Interpreting the Bible: Additional Common Mistakes

bible.jpgIn the last post, we considered some false approaches to hermeneutics. Let’s consider a few more common errors.

* Proof texts are not an entirely wrong approach. However, there use is a very, very dangerous practice. Indeed, the proof text style of argument is one reason so many people say “You can prove anything by the Bible.” You can! But only if you consider a single passage satisfactory proof. It’s not.

It’s really easy to find a passage that “proves” whatever you want to prove. Continue reading

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Interpreting the Bible: Introduction/Common Mistakes

bible.jpgIt’s time to talk a little hermeneutics. “Hermeneutics” is the study of how we interpret writings, especially the Bible. And, of late, it’s become quite the controversial subject in the Churches of Christ.

Obviously enough, to properly understand the scriptures, we have to come to them with a sound approach to interpretation. If we start with a false hermeneutic, we’ll certainly reach false conclusions. This makes hermeneutics a particularly important study–and yet one that is generally ignored at the Sunday school level. Continue reading

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“Martha, Martha”

WomanI’m doing a study on Luke at church, and just recently came across the story of Jesus, Mary, and Martha at Luke 10:38 ff.

The fact that Jesus wanted Martha to study at his feet rather than doing housework was by no means to demean housework. After all, she was offering hospitality, which was highly valued by Jesus, as shown in many other stories.

Rather, the point of the story is that the opportunity to learn from Jesus was an extraordinary, once-in-history opportunity that Martha should profit from, rather than worrying about Jesus’ supper. We know from other passages that Jesus considered teaching women so urgent he skipped meals to teach them (the woman at the well, for example). Continue reading

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The Gospel Advocate: On Being Comfortable in Church

ga.jpgThis month’s Gospel Advocate features an article by Charles Lovelace III captioned “What to Do When the Church Leaves You.” The article is very telling about an attitude problem all too common.

The author points out that a church can spiritually leave a member by making “a change from traditional worship (many knew of no other type of worship), such as a change of attire or song selection.” Such a change can make a member “uncomfortable.”

He then notes that sometimes “more doctrinal issues” are at stake. “The result is the same,” the author concludes.

What should a member do? The author advises, “move on.” Continue reading

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Imagine a World Without Denominations, Part 2

MergerI think the current level of cross-denominational cooperation is woefully inadequate because I think we are called to a MUCH higher level of service than is common among Protestants. There are countless cooperative works, but the percentage of members active in hands on service to the needy in a given week is not high enough to matter that much to a hurting world.

I see this as on the upswing. Katrina was a big kick in the pants around here. But we are still not nearly where I think God wants us to be. Continue reading

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Luke chapter 11

Jesus healingI’ve now added an outline for Luke 11. This is a series of outlines I’m preparing for our adult Bible classes and are designed for Sunday school teachers to teach from. But they’d work for personal study, too. Luke chapter 11

The rest of the outlines may be found at Luke outlines.

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In Defense of the Churches of Christ

coc.jpgI am an elder in a Church of Christ. I’m a third generation elder at that. Sometimes I criticize my brothers in the Churches, but it’s worth taking a little internet space to state why it is I’m identified with the Churches of Christ and not any of the many other denominations.

I should add that I realize that there are others who advocate and practice these things. The Churches are not alone in a single doctrine or practice. (And I could point out many flaws as well. But that’s already been done by me and others in many places.) Continue reading

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Imagine a World Without Denominations

Divided churchIn New Testament times, the “church” in Ephesus was a series of house churches in which thousands were members, meeting 30 or less to a house, under a single eldership.

We aren’t given just how this worked, but we know Jesus would have wept at the sight of churches having closer ties to churches in other communities and nations than in their own communities, having separate and competing agendas–where brothers and sisters in Christ who go to churches a block apart don’t even know the other is a Christian.

Imagine if all the churches in your town got together quarterly and coordinated a single effort to convert and heal your community, to care for the needy and lost as a single body. Continue reading

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“That Which Is Perfect”: Laying On Hands (expanded)

hands.jpgIt’s long been argued that miracles died out a generation after the apostles, because miraculous gifts were given exclusively through the laying on of apostolic hands. And there are indeed a number of verses that suggest this to be true. However, on close study, I’ve come to conclude otherwise.

(Acts 8:17-19) Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19 and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” Continue reading

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Communion Meditation: A Lesson from an Eight-Year Old

CommunionI was baptized when I was eight. I was short for my age, skinny, and proudly wore a butch cut. The kids would call it a buzz cut today.

My church had less than 100 members, and we met in a converted warehouse, sitting in folding metal chairs bracketed into rows.

The elders decided that if I was old enough to be saved, I was old enough to be put to work. So, on Sunday nights, it became my job to pass out communion. An older man would say the prayers, and I’d take the tray to the members. Continue reading

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