on Pentecostal Hermeneutics

For those who may be wondering how Pentecostals go about interpreting the Bible – the Assemblies of God’s Enrichment Journal, which goes out quarterly to all licensed and ordained ministers in the Assemblies, but that can also be viewed online, has an article (written about 10 years ago) by Roger Stronstad summarizing different elements or currents trends of Pentecostal Hermeneutics.  I hadn’t seen it so it was interesting even for me to read – I was familiar with some of it but not all of it.  lol.

In the article you’ll see one call the “pragmatic” hermeneutic.  This portion gives you a little bit of history as to how the whole thing got started, well, at least a key even that seemed to really catapult the movement forward in a significant way.  There were workings of the Holy Spirit going on all over the world at the time, but this and other events leading to the Azusa Revival seem to be the most well known.   It is interesting too that this is listed first in the summary because really, the heart of Pentecostal theology, which can be really diverse with no one single simple definition, is pragmatics (used here in the sense of relating to practical considerations).  In too many ways, its both a good and a bad thing.

Here is an excerpt:

As Martin Luther is the fountainhead of Lutheranism, John Calvin of Reformed Theology, and John Wesley of Methodism, so Charles F. Parham stands as the fountainhead of Pentecostalism. Parham was not the first to speak in tongues. In one sense that honor goes to Miss Agnes N. Ozman.  In another sense, the birth of the Pentecostal movement is the climax to the growing swell of charismatic experiences among various revival and Apostolic Faith movements. What makes Charles F. Parham the father of Pentecostalism, Topeka, Kansas, the locus of Pentecostalism, and Agnes Ozman, the first Pentecostal, is not the uniqueness of this experience, but the new hermeneutical/biblical understanding of this experience.

Charles F. Parham bequeathed to the Pentecostal movement its definitive hermeneutics, and consequently, its definitive theology and apologetics. His contribution arose out of the problem of the interpretation of the second chapter of Acts and his conviction that Christian experience in the 20th century “should tally exactly with the Bible, [but] neither sanctification nor the anointing that abideth … tallied with the 2nd chapter of Acts.” Consequently he reports, “I set the students at work studying out diligently what was the Bible evidence of the baptism of the Holy Ghost that we might go before the world with something that was indisputable because it tallied absolutely with the Word.” He tells the results of their investigation in the following words: “Leaving the school for three days at this task, I went to Kansas City for three days services. I returned to the school on the morning preceding Watch Night service in the year 1900.

“At about 10:00 o’clock in the morning I rang the bell calling all the students into the Chapel to get their report on the matter in hand. To my astonishment they all had the same story, that while there were different things occurring when the Pentecostal blessing fell, the indisputable proof on each occasion was, that they spoke with other tongues.”5

In Parham’s report we find the essential distinctives of the Pentecostal movement, namely, (1) the conviction that contemporary experience should be identical to apostolic Christianity, (2) the separation of the baptism in the Holy Spirit from sanctification (as Holiness movements had earlier separated it from conversion/incorporation), and (3) that tongues speaking is the indisputable evidence or proof of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

Well, be that as it may, I find it all very interesting and really, given the context, I don’t think you can really blame Parham for wanting to know what was the source of the Apostles zeal.  I think too his quest for “Bible evidence” is evident of the times he lived in – people were big then on wanting empirical evidence for things and in this case it morphed a bit in to wanting “physical” evidence for knowing without a doubt one is in fact baptized in the Holy Spirit.  Agree or disagree with this approach, I don’t think we can fault them for that.  He was a man of his time really.  And this is really the root of much Pentecostal theology and understanding of Spirit Baptism – that there is going to be “evidence” for it.

Well, feel free to give it a read and or let me know what you think.

Blessings,

passage of the day: John 3:16-21

This really is such an amazing passage, there is so much here to take in:

John 3:16-21:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.

While I think there can be a few different ways to go with this passage, I like to look at it from the perspective of the missio dei.  I think it has much to contribute to how we know and understand the mission of God.  In fact, I like to look at a lot of the Bible as a whole in the light of salvation history and missio dei.  I don’t own the book but I know Howard Marshall in his NT Theology talks about how New Testament Theology is missionary theology.   I think he is exactly right!  And I think the whole thrust of John’s letters is missional through and through.  Sure there is Christology and other issues but I would say the overall theme of the book is a missional one – it is seen in God giving his only Son, that everyone who believes in his name may not perish but have eternal life.  

What is the missional focus?  God so loved the world he gave his one and only Son.  He sent him not to condemn, but to save.

I think the missional focus of the Fourth Gospel can be supported by the Letters of John.  First John tells us, 

1 John 4:9 God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him.

1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

1 John 4:14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world.

So i think there is strong support for the missional elements of John (and I am sure the rest of the Gospels too).  It amazes me really.  Hebrews 3:1, too calls Jesus “the apostle and high priest of our confession.”   An Apostle is a missionary, one sent on the behalf of another to accomplish some purpose.  In the case of Jesus is was not to condemn the world, but to save it and see that all have a chance at eternal life.
This missional focus of John I think should be reflected in the mission of the church – that we go out not to condemn but to save.  Those who listen and believe on the name of his one and only son, they shall have eternal life and condemnation will not be on them.  To those who chose not to listen, they will be condemned already, and why?  This is the judgement, the verdict… Jesus has come into the world and those who like that will be drawn to him.  Those who don’t will resist and run to the darkness.
Would those who try to resist eventually be overcome because “light wins?”  Light always wins out over the darkness.  Jesus and his mission will be accomplished because like leven in the dough, the light will spread and the darkness will be overcome by the light (Christ).
Lots of interesting possibilities there!  It’s wonderful really.  🙂

 

Ephesians and the Drama of God

The other day I learned of Stephen E. Fowl’s recent contribution to the New Testament Library Commentary set, Ephesians: A Commentary.  I tweeted about it and asked if any one knew much about it since it was so new and I hadn’t seen any reviews.  Chris Tilling said to be sure to get it as Stephen is the real deal.   A little while later that day, a friend blessed me with a copy (Thank You!) and I can already tell it is going to be good and one you are going want to get your hands on!!   Dr. Fowl is a leading scholar on the theological interpretation of Scripture and he incorporates that into this work on Ephesians!  Michael J. Gorman calls it a “truly theological commentary.”

Well, for me at least, how do I know it is going to be good?  🙂  Feast upon this short snippet summarizing Ephesians chapter 1:

Following the opening greeting, Paul offers a blessing to the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” On the one hand, this directs praise to God and invites the Ephesians to likewise praise God. Moreover, this blessing also allows Paul to narrate God’s drama of salvation, a drama that was initiated before the foundation of the world and that reaches its climax as everything is brought to its proper end in Christ. This drama is cosmic in its scope and consequences.  In addition, God has graciously incorporated the Ephesians into this drama.  Indeed, the presence of the Spirit in the Ephesians’ midst confirms their incorporation into God’s drama of salvation (1:3–14).

This leads Paul to offer a prayer on the Ephesians’ behalf. The hope of this prayer is that the Ephesians will come to understand the significance of God’s drama of salvation and Christ’s particular place in this drama (1:15–23).

I love it!  Paul is narrating the great drama of God’s redeeming work in Christ to redeem all creation and especially to include us in that process!  A story that reaches back to the very beginnings of time and space!  A story that each one of us, who is “in Christ,” has a part in (he later talks about how Eph 2 tells more of our incorporation in to the great drama of God in Christ!)  A story that each one of us lives out in the different contexts of our own lives and situations and circumstances!

Yeah, this is gonna be a good one!  🙂

Blessings!

Some new books

Thank you to the anonymous donor of a few new books that showed up in my mailbox yesterday!!  (Well, I hope they were for me and not sent to my address on accident!  lol!)  It was very gracious of you, kind person!   Thanks so much I really appreciate it!

Here is what they are:

Eugene Peterson’s A Long Obedience in the Same Direction (IVP).

Gordon Fee’s New Testament Exegesis (WJK).

Gordon Fee’s Paul, the Spirit and the People of God (Baker).

Jurgen Moltman’s The Trinity and the Kingdom (Fortress).

So… pretty much , nothing less than the BEST!!  🙂

C.S. Keener on Biblical Interpretation

Craig S. Keener wrote a course on Biblical Interpretation back in ’04-’05 and has allowed it to be downloaded and used and distributed FREELY.  You can download it if you want (PDF) and use it!  I did and am now trying to get it moved it over to my Kindle!!

Now in PDF: Bible Interpretation Course by Professor Craig S. Keener.  (Source)

disclaimer: I just downloaded it so I do not know the strengths and or weakness of it yet.  I guess download and read at your own risk?!  🙂

Be Blessed!

Is there a “best” Study Bible?

Well, probably not necessarily, as, like with translations, each has its own purpose and usefulness, but probably, the better ones are those that encourage actual engagement with the text of Scripture – and, in my opinion, the “best” “study” Bible available that encourages in-depth engagement with the biblical text, is one put out by Precept Ministries: The New Inductive Study Bible (Harvest House Publishers) (the main “new” part is that it was reformatted and updated when the NASU came out).

In fact, this one probably does so well at encouraging actual and in-depth engagement with the biblical text that probably just looking through and thinking about what it encourages people to do, could make you tired…. lol!

So what does the New Inductive Study Bible ask the user to do?

Well, the dead giveaway is at the bottom of the photo to the left: discovering the truth for yourself.  Well, at least, discover the truths of Scripture for yourself utilizing the Inductive method of Bible study!

First, it asks him or her to spend time observing the text asking “what does the text say?”  This stage is also known as the “overview.”  One way to observe the text is to use the “5 w’s and an H.”  Other ways involve marking out specific “key” repeated or theologically weighted words and or phrases and such in a definitive way so as to make things stand out; then make lists recording the observations and so on and so forth.  Even outlining or structuring is a kind of way to observe the text – which forces you to do the most important part of observation: read and reread, and reread the text, over and over and over again.   the more you read the text, the more you’ll see and the more you see, the more you’ll begin to understand.  In the observation stage, you are dipping in and out of the text so that at times you see the forest and at other times you get in closer to take a look at the trees and their roots looking to get the context of the passage or book being studied.  (see here for some examples)

Next, it asks the user to begin interpreting the text asking “what does the text mean?”  Now, usually, good interpretation flows out of observation – so once we begin to get an understanding of what the text says or is saying, we can begin to understand it’s meaning.  Interpretation involves doing context studies, background studies, word studies, reflecting on the text itself  comparing passages or versus “letting Scripture interpret Scripture” and so on.  Al this is to be done on your own – no commentaries and such until after you have done as much work on the text yourself.

Finally, it asks the user to begin applying the text asking “what does it mean to/for me or to/for us?”  Now that we have begun to get a handle on the meaning of the text, we can begin to apply it’s truths to our own lives or our own faith communities.  The moment we engage a truth we should begin applying which can happen any number of ways: when your eyes are opened to some concept it brings some level of personal transformation be it an understanding about God, the church, one another or even our own self.  Once that truth is understood, we can begin waking in it – be it God’s love and acceptance for us, learning to love, accept, and forgive one another; the need to evangelize and share the hope we have in the Lord, etc.

Of course there are various study tips and mini-articles and so on, and I am sure we could all find something to quibble with or quarrel over, but the whole point of this particular “study Bible” is to get people into the text and to do their own work – instead of relying on edited notes and such at the bottom of the page helping you understand the passage, the Inductive Study Bible utilizes the Inductive method so you could, in following the method, write your own notes and think for yourself about the truths of Scripture!  🙂

So, all that so explain why I believe the New Inductive Study Bible is one of the best out there for really and actually “studying” the Bible.  and this is why I’ll be getting a new one soon since I had to throw away my other one.

I realize this probably isn’t the best Bible to give to a brand new believer (though I have heard of new believers doing well learning the Inductive Method) – that might be too much too fast (probably would not give any “study” bible to a new believer but instead a regular Bible to read and gain basic familiarity with the Bible and its contents) – but the ISB is better for the person read to get in personal study of the Bible (and especially done in a group with others such as done one’s one work (like homework) then meet up with others to talk about what you learned to help keep each other on track).

As to other kinds of Study Bibles such as the ESVSB, NLTSB, NIVSB, etc, what I would prefer to see is the Inductive Study Bible as the primary one worked with and used – then other others used as references (after one has finished with the overview of the passage or book under study first).  The same would go for commentaries, they are fine and good to use, just wait to look at them after you do your own work.

Lastly, I realize I am probably emphasizing a method more then a kind of “study” Bible per se as one can utilize the inductive method with any Bible or by just printing out the passage or book under study on regular paper to put in a notebook, but I do feel the NISB is the best in utilizing a method of study over just giving commentary notes at the bottom and articles spread throughout and leaving folks to figure out what to do with them.

Blessings,

Genesis 3:16 NET Notes

I got my wife an NLT One Year Bible for Christmas (since the new NIV won’t be out for a while) and she seemed taken aback at the NLT’s translation of Genesis 3:16:

Then he said to the woman, “I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth. And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you. ” (Gen 3:16 NLT)

When most other translations are more like the following:

To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Gen 3:16 NRS)

I noticed that the NET Bible is similar to the NLT: ‘

To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your labor pains; with pain you will give birth to children. You will want to control your husband, but he will dominate you.” (Gen 3:16 NET)

So, I thought, this was interesting so I wanted to see the exegetical notes for the NET that I have on BW8.  They read as follows:

NET Notes (Gen 3:16)
48 ) tn Heb “and toward your husband [will be] your desire.” The nominal sentence does not have a verb; a future verb must be supplied, because the focus of the oracle is on the future struggle. The precise meaning of the noun hq’WvT. (t®shuqah, “desire”) is debated.

Many interpreters conclude that it refers to sexual desire here, because the subject of the passage is the relationship between a wife and her husband, and because the word is used in a romantic sense in Song 7:11 HT (7:10 ET).

However, this interpretation makes little sense in Gen 3:16. First, it does not fit well with the assertion “he will dominate you.” Second, it implies that sexual desire was not part of the original creation, even though the man and the woman were told to multiply. And third, it ignores the usage of the word in Gen 4:7 where it refers to sin’s desire to control and dominate Cain. (Even in Song of Songs it carries the basic idea of “control,” for it describes the young man’s desire to “have his way sexually” with the young woman.)

In Gen 3:16 the LORD announces a struggle, a conflict between the man and the woman. She will desire to control him, but he will dominate her instead. This interpretation also fits the tone of the passage, which is a judgment oracle. See further Susan T. Foh, “What is the Woman’s Desire?” WTJ 37 (1975): 376-83.
49 )tn The Hebrew verb lv;m’ (mashal) means “to rule over,” but in a way that emphasizes powerful control, domination, or mastery. This also is part of the baser human nature. The translation assumes the imperfect verb form has an objective/indicative sense here. Another option is to understand it as having a modal, desiderative nuance, “but he will want to dominate you.” In this case, the LORD simply announces the struggle without indicating who will emerge victorious.
sn This passage is a judgment oracle. It announces that conflict between man and woman will become the norm in human society. It does not depict the NT ideal, where the husband sacrificially loves his wife, as Christ loved the church, and where the wife recognizes the husband’s loving leadership in the family and voluntarily submits to it. Sin produces a conflict or power struggle between the man and the woman, but in Christ man and woman call a truce and live harmoniously (Eph 5:18–32).

So here was my initial reaction…  🙂   It made me wonder if complementarianism is a consequence of the fall and not God’s ideal?  Because of the indication of a future struggle to desire to control one another, I wondered if just prior to the fall God intended a more egalitarian partnership in both the man and woman relationship and in the care for the earth?  Does the indication of a future struggle mean there wasn’t one before?   Did God intend for each to be equal to each other working together?  Notice too that God had all the animals pass before Adam and he found no equal – til he saw Eve and said “AH, now I have found my equal!”  All kinds of questions for me to think about!  lol!

Now, I fully recognize this could be a completely ridiculous assertion, but I just wonder if it might hold up.

This is why we need to know out bible languages people (or interact with those who do) – it greatly helps in exegetical method!

Rod Decker article on hermeneutics and ministry

In looking for something in my emails, I came across an old article I sent to one of my professors at aGts back in 2006 – a lengthy article by Rod Decker called Respecting the Text (pdf) that I thought I would link for those interested.

It talks about hermeneutics and he ties it in with ministry and preaching.  Again, it is pretty long (a packed 18 pages) but may be well worth the reading – print it out and save it or read it that way if it will help.

Here is a very brief snippet that notes the essence of the article:

What about the Bible?  Do we interpret it different from the newspaper? The answer is not a simple yes or no.  The issue is a bit more complex than that.  So let’s look at some of the issues involved when we interpret holy Scripture.  Having done that, then we want to ask another question: How does all this affect how we do ministry?

Have fun and feel free to let me know what you think!  🙂

Pentecostalism and Scholarship Can Coexist!

Charisma Magazine interviewed Gordon Fee noting him as the first person with a Pentecostal background to earn a PhD in Biblical Studies.   You should read it!

If I manage to go further into biblical studies academically Fee would certainly be an inspiration along with Craig Keener, Ben Aker, the late Gary B. McGee, Keith Warrington, Gerald Hawthorne and a host of others out there who are Pentecostal biblical scholars or theologians.  I want to share a few quotes:

For the most part, though, Pentecostals remain resistant to—or indifferent toward—theology and scholarship. After all, modern Pentecostalism was birthed in spiritual experience, not intellectualism. As the movement spread, Pentecostals simply didn’t see a need for theological pursuits. “We don’t need scholars; we just need the Holy Spirit!” has been the mainstream Pentecostal cry for the last 100 years.
And this is a crying shame!  It gets so frustrating to see this – the anti-intellectualism going on in Pentecostalism with regard to biblical studies – to me it reveals quite a bit of insecurity.   Fee goes on to note:

The question is not do we need Bible scholars, but are we willing to embrace them?” Fee responds. “If we are willing to embrace someone with a Ph.D. in history, why not embrace someone with a Ph.D. in New Testament studies, which, after all, is a branch of history?”

Fee adds: “Having a Ph.D. has not stopped me from being Spirit-filled.”

And why should it?  Are we not a people of the Spirit?  Pentecostals need to realize we are all believers empowered by the Holy Spirit to engage the biblical text.  Yes, we Pentecostals need to embrace biblical scholarship not keep it at arms length.

On the issue of women in ministry (which we all know means women as lead pastors/elders) the article states:

Yet the arena of biblical interpretation, or “textual criticism” as it’s known in scholarly circles, can be a minefield of controversy. Fee has found himself repeatedly and unwittingly in the center of the debate over the role of women in ministry. After years of battling the issue, Fee is weary of confronting it. But he is adamant: God does gift women for ministry.

“It’s a given,” he says. “The real question is, Which comes first, gender or gifting? What [opponents of women in ministry] are trying to tell me is that gender comes above gifting. How can that be? The Spirit gives the gifting. If a woman stands and prophesies by the Spirit, and men are present, does the Spirit not speak to them? Come on! How dumb can you get?

His advocacy, Fee says, is on behalf of the Holy Spirit rather than women. “The Spirit is gifting women,” he says, “but many evangelicals are not prepared to adjust because of the ‘box’ they’re in.

“I’ve been blacklisted over this issue,” he adds. “People have said, We can’t have Fee speak because he’s pro-women.’ I am pro-Holy Spirit! I just can’t get over that some people think gender comes before gifting.”

And Fee just helped me with something here!  Yes, Yes, Yes!  Pentecostals aren’t necessarily pro women in ministry as they are pro living the Holy Spirit empowered and gifted life! This is the issue.  The Holy Spirit of God empowers all people irregardless of race, class or gender to do and to speak and live out the Word of God both in the church universal and in the world.   Thank you Dr. Fee for standing up for all people, especially the Pentecostals.

Great. Great article!

HT: Nick

on confusing interpretation of the Bible with the Bible

Ron is asking me what this means.  This is my reply.  Feel free to add or correct my answer respectfully:

Ron,

Basically it just means treating an interpretation of the Bible (or a Bible passage – in this case the creation narratives (Gen 1-11)) as though it were somehow infallible (that interpretation couldn’t possibly be wrong no matter what) – when in reality because of our fallibility as humans, no one person’s interpretation of a particular Bible passage is infallible (necessarily), only the Bible is infallible.

We also have to remember too the Bible is not God and God is not the Bible – only God is God and the Bible represents his written word to us, but it isn’t God, so we should not worship the Bible (or overly exalt a particular interpretation), we should only worship God alone. I know this sounds ludicrous but it does happen.

I say this because when someone treats a particular interpretation of a Bible passage as somehow infallible, that is akin to worshiping the Bible (also referred to as idolatrizing the Bible, when an idol is something that is set up against the knowledge of God – and sadly enough, some people do interact with the Bible in a fashion that keeps them from knowing God on a personal level (though they may know tonsabout him – they don’t really know him. And in the case of this discussion on the Genesis  creation narrative, such a thing can and has happened to YEC’ers or OEC’ers – it is also a trait of many in fundamentalist circles (though certainly not all).

This is primarily why how Ken Ham has been going about castigating myself and the AG for their position on the doctrine of creation is extremely concerning, if not dangerous, and needs to be corrected or altogether avoided.

I hope that helps some.

note: the bolded parts are merely for emphasis and to highlight key statements.

comments are now closed. thanks for the interaction.
ps, it seems that Theologian and Church Historian Roger Olsen has similar feelings as what I posted here.