Posted in bible interpretation, biblical studies, Book Review, Brevards Childs, Christianity, Mark Gignilliat, old testament, Old Testament criticism, old testament scholarship, Theology, William Albright on July 28, 2015 |
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Mark S. Gignilliat. A Brief History of Old Testament Criticism: From Benedict Spinoza to Brevard Childs. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, June 10th, 2012. 186 pp.
The author made it clear in the beginning that the intended audience of the book was for “anyone who is in interested in the Bible, its history of interpretation, and the particular problems and approaches to Old Testament studies in the modern period.” Thus book wasn’t just written for scholars and seminarians in mind but for the larger Christian lay readers although the author admits that as he writing this his inclination was to make the work more technical. As a result the author himself explicitly explain that he needs to write this book with more of a biographical sketch of important figures of Old Testament scholars in light of the general public’s interests for human stories. Thus the book is divided into seven chapters with each focusing on one particular modern Old Testament scholar. I think the book might be more appropriately titled “A Brief Survey of Old Testament Scholars” instead, lest people think it is a survey of the history of Old Testament Criticism so no one is fooled by the title since some chapters focused on more biographical contents than descriptive details of the scholar’s academic contribution. I suppose one shouldn’t really blame the author for doing so if he can successfully get the readers to know more about these scholars rather than have the readers be bored in seeing these men as another group of dead unknown Germans scholars.
Readers of the book will notice right away how early in the history of modern Old Testament criticism that it is driven by presuppositions and philosophies that is foreign to Scripture. The clearest and worst example of this given in the book was Spinoza (although I don’t think the author intended to do that). I was surprised to read about how bright Spinoza was but sadden to see how far he veered away from biblical orthodoxy even among his fellow Jews. The book noted how Spinoza’s motivation in his approach towards the Old Testament was one that began with human autonomy and the assumption that reason is in conflict and above faith, etc. While the other scholars the book survey is less overt than Spinoza in undermining the Bible nevertheless I would say one see in varying degrees the compromises and the import of bad philosophical starting points among various scholars’ approach to the Old Testament.
The author however makes it clear that he wants Evangelicals to have a greater appreciation for these scholars and their contribution even if one disagrees with them. In that vein I appreciated the chapter on Julius Wellhausen and the author explaining Wellhausen’s documentary hypothesis clearly and simply for the lay reader. I learned that Wellhausen’s formulation of his documentary hypothesis was in the context of his attempt to reconstruct the original historical setting of Israel in light of naturalistic presuppositions and not just merely to break up the Scripture into parts per se. Although I have misgivings with the documentary hypothesis I think a strength of the book is the presentation clearly and accurately of what these scholars believed.
The chapters that really stood out to me were the ones on Gerhard VonRad, William Albright and Brevard Childs. While I have been cautious and continue to be discerning when I read anything from VonRad (or anything that others attribute to VonRad), nevertheless I have a deeper sense of respect for VonRad the man and the scholar. I never knew until this book of the courageous stance he took against the Nazis when he was a German Old Testament scholar at the universities. His courage is inspiring when one consider the anti-Jewish climate in Hitler’s Germany.
It was also neat to learn of biblical scholars that was shaped by the polymath William Albright whose impact on Old Testament studies is his use of archaeological findings. By far my favorite chapter was on Brevards Childs whose canonical approach has more use for Evangelical students of the Old Testament than some of the other approaches mentioned in the book.
I must say that Christians must read this book with discernment. I think at times the author could have been explained more of the problems with some of the scholars surveyed. Nevertheless I felt that all these scholars has things we can learn from; the biggest encouragement from these men lives was that I want to continue to be diligent in my study of God’s Word with all my mind, strength and soul.
I recommend the book, and rate it 4 out of 5.
NOTE: This book was provided to me free by Zondervan Academic and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.
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Posted in Apologetics, Bible, christian apologetics, Christianity, hermeneutics, interpretation of the bible, Leviticus, old testament, old testament law, Old Testament Laws, Reformed, Theology on July 15, 2015 |
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This is our third installment in which we look at the problematic precommitments that Matthew Vines has accepted prior to his research for his book God and the Gay Christian in which he argues that “Christians who affirm the full authority of Scripture can also affirm committed, monogamous same-sex relationship” (Page 3). Here in this post I want to address Vines’ problematic pre-commitment concerning Old Testament laws.
Matthew Vines In His Own Words
On page 11-12 Vines said:
But while I’d once agreed with my parents’ view on homosexuality, I didn’t anymore. Even before coming to terms with my sexual orientation, I had been studying the Bible’s references to same-sex behavior and discussing the issue with Christian friends. Some of what I learned seemed to undermine the traditional interpretation of those passages. For instance, Leviticus prohibits male same-sex relations, but it uses similar language to prohibit the eating of shellfish. And while Paul did describe same-sex relations as ‘unnatural,’ he also wrote that for men to wear their hair long was contrary to ‘nature.’ Yet Christians no longer regard eating shellfish or men having long hair as sinful. A more comprehensive exploration of Scripture was in order.”
Note in the above quote that even before Vines came out of the closet as being a homosexual or even before he began researching to write his book, Vines’ own view of the Old Testament has already led him to question whether the Bible prohibit same sex relations. Although Vines admit that a “more comprehensive exploration of Scripture was in order,” already what he thinks he knows has “undermine the traditional interpretation of those passages”
Then on page 78 Vines gives us some more details of how he started to question the Old Testament laws found in Leviticus (18:22 and 20:13) that prohibits same-sex relationship:
When I was fourteen, I used that verse to ‘prove’ to a friend that gay marriage ws wrong. Today, I realize I hardly knew anything about what I was saying–the context of that verse in Scripture, for instance, or the place of the Old Testament law for Christians.
It’s no surprise that I was at a loss when my friend responded to me with verses from Leviticus banning the eating of shellfish and wearing mixed fabrics.
Sad to say, though, that’s been the extent of many debates about the BIble and homosexuality in recent years. One side starts by quoting Leviticus 18:22 (or 20:13, which prescribes the death penalty for males who engage in same-sex relations), and the other side counters with verses about dietary laws and bans on certain combinations of clothing. We really need to go deeper”
Thus his interaction at the age of 14 with friends on the topic of Old Testament laws has already slanted him towards the view that the Bible does not prohibit same-sex marriage. We definitely need to go deeper in our refutation of his pre-commitment that slants him towards affirming same-sex relationships.
The Problem with Vines’ view of Old Testament Laws
- Vines lamented the state of debate between the two sides: “One side starts by quoting Leviticus 18:22 (or 20:13, which prescribes the death penalty for males who engage in same-sex relations), and the other side counters with verses about dietary laws and bans on certain combinations of clothing.” Ironically this is what Vines himself does when he invokes dietary laws as a defeater to the non-affirming Christians’ interpretation of Leviticus. He didn’t “go deeper” as he promised in the book but presented the typical gay apologists’ arguments about Old Testament laws.
- Matthew Vines’ hermeneutics is definitely problematic. Recall the principle that led him to think same-sex relationship is okay: “Leviticus prohibits male same-sex relations, but it uses similar language to prohibit the eating of shellfish.” In essence, this is his hermenutical principle: “Since X from Leviticus is not applicable for us today, therefore Y should not be either.”
- But just because Leviticus has laws that prohibit things that later in the New Testament it allows, does that means same-sex relationship fall under the same category of things permissible?
- Homosexual sins is not in the same category as dietary laws.
- Also the New Testament did not reverse the teaching of Leviticus against homosexuality, pronouncing that it is now permitted for a man to lie with another man, etc.
- Matthew Vines’ hermentical principle that “Since X from Leviticus is not applicable for us today, therefore Y should not be either” is dangerous.
- Taking Vines’ hermeneutical principle towards Leviticus to its logical conclusion, is it now permitted to see the nudity of family and relatives members? The same argument Vines use against the prohibition against homosexuality can be used by perverts to argue against Leviticus 18:6-17 (same chapter with the prohibition on male homosexual acts). Leviticus might prohibit unclothing family members and relatives, but to use Vines’ own words Leviticus also “uses similar language to prohibit the eating of shellfish.” Thus shellfishes “undermine the traditional interpretation of those passages” and somehow with Vines leap of logic in the structure of his argument it must mean incestuous uncovering of nakedness is allowed today.
- Vines’ form of argument can be used to say it is permissible to commit children sacrifices, bestiality and incest by employing his erroneous hermeneutical principle to dismiss Leviticus 18:21, 18:22, 20:11-12 respectively. We can go on but readers should get the point with his hermeneutics.
- Matthew Vines is also inconsistent with his hermeneutical principle that “Since X from Leviticus is not applicable for us today, therefore Y should not be either.”
- Again Vines believes in “committed, monogamous same-sex relationship” (Page 3).
- Part of that commitment means there must not be adultery, which by definition is the violation of a committed monogamous relationship.
- If Vines is consistent with his interpretative approach it undermines the prohibition of adultery.
- But Vines won’t go there and probably won’t accept someone who uses his argumentation to allow for adultery. Thus, he is inconsistent with his own method.
- Matthew Vines and others might argue that the points above does not apply in light of the New Testament relationship to the Old Testament. This is our reply:
- While the New Testament still prohibit adultery, etc., remember the New Testament continue to prohibit homosexual relations as well. Of course, Vines and company will dispute that, but the Christian response can be found elsewhere in our blog and is beyond the scope of this post.
- Going to the New Testament does not resolve Vines’ problematic hermeneutics. That is because he himself applies this kind of argumentation to the New Testament; recall above how Vines was quoted as saying: “And while Paul did describe same-sex relations as ‘unnatural,’ he also wrote that for men to wear their hair long was contrary to ‘nature.'” Now the problem is further compounded by bringing this interpretative strategy to the New Testament.
- Ultimately, Vines’ basis of ethics is not the Bible if he can judge which prohibition in Scripture (Old and New Testament) should still stand and which should not. His standard of ethics needs to be exposed and refuted. This we have already done in part 1 of this series in which we documented and refuted his humanistic consequentialist’s ethics.
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LGBT Movement: Part 2
Alright all, here is another segment concerning the LGBT objections. It is our prayer that the Lord will use this material to edify the body of Christ concerning the attacks against God’s Word concerning the Gospel.
LGBT Objection: Jesus never spoke out against Homosexuality.
- To answer this question, we need to understand the doctrine of the Trinity. Jesus who is the second person of the Trinity, was behind the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18-19) and the very person behind the prohibition against Homosexuals (Lev. 18:22; 20:13). To deny that reality is to deny the eternality of Christ. He was at creation. In fact, the world would not be a present reality if it was not for Christ (Col. 1:17). Apostle John referred to His eternality in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” He is described as the Word being with the Father not only at creation, but before creation. If that is not enough, Jesus Himself mentioned his eternality in John 8:58 when confronted by the Jews. “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.'” He was alive before Abraham was born. In principle, we clearly know that Jesus was present at the condemnation of Sodom and Gomorrah and was the authoritative base that provided the prohibitions against homsexuality in Leviticus 18:22; 20:13.
- It’s true that there are no statements in the NT of Jesus specifically giving an isolated condemnation against homosexuality. However, this is where they err by misrepresenting Scripture. They are guilty of begging the question. To deny that Jesus never gave prohibitions against homosexuality is to deny the indissolubility of their union. They can never be divided. The Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit never works against one another. They are always in harmony no matter the topic. An eternal God demands an eternal sovereign will. The God-head is never one step behind one another.
- Food for thought for LGBT proponents. Just because Jesus did not address isolated sins individually such as rape, incest, bestiality, etc., are we to say that He sanctioned them? That is faulty hermeneutics. There are many things Jesus did and said, but they were never recorded (John 21:25).
- By the way, Jesus, the God-man, in His hypostatic union, mentioned many of those sins (not individually) in Matthew Matt. 15:15-20; Mark 7:21-23. It is not presented in the liking of the LGBT proponents, but He did address homosexuality. It is found in this key word: πορνεία (porneia). The word has a broad range that covers every kind of immorality, including beastiality (immoral intercourse with a beast), immoral intercourse with a close relative, etc. Imagine one was to debate over the statement: “Congratulations Warriors, you are 2015 NBA Champions.” The conjecture from the critic would be that it is not in reference to every single player in the Warriors uniform. That would be a far-fetched conclusion because in context in terms of how that congratulatory term is used, has been predominately implemented in reference to every single player in the team. Even though the congratulatory remark does not list the individual names, it does not mean it was not addressed to every player. The same logic applies to the passages in Matthew 15:15-20 and Mark 7:21-23, whereby the word porneia is used. Jesus was condemning all of the sexually deviate behaviors. Beloved, Christ is eternal. He is truth. He is holy. He will never contradict Himself.
- If the argument upholds the notion that Jesus was not against homosexuality because there was no individually isolated prohibitions, then that same ill logic needs to apply to other sins that Jesus did not address individually: pederasty, bestiality, necromancy, etc. You see, the attempt to excuse homosexuality is nothing short of revisionist history. They fall into a slippery slop when they blaspheme the institute of marriage as defined by God.
- Why did Jesus condemn homosexuality? He repudiated it because it was an abominable act that went against Gen. 2:22-24. The fact that God made them “male and female” which was anchored in the foundation of creation, predicated against polygamy and any other deviant sexual lifestyles. Hence, there is no condoning of same-sex relationship nor any room for more than two persons. To do so would violate the permanent bond of the one-flesh union. Only a monogamous relationship between a man and a woman can achieve the permanent bond of the one-flesh union. To open-up the doors for same-sex relationships would entail a hostile act against the Gospel. In fact, the Gospel only became a reality because the woman would bear a seed–the seed who would be Christ (Gen. 3:15). And Christ would be the example for His people of how a marriage between a man and woman looks (Eph. 5:22-33). No one in the face of the earth held onto the definition marriage to the highest esteem than Jesus Christ did. Remember what He said to the religious leaders in Matthew 19?
Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?” 4 And He answered and said,“Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” ~ NASB
Next will be part 4.
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This book is well researched. It provides a well balance view on both sides. The authors are clear with the contents they represent when interacting for example, the different types of homosexual orientation. For example, it is not only the deeds that are addressed, but also the desire for the same sex which is sinful. One fascinating study which LGBT will consider antiquated is the civil law that pertains to death penalty for grave sins and the authors addresses it by discussing the role of the civil law. This well-researched book will help readers, who are seeking to gain a deeper grasp of the issues at hand.
This book is a must read for all Christians who love and care for homosexuals. It also deals with the discontinuity and continuity of the laws in the Old Testament and its perspective and implications on the high rank-and-file sin of homosexuality. You will go into a theological excursion of the moral, ceremonial, and the civil law when the authors embark upon the Old Testament. And it interacts with some of the deceiving tactics of the LGBT’s use of Scripture (eisegesis: imparting their own thoughts into the text). Anyone who twists the Word of God in order to make hard truths palatable to society stand in the hot seat of God’s judgment. In this book, you have examples of two men who are graced and granted by God the gift of teaching in order to smell out twisted thinking that spans categorical fallacies and heresies from not only the LGBT “movement” (a 900 pound gorilla that has a goal to destroy the church), but also those who profess faith in Christ. The book’s truth claims are not based upon a hot and emotionally imbalanced rhetoric, but substance that has been mined over the years from a stable discipline of studying in the Word of God and its interaction with critical sources. I would recommend you purchasing this book because it will get you acquainted with the arguments that is swirling around. This book will expose to you the information that is derived from the emotionally and subjective arguments that are based on man-centered theology rather than the serious study of God-honoring exegesis and hermeneutics. You don’t have to be a Greek scholar, but as Christians, we can’t afford to be sloppy or careless (2 Tim. 2:15) with this issue facing our nation.
I pray that this wonderful resource will provide the gateway for you to learn more about this issue and get more acquainted with the passages that the LGBT twist to their own demise.
Also have a Bible handy because the authors will be interacting extensively with the Book of the Leviticus and the Book of Romans. The book will also stretch out your understanding of the law of God. That is a major point of the book when discussing the Book of Leviticus and its implications upon the New Testament text. I believe you will come out a sharper student of the Word when reading the author’s interaction with the biblical text.
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Beginning next next Sunday (not tommorow but the Sunday after) we will have a short Sunday Biblical series that look at various motif of the Church. I think what we can gain from this study is how important is the church in God’s view which leads us to see the importance of the Church also in our lives. Pray for the preparation for this short study!
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We’re continuing with our series on a Biblical Theology of Hands. We’ve seen earlier that Scripture often shows the hands of men shows our sins. But what does the Hands of the Lord show?
Our first point concerning the Hands of the Lord is that it shows He is powerful.
- The hand of the Lord is Powerful
- Point: When we look at what the Bible has to say about the Hand of God, we see His Divine Power.
- First reference to the Hand of God appear in a Prophecy concerning Joseph’s descendants (Genesis 49:22-26)
- Future prediction that his descendants will be harassed militarily (23)
- But a prophecy of hope: “But his bow remained firm, And his arms were agile, From the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob (From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel),” (24)
- Divine titles of the Messiah here:
- “the Mighty One of Jacob”
- “the Shepherd”
- “the Stone of Israel”
- Note the reason that Joseph’s line can remain strong is “From the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob”
- Exodus fromEgypt
- God told Moses before it happened: “So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My miracles which I shall do in the midst of it; and after that he will let you go.” (Exodus 3:20)
- Exodus 7:16-18: “ You shall say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you, saying, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me in the wilderness. But behold, you have not listened until now.” 17 Thus says the Lord, “By this you shall know that I am the Lord: behold, I will strike the water that is in the Nile with the staff that is in my hand, and it will be turned to blood. 18 The fish that are in the Nile will die, and the Nile will become foul, and the Egyptians will find difficulty in drinking water from the Nile.”’”
- Note how in verse 17 makes it clear Moses’ hand of judgment was God’s Hand of Judgment.
- What the hands of the Lord is able to do is frightening as indicated in verse 18.
- This is another indication of the power of the Lord.
- See also Exodus 9:3, and the Song of Moses that sings praise of God’s Deliverance and protection (Exodus 15:6,12).
- Do you trust in God’s Sovereign power?
- Be comforted the same Hand of God that was with Moses is with us today.
- Have you sang to the Lord in awe and praise of his Power?
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It seems to be the most quoted Bible verse: Do Not Judge.
Yet it is probably one of most misinterpreted verse in our life and time.
Here’s a good short video:
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