Tag Archives: Discipleship

Thoughts on Interpreting Scripture

I am reading through some material that has been sitting on my desk (and floor, for that matter) and interacting with it. I will be doing this more often over the next few weeks. This will give me a way of putting this information on the site and providing a way to search through a lot of material quickly.

I came across this article by R. C. Sproul, Sr., in Tabletalk Magazine. In it Dr. Sproul is looking at how do we interact and interpret the Bible. The following reflections and quotation page numbers are taken from the January 2011 magazine.

Two Principles to Govern Interpretation

1. The Analogy of Faith: This is the idea that scripture is its own interpreter. What this means on a practical level is that a through investigation of what the Bible has to say on a subject should be done before any exploration of other sources.

2. “Sensus literalis“: This does not mean that “every text in the Scriptures is given a “woodenly literal” interpretation, but rather that we must interpret the Bible in the sense in which it is written” (6). What this means is that we do not violate the laws of grammar or genre in order to arrive at an understanding of what the text says. Sproul makes this plainly clear.

“Though the Bible is not like any other book in that is carries with it the authority of divine inspiration, nevertheless, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit over a written text does not turn verbs into nouns or nouns into verbs. No special, secret, arcane, esoteric meaning is pourted into a text simply because it’s divinely inspiried. … No, the Bible is to be interpreted according to the ordinary rules of language.” (6-7)

At the heart of this principle is the idea that we start with what we know and understand and then trying to make sense of those areas that are not as clear. In order to treat the Bible as a cohesive text we have to maintain that sense as we engage it. To do otherwise is to violate the integrity of the message that the bible contains. Sproul provided this clarifying thought. “Though we affirm the basic clarity of the sacred Scripture, we do not at the same time say that all passage are equally clear” (7).

The process of reading, interpreting and ultimately understanding what the Bible says ought to be the greatest priority of the follower of Jesus. These two principles are helpful guides as you study.

Let me know if you agree with Dr. Sproul or not…

How Keeping The Speed Limit Keeps Me Sane

About one month ago I attended a men’s conference at one of my favorite outdoor camps, Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters. There are some good folks up there.

I am writing this because my wife noticed that I had started keeping the speed limit when I drove. When she asked I did not have a good answer for her. I still do not, but I have been thinking about it and wanted to share with her and with you some of my thoughts.

As I spent time away, reflecting and praying on a couple of decisions I had to make, something happened that I do not have a good explanation for. Nothing was said to make me think about the fact that most people speed when they drive. We talk about being good men, good fathers, good husbands. We talked about our devotional life with God. We talked about life and we ate good food. But, there was nothing said about the fact that most people in this country break the law every day. There was not any reference to this kind of behavior, but when I left the camp I was not speeding.

I like said, I am not sure why I am driving the speed limit consistently. I can not explain it, but what I know is the effect that it has had on my mind and heart. By obeying the speed limit I notice how many people are in a terrible hurry to get to the next place. I have noticed that people look at me like I’m the one that is strange. “Doesn’t he know that I have some place to be!” My fellow drivers just do not appear to understand why someone would NOT be in as big a hurry as them. It has been one of the most rewarding realities of my life. I was living a hurried life. And now, I do not have too.

Leaving five or ten minutes earlier is a better choice than trying to make up that five or ten minutes by driving recklessly. Most of our time on the road is less than an hour long. Driving five, ten or even fifteen miles an hour faster for that short a distance does not really improve driving time. What driving faster does is amplify the affects should (God forbid) an accident occur. This is a great website from Australia that helps validate this by providing stats on the effects of speeding on a possible accident. (I am pretty sure Australians have the same tendencies as we do. They are humans too.)

Here are some of the findings that they discovered. Driving over the speed limit:

  • increases your chances of being involved in a crash
  • means you have less time to react to avoid a crash
  • takes longer to stop the vehicle to avoid a crash
  • increases the severity of injury in a crash.

This is not the only interesting effect of keeping the speed limit. Keeping the speed limit has given me something to pray about as I drive. I find myself praying more as I drive. I just keeping thinking of all the people who genuinely believe that if they do not speed all their plans will fall apart. I have realized that I do not want this to be my life.

I have learned that keeping the speed limit not only makes good practical sense, it makes good spiritual sense. I want to live a consistent life before God. I am not where I need to be, but I hope that I am making progress.

You Are A Missionary: Calvin Miller’s “A Letter to the Church”

Dr. Calvin Miller passed away this last week from complications of a surgery. He was a renowned pastor, writer, professor and poet. I remember encountering his thoughts on worship and the devotional life with God as I read Into the Depths of God. I think that book had more highlights per page than any other book I have ever read. I have since loaned it out and have not gotten it back. (It may be time to get another copy!)

Dr. Ed Stetzer has written a wonderful tribute for Dr. Miller and has also shared an essay that Dr. Miller wrote for a study bible. Take a few minutes this morning and be reminded of what God has called us to as the church. Here is a just a sample of what Dr. Miller wrote:

But be not proud! In redeeming the world all arrogance is precluded. There are no good, arrogant missionaries (2Co 12:5). Christ’s ambassadors (2Co 5:20) are men and women made humble by the immense size of the message given to them by Earth’s Lover. They feed on the bread they give away. They remember who they were when they met Christ, and just that little act of memory causes them to weep that that they once stumbled into grace, before they were ever called to dispense it. Now they are driven by the joy of God’s call, they are the cleansed unclean, the forgiven forgivers, the wounded healers.