and defend our doctrinal positions, not from those who have gone before us, but from the very text of scripture we claim to believe.

Again, not trying to split hairs or pick on you. We've had exchanges in the past and have at times talked past each other. I'm merely trying to explain why I'm taking issue with a specific point.

Is it possible to turn the bible into a false idol? If that's what you're arguing, I would give a hardy amen. I believe the KJVO proponents are in danger of that folly. But then again, there is much error in their doctrine and in their living out their Christianity.

But an instance of one group having a false exhaultation of the bible does not negate the fact that we are to live by the scriptures. There's nothing to illuminate and nothing to write on our hearts and nothing to meditate upon apart from it.

Now, I would also go out on a limb to suggest that those who claim they hold to this belief, but who live inconsistently with the scriptures manifest that they are really Tares.

I hope we're getting closer to agreement. I really do.

-Mike

DJP said...

Steve -- Mike's right, and I stand behind everything I said. You don't like it? I can live with that, particularly since everything I'm responding to, and all my responses, are there for any and all to see.

Even in this post: you disdain the Scriptures cited, you point to the margins and spaces, and offer none (0) in contrary. You dodge my questions, you dodge the implications. But every time someone affirms what the Holy Spirit asserts about Scripture, you seem to be there to point to the margins or the spaces between the lines.

Not much more to say than that, beyond what I had just previously said. I affirm it again. That it makes you unhappy certainly doesn't make me happy, but isn't necessarily a bad thing (2 Corinthians 7:8-11).

Steve Sensenig said...

Dan, show me specifically where I "disdain the Sciptures cited". That's a hefty charge with huge implications, and one in which I definitely am open to correction. But you're going to have to show me what you mean by "disdain" in my posts.

Is it the comment I made about "a verse in the Psalms"? Or do you mistake my comment about "useful" vs. "sufficient" to be disdain?

I have many faults, Dan. And I have to admit I'm wrong on many occasions. But never before have I been accused of having disdain for God's word (except for some run-ins with some KJVO folks), nor do I have any understanding of what is leading to that charge here.

Regardless of what you have said about me here, Dan, I am a reasonable person, and am more than willing to handle this disagreement and receive correction. But your accusations here are pretty baseless.

You said you agree with everything that Mike said, and I would simply point out that Mike has been able to make his points and engage me without sweeping charges against me. If your intent is simply to make me look foolish here (and show your own theological muscle), then continue on. But if your intent has anything to do with the verses you cited in 2 Corinthians, then understand that you are not dealing with a rebellious, stubborn person living in blatant sin.

In that sense, I think it is only fair that you address me on specific offenses instead of broad generalities and hyperbole.

philness said...

Steve, you commented,
"Like it or not, there is a danger of putting the written "Word of God" above the actual, living Word of God, which is Jesus. And if you want to hold to a belief that the only way the Holy Spirit works today is through pointing us back to the Word, I just don't see how you get that from Scripture itself"

I listened to your music the other day by the way and enjoyed it very much. I was prompted after listening to it to continue prasing the Lord with some reading and meditating in the Psalms. I would say that the Holy Spirit moved me to Psalms because it is where we find the Holy Spirit (In scripture). Now had upon listening to your music I was moved to eat pancakes and ponder the tasks of the day, I would not say that the Holy Spirit moved me to do that. I would say that it is only when the Holy Spirit moves us to something that coincides or is foundational to scripture can we fully trust that spirit as holy enough to adhere to its message.
Take Joseph Smith or Charles Taze Russell for example- had they only listened to scripture rather than that other spirit, we would have a much easier job witnessing. Maybe thats not a good analogy. I think what I'm trying to say is that the Lord gives us a fail safe, if you will, to only trust a spirit that is solely based on scripture. And any other commumincation should be in suspect. Like right now I would like very much to shoot my neighbors barking dog. But that would not be "loving" and I'm pretty sure it is not from the Holy Spirit because shooting my neighbors dog in this case is contrary to scripture. Man, I dont know where that came from. I could sure go for some pancakes though. But do you feel me dog?

SolaMeanie said...

1. Good article.

2. In scrolling down through the comments, me thinks we have a Gnostic in our midst!!!! Oh, the humanity!

3. It has always fascinated me how people can claim to revere the Bible and then proceed to undercut its authority with what they say.

4. Just because someone is cessationist, that does not mean they deny the Person of the Holy Spirit, nor His power in the lives of believers, nor His ability to lead and guide them. However, He will not work disassociated from His Word, nor will He do anything that contradicts His Word. Unfortunately, some value "experience" more than they value Scripture. We are to let Scripture validate our experiences, not the other way around.

C. T. Lillies said...

Well it makes sense that some folks will never get the Bible because without the Holy Spirit it is just a book about some guys who talk about God. Yeah, maybe we can learn some more about him by reading it.

But when you know the Lord, when you're Saved, when you've been converted --insert salvation tag here-- Its the Word of God. Hard to get around it folks.

I love the refreshing posts here Pyro gang. Very challenging and insightful--Keep it up!

Josh

Steve Sensenig said...

philness, I appreciate your kind comments about my music. I'm glad that it pointed you to God.

I don't disagree with anything you wrote there, actually. I do not believe that the Spirit will do or say anything that counters what God has already revealed.

Mike feels like I'm still arguing against Scripture, which is obviously something I want to clear up pretty quickly. I'm composing a response to him, and maybe that will show points of agreement. Maybe not. I still have hope, though.

steve :)

DJP said...

Then Steve, start by focusing on what I've actually written and asked, in the post and comments, rather than what I didn't say, what you wish I'd said or not said, or what you feel about what I said?

Mike Y said...

Steve,

I don't necessarily feel you're still arguing against scripture. I was just letting you know that I was at odds with a particular comment you had made.

Again, I think you've shown in the past that we can disagree on points and explain our positions. I showed you the quote that concerned me and explained why.

From previous dealings, you strike me as a guy who tries to depend on scripture in daily living. So, the comment you made was interpreted by me as out of character. I didn't expect it. But that's based on how I read and interpreted what you previously wrote.

My hope is that as we progress, we're progressing towards a point of agreement with one another.

-Mike

Steve Sensenig said...

Then Steve, start by focusing on what I've actually written and asked, in the post and comments, rather than what I didn't say, what you wish I'd said or not said, or what you feel about what I said?

Dan, that is exactly what I thought I was doing before you accused me of disdain for the written word.

If by asking my initial questions, you felt like it went beyond the scope of the post, all you needed to do was say that.

I still do not understand what has caused you to say such horrendous things about me. And your lack of desire to even discuss it when asked speaks volumes, Dan.

Unless you are willing to publicly retract the scathing accusations you have made, or someone else is willing to step up to the plate and show me where I have shown disdain for God's Word, you really do owe me more than this blowoff, Dan. The ball is not in my court, Dan. You made the accusations. Now defend them.

On the other hand, Dan, if you don't want me interacting here, then just ban me, for crying out loud. To my knowledge, I have not broken any of the written rules of this blog. But you have my permission to either ask me to leave or to outright ban me from commenting.

If you, or anyone else wants to defend your accusations against me, or would like to take the time to show me where I have erred so grievously in this discussion, or any other discussion for that matter, you are very welcome to email me at steve@worshipkeys.com.

But I will not simply sit back and let you slander me in that way, Dan, without holding you accountable. I am not attacking you in return. Only holding you accountable for what you have said about me.

Steve Sensenig said...

Mike, I composed a lengthy response that I tried to post on my blog (since it was really way too long for here, and probably unwelcome here anyway). Blogger is currently stuck on "0%" in publishing that post, and I hope it's not lost. I'll let you know if it gets up there. I may have to recreate it, in which case, it will likely be tomorrow. I'm sorry.

steve :)

DJP said...

Me: Then Steve, start by focusing on what I've actually written and asked, in the post and comments, rather than what I didn't say, what you wish I'd said or not said, or what you feel about what I said? [This doesn't read as an invitation to a focused discussion? And yet....]

Steve: ....your lack of desire to even discuss it when asked speaks volumes, Dan.

Me: < shrug > QED

Invitation still stands, with everything else.

Steve Sensenig said...

The email links apparently don't work here. In plain text, my email address is:

steve@worshipkeys.com

Sorry about the broken link.

Dan, I definitely read it as an invitation to a focused discussion. But why do you think you can make rabid slanderous accusations about someone and not have to defend them?

Here's the problem. I thought that I was discussing the post and your comments in a focused discussion!!! You obviously disagree because you believe that I'm redirecting the discussion to the margins and blank spaces and that I have disdain for the written word. So how can I re-enter the discussion without understanding where I erred in the first place??

I will ask you one more time to quit sitting back and acting as if this is all my problem and step up to the plate and defend your statements. You shrug as if you don't understand what the problem is. Dan, the problem is that you made grave allegations against me, and now are acting like I created an issue here.

In my attempts at "focused discussion" on this topic, what specifically demonstrates disdain for the Word of God?

Without you answering that question specifically, Dan, how will I know that I'm not going to reap more of your judgmental slander when I attempt to interact with what was actually written?

I find it incredibly hard to believe you are this stubborn and smug, Dan. But you sure are acting like it right now.

Steve Sensenig said...

Just FYI, I will likely be away from my computer now until late tonight or early tomorrow, so I will not see any more responses, if there are any. Please don't misread my silence as anything but the fact that I'm out of the house doing other things for the rest of the day.

Father Brown said...

DJP...

I've been somewhat disconnected from the blogosphere this summer, but I stopped by today to see what the Pyros were up to, and WHOA BOY! This post rocked my proverbial socks off. But, from now on, try to save all your good posts until the fall when I get back to the 'sphere, eh?

DJP said...

Here's my philosophy, Steve.

When I take pains to try my best to write clearly, and someone emotes all over the map without responding specifically to what I have already taken the pains to write as clearly and plainly as I can, going off in fifty other directions, demanding that I write still more, and still refusing to respond to and deal with what I've already written, I generally decline.

So, if you're unwilling to deal with what I've already said, and the answers I've already given to your "questions," then what more can I say?

Which is sort of my point.

Put briefer: if I say A, and get response Z-ignoring-A-and-demanding-yet-more, I'm disinclined to provide more -- since it is likely to be misrepresented, ignored, and buried in demands for yet more to misrepresent and ignore.

Jerry Wragg said...

Steve –
I understand your reasoning, but it just isn’t sound. Consider the following questions:

What have you ever learned directly from the Spirit that didn’t come from a prior knowledge of, to one degree or another, the scriptures?

If you can identify some notion, truth, principle, prompting, impression, that the Spirit has taught you outside of any prior biblical proposition gained, then how do you know it is from God? If you say, “because I check all such gleanings against the scriptures”, why would you have to verify what the Spirit has already “taught” you? If it is from Him to begin with and He can lead us independent of scriptural propositions, the scripture-test is unnecessary. If these “leadings of the Spirit” are actual revelations that we somehow need because the Bible isn’t specific enough, then where in scripture would I go to verify such person-specific leadings?
Again, it seems you are reasoning that the written truths found in an ancient document (the Bible) are somehow isolated from the divine dynamic of God’s “Logos”. Yes, God does indwell believers (John 14:16,17,20), and the Spirit of Christ renews the inner man (John 7:38,39; Rom.8:9,10; 12:2; 1 Cor. 2:15,16; 2 Cor.4:16), but He does so as the believer brings scripture to bear upon his fleshly thoughts, affections, will, and emotions, bringing each into subjection to the authority of written (spoken first, then penned), propositional revelation (John 15:4-7 – abiding in Christ is equal to obeying His word [v7]). In fact, John 15:3 is interesting because it definitively links a personal, indwelling, salvific relationship to Christ with His spoken (then later written) revelation. Huh…a personal revelation by means of “words”…how about that?
It is also worth a closer look at John 17 with respect to our union with Christ, the indwelling of the Spirit, and the revelation of God through His word.
17:6 – Jesus “manifested” (revelation) the Father’s name to the disciples who “kept [His] word” (not yet written, but spoken by Christ). Here, an intimate relationship with the Father is gained by revelation through the words of Jesus (as in 15:3).
17:7-8 – The disciples began an intimate relationship with Jesus through “the words which [the Father] gave”, first to Christ, then to the disciples.
17:11,12 – The disciples, who are kept in the Father’s name (intimate relationship), are now to be kept in Jesus’ name (given by the Father) so that all may be in union with the Godhead. Notice from v6 that to be in the name of Christ is to keep His word.
17:18-21 – Jesus has given His word to the disciples, the effect of which is oneness with Jesus Christ through His word given directly to the them and to all believers through them (v20).
17:22-26 – The glory of Christ is revealed to believers who are then continually perfected in unity. How is this accomplished? Through the revealed words of Christ which the disciples had come to know, believe, and experience!

No where in all of chapter 17 is the Spirit mentioned. Yet the passage speaks of the revelation of the Father, the words, name, and glory of Christ, the intimate relationship of indwelling, and oneness with other Christians who believe the words of the disciples. Clearly, the Spirit’s inner work is involved (regeneration – v8).
So we see that the living and abiding, “breathed out” logos of God is of such a life-giving character that when God speaks (verbally through prophets of the past or inscripturated in canon) it is His Spirit of Truth that mediates the inherent power of the revelation to believers as they submit their will to the truth therein.
Continuationism necessitates the conclusion that cessationists have missed the personal work of the Spirit available to all believers, and therefore are floundering in a sea of non-dynamic adherence to ancient words alone. As a logical consequence, cessationist-churches must be “quenching the Spirit[‘s]” most significant work by emphasizing the specific application of ancient scripture over the contemporary and personal intimacy of the Spirit. Actually, however, the Spirit’s intimacy (and the entire Godhead’s for that matter) is dynamically experienced, not by sensory interpretations of subjective impressions or thoughts, but rather through the clarity and conviction of scripture diligently “worked out” in one’s life where putting off “every encumbrance, and the sin which…entangles us” and putting on the revelation of Jesus Christ (His written word) is the exclusive focus (Phil. 2:12-13).

So you see Steve, I don’t believe that God ever intended to speak truth (through prophets) or inspire scripture as merely a “supplement” to His inner work, a mere “verification” of personal inner-leadings, or merely an inanimate literary corpus for “doctrinal reference” when the church gathers for teaching. His word IS LIVING AND ACTIVE, because it is the spoken, revealed truth of the Godhead, from the Father’s holy purpose, sent and embodied through the Son, and mediated through the power and agency of Him who inspired it.

It is all we need! Try Dan’s encouragement…live every moment in study, meditation, prayerful dependence upon, and adherence to the written revelation and see if the Spirit isn’t intimately in that place!

Thanks for sticking with us on this Steve…

Jeremy Weaver said...

When I take pains to try my best to write clearly, and someone emotes all over the map without responding specifically to what I have already taken the pains to write as clearly and plainly as I can, going off in fifty other directions, demanding that I write still more, and still refusing to respond to and deal with what I've already written, I generally decline.

Can I steal that and post it my blog the next time someone does this to me?

Steve Sensenig said...

As it turns out, I have a spare 15 minutes to stop by and see what has been said.

Dan, I asked you to show me where I went off on a tangent, and did not engage what was being written. I asked you to show me where I had given the impression of disdain for the Word of God. I asked you to help me understand where I offended. I asked several times, and you are simply intent on painting me as a troublemaker and reiterating the same points over and over again.

I will not attempt to reason with you anymore. Your comments to me were inappropriate on many levels, but your resistance to resolving that conflict when I have asked for specific instruction in regard to my offense leaves it all unresolved, while adding fuel to an unnecessary fire.

If I knew specifically what I did wrong, I would do something to rectify it. However, I continue to remain baffled by what I did that was so offensive. I understand the principle behind your philosophy, but fail to see how I offended in that regard.

However, since this is obviously not something you are willing to humbly and graciously discuss with me, I can do no more than to cease pleading with you for reason and understanding and peace.

That grieves me, Dan. And it should grieve any others who read this dialogue.

If you ever decide that you would like to help resolve this in humility and graciousness, Dan, please contact me. I do not like leaving this kind of situation unresolved, but you have left me with no other choice in this case.

Steve Sensenig said...

jerry, thank you for taking the time to respond. Forgive me for not continuing the dialogue with you on this, but I have crossed a line here unwittingly, and do not think it would be wise for me to try to answer your comment on this thread.

If you do want to dialogue about it further, please email me privately. I hope you understand.

steve :)

DJP said...

Jerry Wragg -- very well-put. Thanks for furthering the discussion.

Jeremy -- you bet; and I wish you luck with it!

Vynette said...

Er...sorry!

Didn't realise this blog had a policy of banning 'heretics' and 'unbelievers'.

I guess I'll have to thank providence that I don't live in the 15th century.

Torquemada...eat your heart out!

Rick Potter said...

Dan,
I think all too often some writers are guilty of propounding a thesis without proper critism of their own position. I have come to admire your style and even-handedness.

Rick

Raborn Johnson said...

Dan,
I must say that I am pretty appalled at the tone that is emanating from this side of the blogsphere. I am disturbed that someone would use the Name of Christ in a blog title, only to personally attack the people for whom Christ died, be they believer or unbeliever. The Bible says that God loved us even while we were yet sinners. Is being "right" a prerequisite to merely being treated with civility on this blog?

donsands said...

raborn,

What do you mean by personally attack?

Raborn Johnson said...

Donsands, see DJP's first comments to Steve and his tone towards Vynette for starters. It seems to me that what we have here is a pseudo-dialogue where the only comments and questions respected are those that are in agreement with the poster. It seems to me that anyone who challenges the contents of this post are treated with a bit of contempt and are quickly either written off or their questions are somewhat avoided. Just my take on what I see:)

DJP said...

Vynette -- so, you're saying you knew nothing about this site, didn't read the rules, immediately started posting unrelated comments on a thread, and then are shocked, shocked! to learn that Bible-believing Christians are, well, Bible-believing Christians? And that, on a post that argues at length that our knowledge of God must come from the Bible exclusively, you are shocked, shocked to learn that you are not welcome to preach another god? And on your planet, being told to peddle your doctrines elsewhere is the equivalent to torture and death under the Inquisition?

Wow.

DJP said...

Raborn -- you know, the real beauty of your "appalled" post is that you can take it word-for-word, and drop it anywhere, in any thread you don't like. Or that you suspect you wouldn't like, if you'd read it. You don't even have to have read the post.

That way, you don't actually have to engage Biblical teachings that challenge any pet notions you cherish, you don't have to offer anything better, you don't have to stir yourself in any way.

You can just drive by, offer a mass judgment of anyone and anything, or everyone and everything, look really superior and spiritual, and drive on. If you're lucky, you can hijack the thread to talk about your judgment of folks, rather than the ideas you find challenging and distasteful.

That's why it's a classic!

Mike Y said...

Steve,

I mentioned in one of my comments to you that I thought you were arguing against scriptures. I specifically quoted the statements you made that I was concerned about.

God does not hide behind a book. He does not limit Himself to only giving us a book. And I believe this is the point that Brad (one of them, I guess) was making. The ultimate revelation of God was in Jesus. Yes, we learn a lot about Jesus through the Bible, but the goal (by Jesus' own words, as recorded in Scripture) is for us to be "in Him" and for Him to be "in us".

Like it or not, there is a danger of putting the written "Word of God" above the actual, living Word of God, which is Jesus. And if you want to hold to a belief that the only way the Holy Spirit works today is through pointing us back to the Word, I just don't see how you get that from Scripture itself.


The bold part is what set me off a bit. After re-reading what you wrote, it doesn't appear as if you are in fact arguing against the use of scripture, but against sole dependency devoid of the Holy Spirit.

I hope I'm interpretting this right this time. Anyway, this post is aging rapidly and folks may have moved on. But I wanted to get that out there if I jumped to a wrong conclusion.

-Mike

Steve Sensenig said...

Mike, thanks for the clarification. You are correct now. That is why I said earlier that you had misunderstood my point.

Nowhere in this thread have I argued against Scripture. Consistently, I have argued for Scripture and Spirit. I understand what that sounds like to cessationist ears. I was a cessationist for 30 years. But it is not what people like to jump to conclude.

My position, despite all the misrepresentation of it being done here, is consistent with what the Scripture itself teaches about the work of the Holy Spirit. Reduction to absurdity, false accusations about some imagined "disdain" of Scripture, and straw men do not make my position any less biblically-based.

Mike, thank you for your gracious dialogue. The email exchange and online exchanges have been very edifying. May your tribe increase!

steve :)

Mike Y said...

Steve,

I have to admit some ignorance on my part. Prior to this thread I had not heard the term cessationist.

When I look it up in the Wikipedia, it seems to apply to those who believe miracles were applicable for establishing the credibility of the apostles and that after the canonization of scripture, they cease to be in effect.

If I'm accurate on this, then I guess this term may apply to me.

I'm still missing how this view affects dependency on the Holy Spirit.

Anyway, just a minor thing. Too many terms to keep up with.

-Mike

j.greear said...

DJP,

Hey, I realize that my post was out of this argument, but i'm curious as to which of the four groups i mentioned you were addressing. I hate to distract us back to the original article, but my question was (original post again):

"I have a little trouble figuring out exactly what 'group' DJP is addressing here. I see 4 possible options.

1) those people that separate their knowledge about Christ from the Bible, making statements like, "Christ unites us, but doctrine divides us," or "we interpret the Bible by Christ" (meaning that they can say certain parts of the bible are wrong because they don't fit it into their preconceived notions of what Jesus should be like.) Phillips is right that we know nothing about Christ apart from the doctrines of the Bible.

2) those popular preachers that like to base everything in experience and then look to the Bible for a passage where they can say, "see, the Bible says this too." Phillips would again here be correct that the source of Christian knowledge and experience is the Scriptures, not some spiritual experience in our lives.

3) Perhaps DJP's words could be construed as a subtle attack on Cartesian approach to "proving" the existence of God that starts with nothing but "cogito, ergo sum" and tries to reason toward God. If that is the case, then again, I think he is correct that revelation is the preferred modus operandi of epistemology vis-à-vis reason.

(4)HOwever, if DJP means that Christ never pointed outside of His words for verification of His truth claims then I would say Phillips muddles the arguments pretty substantially. Was your post an anti-evidentialist slam? Phillips would be suggesting that Paul never pointed to the people who were eyewitnesses of the resurrection, Jesus never pointed people to His works as proof of his veracity, John doesn't use the blind man in John 9 as an example of someone who appeals to the miracle in his life to verify theology, or that the Apostles did not make frequent reference to the miracles of prophecy.

5:08 AM, June 23, 2006

Raborn Johnson said...

Dan, just to let you know, I did read the entire post and all of the comments thereof before posting. No, I don't stop in on various blogs simply to judge others and characterize myself as "spiritually superior". As a matter of fact, that is exactly what I am trying to point out about the tone of your comments; they seemed to me to go beyond the scope of challenging to just downright disrespectful. No matter who is right and who is wrong in this conversation, are we not to be respectful of each other? In the name of defending the "truth", have we dishonored the One Who called Himself the Truth? No Dan, I am not avoiding engagement with "biblical teachings". Instead I am asking you to reexamine one of the greatest Biblical teachings of all-the "new commandment" of the "New Covenant", to love one another. In a book on this very topic, "Scripture Alone: The Evangelical Doctrine", RC Sproul says the following:
"We earnestly desire dialogue with our evangelical brothers and colaborers who differ from us. We want to heal the wounds that controversy so frequently brings. We know our own views are by no means inerrant. But we believe inerrancy is true and is of vital importance to our common cause of the gospel." While RC Sproul seems to embrace the same position on the role of Scripture as you do, he is quick to point out that all of us must embrace a humility which is willing to admit that our own views (even that of the role of Scripture-of which his book is about) "are by no means inerrant".
Thanks
Raborn

DJP said...

Sorry you feel that way. I think you're mistaken.

So, is Scripture sufficient to lead the believer to knowledge of God and His ways and will?

donsands said...

Raborn,

R.C. has also stated that he is tired of pussyfooting around with the doctrines of grace. He loves the truth, and I believe he is unashamed of the gospel of by grace alone, through faith alone, by Christ alone, by Scripture alone, and for the glory of God alone.

I think you quote from Dr. Sproul is not complete.

Raborn Johnson said...

So, is Scripture sufficient to lead the believer to knowledge of God and His ways and will?

I like the use of the word "lead". I would say that Scripture, in conjunction with the ministry of the Holy Spirit, is intended to lead us to that knowledge. However, I think that Scripture is intended to lead us beyond itself to a relationship with the Father. Jesus told the Jews

You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
John 5:39-40 NKJV


Jesus seems to draw a distinction between studying the Scriptures and coming to Him to find life. I love the Bible. I thank God for the Bible. But, I believe that the purpose God intended for it is to facilitate a relationship with Him, not to become a substitute for the same.

Donsands, you said:

I think you quote from Dr. Sproul is not complete.

I don't feel that the quote is incomplete. I am in no way trying to alter or misrepresent Dr. Sproul's belief in the 5 points. I realize that he is passionate about these same beliefs. Instead, I am simply trying to point out that, based on what he said, people such as himself "earnestly desire dialogue with...brothers and colaborers who differ" and also realize that his/their own views are not inerrant. Dialogue to me suggests an openness to respectfully hear the differing views, opinions and interpretations of others while also sharing my own. What I have been asking for is not for you, Dan or Dr. Sproul to change what you believe. I am simply asking for a more charitable dialogue and an openess that admits that right now we all "see through a glass darkly". I am thankful that one day I will be like Him because I will see Him "face to face", but until then, I realize that no matter how passionate I am about my own beliefs, I should always remain open to God showing me a "more perfect way". :)

Thanks for the time,
Raborn

David Cho said...

Raborn,

I don't think John 5:39 is intended to state that the Jews were studying the Scriptures. Jesus was telling them to study the Scriptures, so it is an imperative sentence. It is a command, not a statement of fact.

Raborn Johnson said...

David, I disagree with your interpretation. Jesus seems to be stating a fact that the Jews were already studying the Scriptures. Although He does so in other places, it does not seem to me that He is here commanding them to study the Scriptures. He seems to be simply making an observation and then showing the folly of reading the Scriptures only to miss the point...that they were revealing Jesus.

David Cho said...

raborn,

That is what the footnote of my New Open Bible says. It says it is also a command.

Perhaps someone who has looked that the original greek text can chime in and clarify.

donsands said...

Raborn,

So. I can be uncompromising in my beliefs of the Bible. And yet I must say these beliefs are not inerrant. Brother, I don't think anyone can do this.
I believe Jesus was born of a virgin, and rose from the dead bodily after being crucified for my sins, and will return to this earth bodily one day to judge the living and the dead. This is an uncompromising belief that I have. Are you saying this is not inerrant, and that i cannot be uncompromising with this truth.
I'm having a hard time understanding where you're coming from.

Steve Sensenig said...

David Cho wrote: Perhaps someone who has looked that the original greek text can chime in and clarify.

Actually, this is a textual variant. The Textus Receptus (KJV) has it as an imperative (command). The Nestle-Aland text (NASB, NIV, etc.) does not have it as a command, but as a second person present tense (I am not 100% certain of the tense off the top of my head, but at any rate, it would be translated as a descriptive verb -- i.e., "You study")

Apparently the study Bible you referred to bases their comment on the TR text (that's Textus Receptus, not Totally Reformed!)

steve :)

Raborn Johnson said...

David, there is a manuscript difference in this passage. If you refer to the Textus Receptus (which is the text that the KJV is based upon), then the verse is in the imperative tense. However, if you examine the Nestle-Aland Greek text (which is what most modern translations are based upon), Jesus' statement is not in the imperative, rather it is a statement of fact. Either way, the point is that the role of the Scriptures is to lead us to a relationship with Jesus.

Donsands, I think that the problem is that you are not drawing a distinction between what the Bible says and your interpretations thereof. I think that you are creating a false dichotomy by saying that you either have to feel your own views are inerrant, or that you are somehow compromising the truth. The problem is that this would seem to keep you from ever being able to admit that you were wrong in any area of belief and therefore, no incorrect areas of your belief system are ever open to the Holy Spirit's "tweaking". I have previously held to certain ideas that I thought that the Bible supported, only to find later on that I was leaning heavier on someone's conclusions about the Bible, rather than on the Bible itself.

So. I can be uncompromising in my beliefs of the Bible. And yet I must say these beliefs are not inerrant. Brother, I don't think anyone can do this.

It seems to me that RC Sproul already did:)

Thanks,
Raborn

donsands said...

I think I understand now. The Bible alone, or Sola Scriptura is where we are 100% uncompromising. I agree.

Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one comes unto the Father but through Him. And this is by grace alone, through faith alone, and for the glory of God alone. Amen.

And if anyone preaches a different gospel let him be accursed. Amen.

Steve Sensenig said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Steve Sensenig said...

OK, I may have spoken too soon (and Raborn, you and I were using the same source on this, which explains why we both posted that information!) -- what appeared from my research to be a textual variation appears to actually be something else. (Admittedly, it has been so many years since I studied Greek...11 years, to be exact...that I am operating on less than full recollection!)

The imperative and the indicative take the same form, and context must help decide the proper translation.

Contextually, it actually seems to me that the indicative ("You search...") fits better than the imperative ("Search..."), because Jesus turns right around in the next sentence and says, "you are unwilling to come to me for life."

Ironically, in refreshing my memory on all of this, I found out that Luther and Calvin (among others) took the imperative position on this verse (John 5:39), so I'm thinking that the indicative translation is not going to be entertained by those who disagreed on the interpretation here! ;)

Mike Y said...

Okay, my turn now.

Steve, no offense but I really don't know what you mean by saying the imperative and the indicative have the same ending-- not in my Greek.

Anyway, the NA27 uses eraunate, which can be used as either a 2nd person present imperative or as a 2nd person present indicative. But it's not because they have the same form. I simply don't know if this particular verb is deponent of if it's some idiomatic usage that affects it.

The Stephanus Text actually uses ereunate, which is always treated as the 2nd person present indicative.

So, the middle is the key on these two verses and just in this case they happen to have the same endings. But this one is special.

Metzger doesn't seem to touch this one in his textual commentary, but it looks like Tischendorf does. Unfortunately, I'm not adequate to make use of his textual apparatus to discern the best usage.

So, context is a key thing. But in either usage Christ is dealing with folks who, whether they already searched or need to search, lack the spiritual capacity to comprehend. So, either verb usage gets you to the same point.

-Mike

Steve Sensenig said...

Mike, I was trying to sift through several different resources on this one, and may have still gotten something wrong. I have no problem admitting that, and so there's no offense taken! :)

Anyway, the NA27 uses eraunate, which can be used as either a 2nd person present imperative or as a 2nd person present indicative.

That's what I was trying to say, but you said it better. Thanks!

mxu said...

Thanks for your post, I've linked it.

here.

Broken Messenger said...

Brad -- no idea what you're asking, which makes answering hard.

That doesn't surprise me, Dan, as I worry that you don't really grasp the concept as it is used/leveled nor the argumentation as to why the charge is often leveled at Reformists who don't know what they are talking about. My question was pretty direct so I fail to understand what confuses you about it, but it's moot at this point, I got my answer so I'll not pursue it further.

Brad

Jerald said...

I just found your blog, and am liking what I am reading. I'll be linking this one in rather short order.

kudos.