Dan sprung it on me that his post won't be ready until tomorrow, and since I'm that kinda guy (and I really left Dan hanging last week when Phil was in Italy), I'm getting this post up today to keep the blog active.
So we're talking about hermeneutics and what a good one would be, and I have suggested that a good hermeneutic reads the Bible like a text, and it takes into account the whole Bible in the same way that when you read The Stand (and I am still shocked at those of you who have never read that bookyou must have been born after 1980) you have to read the whole thing to really get it.
Here's a good example of what I'm talking about: what do we make of the doctrine of election? You know: the Bible (in English) clearly says that those who are saved by Christ are "the elect", so we have to figure out what that word means. And we could go to a dictionary to find out, but my suggestion to you is that there is a better way to understand what the Bible means by that word.
Because the Bible defines the boundaries of who is and is not elect, and how they got that way.
Now, I only have a few minutes here before I go to work, but let me point you at what I would call the front-end and the back-end of the doctrine of election, and at a date to be named later we will fill in the middle part.
The front end of election comes to us in Genesis 15, where this happens:
After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: "Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great." But Abram said, "O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?" And Abram said, "Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir." And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: "This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir." And he brought him outside and said, "Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be." And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.See: when God promises Abraham that he shall have offspring, God promises Abraham a number too big for a man to count. It's a lot! Many! The promise to Abraham is an expansive covenant: it is a BIG promise.
And the back end of election comes in here, right at the end of Revelation:
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.And just to make sure, those who don't know when the Lamb's book of Life was written down can check of Rev 13. So the number is actually a fixed number from God's perspective, a list which is finite and known to God.
See: many people get fixated on this last part here and forget the first part -- and these people are generally hypercalvinists, but some are simply not reading the Old Testament. And others can grasp the scope of Gen 15 -- but they want to escape the consequences of Rev 20 for any of a variety of reasons. But to be clear whatever election is, it must account for both of these thing.
So your hermeneutic needs to be bigger than proof-texting: it needs to get at the Gospel, which is the purpose of God's special revelation in the first place.
Now go and read your Bible.
No really: thanks a lot, Phil ...