Monday, August 29, 2011

New "Series:" Seven Misused/Abused/Misinterpreted Bible Verses

Dear Reader,

    Today I will be starting the first series, this one being on misused Bible verses. It is very interesting to note that the vast majority of these theological mistakes could be avoided by following the three rules of Biblical interpretation: 1. Context; 2. Context; and 3. Context. This is not just applying to looking at the surrounding verses (although that is the first rule), but it also is looking at the historical context (rule two), and the context of other Bible verses that speak on that same issue (rule 3). If a verse does not make sense, then look at the surrounding verses, usually this will clear up any miscommunication. If that does not clear the issue up, then search through your Bible looking for verses that deal with the same issue.  If that does not clear up the issue, then look at historical context: who was the author; who was he writing too; and what was his audience going through at their time? If that still doesn't clear up the issue, then consult some experts for their take on your issue.

    Now, back on topic. The first verse that I will be dealing with is one you should be very familiar with, it is 1 Tim. 2:12 "I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet." Taken out of context one would think this verse means that women cannot teach men, and that women are not to do any talking in church (no singing, asking a question, or visiting with your friends allowed woman!). After taking a look at the surrounding verses, it only adds to the confusion (What! Now women can't wear gold, pearls, or braid their hair?!?!). So next take a look at the historical context. We know that the author (I believe it is Paul, but recently there has been debate over that fact, so I'll remain neutral until I can compile some of my own research) wrote this letter to Timothy regarding heresies that were springing up in the church at Ephesus. We also know that Ephesus, at that time, was the center of worship for the Cult of Artemis. This warrants a closer look at the "goddess" Artemis and her devotees.
     Artemis was the virgin goddess of hunting. She protected or killed women while in childbirth (both ways ending their pain). The cult held that women were superior to men, and the religion stated that Artemis was born before her twin brother Apollos. This would explain both the reason for bringing up the creation story in vv.13 "For Adam was created first, then Eve;" and for the alternative way of translating the Greek word "αὐθεντέω" or authenteō, which means "to act of oneself, that is, (figuratively) dominate: - usurp authority over, (Strong's Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries)." This verse would therefore not be commanding women to be silent and not teach men, but rather to not teach men in a domineering way, by lording their knowledge over the man. Also, when looking for other verses in the Bible that deal with this issue, we see in Paul's farewell to the Romans (Rom. 16:1&2) and also in his greeting to Philemon (Phm 1:2) that women could serve and are considered fellow soldiers.
    These arguments being made, I commend my position to you, my readers, for consideration and debate. I will be trying to do one of these a week for the next seven weeks, some being more controversial than others, so keep your eyes open for them. If my opinion differs from yours, or if you have some verses to add to my arguments, then don't be shy, post them!

Until next we write,


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How Should We Handle Interpretation Differences on Secondary Doctrines?

This was a page that the professor handed out for the second to last class of Intro to Biblical Interpretation. I thought it would be a good page to also show you and include as part of the blog rules, because it illustrates doctrines that are essential or non-essential, and how we should respond to differing views on secondary doctrines. Brackets are mine, and Bible verse were removed, leaving only their references to save room, please look them up on your own.

    "In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, and in all things charity [grace]" - Augustine

Some examples of secondary doctrinal issues:

    ~ Eschatology [How/when Christ will return]  ~ Ecclesiology [How the church should be run
    ~ Baptism                                                       ~ Interpretation of the Creation Account
    ~ Spiritual Gifts                                               ~ Divorce and Remarriage
    ~ Women in Leadership                                  ~ Calvinism and Arminianism

Some recommendations of what we should do

    1.  Study the Various Views with an Open Mind, Changing our View if the Biblical Evidence is Convincing (Emphasis Added)
         (2 Tim. 2:15)
         (1 Cor. 13:9-12)

    2.  Study the Various Views as Expressed by those who Hold them, not just those with opposing views that criticize them.

    3.  Develop our own Convictions, yet hold them with humility
         (Rom. 14:5)
         (Eph. 4:2)

    4.  Treat Those who Hold Other Views with Dignity and Respect
         (Matt. 7:12)

    5.  Make Every Effort to Preserve the Unity of the Spirit Through the Bond of Peace, Established by the Lord Jesus.
         (Eph. 4:3)
         (John 17:22-23)

Some recommendations of what we should not do.

    1.  Be Uninformed, or Lazy/Apathetic
    2.  Be Dogmatic; Closed Minded toward other views [on secondary doctrines]
    3.  Misrepresent the views of others, in an attempt to win an argument
    4.  Make secondary issues the litmus test of salvation or evangelical orthodoxy [if you don't believe in infant baptism, or that the world was created in 6, 24 hour days, then I don't think you are a true Christian.]

This really spoke to me during the class, and I really thought "this is how I want the people on my blog to behave," so I thought I would pass it on to you. Let us be salt and light to the world, not have the world drag us down with useless bickering and divisions in the Church due to petty issues.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mission of the Blog

   In the days of the Reformation, Christians would often meet together in taverns to discuss the ideas of the Reformation. One such inn, known as the White Horse in Cambridge England, became the regular meeting place of a small group of English Scholars, who would gather together to discuss their views. My intention is that this blog become a similar place, if you are uncomfortable with adult beverages then you are more than welcome to not include those, and the medium of the internet allows you to not have to observe any drinking if you do not want to. (We'll be dealing with alcohol and the Bible in a future post). But why did I choose "Eternity's Christianity" instead of "Today's Christianity"? Very simple, Today's Christianity implies that it was different today then it was yesterday, and it is my belief that the church is the same throughout history, and should continue to be the same today.
   The mission of Christians all over the world is explicitly stated by Christ in Acts 1:6-9, when Christ commands his followers to "be my witnesses in all of Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the Earth." Also, in Matthew 28:19, Christ tells the Disciples to "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." That being said, the mission of this blog is not entirely to fulfill the Great Commission, but to instead indirectly fulfill it through causing you, the reader, to examine your faith and affirm your beliefs. I cannot tell you that I have all the answers, that would be EXTREMELY arrogant of me (and wrong), instead, "as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another" I plan on learning just as much from these blog posts as I hope you do.
   This blog is entirely open for debate (in fact, that is a portion of the purpose) but i ask that you keep the comments section free of derogatory statements, generalizations, obviously foolish statements, or useless banter of any kind for that matter. Please back up every claim with a reference verse, in any Bible translation of your choice, and use your statements, whether they are in support or opposition of an entry or a comment, to build up yourself and your opponent's understanding of the word.
   This is just a small portion of the mission of this blog, and it will continue to evolve (with micro evolution, not macro) as this blog continues to develop and take shape. Feel free to make yourself comfortable and I hope your walk with Christ grows through this experience.