Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Moving toward a holistic theology V; the scripture, revelation and mysticism – Where I differ from orthodoxy
This will be the final post for now on the doctrine of scripture, revelation and mysticism. I may revisit from time to time and will provide for categories on the blog posts at some point in the near future. I have stated several times on this blog that I believe that main stream evangelical orthodoxy is off the mark and in error. I believe that it is evident by the sheer numbers of denominations and the radical differences they have in doctrine. The main cause of this division and error is the interpretation of the scripture that the various fragments employ. In other words, it is their hermeneutic. It is the rules they use to interpret, and the presuppositions they bring to the text.
One of the main reasons for this error is the foundation of the Reformation. It is the extreme to which evangelical orthodoxy has taken sola-scriptura, scripture alone. The original Reformers limited sola-scriptura to salvation. In other words, they taught salvation was not in the Roman Church but rather in scripture alone, faith alone, grace alone, by Jesus Christ alone, to the praise of God’s glory alone. Most evangelicals have expanded it to mean that all faith and practice is by scripture alone. This is the practical result of evangelical orthodoxy’s view of scripture alone. On the other hand, I see it within the original parameters. Salvation is made known by scripture alone and so there is a redemptive limit to sola scriptura.
Faith and practice should be regulated by scripture and Spirit, with the stress on the Spirit. There can be consideration given to church tradition but that should not be the driver. The driver must be the Spirit. This is precisely why illumination is so very important. The scripture without illumination is nothing but dead letters.
The question comes to mind; how can we judge spiritual illumination? How do we know that our interpretation is illuminated by the Holy Spirit? The answer is simple in my view. First, it will be an interpretation that promotes the fruit of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, and (lastly) self-control. Secondly, it will completely embrace Jesus view of scripture (John 14:26.) In other words, since Jesus taught an exclusively redemptive purpose to scripture (John 5:39-40 – Luke 24:27, 43-45,) it becomes incumbent on the one following Jesus to use his scripture interpretation hermeneutic. This is such an important issue, and it is one of the main places that I split with evangelical-orthodoxy. I want to underscore this point… Jesus and the Spirit taught a solely redemptive hermeneutic and yet, you had the temple and Judaism competing with him. He was sympathetic to the Jews and the fact that they were the vehicle that brought him into the world. This is why I have stressed the transitional nature of the New Testament writings. They move from John the Baptist the forerunner, to Jesus the Prophet, Priest, and King, to Pentecost and the origin of the Jewish Church, to the inclusion of the Gentiles with Cornelius, to the letters to the Gentiles, to just before the destruction of the temple.
The Spirit will take all of this into consideration while illuminating the scripture. The Spirit also takes into consideration that there is nothing left but the new covenant today. The Old Covenant limped along side by side with the New Covenant until the destruction of the temple. When you consider that the destruction of the temple, and the dispersion of the Jews was the promised judgment prophesied in the Old Testament Prophets, this also must be taken into consideration when you are interpreting the scripture; keeping in mind that the New Covenant promises the following; "For I will forgive their sin and will no longer call to mind the wrong they have done."
This eliminates the strong emphasis that evangelical-orthodoxy puts on sin. Hebrews, (the Rosetta Stone for the New Covenant in my view) equates sin and unbelief in Hebrews chapter 3 & 4. The sin that the Holy Ghost convicts of is the sin of unbelief (John 16:8-9.) This scripture interpretation will allow the saint to rest in redemption and reconciliation.
Jesus, during his ministry, and later by his Spirit through Paul and others provided the impetus for this solely redemptive understanding of scripture. The Spirit will reinforce it with illumination. The problem that I have with evangelical-orthodoxy is that the current dogma and doctrine rings so strongly in the mind and ears of people that it is difficult for them to really hear the promptings of the Spirit. I think that is a shame because as they continue to focus on sin and legalism… they miss God.
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