Saturday, April 30, 2011

Really? The world will end on my birthday this year?

A very large percentage of Evangelical Christians are waiting for the last days. Gary Demar wrote a book entitled last days madness. His point as a preterist is that most, if not all of the prophecies in Revelation and the gospels, were fulfilled in the first century at the siege of Jerusalem, and the destruction of the temple. Still, the largest part of evangelical Christianity is awaiting the last days. There have been a number of popular movies and books about the concept of being left behind.
Harold Camping has prophesied that judgment day will be May 21, 2011. Hmmmn… I was born on May 21, and so according to Camping and his followers, my birthday party will be eclipsed by the judgment… kind of an invigorating possibility don’t you think?
Never mind the fact that this is by no means Camping’s first date setting fiasco. He wrote two books announcing that the judgment would be happening in September of 1994. That date came and went, and so it took several years to make the prediction again. I am quite confident that none of those who believe the last days are *now* (approaching) are in any way correct. In my view, the last days have come and gone. Certainly, that was Peter’s belief. He preached a sermon on the day of Pentecost that was/is recorded in Acts chapter two.
Peter says:
Acts 2:14-21  But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words.  (15)  For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.  (16But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:  (17)  "'And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;  (18)  even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.  (19)  And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;  (20)  the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.  (21)  And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.'
It is very obvious that Peter believed that the last days, and the fulfillment of this prophecy was in fact in the first century, in his lifetime, and not drawn out two thousand years later. Peter even goes so far as to change the wording of the Old Testament passage (Joel 2:28) from afterward to “the last days.” There is no possible way to extend this prophecy to a later date. Peter clearly puts it in his time, in his generation.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Blinded: The role presuppositions play in statements of faith.

Statements of faith, creeds and statements of belief are really presuppositions. Presuppositions in effect clouds and shades the view of what the message of a text is. There is no place where this is truer than with reading and interpreting the bible. Exegetics is the science of interpreting a text and hermeneutics is the body of presuppositions that are brought into the interpretation.. There are two terms that are applied to biblical interpretation. One is exegesis where we get the name for the science of exegetics and eisegesis which is an accusatory term used by those who want to devalue those who interpret text differently than themselves. In a perfect world exegesis would describe proper interpretation and eisegesis would describe biased interpretation but in reality this idea is a joke because of the presence of presuppositions in all of us.
The presuppositions reside in the doctrine or teaching that is passed on from generation to generation. This phenomenon is much older than Christianity. The Talmud is the written exegesis or eisegesis of the rabbis. It is the interpretation of the Law and the Prophets. I say exegesis or eisegesis because that call depends on which Rabbi you would listen to and which rabbi is evaluating the teaching. The rabbis at least allowed for dissenting views.  The purpose of statements of faith and creeds is to eliminate dissenting or opposing views.
I was invited to attend a church on Easter Sunday with a family member. One of their rituals was to express their beliefs in a memorized statement of beliefs. As I listened to the list of things that they believed I realized that there was much that they believed as a group that did not resonate with what I believe the bible teaches. Of course, I would find this to be the case with almost all evangelical statements of faith. The interesting thing is that there seems to be no room for debate or dissention.
I plan to do a series that looks at the various presuppositions that people bring into their biblical interpretation. I hope to be able to show that the general doctrine of Evangelical Christianity does not really square all that well with what Jesus and his followers presupposed.
We’ll begin with one passage:
John NKJV 5:39-40  You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.  (40)  But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.
Certainly, Jesus did not believe in sola scriptura. Jesus said that the scripture existed to point to him so that people could seek him out and find life. Eternal life is not found in a book and definitely not found in someone’s interpretation of a book.