The Sufficiency of Scripture: Is God’s Word Enough? Part 2

Hoky BibleYesterday I began a series of articles dealing with the sufficiency of Scripture.  I began by giving a definition and description of sufficiency.  By way of introduction I will briefly review.

Sufficiency means that something is enough to meet the needs of a situation or a proposed end.  It refers to something being what is necessary or desirable for a specified need.  Simply put, if something is sufficient it is just what the doctor ordered.  When it comes to Scripture, God’s Holy Word, it means that the Bible is totally adequate, and competent to meet the needs of every individual Christian in every circumstance of life (see 2 Peter 1:2-3).  Nothing else is needed to guide us in our everyday living.

Most of us would agree that the greater portion of the Church has abandoned this long-held belief in the sufficiency of Scripture.  What some of us may not know is the history of how we have arrived at this place in the life of the Church.  What follows is my attempt to trace the history of biblical interpretation and misinterpretation of Scripture that enabled and emboldened the Church to conclude that God’s word alone is not a sufficient guide for an individual Christian’s life.  I would add to the previous statement that I am by no means alone in my understanding of the history that follows.

Historical Perspective: The Battle for Authority and Sufficiency

Origen and Allegorical Interpretation –

As Philip Schaff has stated, “The question of the source and rule of Christian knowledge lies at the foundation of all theology.” Without a solid foundation all theology must rest on shifting “sand…and great (shall be) its fall” (Matt. 7:26-27). Not withstanding the original attack upon the authority and sufficiency of Scripture in the Garden, the shift from the authority and sufficiency within the Christian Church can be seen with the first formal theory of interpretation, that of Origen (A.D.185-254). His hermeneutic system was fashioned after that of Philo, a Jewish Platonist who adopted the allegorical method in approaching the Hebrew Scriptures. Likewise, Origin applied the allegorical method in his exegesis of Scripture.  Although born out of the best of intentions the problem with Origen’s s hermeneutic method is that it abandoned a normal interpretation for a fanciful, imaginative interpretation that placed the interpreter in the place of authority instead of Scripture itself being the authority. Instead of Scripture having a static meaning (although alive and active as Hebrews 4:12 states) and simply having a basic, intended meaning that anyone could understand, “(he) considered the Bible a living organism (not as Hebrews states), consisting of three elements which answer to the body, soul, and spirit of man, after Platonic psychology.” The outcome was that Origen, like Plato, would allegorize, or spiritualize vast portions of Scripture completely undermining, or destroying the plain, historical sense in which it was intended. In so doing the authority of the word of God was made to be subservient to the interpreter, thereby making it insufficient in itself to direct men into proper living.

Augustine and Dualism –

Following Origen’s lead, Augustine (A.D. 354-430), once again desiring to do good, duplicated the allegorical method, but with a twist. His system is known as dualism, and the modification that he introduced was seen in his practice of limiting allegorical interpretations to prophetic passages, while taking other passages in their normal, literal sense. This dualistic method of allegorical interpretation once again pushed the subtle shift from the sufficiency of Scripture as it tore at the foundation of the authority of Scripture. Paul Tan described the overwhelming acceptance of Augustine’s practice; “Unfortunately for the church, Augustinian dualism was accepted without much debate into the Roman Catholic church, and later also by the Protestant reformers.”  It is that last fact concerning the Protestant reformers that has led to many of the problems in the modern Church.

Arguably, one of the negative outcomes of Augustine’s dualism is the birth of Amillennialism. This view of the millennium was absorbed whole by the Roman Catholic Church and their theology. This had a devastating impact upon the Roman Catholic hermeneutic method, and, therefore, to the authority and, in turn, the sufficiency of Scripture.

Catholic Allegorism –

Directly effected by Augustine’s form of allegorical interpretation is the Catholic system of hermeneutics. The Catholic system is very closely related to Augustine’s dualism, and completely swallowed up the Amillennialist idea of prophetic Scriptures.

Bernard Ramm asserts that “[i]t would be over-simplification to assert that the only method of exegesis during the Middle Ages was the allegorical method. It would not be, however, be an exaggeration to assert that the preponderance of exegetical work was allegorical.” The Romanists divided Scripture into two categories; 1.) Literal and 2.) Spiritual, or mystical. Yet, as damaging as this aspect of their system was, it was merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

The real greater damage is found in another of Ramm’s observations;

The Catholic interpreter obediently accepts whatever the Catholic Church has specifically said about matters of Biblical Introduction, and authorship of the books of the Bible…The Catholic interpreter accepts all verse which the Church has officially interpreted in the sense in which they have been interpreted.”

Here we have the logical outcome of the destruction of the authority, and therefore the sufficiency of Scripture by the introduction of the allegorical method of interpretation. When the normal sense of Scripture is not the true or deepest meaning of Scripture, then interpretation must be left up to those who have been granted the divine right of interpretation, i.e., the Church. In turn, that transition of the divine right of interpretation from the individual Christian to the Church placed the individual Christian under the authority of the Church, and since the method of interpretation placed the interpreting body in control of what Scripture means the Church became the authority, Scripture lost both its authority and sufficiency, and direction for all areas of life fell under the authority of the church; the Roman Catholic Church held the sufficiency. The Bible was taken out of the hands of the average man on the street and given only to the church to dictate to the individual what was held within its pages.

The Catholic Church’s denial of sola Scriptura was solidified at the Council of Trent in 1545. Although affirming the Bible as inspired revelation from God, as has already been established, the Church became the only competent interpreter of Scripture.

Two major errors occurred. Upon the church’s establishment of itself as the only sound interpreter of Scripture, membership in the Catholic Church became necessary for salvation. Therefore, the church and not Scripture, is sufficient for salvation.

Secondly, they established that the guidance of the Roman Catholic Church is absolutely necessary for correct understanding of the Bible. Popes and bishops are the only competent interpreters of the Scriptures; therefore, the individual cannot grow, serve or obey without the guidance of the Catholic Church. Scripture alone is not sufficient for salvation or daily living.

With the Bible taken from those who were not in authority in the church the natural progression was to drift into deep superstition and mysticism. Although mysticism came along with the allegorical interpretation, its filtering into public life in the form of superstitions and pagan practices was caused by the individual’s inability to read, let alone understand the words of Scripture, as well as by example of their “spiritual” leaders.  The results were horrific in the life of the Church in general, and devastating to individuals overall.  None had assurance of salvation.  Many lived in fear of evil spirits, or even in fear of their own religious leaders.  The Roman Church became oppressive and overbearing, and millions suffered greatly.

Praise God that the history of the Church and biblical interpretation did not end there.

To be continued.

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The Words of the Gospel of Eternal Life | 1024project.com

The Words of the Gospel of Eternal Life | 1024project.com.

I would like to introduce you to the 1024project.com if you have not yet discovered it on your own.  I am one of the founding members and would like to invite you to sample some of the sites work.  The above article is by one of the other founding members, Dr. Mike Stallard.  I hope you enjoy reading it.

Below is a brief description of the 1024project:

1024projectlogo

What is the 1024 Project?

The 1024 Project is a collaboration of Christian leaders, based on Hebrews 10:24 – “and let us consider ways to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.” One way we can accomplish this mandate is by working together to provide encouraging and edifying resources on issues that arise in the lives of individual believers and in corporate church life. The 1024 Project is a clearinghouse of teaching, resources and information from likeminded leaders of Biblical churches, who are committed to Two Key Distinctives:

First, the Bible (the Hebrew Bible and Greek New Testament) is the inspired, inerrant (in the original manuscripts), revealed word of God, and is authoritative and sufficient for the equipping of saints for every good work.

Second, the Bible provides the model for its own interpretation, and should be understood in its natural (literal grammatical-historical) sense, considering context and the progress of revelation. The 1024 Project and its members are committed to the consistent application of the literal grammatical-historical method for understanding the entire Bible.

These Two Key Distinctives have some obvious implications. One implication worth noting here is that the 1024 Project means by “considering context and the progress of revelation” that the earlier Biblical texts provide grounding and definition for later Biblical texts, and not the other way around (the OT is not to be reinterpreted by the NT, rather the NT is to be understood in light of the OT). Consequently, hermeneutic models that advocate NT primacy, like the canonical or complementary approaches, do not consider context and progress of revelation in keeping with the literal grammatical-historical hermeneutic.

Truth is Priceless

As a supporter of Israel in accordance with God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12, I offer some truths that have been provided in the following blog from Christian Friends of Israeli Communities concerning things that you will not hear in the mainstream news or in most churches in the United States, sadly.  Please read this.

Truth is Priceless.

Hidden Facts of Our Founding Fathers

In March of 2012 I wrote an article (March « 2012 « They Call Me Pastor) dealing with the abrasive tone that some in the discernment branch of the Christian community have adopted in the last several years.  In this article I specifically addressed Brannon Howse and Chris Pinto as they attacked fellow Christian and evangelist Kirk Cameron.  At the heart of that article was the desire to direct the readers’ attention to an article written by John Eidsmoe, a man who is both an expert in the Law and the founding of our nation, and who has the mind of a theologian.

That post generated more debate than any that I had done before or have done since.  Many of the comments were quite abrasive themselves and were directed at my gall for having published anything that was deemed as negative towards Brannon Howse.  Many also sought to defend Mr. Pinto’s view of our history, a view that I am more convinced now than ever before to be not only erroneous, but at the very least based on ignorance and at the worst an outright and purposeful deception.

Amidst the negative and rude comments were also those who offered support, agreement, and even direction for further study.  One of those who offered support and direction was a man by the name of Bill Fortenberry (website here).  Bill is an interesting fellow with an ability to research like none I’ve ever personally witnessed apart from that of John Eidsmoe.  Mr. Fortenberry was in the process of dealing head on with Mr. Pinto’s false view of our founding by writing on his personal website concerning the misleading nature of Mr. Pinto’s documentary, “Hidden Faith of Founding Fathers.”  From his interactions with Mr. Pinto and his research into the matter, Mr. Fortenberry has produced a very well researched and fully documented little book (158 pages not including the footnotes and links to quotes and original source material) entitled Hidden Facts of the Founding Era.  I have recently completed reading his work and would like to recommend that anyone wishing to know the truth about the matter – READ THIS BOOK.  Allow me to explain.

Mr. Fortenberry has taken the falsehoods found in Mr. Pinto’s work and systematically destroyed them with the facts.  He examines each section of the film, beginning with the accusations against Jefferson, Adams, Franklin and Washington, compared what each man stated in his own words with the comments from Mr. Pinto, and refuted wholly and completely the half-truths, misstatements of fact, and (seemingly) bold-faced lies that are presented as truth in the documentary.  After reading this book anyone still wishing to hold out as truth the message of Mr. Pinto’s film will find him/herself on the same level of the congresswomen who recently complained to a constituent that he was confusing her with facts.  It is not my intention to go into a detailed account of the contents of Mr. Fortenberry’s book because I want you to buy it from him and read it yourself.  It can be found here in both electronic and hardcopy formats.  In fact, if you are an Amazon Prime member, the book is free to you on Amazon.  The hardcopy book is very inexpensive – $7.50 – while the e-book is only $2.99.

The genius of Mr. Fortenberry’s work is seen most clearly in the footnotes.  Most if not all of them lead to websites where source documents, a.k.a, original writings containing the actual quotes from the founding era, can be examined by the readers themselves.  This practice is something that Mr. Pinto admittedly did not use consistently throughout his research.  That is not to say he didn’t search original source documents at all, whether he did or didn’t I do not know.  However, he did use information from sources that were at best second-hand, some even being written one hundred years after the founding era, and at worst were wrong in their statements.  When I was in college my professors taught me not to do that.  “Original source material; no second-hand quotes” they would say time and time again.  As the country folk where I grew up would say, “Get it from the horse’s mouth.”  Mr. Pinto didn’t practice that consistently and Mr. Fortenberry did.

There is another practice that Mr. Fortenberry utilized more consistently than Mr. Pinto in his research, which was to examine the writings of those closest to the men and occurrences about which the discussion centered.  By this I mean closest in relationship and closest in time.  It is safer to take as fact the accounts from those who were more intimate with the person or event than those who would come later and write from a historical perspective that may or may not be accurate.  Mr. Fortenberry focused on those who were most knowledgeable of the actual people and events based on either the proximity in time or intimacy with those who would have been.  Mr. Pinto utilizes more those who came later and were not as intimately associated with either the facts or the persons about whom he testified.  Mr. Pinto’s poor research and ignorance of the facts are compounded by the fact that he also uses sources that are questionable at best – see Mr. Fortenberry’s book for this argument.

Finally, at the conclusion of his book Mr. Fortenberry has done us a great service.  He has taken the time to examine many of the Articles of the Constitution and demonstrated from Scripture where the Founders developed their ideas concerning a self-governing, free society.  For those who believe that our freedoms and laws were developed from enlightenment thought I would suggest you curb your enthusiasm for such an idea and examine Mr. Fortenberry’s book.

All-in-all I must highly recommend Mr. Fortenberry’s book to all who would like to take a closer look at the question of whether many of our Founding Fathers were Christian, and if we were founded on Christian principles.  His extensive research and source documentation is a tribute to a man who loves the truth, the Author of Truth, and the country that He providentially brought into existence.  His work far outshines the product delivered by Mr. Pinto.

Hidden-Facts-Cover-2-smallI pray this helps.

How An Evangelical Christian Can Support a Mormon for President | Bible Prophecy Blog

My friend, Dr. Andy Woods, recently wrote an article outlining how it is possible for a Christian to vote for a Mormon as president. This is a major issue for all who take orthodox Christianity and Cults as serious matters. There are those in the church that I pastor who struggle with this question.

There is no doubt in my mind, nor should there be a doubt in any informed Christian’s mind whether or not Mormonism is a cult, a false religion that is leading millions away from the true Jesus. However, we are not electing a pastor or religious teacher. Does that make a difference? It is an extremely difficult question that does not have an easy answer.

What does Scripture say if anything? That is our final authority. God’s word must inform our decisions if we are going to be mature Christians who honor Him with those decisions and at the same time do what is best for our nation’s and children’s future. His word gives us principles to follow that will help us make a good decision as we enter the voting booth this November. The best way to protect freedom in this country is to obey the word of God.

Because of the complexities of this question and the monumental nature of the upcoming election I have decided to offer this link to Dr. Woods’ article, which was posted on the website Bible Prophecy Blog.com. Please take some time to read it, especially if you are struggling with voting for a Mormon.

How An Evangelical Christian Can Support a Mormon for President | Bible Prophecy Blog.

The Object of Our Trust

Well, SCOTUS, or should I say Chief Justice Roberts handed down the so-called Obamacare decision today.  Despite what the court has decided, the truth remains as stated by the four dissenting justices that there is nothing constitutional about the bill.  It is a travesty of justice and has put the final stake into the heart of the Constitution.

I believe that most of us have really missed the point, that being that this argument was never about health care for the few or for the many.  This argument has always been and will continue to be about freedom and liberty.  Freedom and liberty have been stripped under the guise of caring for people without healthcare.  Yet anyone who has the ability  and manages to take two seconds to think this through will come to the conclusion that not only will those with the most need not have access to the best healthcare.  Out of all of the reasons why this is true naming one will suffice.  We already have the best healthcare in the world, but very soon that healthcare will become so expensive that rationing will of necessity take place.  One need only look to England and every other socialized-medicine nation.  Beyond that, freedom will be stripped because now the government can regulate EVERYTHING you do; from what you eat to how many times a week you must work out to how much you are allowed to weigh.

Now to the point of this blog: “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God” (Prov. 20:7, NASB).  How many of you, like I, placed his/her trust in the Supreme Court’s ability and faithfulness to uphold the rule of the Constitution.  Well, WAKE UP CALL!  That’s what I heard.  God is in control.  We may have to go through some very hard times in the very near future, but the Lord has promised that He would supply all of our needs “according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).  He has promised that because of Christ’s sacrifice and current priestly ministry, we are able to “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).

As Christians we have no need to trust in chariots (insert government) or horses (SCOTUS), but we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God (Psalm 20:7).

God bless and keep your minds set on things above where your life is hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:1-4).

I pray this helps.

A Repudiation of Brannon Howse and Chris Pinto

English: English: Actor Kirk Cameron, at Calva...

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At one time I was a fan of Brannon Howse’s Worldview ministry.  Years ago I attended one of his Worldview Weekend events where I first met David Noebel and David Barton and became admirers of their ministries.  Since then Howse has become unbearable in his tone when speaking out against, well, anything.  People involved in “discernment ministries” such as Howse’s would do well to learn how to present their positions without sounding like pompous jerks who do nothing but condemn everybody for everything.  For a great lesson in how to do that I would recommend learning from someone like Gary Gilley, pastor of Southern View Chapel in Springfield, IL.

Lately Howse has joined forces with a man named Chris Pinto revealing a complete 180 degree turn from his past association with David Barton and his research of the Founding Fathers of the United States.  Yes I agree that David Barton has been led astray due to his relationship with Glen Beck – he believes Glen Beck is a Christian despite of his Mormon beliefs – but his view of the founding fathers are more in line with what they believed, said, and taught than that of Chris Pinto and his conspiratorial view of them.  Thus, Howse recently questioned Kirk Cameron‘s judgment for going on the Glen Beck show to promote his upcoming movie, “Monumental,” which deals with the beliefs of the Founding Fathers.  If Cameron were going on Beck’s show for a reason other than promoting his movie, perhaps there would be cause for questioning Cameron’s reasoning.  However, that is not the case.  He was promoting a movie, that’s it.

Anyway, Howse is now promoting Chris Pinto and his belief that none, or few of our Founding Fathers were Christians and in fact that United States was founded by the Freemason’s who viewed it as a fulfillment of their occult belief that it would be the new Atlantis (yes, that Atlantis; the one that disapeared thousand so years ago) and usher in the age of whatever (insert diabolical laugh and eerie music here).  To say that I disagree with Pinto and Howse would be an understatement.  In fact, it makes me sick and I no longer view Howse as a legitimate voice to which discerning believers should listen.

Instead of spending the rest of the month researching and attempting to repudiate Howse and Pinto by myself I am turning to an expert with a capital E to do it for me.  John Eidsmoe is a scholar’s scholar who is both a theologian and constitutional, well, expert with a capital E.  I met him about a year ago when I was able to spend a weekend with him at a conference he was leading.  Not too long ago he wrote a blog that deals directly with Chris Pinto and a DVD that he has produced promoting his beliefs concerning the founding fathers.  Eidmoe’s blog is a must read and therefore it will be listed here as the conclusion of my blog.  Please read it – http://morallaw.org/blog/2012/01/hidden-faith-of-the-founding-fathers-who-were-they-hiding-it-from/

God bless.  I pray this will edify you.