Friday, September 1, 2017

Is inerrancy compatible with inspired fiction?

I am making good progress on the hermeneutics textbook which I am writing—Issues in Interpretation. I have four more chapters to finish. They are:

  • How to Obtain Objectivity in Interpretation
  • Covenant Theology vs. Dispensational Theology
  • Progressive Dispensationalism
  • The New Apostolic Reformation

A friend of mine recently wrote an excellent paper on Replacement Theology. That was one of the chapters that I wanted to include in this textbook. His paper also covered two other topics that I wanted in the book. So, he agreed to write three chapters for me.

I really believe that the subject of Bible interpretation is an extremely important topic facing the church today. Even our conservative seminaries and Bible colleges are teaching some pretty strange things about Bible interpretation.

Craig Blomberg of Denver Seminary wrote a book titled Can We Still Believe the Bible? His conclusion is that we can still believe the Bible, if we learn to distinguish between inspired fiction and inspired history. What is inspired fiction? According to a number of seminary professors the authors of the Bible simply made up stories such as Jonah and the Great Fish in order to illustrate certain theological points they were trying to make.

In his commentary on Matthew, seminary professor Robert Gundry wrote, “Don’t assume that narratives in the Bible are actual history!” In other words, Bible narratives include inspired fiction.

Michael Licona, Professor of Theology at Houston Baptist University, suggests that the account of Old Testament saints being raised from the dead at Jesus’ crucifixion should not be understood as historical fact—it was simply inspired fiction.

Now you would fully expect to find such teaching at liberal seminaries. But these are conservative schools. And these men all claim to believe in the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible. Let’s not forget that what is being taught in our seminaries today is what will be preached in our churches tomorrow. We really need more people addressing these issues. And on a personal note, I really do appreciate your prayers for this writing project.

In Christ,

Bob

* * *

God Uses the Weak

For when I am weak, then am I strong.
(2 Cor 12:10b)

“God uses men who are weak and feeble enough to lean on him.”
-Hudson Taylor, missionary to China

 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Fulfill Does Not Always Mean Fulfill

Last month I mentioned a textbook I am writing titled Hermeneutics 2—Issues in Interpretation. I am about halfway finished with that project. I have a couple of fellows here who have been reading each chapter and offering their insights. That has been a huge blessing and has helped to expedite the process.

Each chapter ends with a homework assignment. Trying to develop meaningful assignments has been one of the bigger challenges for me. Writing the actual content is a piece of cake compared to developing good assignments for each chapter. That is where I often find myself facing "writer's block."

The chapters that I am currently working on have been both a challenge and a learning opportunity for me. They have to do with a sticky issue regarding how New Testament authors interpreted passages of scripture from the Old Testament.

Dr. Roy Zuck, in his book Basic Bible Interpretation, stated: "The use of the Old Testament in the New Testament is one of the most difficult aspects of Bible interpretation."

I could not agree more!

Here's is the problem that we face. Throughout the New Testament we often see the use of a phrase which seems to indicate a "fulfillment" of prophecy. For example, Matthew wrote, "This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, 'Out of Egypt I called My Son'" (Mt. 2:15). By reading the English text you would assume that this is a fulfillment of prophecy. But if you look at the context in the book of Hosea, you will discover that the original statement in the Old Testament has nothing to do with a prophetic utterance. Hosea was simply stating a historical fact. The eleventh chapter of Hosea records how God delivered the nation of Israel from bondage by taking them out of Egypt. Hosea was actually alluding to the book of Exodus when God commissioned Moses to confront Pharaoh.

And the LORD said to Moses, "When you go back to Egypt, see that you do all those wonders before Pharaoh which I have put in your hand. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. Then you shall say to Pharaoh, 'Thus says the LORD: "Israel is My son, My firstborn. So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me. But if you refuse to let him go, indeed I will kill your son, your firstborn."'" (Ex. 4:21-23)

As we examine the Old Testament passages, we see that Hosea was not predicting that Joseph and Mary would take baby Jesus to Egypt. Yet as we read our English Bibles, it appears that Matthew was saying that Hosea prophesied that Jesus' parents would take Him to Egypt.

Some Bible teachers claim that New Testament authors, such as Matthew, changed the meaning of Old Testament texts. If this is true, then it brings into question the hermeneutical principle of literal, historical-grammatical interpretation.

Personally, I think that there is a better way of resolving this dilemma.

One of the problems in translating words from one language into another language is that usually there are no exact equivalents of terms between two languages. A word in any particular language has a range of meaning. When you look up a word in a Greek-English lexicon, you will typically find a number of possibilities. This is true for the Greek word that is translated fulfill in our English Bibles. The Greek word πληρόω means to fill, complete or fulfill. It is used 90 times in the New Testament. In 62 occurrences, it has nothing to do with prophecy. For example, it can mean to fill a net with fish or to fill a house with a fragrant odor. In 28 occurrences, it seems to be related to prophecy. But in a number of those occurrences the Old Testament passage is not a prophetic prediction.

So rather than thinking of πληρόω as being an actual fulfillment of a prophecy, in some cases it is better to think of it as being the completion of an analogy. For instance, Matthew drew parallels or comparisons between events that he was writing about and historical events in the Old Testament. As he described New Testament events, he used the Old Testament to "fill in" or "complete" (πληρόω) the scene that he was depicting. I think that this is a much better explanation of a New Testament author quoting an Old Testament passage which was actually as statement of fact rather than a prediction of a future event. Of course, there are a number of actual Old Testament prophecies predicting future events. In those cases, the Greek word πληρόω really does mean the fulfillment of a prophecy.

Dr. Andy Woods has a great article on this topic:

http://www.spiritandtruth.org/teaching/documents/articles/11/11.pdf?x=x

This has been a fun project for me and a good learning opportunity. I sure need wisdom and creativity for this textbook—especially when I face writer's block.

In Christ,

Bob

* * *

Where Are You Looking?

If you want to be distressed,
look within.

If you want to be defeated,
look back.

If you want to be dismayed,
look ahead.

If you want to be discouraged,
look around.

If you want to be delivered,
look to Christ.

If you want to be delighted,
LOOK UP!

 

 

Monday, July 3, 2017

Keeping Busy!

When the queen of Sheba visited Israel, she said to Solomon, “It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom. However I did not believe the words until I came and saw with my own eyes; and indeed the half was not told me.”

I kind of feel that way about retirement. People warned me that their life became more hectic AFTER they retired. But indeed the half was not told me! Wow, have I been busy!

Here’s some things I have been doing in my “spare” time:

  • Helping folks with their computers, tablets, cell phones, MP3 players, printers, email, internet connections, web browsers, etc.
  • Learning just enough about the Linux operating system to be dangerous! Well, actually my purpose is to help people with their Linux problems.
  • Helping people digitize music from cassette / LP records.
  • Helping with a videography project for someone in Australia.
  • Running the NTM Homes sound board for chapel.
  • Speaking at chapel and church.

And that is just the tip of the iceberg. The main project I am working on is writing a textbook for Bold Grace Ministries. The book is titled Hermeneutics 2—Issues in Interpretation. Here are some of the proposed chapters:

  • How to Obtain Objectivity in Interpretation
  • The Hermeneutics of Augustine—Mr. Allegory
  • The Dangers of Allegorical Interpretation
  • Paul’s Use of Allegory in Galatians
  • Covenant Theology vs. Dispensational Theology
  • The Importance of Old Testament Priority in Interpretation
  • Matthew’s Use of Hosea 11:1
  • Complementary Hermeneutics & Progressive Dispensationalism
  • When Did the Church Begin?
  • The Church as a Mystery
  • Replacement Theology
  • A New Perspective on Paul
  • The Hyper-Grace Controversy
  • The Hermeneutics of the Word of Faith Movement

I am familiar with most of these topics. However, some have required a fair bit of research on my part to get up to speed. I feel like I have spent most of my time doing research and very little time actually writing. I must admit that I am somewhat obsessive-compulsive when it comes to writing. I almost feel like I need to know everything there is to know about a topic, before I feel confident enough to write intelligibly on the subject matter. The deadline for the book is July of next year. But with all these other “odd jobs” taking time, I am somewhat nervous that I might not be budgeting my time appropriately. So I keep telling myself, “Less research and more writing!!!”

And if that is not enough, I will be flying back to the Missionary Training Center for 2 months to help with the course there.

I do appreciate your prayers on my behalf. I especially need to be wise in the area of time management, and need wisdom as I put my thoughts into writing.

Bob

* * *

Let Freedom Ring

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

—The US Constitution

“The framers of our Constitution meant we were to have freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.”

—Billy Graham

“Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged”

—Ronald Reagan

“I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”

—James Madison

 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

A Matter of Political Correctness?

One of the things that really bugs me is today’s “political correctness” run amok! That’s what makes the “Politically Incorrect Guide to …” series so popular among those of us who are fed up with all the “PC” garbage being promoted today.

As you can see, I am not a huge fan of political correctness. Yet, as a testimony to the good news of Jesus Christ, I do not think that it is a good idea to purposefully offend those we would like to win to Christ.  As the old saying goes, “You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.” The apostle Paul put it this way, “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some (1 Cor. 9:23).”

One of the reasons for the NTM name change to Ethnos360 has to do with what Paul wrote. Like it or not, there are issues relating to the words tribes and mission as they’re understood in today’s world.

When I was growing up, we used to play “cowboys and Indians.” Today the term Indian is considered by many in Canada to be derogatory. The preferred term there is First Nations. It would be easy to just dismiss the term First Nations as simply being another example of “political correctness” run amok. However, if I wanted to reach these people with the gospel of Jesus Christ, it would not be a good idea to purposefully offend them by using the term Indian. As you travel throughout the world, you find that the term tribe or tribal is also considered offensive.

The name change to Ethnos360, is not simply a matter of political correctness. In choosing this name, the leadership of New Tribes Mission did not just cave in to the “PC crowd” and their warped concept of “tolerance.” And don’t get me going on the new definition of “tolerance” by today’s “PC pundits” or this short letter will turn into a massive book!

On a personal note, I continue to help folks down here with their computer problems which vary greatly. Mabel is 95 years old with macular degeneration. She needs to have the fonts on her computer large enough to be able to read because of her eye sight. That has been a challenge for me since she is using the Linux operating system with which I am totally unfamiliar.

Please pray for wisdom as I encounter various computer problems that I have never run into before. And pray for patience as I get easily frustrated when I cannot find a solution.

Bob

* * *

The Fruit of Legalism

Not a single cluster of living fruit ever was, or ever will be, culled from the tree of legality. Law can only produce ‘dead works,’ from which we need to have conscience purged just as much as from ‘wicked works.’ – C.H. Mackintosh

 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

A rose by any other name...

Have you heard about the name change for New Tribes Mission? It was officially announced last night that the new name will be Ethnos360.

The word “ethnos” comes from the New Testament Greek word meaning a tribe, nation, or people group. In Matthew 28:19 Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations (ethnos), baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”

Today New Tribes Mission works with many unreached people groups around the world which might not necessarily fit the definition of a “tribal group.” In some parts of the world the term “tribe” is considered demeaning. These are just a few factors NTM USA discussed as they considered a name change for the mission.

Change is often fraught with difficulties—especially when considering heritage and tradition. No doubt there will be bumps in the road during this time of transition.

So how do I feel about this name change? A line from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet comes to mind: “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet!” Juliet argues that it does not matter that Romeo is from the house of Montague and bears that despised name. She implies that the names of things do not affect what they really are.

The leadership of NTM USA desires that the name ETHNOS360 will reflect the goal of reaching many more unreached people groups around the world even if they are not what might typically be considered “tribal.”

We will be hearing more about this name change down the road. At this point I am not quite sure what all this will entail. Will I be getting a new email address using “@ethnos360.org?” Possibly. I will keep you posted regarding changes as I become aware of them.

For more information about the name change, check out:

https://ethnos360.org/about

I would appreciate your prayers for transitions for both myself to life in Florida and for NTM as we implement this change of names.

Bob

* * *

Reformation Bondage

While freeing believers from the bondage of Rome, the Protestant Reformation brought them back, in large measure, under the bondage of Sinai. The Reformation took away one set of bindings, but bound the believers with another — and this has atrophied the spiritual life of multitudes. -Donald Grey Barnhouse

 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Pickin’ -n- grinnin’ in Florida

The first time I met Bob Meisel was about 10 years ago at our Missionary Training Center in Missouri. We hit it off immediately. We got together nearly every day to play music. He would play either my guitar, mandolin or banjo. Bob can play just about anything with strings.

Fast forward to the Fall of 2016. I received an email from NTM Homes asking me what kind of renovations I would like for my apartment in Florida. The email said that I would be living at 608 Mexico Ct. I wondered who might be living on my block and if I would know any of my neighbors. Well you could have knocked me over with a feather when I found out that Bob and Marilyn Meisel would share the same duplex where I was to live. I thought to myself, "Woohoo, music jams at my place every night!" Well it has not been quite every night, but we do play together several times a week. When I moved to Florida, I had not been playing my instruments very much and as a result I had no calluses whatsoever on the fingertips of my left hand. Three months later and my calluses are about as thick as they have ever been in my entire life.

I love music and there are many venues here in Central Florida to do a little pickin' -n- grinnin'. Every Saturday afternoon a number of us get together here to practice some gospel songs. Then we play those songs Tuesday morning before the NTM Homes chapel begins.

About 10 minutes down the road is the Osteen Diner. They host an acoustic music jam every Tuesday night. I have been there a few times and joined in with their jam.

That's where I met Joe and Katie Waller who play in the Jackson Creek String Band. They began as a pure bluegrass band but have since morphed into more of a folk music band.

I went to a jam at their house one evening and asked, "Just who is the Jackson Creek String Band?" Well it turned out that nearly everyone in the room was part of the band except for me and one other fellow. Joe used to work for the Forestry Service in Southern Oregon. The band is actually named after Jackson Creek Oregon.

Friday night I went to an "old time" music jam about 2 miles from my apartment. They play pre-bluegrass fiddle tunes from the Appalachian Mountains. But they did allow me to do one bluegrass song — Long Journey Home made popular by the Stanley Brothers. The jam is hosted at the home of Chuck and Linda Bose. They are part of the Celery City String Band.

It is easy for me to get lost on those fiddle tunes!

Are we on Part A or Part B? Okay, it is definitely Part A, but are we on the first time through Part A or the second time through Part A? When is this song gonna end cuz I really need to itch my nose?!

I know a few fiddle tunes, but most of the ones we played on Friday were new to me. We went around the circle with each person requesting a song in turn. On my first turn I picked an old standard — Angeline the Baker. That is a fun song to play and it does not have many chord changes so it is pretty easy. On my second turn I picked a song that was not on the Celery City String Band favorites list. It's a song that I have been trying to learn on the mandolin for a number of years, but there is no way I can play it up to normal speed. When they asked me what song I wanted, I heard a collective groan when I said Arkansas Traveler. The chords on that song are easy and since I did not have my mandolin with me, I only had to worry about the chord changes playing rhythm guitar. The thing that makes Arkansas Traveler a real challenge is all those sixteenth notes for those who are picking the lead melody. Well, we played it. But I'm not so sure that I will ever be invited back to their jam again! J

They have a break time with snacks at the jam. During the break I struck up a conversation with a fellow there. I told him about what I did at our Missionary Training Center as well as what NTM does around the world. He seemed genuinely interested and asked a lot of intelligent questions.

Well I feel like I am beginning to find my way around Sanford Florida and am experiencing some of the local culture around here. Although I still have not tried boiled peanuts or grilled alligator. I did see a small alligator in the lake behind my apartment a few weeks ago. I wondered how he might taste if I cooked him in my smoker for a few hours.

Prayers for me as I continue to adjust to a new place and new ministry here in Florida would be much appreciated.

Bob

* * *

Human history is not in the grip of fate, but in the hands of Him who was pierced for us on Calvary. – W. Graham Scroggie

 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Out of my comfort zone!

If I had to describe this last month, I would use the phrase “out of my comfort zone.” I have been helping with various computer needs around NTM Homes. Some things I know how to do well. For instance, I have helped several people with the eSword Bible program. But other things I have been asked to do are way out of my league!

I know absolutely nothing about Apple computer devices. But my neighbor was having problems get email on her iPad. Once I figured out how to get into the iPad settings and how to reboot the device, the fix was fairly easy and she was once again able to get her email.

One day an IT guy here handed me a wireless router and with limited instructions told me to program it. I spent an hour or so trying to figure out his instructions to no avail. Then I went online and found a Youtube video which explained what I needed to do. After that, the router was pretty easy to program.

About a week ago, an old friend living here gave me a call saying that he was having problems with his computer. When he tried to start Windows 7, he got an error message saying “user profile cannot be loaded.” After a bit of research I found out that his user profile had somehow become corrupted. There are several ways to fix this problem. By far the easiest fix involves editing the registry of Windows. Unfortunately, editing the registry is probably the most dangerous of the alternatives. If you mess up the registry, you create all kinds of problems for yourself. I hate editing the registry on my own computers, let alone someone else’s computer. But I followed the instructions which I found online and in nothing flat the problem was fixed.

Before moving to Florida, I bought a new computer. A few weeks ago it died and there was absolutely nothing I could do to get it to power up. Fortunately, it was still under warranty so I sent it in to be repaired. Currently I am using an old back up computer to write this newsletter. A true IT wizard would probably say, “he was able to fix the computers of others, but his own he could not fix!” Well, I am only an IT wannabe. But I am learning a lot. I would sure appreciate your prayers for wisdom as I step out of my comfort zone!

Bob

* * *

The Father’s Purposes of Love

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Rom 8:28)

“Not a hair of the child of God can fall without God’s permission. Satan is but the unintentional instrument to accomplish God’s will; he can do no more than he is allowed to do. If trials come as a host against us, the Almighty is between us and them. They will but work out for us our Father’s own purposes of love” -Miles Stanford