Archive for the ‘Doctrine’ Category

The Gospel in Poem

Posted: January 12, 2012 in Confession, Doctrine, faith

Dealing with Hermeneutics

Posted: September 28, 2011 in Culture, Doctrine, faith

There are two great challenges in reading the Bible:  1) exegesis and 2) hermeneutics.

The task of exegesis is to uncover what the text meant to its original hearers (remember…the Bible was written over 2000 years ago to a different time, place, language, and culture).  It may take some work to uncover, but the assumption is that the text cannot mean to us today, something radically different from what it meant to its original readers.  Likewise, the original intent of the author is relevant to us today.

But perhaps the most difficult task of reading the Bible is in the task of hermeneutics.  Hermeneutics is dealing with how to actually interpret and apply the Bible to our current time and place.  And there is a lot of difficulty and at times controversy in that.  For example, 1 Corinthians 11:5-6 clearly (meaning no grey area) states that a woman should have her head covered.  Most faithful Christians no longer practice head coverings for women because we recognize that “head coverings” in the 1st century had significance in a way that it does not today.

Hermeneutics has a lot of challenges with it.  It has to ask questions of Scripture like:  What is concrete, forever, black and white, commands?  What is situationally-specific instructions?  What in the Bible is just coincidentally mentioned?

I think every Christian needs to think through and have an understanding and answer to some of the most relevant hermeneutical issues in our day.  Take for example the issue of homosexuality.  We often quote the Old Testament texts, but there is a rightful issue of hermeneutics.  I want you to hear some of the hermeneutical questions that are thrown out (albeit in a mocking tone…but they are still issues nonetheless) in the midst of the conversation.

The following is a letter sent to Dr. Laura Schlesinger, a radio host and observant orthodox Jew, who brought up Leviticus 18:22 and the issue of homosexuality.  She then received a letter (side note:  The letter was signed, but ultimately proved to be a false name, so its author is unknown) from a listener questioning her use of Leviticus and her hermeneutical methods.

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination… End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God’s Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is, my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath.Exodus 35:2. clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination – Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle- room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

Your adoring fan.

I have some answers to this letter.  🙂 But the questions themselves are a great challenge to the reality that we have to interpret the text for today.  And that process is called hermeneutics.  And hermeneutics is often a very difficult task.

Many thanks to my good friend Rex Butts for helping me discover this little clip.  You can also read his comments on it as well as a promotion of our freedom in Christ on his website.

This will give you a brief glimpse into my religious heritage and upbringing – a cappella Churches of Christ.

We had a saying/motto that said, “Where the Bible speaks, we speak; where the Bible is silent, we are silent.”  Except, it was a lie.  Where the Bible was silent, we said a ton!!  In fact, we said so much that our “silence” was really more of a “deafening roar!”  And it allowed us to do what we did best:  debate, fight, and eventually take our toys/marbles and start a new church.  We were a scrappy bunch. 🙂

This video clip, by Rick Atchley, the preaching minister (is that his title?) from the Richland Hills Church of Christ explains the truth behind the history and application of this little motto:

If you missed Sunday’s message STOP what you are doing and go right here right now and listen to it!!

This past Sunday we began a two-week message series entitled The End:  Exploring Life after Death.  I believe there are two great acts involved in the afterlife.  Week one was about Act 1 – what happens immediately after death (including a conversation about hell, purgatory, communicating with the dead, the confusion among religions…and especially the confusion that exists just among Bible-believing Christians).  This Sunday is Act 2 – Life…after life after death.  I’m excited!  I’m talking resurrection, glorification, new bodily existence, new heaven/new earth, and the affirmation that what we are doing HERE AND NOW for God is not in vain but will continue on for eternity!!

So…if you ever wanted to know what happens after death.  Listen to the podcast and show up Sunday and I’ll tell you!  All of your questions answered and the great mysteries of the afterlife solved!! Yea…I’m a genius like that! 🙂

Read Numbers 5:11-31.  Seriously.  Go do it!


Fair warning – don’t marry a guy who struggles with excessive jealousy.

Someday I’m going to preach a message series out of Leviticus and Numbers…just for my benefit!!!

I still have so much more to learn.

Jesus Gave Me Swine Flu

Posted: October 14, 2009 in Church, Doctrine

Bishop D’Arcy of the South Bend/Ft. Wayne Catholic diocese has decided to withhold the common cup during Mass from the congregation (reserving it only for the priests…which wouldn’t be the first time in history that this has taken place).  The reason:  swine flu.  You can read the story here.  Personally, I would recommend to Bishop D’Arcy the uber cool mini-individual cups that we use at Living Stones Church where we each get our own individual cup. Thus, my lips aren’t touching the same cup that your lips are touching.  I love you…but not that much. 🙂 Since the Catholic church uses one cup, I think this is a good decision.  I’m not criticizing Bishop D’Arcy for this at all.  My question is more theological.  The Catholic Church teaches a doctrine of communion called transubstantiation.  In short, through a metaphysical miracle, they teach that the bread actually becomes the body of Jesus and the wine becomes the actual blood of Jesus.  This is one large dividing point between Catholicism and Protestant churches.  My question is, given the doctrine of transubstantiation, are we saying that Jesus can give us swine flu?  My OCD/hypochondriac side likes this decision.  But if I were Catholic, my theology might be troubled slightly.

In addition, the sign of peace no longer necessitates a handshake.  You can just nod your head. 🙂

NOTE: Until the health department gives us the ALL-CLEAR, high-fives on Sunday morning at the Living Stones Church have been suspended.

The podcast from this past week’s message is now on line.  It is the first week of a seven week series on the Gospel of Luke entitled, “Luke:  A Story of Jesus.”

In this first week we talked about a brief introduction to the Gospel of Luke and then began with the public ministry of Jesus in 4:1 – 6:11.  The first week’s title is “Who is This Jesus?”

I’ve had more response and feedback from this message than any I’ve given in awhile.  If you haven’t yet, I would recommend reading the first three chapters of Luke, maybe listening to this podcast and this one from the first couple of chapters of Luke, then listening to Sunday’s message, and then reading for yourself 4:1-6:11

You can find Sunday’s message here.