Hermeneutics: Paul and Moses

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Hermeneutics: Jesus and Moses

The greatest teacher of hermeneutics is Jesus. Jesus goes out of his way at times to put his disagreements with the Pharisees on display, and we can learn a lot about how to read the New Testament (and the Law and the Prophets) from Jesus.

Consider the Sermon on the Mount –

(Mat 5:17-20 ESV)  17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.  19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Continue reading

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Hermeneutics: The Big Rocks

Jerry wrote,

I remember reading in the papers several decades ago an objection to some suggestion on hermeneutics, “But if we adopt that as our hermeneutic we will not be able to support….” and a particular doctrine prevalent in the Church of Christ was named.

Exactly. We have a long history of testing our hermeneutics by whether a given hermeneutic produces a desired result. If the hermeneutic requires a changed conclusion, it’s rejected — and that is exactly wrong. After all, we don’t really know what the Bible says unless we have a proper hermeneutic!

These leaves us with something of a riddle — how do we develop a sound hermeneutic without knowing what the Bible says until we have a proper hermeneutic? Well, because the real process is more complicated than 1, 2, 3. But it’s not that hard; it’s just very different from how we have customarily thought. Continue reading

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Hermeneutics: On How Hard Hermeneutics Is

It’s an interesting fact that we insist that a church isn’t “scripturally organized” if it has no deacons, even though the scriptures do not tell us what the deacons are supposed to do — at least not very clearly.

But we don’t bother to honor the qualifications list of 1 Timothy 5 respecting enrolled widows, which is very similar to the lists regarding elders and deacons. Indeed, many today would brand a church with female deacons damned for liberalism even though many congregations of the early church had female deacons and the fathers of the Restoration Movement approved deaconesses! Why the reversal? Continue reading

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New from Switchfoot

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Oh … to have the gift to compose and play a song …

But I’m not sentimental
This skin and bones in a rental
And no one makes it out alive

Until I die I’ll sing these songs
On the shores of Babylon
Still looking for a home
In a world where I belong

Where the weak are finally strong
Where the righteous right the wrongs
Still looking for a home
In a world where I belong

I hope you can buy the sheet music in four-part harmony with shaped notes.

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Hermeneutics: Widows, an application from an unfamiliar passage

Scholars, ancient and modern, conservative and progressive and moderate and liberal, struggle to understand what Paul says about widows in 1 Timothy 5.

(1Ti 5:3-16 ESV) 3 Honor widows who are truly widows.  4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God.  5 She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day,  6 but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives.  7 Command these things as well, so that they may be without reproach.  8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. Continue reading

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Hermeneutics: Transculturality, Braided Hair, and Pigtails

[I've changed the title of the series, as the topic has shifted -- but in a good direction. And it's easier to type. I'm keeping the T shirt logo because I'm still an elder.]

Alexander wrote,

In 1Co 11:2-16 Paul argues on different levels:

a) Headship within the deity (V 3) – certainly not cultural

Any command regarding church order has an eternal principle behind it. The command itself, however, is an application of that principle. Sometimes the principle and the command are very closely tied (“Love one another” is essentially both principle and command), but normally there is a distinction – prohibitions on braided hair derive from the principle “love one another” in that the flaunting of wealth tempts others to envy and reflects an attitude contrary to the heart of Christ (I’m better than you.). Continue reading

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The Grooom’s Still Waiting at the Altar

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So we’ve been studying in Bible class how God “married” Israel at Sinai. The church is Christ’s bride because Israel is – and we Gentiles have been grafted into Israel.

So I remembered this song — and a little Dylan on a Sunday is just right.

Got the message this morning, the one that was sent to me
About the madness of becoming what one was never meant to be.

West of the Jordan, east of the Rock of Gibraltar
I see the burning of the stage
Curtain rising on a new age
See the groom still waiting at the altar.

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Nothing Like Alligator Seats for a Trip to New Orleans

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Elders: May an Elder Serve with No Children? Discerning Whether a Command is Temporary or Permanent, a Reply re Parts 1 and 2

Interesting discussion. Let me add a few points.

1. First, I can’t tell you how much it pleases me for the discussion to have begun with acknowledgment that inferential truths are not fellowship issues. However, I worry about the distinction sometimes made between commands and inferences when so few of us consider all the New Testament commands binding. After all, in the Churches of Christ, hardly anyone washes feet, bans braided hair, practices the Holy Kiss, appoints an order of widows, bans all pearls and gold, or insists that women wear Roman-style veils in the assembly (not hats and not lace doilies but a Roman-style covering — see pictures at this post – think “hoody”). Continue reading

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