Saturday, May 31, 2008

Genesis 22

Here is my analysis of Genesis 22. I got a "good" for my effort with this. I don't think my professor agrees with some of the Christological typology, but I'm sticking to my guns.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Epistle and Type

We finished our discussion of genres last night. It was interesting to talk about epistle, though I didn't feel like it answered any of my questions satisfactorily. How do we know when the writer was writing a timeless truth? As with everything, context is key. Take this passage for example:

Titus 3:12-15 ESV
(12) When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there.
(13) Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing.
(14) And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.
(15) All who are with me send greetings to you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all.

So does this mean that, like Paul, we should winter at Nicopolis? Probably not. The typical example of this idea is:

2 Timothy 4:13 ESV
(13) When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments.

Clearly Paul is writing personally to Timothy. I don't think that is a timeless truth for us today.

However, that does make us wonder about that Titus passage. When do we take it for ourselves and when can we ignore it? Verses 14 and 15 seem to have the potential to be timeless truths. Verses 12 and 13 seem to be very much just for the current situation he was in.

How do we separate those? I think that if we go from the assumption that everything is a timeless truth unless it is unreasonable then we will be OK. This saves us from doing things like "contextualizing" 1Tim 2:8-15 when we don't like what it teaches. This is the same rule of thumb we use for figurative language as well. We should take the plain meaning of a passage unless there is a good reason to think otherwise.

"Type" isn't really a genre per se, but it was important to discuss. Basically, our professor believes that we should be careful in how we see Jesus all over the OT. There really are not that many types of Christ as some would say. That includes the leadership of my ministry. Personally, I'm not sure which way to lean.

In the end, the course has been very beneficial. It has given me a good framework to wrestle with as well as a consistent way to look at the text. I think that is what it is all about.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Apocalyptic and Parables

We are almost done with our hermeneutics class. In fact, we won't have to meet on Friday night, which is a huge blessing. Last night we discussed what to do with apocalyptic and parables. We also finished up our general principles discussion.

The general principles discussion fascinated me. Apparently there are a variety of hermeneutical systems out there. Many are easily dismissed like redaction criticism and liberalism. However, the allegorical one is tough to dismiss outright. There are many church fathers who looked for the meaning behind the meaning in the text. That doesn't necessarily make it right, but it is compelling. It seems clear that Jesus had some allegory in mind when He mentioned the "sign of Jonah" in Matthew 12:39, Matthew 16:4, and Luke 11:29-30. Paul also does this in Galatians 4:24.

One of the main arguments against the allegorical hermeneutic is the same as against charismaticism. Namely, there is a fear of the subjective. I think this is one of the places where the rubber really meets the road. It is wise to fear the unverifiable. However, does this create too narrow a view of God's Word?

I haven't really come to any conclusions on that. I'd appreciate any feedback that anyone can give.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Wisdom and Prophecy

We talked about these genres last night. My professor couldn't believe he was saying it, but he made the point that we need to do some personal interpretations of Proverbs. It is OK to ask, "what does this mean for me?" when looking at the pithy sayings of Proverbs from chapter 10 on. There is very little context for them and they really do stand alone. This is one of the personal problems I've had with reading through this book. There is so much to chew on that I tend not to absorb much.

We also talked about prophecy, which is a very difficult interpretive subject. The main thing I got from that discussion is that we don't necessarily need to worry about every detail. For example, we don't have to identify every eye and horn in the book of Daniel.

Again, God gave us a text to reveal Himself to us. Let's not read it through the lens of the newspaper or through the Left Behind books.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Tough Guys

Noah was sitting on the floor tonight and did something different. He wanted something in front of him and somehow managed to fall flat on his face. He normally rolls over and hits the back of his head. He seemed pretty nonplussed by the whole thing, to which Amanda and I made a declaration of his toughness.

It got me thinking about what tough-guy movies I'd like for him to see and why. Off the top of my head:

  • Rocky (obvious)
  • Rocky II (got to love your wife)
  • Rocky III (you can't get soft)
  • Rocky IV (general toughness in Siberia)
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark (fighting the big German, truck scene)
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (tough guys can repent)
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (good father-son movie)
  • Cool Hand Luke (preparation for the work world)
  • Dirty Dozen (team building)
Any other thoughts?

Saturday, May 24, 2008


We discussed this important doctrine last night. I still have questions that can't be answered though. We agreed that Scripture interpretation must be done within the framework of the body of Christ. However, which parts of the body do we look to for understanding?

For example, I tend to favor what John Piper or D.A. Carson say about something. Someone else may like the open theism of Greg Boyd or Clark Pinnock. If we agree that we're all believers (though that is debatable) then how do we decide who to trust?

I couldn't get a clear answer from my professor on this one. I apologized to my classmates for the rabbit trail, but they thought it was a discussion worth having.

I'm not about to go down the road of Roman Catholicism, but I can see its appeal. Why worry myself about this when I have the church to interpret Scripture for me? Unfortunately, the biblical call is to the contrary, I think.

A Giveaway

One of my favorite blogs is One of his taglines has been "putting the fun in fundamentalism." I like his blog for the articles he writes, but I am particularly fond of his "a la carte" section where he links to 4 or 5 news items every day. I learn a lot about what is going on in the Christian blogosphere (and other parts of the blogosphere) through him.

Another reason to like this site is the giveaways that he sometimes does. This month it is a giveaway from Monergism Books. Click here to sign up for the giveaway and be sure to use my referral ID of 70394.

Friday, May 23, 2008


We spent 3 1/2 hours last night talking about poetry. My professor is somewhat like me in that he has a bachelor's degree in an engineering discipline and is fairly logical in his thinking. He said that he never enjoyed poetry much in high school and at other times I remember him saying that he was never a fan of creative writing.

We talked a lot about how to see the various literary devices in biblical poetry. Of course, most of it is found in Psalms, though Proverbs and Song of Songs are both poetic books. You can find it in other places like Hannah's prayer in 1Samuel 2:1-10 or in the Magnificat in Luke 1:46-55. There is particularly a lot of parallelism in the Psalter. Often the second line will clarify the first a bit. In Proverbs often the second line is antithetical to the first. And so on.

Knowing that my professor is an OT guy I asked him if learning Hebrew made him appreciate the Psalter more. He said that it did. I am learning to appreciate the Psalter more and more in English, but I think that there would be something to reading the acrostics like they are supposed to be read.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


What do you do with a narrative like 1Samuel 17:1-54? Do you tell people that it means that they can slay the giants in their lives? Do you take it to mean that you can kill the big sins in your life?

That may be true, but I don't think that is what the author intended. The author intended to tell a story about God's faithfulness and how we should be faithful. It also continues some of the themes from Hannah's song in 1Samuel 2:1-10. It also shows the downfall of Saul and the rise of David.

What I learned is that we need to be careful about giving out specific applications when we teach passages. We don't necessarily want to simply teach the text and let the Holy Spirit give the application, but we also don't want to put words in the authors' mouths either.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Text

We talked a bit about narrative yesterday in Hermeneutics. My professor takes kind of a minority view when it comes to how we should approach the text. Many would say that we need to get into the situation as completely as we can. For example, as Jeremiah was giving his speech from the temple steps we need to think about what that was like, what looks the people had on their faces, the weather, etc. Randy doesn't take that view.

He keeps emphasizing that the text is what we have and we know that it is inspired. God gave us what we need to know. We don't need to go to uninspired sources to interpret an inspired text except to understand the usage of language.

This has some implications for how we read narrative. We don't need to think of the text as a window that we need to stick our heads through in order to see the "real" picture behind it. Instead, we should look as intently at the text as we can since that is what God wants for us to know. John 21:25 bears this out as well.

In other words, as we read the gospels one of our questions should certainly be to ask what did Jesus mean when He said something. However, we must also ask what did Matthew (or Mark, Luke, or John) mean when he chose to put this in the book. The authors were trying to make theological points after all. Of course, they were inspired as they did this.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


We had the first day of class yesterday. We started to lay a foundation for what hermeneutics is all about. I'm very excited to learn the material and to apply it, but I really am having a hard time getting into the class being from 6-10. We only went to 9:30 last night, but I think it is going to be grueling no matter what. I have to remember that this is a marathon rather than a sprint.

I am excited because I believe that hermeneutics is at the core of our faith. You can make the Bible say pretty much whatever you want. It's all a question of your hermeneutic.

Incidentally, we are using this book as one of our textbooks. It is a very fast read and has some wonderful concepts to apply. I already can tell that I am going to struggle with patiently going through the observation stuff. However, I also know that observation leads to right interpretation which leads to right application.

I'll keep you posted on how the class goes, especially if I learn anything really exciting.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Obeying the Call

I noticed something in my devotional reading this morning. Check this out from 1Sa 22:19 --

1 Samuel 22:19 ESV
(19) And Nob, the city of the priests, he put to the sword; both man and woman, child and infant, ox, donkey and sheep, he put to the sword.

If you've read Samuel you know that Saul got into trouble because he previously did not obey God's command to eradicate a city:

1 Samuel 15:14-29 ESV
(14) And Samuel said, "What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen that I hear?"
(15) Saul said, "They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the LORD your God, and the rest we have devoted to destruction."
(16) Then Samuel said to Saul, "Stop! I will tell you what the LORD said to me this night." And he said to him, "Speak."
(17) And Samuel said, "Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king over Israel.
(18) And the LORD sent you on a mission and said, 'Go, devote to destruction the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.'
(19) Why then did you not obey the voice of the LORD? Why did you pounce on the spoil and do what was evil in the sight of the LORD?"
(20) And Saul said to Samuel, "I have obeyed the voice of the LORD. I have gone on the mission on which the LORD sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction.
(21) But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the LORD your God in Gilgal."
(22) And Samuel said, "Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.
(23) For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king."
(24) Saul said to Samuel, "I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.
(25) Now therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me that I may worship the LORD."
(26) And Samuel said to Saul, "I will not return with you. For you have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel."
(27) As Samuel turned to go away, Saul seized the skirt of his robe, and it tore.
(28) And Samuel said to him, "The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you.
(29) And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret."

I find it somewhat fascinating that Saul was willing to kill everyone in his own wrath, but was not willing to do it when God commanded it. I think about how this applies to my life. I'm pretty thorough about things that I want to do. Am I so thorough when I am doing what God calls me to do? How serious am I about obedience?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Testing Tags

I am experimenting with RefTagger from the good people at Libronix. I wonder if John 1:1 renders properly?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

THE Psalm

As you may recall, I'm following the ESV Reading Plan this year. I'll be camped out in Psalm 119 for the rest of the month. I love this Psalm because it reminds me over and over again just how precious God's Word really is. Check this out:

Psalms 119:1-8 ESV
(1) Aleph. Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD!
(2) Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart,
(3) who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways!
(4) You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently.
(5) Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!
(6) Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
(7) I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules.
(8) I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me!

I don't know about you, but that sure makes me want to know His precepts and to walk in them. Note verse 2. We can't just fool around with reading the Bible and giving a half-hearted only mental assent to pursuing God's Word. We need to seek the Lord with all our hearts.

I don't think I'm doing that. Are you?

Friday, May 09, 2008

What is Love

My daily reading has taken me to everyone's favorite wedding passage. It is always sobering to go through 1Cor 13. However, I think that it, like every other passage, must be taken in context. It really was not meant to be an example at weddings. It was really meant to explain how we are to use the spiritual gifts.

I don't claim to have 1Cor 13 down perfectly in my marriage. Off the top of my head, I know I'm not always patient or kind. I know that I often do not believe all things or hope all things. However, I think I'm even more convicted in how I express my spiritual gifting. I don't want to be a jerk for Jesus.

Thursday, May 08, 2008


There are some who would say that as a church there should be unity despite differences. In other words, we should look past a lot of things and just all get along. However, I'm not sure that Paul would say that:

1 Corinthians 11:18-19 ESV
(18) For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part,
(19) for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.

It looks to me like the differences are what make us distinct. Obviously we must have charity over the non-essentials, but we also must recognize that if we disagree we can't both be right.

By the way, if you ever wanted to memorize a chapter of Scripture let me suggest Psalm 117.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

When Calvinism Fails

As I wrote last night's post I thought that in the spirit of irenic blogging I should write one about the problems with Calvinism. I am thoroughly convinced of the truth of God's sovereignty in election, but I also see some negative side-effects from it.

One of the mentors in my group pointed out that many Calvinists tend to be mean men. I couldn't argue with that at all. I think that we tend to be more interested in doctrine than in Christian living. I think that we tend to take the security of the believer to a wrong extreme. We need to instead focus on the fact that works follow genuine salvation.

I also realize that there are tensions in Calvinism. However, I think that they are more reconcilable than those in Arminianism. Thoughts?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

When Arminianism Fails

One of my classmates pastors a small church. He rejects Calvinism, though I don't know why. I do know that makes him an exception at our seminary, but that also gives me hope for the areas where I differ from the company line.

At any rate, he has expressed some frustration over his congregation's lack of spiritual movement. He prepares his messages and preaches the truth to them. He stands by the Word of God in preaching and counseling. Why isn't it moving mountains?

My suggestion to him was that he cannot do God's job. No matter how clever we are, no matter how much Scripture we quote, no matter how many times we meet with someone, only the Holy Spirit can really change hearts. I think it is more of an issue of prayer than anything. We need to trust that God wants to be glorified and it is up to Him to grant someone a heart of genuine repentance.

I have often heard Mark Driscoll say that in evangelism we should sleep like a Calvinist. We need to evangelize, but we also need to trust God's sovereignty as well.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Climbing Hills

I have a couple of fairly hilly routes near my house. There is one that I run fairly regularly (1-2 times/week) that is 3.44 miles and it usually takes me about 28:30 to run it. I'm not sure why, but yesterday was a serious struggle. It may be because I have put on a couple of pounds through careless eating. It may also be because it is now warmer in the mornings.

At any rate, a lot of thoughts go through my head as I fight to climb the hills. I try to make it an act of worship and think about some inspiring praise & worship songs as I climb. But, to be honest, sometimes I think of Rocky training montages. What red-blooded American man isn't inspired to see Rocky doing all kinds of feats of strength as he prepares for the big match?

When I think of running and hills, I tend to think of this:

In particular, the part where he has the log on his shoulders and he is going through two feet of snow. That's how I feel sometimes.

What really struck me yesterday was how much this reminds me of Christ. I think of Him carrying the beam on His back as He climbed Calvary. He couldn't make it because of the beating that He suffered, so someone was called in to help.

John 19:16-17 ESV
(16) So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus,
(17) and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha.

Matthew 27:32 ESV
(32) As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross.

This is a little different than Rocky, isn't it? Rocky always guts it out and succeeds in his training. However, there are usually some stumbles along the way too, right?

One thing is certainly the same. Both are victors at the end. Maybe it's stretching things a bit to call Rocky a messianic figure, but there are certainly parallels.

Anyhow, thinking of Christ climbing that hill for my sake certainly helped me to suck it up and make it up the little hill I had to climb. Thinking about this makes me want to go back to California and take another crack at the fire trails. At the very least, I'm going to get a chance to tackle the beach next week.

Sunday, May 04, 2008


As you know, I've started doing some journaling when I do my morning devotions. Many mornings I have some great ideas for a blog entry, but they don't stick around for when I actually have the time to write. I may have to do some shuffling in the morning or at least take the time to write down some good notes for later. It feels like I'm always up against the wall for having to go out running.

Today has been a lot of activity with church, a picnic, getting a car inspected and lubricated, and making granola and fudge. The good news is that we're more ready for the beach trip. The bad news is that I'm very tired.

More good news is that I have been keeping up on my Greek NT reading, though I've been cheating a little bit. I've been reading 1 John, which we did at the end of my first year. The language is pretty simple, but it's still good review. Got to keep at it!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Some Tozer

Preaching: Starving at the Father's Table

So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon,
son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?" He said to Him, "Yes,
Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Feed My lambs."
--John 21:15

There is today no lack of Bible teachers to set forth correctly the
principles of the doctrines of Christ, but too many of these seem
satisfied to teach the fundamentals of the faith year after year,
strangely unaware that there is in their ministry no manifest
Presence, nor anything unusual in their personal lives. They
minister constantly to believers who feel within their breasts a
longing which their teaching simply does not satisfy.

I trust I speak in charity, but the lack in our pulpits is real.
Milton's terrible sentence applies to our day as accurately as it
did to his: "The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed." It is a
solemn thing, and no small scandal in the Kingdom, to see God's
children starving while actually seated at the Father's table.
The Pursuit of God, 8.

"Lord, I trust I'm not being critical, but it seems to me that
there are more and more churches where people are starving at
the Father's table. I sense the lack in our pulpits of which Tozer
speaks, and pray that You might bring a refreshing. Amen."

I feel like this sometimes at our church. It is a sober reminder of what I don't want to have happen at any church where I may get to preach.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Grand Theft Auto

I have described Grand Theft Auto III as the best and the worst game I have ever played. I got through the first section of the game and realized that I just couldn't go on. However, I was thoroughly impressed with the "sandbox" world where you could do pretty much whatever you wanted. Want to do the missions? Then do the missions. Want to go on a rampage and just kill people? Then do that. Want to steal fancy cars and do crazy jumping stunts? You can do that too. What really impressed me was how you could get health back by picking up a prostitute, parking in a back alley, and then having sex. What impressed me further was that you could get your money back by then killing her and retrieving it.

Al Molher made a great post today about GTA IV. This quote from one of the game designers is fantastic:

"If you let your child play this game, you're a bad parent."

I don't think a lot of Christian parents really understand what happens in this game. Unfortunately, some probably do and just don't care.