Culture and the Bible

Date: December 15, 2013
Study: Scripture: Unchanging Truth in a Changing World
Teacher: Kameron Slater

Big idea: The gospel doesn’t just transform individual lives; it transforms culture as well.

Was the Bible written for first century Christians only? Was it written for people of all eras? Can we say it was written for people of all eras without reservation?

Culture: the total pattern of a people’s behaviors. This includes all behavior that is learned and transmitted by the symbols of a particular group and that focuses on certain ideas or assumptions that we call a worldview.

When looking at how Scripture applies to culture today, we need to know the difference between a principle and a custom.
-Principle: a teaching admonition or precept that crosses cultures (transcultural); it applies to all people in all places in all ages.
-Custom: a practice that governs a particular people in a particular place at a particular time.

Distinct options when studying a cultural element in Scripture:

  1. It is entirely custom
  2. It is entirely principle
  3. It is partly principle and partly custom
  4. It is partly principle or partly custom

Practical guidelines when reading a Scriptural text:

  1. Examine the Bible for apparent areas of custom
  2. Allow for cultural distinctives of the original audience
  3. Remember creation ordinances are indicators of a transcultural principle
  4. Exercise humility in areas of uncertainty

Application:

  • Read through 1 Corinthians 5-11 and determine what is a custom and what is a principle
  • Read through Leviticus this week and do the same thing (Monday: Lev 1-4, Tuesday: Lev 5-8, Wednesday: Lev 9-12, Thursday: Lev 13-16, Friday: Lev 17-20, Saturday: Lev 21-24, Sunday: Lev 25-27)

Resources:
Knowing Scripture by RC Sproul
Why We Trust the Bible by Stephen J. Nichols
“Christianity and Culture” by W.A. Dyrness (found in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology)

 

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The Explicit and the Implicit

Date: December 1, 2013
Study: Scripture: Unchanging Truth in a Changing World
Teacher: Lawson Hembree

The Explicit and the Implicit

Big Idea: The implicit is to be interpreted by the explicit.

Explicit teaching: a forthright, direct, and clear statement—what the Scripture actually says

Implicit teaching: a passage that requires the rational powers of deduction to draw inferences from a statement—what the Scripture might be saying  Continue reading

Is Your Faith Public or Private?

Date: November 24, 2013
Study: Scripture: Unchanging Truth in a Changing World
Teacher: Jeff Nichols

Scripture is the lens through which we view the world: John 1:1-5

Today’s society is divided into two spheres:

  1. Private Sphere – Personal Preferences
  2. Public Sphere – Scientific Knowledge – “Values have been reduced to arbitrary, existential decisions.” Values are determined by individual choice.

________________________

Facts are binding on everyone. Often so-called “facts” are the tools used to delegitimize the biblical perspective in the public square today. Science is viewed as the great equalizer, the arbiter, in the public space used to evaluate the “rules” for society (example: the exclusion of Intelligent Design in science textbooks for public schools). Science is still a device of man. Science as a tool, without the overtness of confirmation bias, points to God as the Creator. Man introduces biases.

Science sometimes gets it wrong: Amgen, an American pharmaceutical company, tried to replicate 53 studies that they considered landmarks in the basic science of cancer, often cooperating closely with the original researchers to ensure that their experimental technique matched the one used first time round. According to a piece they wrote last year in Nature, they were able to reproduce the original results in just six (source: The Economist).

Developing a worldview is like a “mental map” that tells us how to navigate the world effectively. A worldview provides us with the framework to knowledgeably converse on topics like: evolution, sexuality, marriage, justice, politics, economics. Providing scriptural truths on these topics is needed in this time and age of skepticism.

When we think about our Christian worldview, we must ask oursevles: “Is this framework a tool to pounce on unsuspecting liberals or unbelievers we are ministering to?” If you answer is “yes,” you definitely need to reevaluate your motivations for the worldview you have. Our motivation in developing and discussing our Christian worldview should always be the greatest commandment (Mark 12:29-31, Luke 10: 26-27). Love and compassion should always be infused in our motivation and speech when discussing sin, values, politics, etc (Romans 3:23). There will be times we don’t have an answer. When that happens, we must intentionally seek the answer together.

To grow intellectually, we must first commit to growing spiritually by “taking every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinithians 10:5).

References:
“Total Truth” by Nancy Pearcey

Biblical Interpretation: Historic and Didactic Passages

Date: November 10, 2013
Study: Scripture: Unchanging Truth in a Changing World
Teacher: Lawson Hembree

Review:
Seven Principles for Interpreting Scripture

  1. Read the Bible reverently
  2. Read the Bible prayerfully
  3. Read the Bible collectively
  4. Read the Bible humbly— If your interpretation is shown to be incorrect by exegesis, then be humble enough to change your interpretation.
  5. Read the Bible carefully
  6. Read the Bible Christologically— Everything in the Bible points to Jesus.
  7. Read the Bible obediently

Historical Passages vs Didactic Passages
Big Idea: Interpret narrative passages with the help of didactic passages.  Continue reading

Interpreting Scripture, Part 2

Date: November 3, 2013
Study: Scripture: Unchanging Truth in a Changing World
Teacher: Kameron Slater

Interpreting Scripture

  1. What is the definition of hermeneutics? What is its purpose?
    Hermeneutics is the science of interpretation. It establishes rules and guideline for interpretation.
  2. Two strategies for interpretation:
    1. Strict constructionist- an interpretive, grammatical-historical approach [correct]
    2. Broad- a legislative, continually changing approach [incorrect]
  3. Rules or principles for interpretation:
    1. Analogy of faith- Scripture interprets Scripture
    2. Literal sense- Bible should be interpreted literally  Continue reading

Interpreting Scripture, Part 1

Date: October 27, 2013

Study: Scripture: Unchanging Truth in a Changing World
Teacher: Kameron Slater

Interpreting Scripture

  • The Roman Catholic Church feared that private interpretation would open a “floodgate of iniquity” and fragment the Church.
  • The Reformers referred to the Spirit as Magister Veritatis, the “teacher of truth”. (See John 14-16)
  • A biblical text may have only one meaning but multiple applications.
  • In exegesis, we read the meaning out of the text (which is the correct thing to do).
  • In eisegesis, we read the meaning into the text (which is incorrect).
  • The Bible doesn’t just contain truth; it is truth.

Seven Principles for Interpreting Scripture

  1. Read the Bible reverently
  2. Read the Bible prayerfully
  3. Read the Bible collectively
  4. Read the Bible humbly— If your interpretation is shown to be incorrect by exegesis, then be humble enough to change your interpretation.
  5. Read the Bible carefully
  6. Read the Bible Christologically— Everything in the Bible points to Jesus.
  7. Read the Bible obediently

Application

  • How does the issue of private interpretation affect your reading and study of Scripture?
  • Does the Bible have the number one place on your agenda? Do you have a study agenda: A place to study? A time to study? Do you have a basic working Bible study library? If you need help with any of these things, talk to Kameron and Lawson and let’s begin a discipleship movement!

Resources

The Clarity of Scripture

Date: October 13, 2013
Study: Scripture: Unchanging Truth in a Changing World
Teacher: Lawson Hembree

Scripture is written in such a way that its teaching are able to be understood by ordinary people. Like any well-written piece of literature, anyone can read the Bible and grasp what the main point of the story is and the message it is trying to communicate. This is what we referred to a few weeks ago as “The Big Story” of Scripture. This Big Story has five acts: God, Creation, Rebellion, Rescue, and Home. All the essential truths relating to God and the gospel are clearly presented in the Bible’s pages. This idea of the clarity of Scripture is often referred to as the doctrine of perspicuity. Perspicuity is essential for authority.  Continue reading