I finished the course Hermeneutics & Bibliology from the Theology Program at Credo House, fulfilling part of my Hermeneutics Mega Course series. Here are my answers to the study questions from the course assignments along with 2 case studies. This will inevitably be a massive post.
You can read all of my course assignments for my Unschooled Master of Theology in Biblical Studies here.
Let’s get started….
Case Study 1
In this case study, I was originally directed to find someone else and interview them about the differences between Catholic dual-source authority and Evangelical single-source authority. But, I have little interest in interacting with someone else for that amount of time, nor do I really care much for another’s opinion on the matter. So, I’ve decided to apply this interview to myself. I will answer all the questions and discuss this topic as if someone else was interviewing me.
1. Where do you go for religious authority?
I would have to say, I actually ascribe to a dual-source view of spiritual authority. Granted, I would certainly discredit the supposed authority of the Catholic Church. But, I would likewise discredit the authority of the modern, evangelical church as well. My first authority would be Scripture. My second authority would be my own subjective spiritual experience. Which is odd, since it was a subjective spiritual experience that led me to accept the objective authority of Scripture. But, I don’t know if it can really be said that Scriptural authority is objective, since it’s not really Scripture we submit to, but a. The way we interpret scripture, and b. What we agree with scripture. Example: Scripture states we should not forsake the assembling together of believers. But, I have no interest in assembling with what is passed off as Christianity today in America. Not only am I instinctively, naturally, and emotionally predisposed to isolation, but most everything done in the name of Christianity has nothing to do with the “once and for all” delivered faith that the bible describes. So, then, is this the conclusion from objective Scripture or from my subjective interpretation? Or, rather, is my behavior the subjective and emotional response to the current state of the Church not specifically being addressed in the bible? Does the bible state we should yoke ourselves with unbelievers? What about with counterfeits who claim to believe but don’t? What if I am a heretic? Am I not sparing the flock of God by abstaining?
2.How much authority do you give your denomination or tradition?
Zero authority, as stated above. I rest on my metaphysical experience that changed my life in the past, and the supernatural consequence of that experience – the revealing of the truth and reality of God and the indwelling of an insatiable appetite for the Word of God. My faith is based primarily (even perhaps solely) on my interaction with the biblical text. More so, the relationship between I and its author, if indeed I am engaged in a relationship with him, and not utterly deluded (which is a real and present possibility). I am neither Catholic, nor Evangelical. I am, as seen by both camps, heretical. I affiliate more with the way of life of John the Baptist, as an outcast, as a solitary. But, I’m not certain we can be called to such a way of life or if it is the life in which I am simply drawn to out of nature and response to my environment. So, all authority rests in my own intuition. I do not trust the modern world, antiquity, or any other doctrine of men. In the end, I believe I might be quite mad.
3.Do you think a person should interpret the Bible on their own or do you think they should seek the guidance of others in authority?
I am convinced (have hope) that if we are truly “known beforehand,” and are indeed “predestined,” and thus “called,” and then “justified,” and will one day be “glorified,” – then we never interpret scripture “on our own.” We are taught by the Holy Spirit, for that which is learned from the bible is “spiritually discerned.” Authority is a confusing idea. Is there any authority other than the bible? Does it not say we should be “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ himself the chief cornerstone.” We also know anyone who is first in the Kingdom of God will be last. A leader will be a servant of all. So, there should be no people of authority, only servants of God who are too busy with the cares of others, who set aside their own good, to be trivializing and philosophizing over theological questions. “If anyone desires to follow after me, let him take up his cross daily, and come, follow me.” Now, does that mean my theology is exercised in a vacuum of one? Certainly no. I have all of antiquity. I have all of modernity. I have all volumes in my possession that pertain to the history and knowledge of men. I listen to and take counsel from all the learned men and women of the past and present. But, I do so (I am convinced) by the Spirit of God that dwells within me. As Peter put it, “if indeed [I] have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” If I am, instead, deluded, ill, and have no grace from God, then I am already condemned and nothing I say or do or learn will matter. It will all be consumed by fire and I will answer for everything I’ve ever said or did. Am I of ill-gotten gain? Do I, as Missler put it, defraud the body of Christ? I think not. For, in my solitude and isolation, I still pray. I still write. I still blog. I do many of the things the professional clergy do. I simply do not play the game of modernity, of religiosity, of extroversion. If I am in error on this, I will be held to account, just as the servant who went out and buried his talent and earned nothing for the Lord. “Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.” This is the authority from which I am, from which I operate, from which I await judgment. I pray for judgment to fall on this earth, to reap the whirlwind. I acknowledge no authority other than Christ and God, come what may.
What are the two views of authority? Argue both sides.
In the course they claim there are two views of authority: dual-source and single-source. Dual source proponents would argue both the bible and tradition have always been sources of authority within Christianity. Even further, they would claim Church tradition has been a source of authority for a longer time than Scripture, given that the bible was not fully codified until the end of the second century, and not completely compiled into 66 books (like we have today) until near the end of the fourth century. This means, dual source proponents would argue, tradition served as the main source of authority, not Scripture, for the first four hundred years of the church.
Single source proponents would counter by stating the church had primarily selected the books that should be included in the bible and had those copies available from the mid to late first century. The Old Testament was already codified before the birth of Christ. They would say that the church (specifically, the Catholic church) usurped that authority with tradition from the time Christianity became legal in the Roman state. In fact, it was adherence to tradition that plunged the church into ignorance during the Middle Ages. Single Source would claim the Reformation restored the once superior source of authority, the single and only source we can rely on – the Scripture.
Were the differences between the two sources of authority important enough for the split from Catholics by Protestants?
This is a difficult question. It’s obvious the Catholic Church did not want to repent from it’s abuses. But, in actuality, because of the Reformation, it did curb some of its more egregious abuses. But, I think, by this point, it was a little too late to make much of a difference. The divide had already been irrevocably been drawn.
But, the question remains. Who is correct? Catholics or Protestants? Both trace their histories back to the first century church. To the Church Fathers. But, I’ve seen Protestants invoke a church father in name only to defend a particular doctrine, only to discover later the church father in question was misquoted. They are all cited when it serves the purposes of the clergy, but the vast amounts of heretical doctrine written by the teachers in the second and third centuries is all but abandoned, shunned, and covered up. They evoke the Church Fathers most often in name only to support their own personal quasi-modern view.
So, are the Church Fathers correct and the reformers in error? I don’t know. Are Catholics saved? Protestants? I have no clue. I believe I have some kind of a grasp of Scripture, of what it says, of its promises made. There are certainly in both camps imposters who claim to be Christian yet are still dead in their sins. I wonder what the major distinctions are? I know with certainty (or, I am at least convinced) the Protestants have not cornered any kind of market on truth or right doctrine. Their rituals and programs and culture is replete with all sorts and kinds of heresy and pagan influence, to which they turn a blind eye in the name of so much mammon. The Catholics are no better with their insistence on works and worship of saints and Mary, etc. Yes, I would say it was necessary for the split due to the fundamental difference of the two camps. One is central authority (from the Pope) and the other is decentralized, or, at least, in part (congregational).
I am heretical, so it doesn’t really matter what I think. Both camps discount me out of hand. I am free to take from both, keep what is good, and discard the rest.
Case Study 2
In this case study, I was originally directed to find someone else and interview them about the inspiration of Scripture, preferably a non-believer. Since I have no desire to interact with another human for any length of time, I have chosen instead to complete this exercise as a thought experiment, talking to myself when I was a non-believer. Here are my questions and responses.
Do you believe the bible is inspired? Why or why not?
I am personally convinced of the supernatural inspiration of the biblical text. And, this was an all-at-once belief. Before my metaphysical experience, I discredited the bible, God, and Christianity (and Christians). I would like to say I saw them as hypocritical, but, in reality, I just saw them as lame. I didn’t really understand their theology, I didn’t know who Jesus was (and I didn’t care). I knew they had a God they called “father” and I had no interest in gaining yet another one of those. I do recall, I had a thirst for something else. My response to this life, even at a pretty young age was one of disgust and disdain. People were horrible. Adults were horrible and hypocritical. I felt oppressed, confused, misunderstood. I was full of rage and frustration and just wanted to escape the world. And, I found solace in Buddhism. At least it was asking the right questions.
But, when I encountered the biblical text at that moment in time (right place, right time, right working of God), something changed in me (or was changed in me), and I simply could no longer accept the teaching of Buddhism. I also could no longer deny the authority of the bible (even if I wanted to). In addition, my desire to escape, my yearning for something else besides this miserable excuse for a life on this planet and in this society, was replaced by an insatiable desire and thirst for the word of God. After that, especially after moving to Europe, I would spend hours hold up in my room, by myself, reading from the text. I was never convinced of the inspiration of Scripture, or of its supernatural, extra-terrestrial origin. I was given this belief. No. I was given the reality of its truth. I was indwelt with the knowledge by God that Scripture was true. And that has never left me. It is undeniable.
There is nothing rational, systematic or logical about my belief. There was no process or development of my belief in the biblical inspiration or in the existence of God. I think I always believed in God, but I did not know him, nor did I care to. Even at the time of my conversion (can I call it that?) I still had no desire to be a Christian or believe in God or read his word. It was a work of God independent of my own volition and my own participation. He interrupted me in the course of my life, intersected my lost thinking, my questions, and my desire for escape with the eternal, all powerful, effective working of the Word. At that moment, its efficacy was more powerful than my own rebellion, my own clouded thinking. At that moment, I did not read that God was real, or that the bible was inspired. Instead I read that to taste of the truth and turn from it is certain death. I did not read that Buddhism was false. That my meditative practices were demonic. That my martial arts practice had led me, from an early age, into demonic realms. These truths, along with the truths of God’s existence and the inspiration of the bible were given to me. God chose that moment to reveal himself and his reality (the reality) to a singular individual, sitting in a chair in a hospital room in the middle of the night (not my room).
I do not believe in the inspiration of scripture by choice, or because there are sound arguments to be made. I believe because I have been given that belief. I was not seeking him when God called me. But call me he did, indeed.
Do you believe God expects us to simply trust in the inspiration of the bible, or does he desire us to be critical of the text?
I think God expects us to trust him. To trust his word. To trust him, but verify people. It’s not his word that is the problem. It is the demons and the wolves that creep in unnoticed, that twist Scriptures to their own ends. These are the ones, the doctrines of demons and the doctrines of men that we are to be critical of. We are to be critical of interpretation, for it is often subjective and fallen people have the innate tendency to lord over each other, to pervert, to corrupt, to profane.
In my nearly 30 years as a believer, I’ve never had the struggle of disbelief. Not in God. Not in Christ. Not in the biblical message. I’ve wanted to not believe. But, I cannot help but believe. It is an oddity for me, really. Much like the foreign and curious predilection of many to cohabitate. Not a few have said to me, “I would rather be in a bad relationship than be alone.”
This makes no sense to me at all. I cannot comprehend the logic of this. Nor can I perceive a moment where I simply did not believe in these fundamentals. It is as if it has been fused into me, deeper than soul and spirit, marrow and bone. I take great and humble comfort in this fascinatingly mysterious and terrifying call. For if we have any hope of reconciling with God through Christ, then we will only do so if the Father calls us to him (John 6:44).
The issue is not with God. It is with people.
What evidence was most convincing?
As I said above, nothing logical or progressive convinced me. After the fact, I have learned many things about Scripture that confirms what I already believe, but they are not the basis of my believe and did not convince me to believe in the inspiration of Scripture. 1. Prophecy fulfilled. 2. Internal integrity (meta messaging). 3. It’s consequential wisdom in my life.
What evidence was least convincing?
Any given Sunday morning service. Testimonies of other people or the claim that God is with a church or congregation (or that the bible is inspired) because so many people claim to be Christian. Equal Distant Letter Sequencing (Faulty – I have more confidence in macro codes than micro codes).
As a non-believer, what evidence did you need to believe in biblical inspiration?
I wonder now, looking back, if someone had sat me down when I was not a believer and showed me Isaiah 53 or Psalm 2, or the macro code in Genesis 5, if I would have believed because of those evidences. It’s hard to gauge.
Faith, belief, assurance, was all given to me instantly upon reading 2 Peter 2, especially vs 22. I’m not sure why exactly it was this verse. I had initially intended to look in the table of contents to find a book to read (not sure where to read or why I had picked up the bible in the first place), but the pages were crinkled together and made a terrible noise. I did not want to wake up my girlfriend, who was sleeping in the hospital bed (she was the patient), so I just flipped the book open and it just so happened to land on 2 Peter 2 and I started to read it.
There were no lights. No visions. No fantastical voice booming from the sky overhead. The reality I was living up to that point simply evaporated out from under me and I was left with a much clear picture of the world as it is. The world view that I had built up over the last few years dissolved, leaving the truth of God, the bible, of Christ, laying there bare before me.
It was then that I began to seek the Lord and in my seeking he answered and I was saved, I am being saved, I will be saved in the new life to come, at the resurrection.
But, I am thoroughly convinced that no amount of “evidence” would have persuaded me to believe before God called me and took me and I was cleansed by the “washing of water by the word.”
Discussion Questions for Lecture 1
1.It is important to understand what the word “tradition” means in the context which it is spoken. What were the benefits of “Tradition 1” in the history of the Church? What are the benefits of “Tradition 1” today?
Holding a single source for final authority as the bible is Tradition 1. This includes those who also hold Tradition as a summary of Scripture, and so, whenever it aligns with Scripture, tradition is authoritative.
Benefits in church history? I would say little. It appears nearly right away the Scriptures were being twisted to mean all sorts of things, with heresy springing up almost immediately. Many of the New Testament letters were written to counter heretical teachers and church assemblies that had gone astray. Too quickly, the church shifted over to Tradition 2, in that authority held either the same place as Scripture or was superior to the bible, since the bible must be interpreted by tradition and the clergy.
How does Tradition 1 benefit us today? It is comforting to know I can interpret the bible for myself. That, “to his own master he stands or falls.” I am in no need dependent or beholden to a fallen, human agent or proxy or intermediary (Hebrews 10:19; 1 Timothy 2:5). I can stand on the promise, “he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:4).
I am not dependent on mere men to learn the truth of Scripture, but the Holy Spirit will teach me all things (John 14:26).
2.The Roman Catholic idea of tradition as a separate avenue through which the “Deposit of Faith” was mediated is essential to their theology. How might “Tradition 2” develop into an over dependence upon tradition (Sola Ecclesia)? Explain. What are the dangers of Sola Ecclesia?
Tradition 2, that there is more knowledge given through tradition that is not found in Scripture can easily be abused by fallen men.
But, I am torn here. What is the difference between Tradition 2 and my own, first hand experiences of the mystical? To be honest, I’ve only ever had one mystical experience. I have moments of overwhelming emotion when in prayer, or when thinking about God or my place juxtaposed to him in the arc that is human history and when compared to the immensity and severity that is a living God.
But, is there really a difference between tradition (now here we are talking about the mystical church service in the Western and Orthodox Catholic churches, along with the continued prophetic utterance of the pope and bishops) of the church and the tradition/interactions I have with God when alone in prayer or while out walking or when driving on my commute?
One fundamental difference is my experiences are indeed subjective and are not imposed onto others. They have their own experiences. If my experiences are truly of God, and a genuine interaction with the living God, then those kinds of interactions and experiences are for the taking between him and others. Who am I to say otherwise? But, I do not force my subjective experiences onto others and claim they are doctrine. Do I?
To do so would be to state, if you have not had a mystical experience then you are not saved or you are not in line with God’s will. I cannot begin to say that. But, I can say, the Catholic church has no rationale to say that I am out of God’s grace because I will not attend their church services (same for the Protestants who just as vehemently argue of my supposed apostate status in their eyes).
The greatest challenge with Tradition 2 is placing authority in the hands of fallen men. Especially in the light of church history, as the bodies are strewn about, a multitude piled up as high as one can see. It has been said there is more blood on the hands of the Church than in all of the lost world combined. They were at one time drunk on the blood of the saints.
Absolute power corrupts absolutely. There is no end to what man will do if given half a chance to oppress, corrupt, abuse, and disenfranchise someone else, anyone else, everyone else.
3.The doctrine of sola Scriptura has been called the formal cause of the Reformation. Do you think that such a doctrine is essential enough to divide the Church the way it has? Explain.
This was addressed in the case study above. I do think it was unavoidable. Yet, sadly, I think the lessons were not learned by the Protestants and they have merely repeated the atrocities of the Catholic Church. They, like them, are steeped in traditions of men, in doctrines of demons, in crazy ideas that church should be an institution, an organization, modeled, not after Christ or the first century, but after western business, and should focus on money and assets and programs and professionalism. But, these things were also a response to the fundamental corruptibility of the human soul. Our susceptibility to the willful flesh. If we do not have a level of professionalism, then all kinds of madness runs rampant among those who profess Christ.
I am thankful for a call (I pray it is genuine) to solitary life. To be able to withdraw and comfortably accept isolation, the desert places, the focus on sanctification. I do wonder at times if I am not deluding myself. Yet, if so, what is left for me? I am simply and utterly and irrevocably unworthy of the Cross of Christ, and I am dead and rotten in my sins and have no hope of salvation at the resurrection.
Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
4.Do you think most Evangelical Protestants today follow sola Scriptura or Solo Scriptura? Explain.
No. I think most evangelical Christians are a shell. They practice a dead religion, one of statements of faith, one that is barely (if at all) recognizable to a church founded on the apostles and prophets. But, who am I to judge another man’s servant? If they are of Christ, if they are acceptable to him (for if I am acceptable, then why not they), then that same passage applies to them just as much as it applies to me. Let them, then do what they will do. Let their religious practice increase all the more.
But, if they are not acceptable to God (then I return to my closet and drop to my knees for if they have no hope of salvation, how then can I), it is obvious by their works. They are mired in a sickness of modeling men rather than Christ. This whole world chases after the devil and his deceptions.
No one wants to follow the bible. No one wants to even read the bible today. It is a wonderful time to be a Christian for me, for one with my predilections, for my personality, because I thrive on being alone, I thrive on the desert places. But, even if they do read it, they are like those who are, “loaded down with sin, led away by all kinds of lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7).
In the end, most follow after their own passions, their own flesh, the lusts of their heart, what they think is right in their own eyes. Few today, if any, still believe the bible was actually authored by God.
5.Solo Scriptura is a reaction against tradition in general. How can Solo Scriptura be thought of as arrogant and actually neglectful of the power of the Holy Spirit? Explain.
It can definitely be viewed as heretical. Not orthodoxy. Especially if it is fact that the Catholic church was established immediately after persecution ended. It would be arrogant to think we, as individuals, could interpret Scripture for ourselves, and that, somehow, the institution’s interpretation is wrong, despite its long history and connection with the past.
Yet, we cannot overlook what the Catholic Church has done with their authority. Say we agree, hypothetically, that they are right and the protestants are wrong. Does that mean we return again to what the Catholic church thinks is okay? They have a completely separate doctrine of salvation from the biblical text. The pope just came out and said no one that evangelizes is a true christian. What? I would argue that not everyone is an evangelist. But not that there should be no evangelism. Likewise, the Catholic Church whored itself out in the fourth century, trying to bring in all the pagans. It would have to do a great deal of backtracking on dogma, doctrine, etc before protestants would feel comfortable enough (and safe enough).
I’m not sure why this has occurred. It seems odd. It is estimated at half now in the world population. 1.2 billion in Catholics and .8 to 1 billion in Protestants. Another statistic says half the world’s population is Catholic while only 36% is Protestant. 11% is Orthodox. If you add Orthodox and Catholic (which they basically are different denominations of the same heresy), thats 61% Catholic and 36% Protestant. That leaves about 3% for Christian cults, etc. Though, of course, these are just statistics and only work within large data sets.
You cannot quantify from the three groups who is actually a genuine believer, or who is actually part of the ekklesia, or further still, who will be saved at Judgment. We know there will be an elect. The rest will be thrown into the Lake of Fire that will consume forever.
There will certainly be selections from all three groups. Of course, official Catholic doctrine now states that Muslims and those from other world religions will be saved also (here’s where we slip off into heresy).
I wouldn’t conclude single source is a reaction to dual source. But, rather, it is a response to, an apologetic against the many heresies that so quickly overtook the Catholic church, because of their abuses of dual source.
When tradition mirrors, describes, or elucidates Scriptural truth, I believe we can all be in agreement. But, the reality is simply too blatant to deny. Catholic Tradition was built to pacify the Christian message, to keep the lost lost and to bring them into the fold as they are, so the leadership can increase their ever tightening grip on power. When there is a professional clergy, there is corruption. When there is organization of any sort, there is the possibility and the high temptation of abuse. Single source is an response to those abuses, putting the power back in the hands of the masses, so that they can determine their own fates for themselves.
6.Which view do you agree with most? Explain.
I am certainly single source when it comes to establishing sound doctrine. Only the bible should be the final authority in the Christian’s life. Granted, it should be the bible, interpreted by the well informed. Ignorance is often a crutch used by the lazy and disbelieving. Many do not want to know the truth, because the truth is hard and dirty and difficult. It is often easier to prop up teachers that will parrot the status quo.
Instead, we should be well informed by tradition (meaning what professing believers did throughout the past), by traditional teaching (what they said, wrote about, systemically formulated). In fact, this should be, especially today with the aid of technology and the sheer amount of time we’ve had since Christ, a great cloud of opinion that we can sort through and grapple with. We can come away from the arguments of the past much more informed, especially if we have an open but critical eye of them.
At the end of the day, though, doctrine should not be established with the aid of tradition, and certainly should not be erected by tradition alone.
In fact, even when utilizing the bible to establish doctrine, it is best to identify two or three witnesses within the text. We certainly shouldn’t go about baptizing for the dead because Paul makes passing mention of it in one letter – and not even a command. Fallen angels of Genesis 6 is corroborated by at least two separate biblical authors (as if it was common knowledge in the first century) and also in extra biblical accounts as well. This holds a much stronger case, along with the internal logic that is established with its use.
With that said, though, I do not (can not) discount, discredit or disqualify personal mystical experience. Again, I hold it in the same regard as Tradition. It can mirror Scripture. It can illuminate scripture. It can describe Scripture. It can confirm scripture. But it will never, can never, would never contradict the clear and direct message of scripture. It cannot add to or subtract from Scripture. I am convinced the truth of Scripture is absolute and objective. Our reception of and response to (also our interpretation of) Scripture is subjective. Everyone will give account. Each to his own master will he stand or fall.
7.Which view does your local church seem to practice? Explain.
I predominately have participated in modern protestant churches. There have been probably a dozen in the last 30 years. Most if not all were protestant, yet they held to dual source in deed, single source in word. They would say they were Scripture alone, but much if not all of their activities were pagan in origin. When attention is drawn to this, they turn a critical and dismissive eye (all in the name of propping up their agenda).
Of the only gatherings I’ve experienced that was not bogged down by tradition (one form or another) was the small band of men who gathered regularly at the library while stationed in Europe. We were loosely affiliated with a missional church in the community, but for we never met in any official capacity under that church’s authority. Several of us were not affiliated with that church at all.
More importantly, the bulk of us (or at least the core), were single soldiers and all lived together in the barracks. Our “study” did not end when we left the library. It went back with us to our rooms, to our common areas, to our every day lives. When we had questions, we would go over to our neighbor’s room and ask, discussion groups sometimes forming ad hoc whenever the need arose – some sitting in chairs, some on the bed, my favorite spot, perched on the ledge looking out the window.
Communal fellowship, genuine fellowship cannot be had in isolated, systematized times and dates, in buildings sanitized against spiritual intimacy. True growth in Christ is only fostered in the day to day life of the believer as he again and again surrenders a little bit more of himself, and slowly but surely witnesses the transformation of his soul.
Dual source (as is typically manifest) is simply an excuse to develop doctrines of men. This allows a symbiotically malignant relationship to form between clery and parishioners. The flock do not want to exert any effort, they want no genuine conversion, opting out entirely from any personal or lasting sanctification, while the professional clergy grow fat and happy on the money and often times the interpersonal fame as they propagate never ending pageantry and programing designed to lull the masses into a spiritual stupor.
I prefer to opt out entirely. I have no interest in false fellowship, especially after witnessing the genuine. Maybe that is why I cannot abide by the traditions of men.
8.How has this lesson most challenged your thinking? Explain.
I struggle with this idea of hermitism. I am naturally predisposed to it. Drawn to it. I feel most comfortable in it. I am energized by it. So, why is there a nagging voice that says it is illegitimate? Is that just tradition that has been sowed into my psyche? My protestant upbringing? Which is odd that it has infected so deeply the flesh, for my spiritual upbringing was anything but traditional. But, why not. 20 years or more of study and formation before I even heard of the appropriation made for the hermitic way of life.
But, am I just making excuses? It’s no secret. I do not like people. I do not like keeping their company, I do not like socializing with them. I’m not any better, certainly. I’m difficult, obstinate, and not really all that fun to be around, especially in the long-term. I imagine I can wear on people.
But, I’m not the one that keeps insisting we form a church or that we talk to each other. That is the organized church. And why are they so adamant? Is it because they want no diversity in the body of Christ? They want the masses all the same, passive, ignorant, established in families with stable incomes to add frequently to the church coffers? I don’t trust you, local Pastor. Why should I? You really have a terrible track record.
Discussion Questions for Lecture 2
1.Read Jude 1:3; 1 Cor. 11:2; and 2 Thess. 2:15. Knowing that the traditions spoken of in the New Testament are simply summaries of the Gospel that have been passed on from one person to another, do sermons in evangelistic crusades and Sunday sermons qualify for traditions? Explain.
Only two of these reference relate to any kind of tradition. But, pertaining first to the question itself, I certainly would not agree that traditions are simply summaries of the gospel that were passed down verbally. That is not the definition of traditions, as it pertais to the Catholic Church or the Protestant church today.
Traditions are basically doctrines of men. They are either beliefs or practices, typically ritualistic in nature, and often overshadow or replace biblical authority. Examples are: Paul tells us we are free in Christ, that no one should hold over us any special day or special Sabbath, yet, if you do not religiously attend Sunday services, you are branded apostate. Likewise, the bible clearly marks singlehood, celibacy, as the first and preferred state. Marriage is described as a compromise born out of our weakness. Yet, the Church has, over the years (more so Protestants), reversed the order, making marriage the preferred state and singlehood a transitory state while waiting for our soul mate (this, of course, is promoted because marriage is not only stable and produces more members of the flock, but it also produced more wealth accumulation that can be fleeced by the church leadership).
2 Thess. 2:15 seems to indicate what the question asserts: tradition (at least what Paul is referring to) is the same as what he writes about in his letters. – indicates the same tradition was delivered to them both by word and by letter. Which means, we can know what traditions he spoke of because they are in his letters.
But, the reality is (or it possibly could be) during the time of these writings, there was no Scripture as we have it today. There was only the OT and a few circulating letters. The apostles were laying down new doctrine. There was no NT to depend on as we have. There was a need at that time for tradition. But, we need to dig deeper, because the word παραδόσεις (G3862) at least in the NT usage means “precept, transmission.” Paul was referring to the teachings of the apostles, “having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20). The first half of this statement had not yet been fully established, which is why Paul clarifies, “whether by word or our epistle.”
So, then, there are two distinct definitions at work in this question. Teachings of the apostles and of men of God are the same. They are the “traditions” Paul speaks of. The second definition, though, and what most people recognize as tradition, is a verbose, overly simplified, often hellenized form of worship or liturgy or ritual that is imbued with some artificial sanctifical power, typically employed by the professional clergy to pacify the flock for ample fleecing. After all, modern organized churches are more apt to be run like secular business than the house of God.
2.Why do you think Roman Catholics find it so attractive to have a living authority other than Scripture that authoritatively pronounces on matters of faith and morals? What is the danger of this?
This is actually two-fold and it also happens in the Protestant church just as frequently. First, the clergy like the tradition as it serves their self-interest (money, fame, influence, power, etc). The flock also like tradition because it allows them to show up Sunday morning, sit through the sermon, and then go off and spend the rest of their week living like the lost in the world. The flock are just as guilty of hoisting up their preachers and teacher to satisfy their itching ears as the clergy are in loving mammon rather than God. Likewise, the flock love to have a pastor (unbiblical position) for two primary reason 1. Historically they could not fill the plurality of elders and 2. The flock like to have someone dedicated to study and things of God so they don’t have to.
Tradition breeds spiritual laziness. Heed the word of the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot….because [of this] I will vomit you out of my mouth…you say, ‘I am rich and have become wealthy and have need of nothing’ but you do not know you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked” (Revelation 3:14-17).
Roman Catholic apologists often accuse Protestants of holding to sola Scriptura which was not known until the sixteenth-century. Is this true? Explain.
I could not be certain one way or the other without more detailed research. If it is true, then it was articulated to combat the heretical practices (traditions) of the Catholic church. You cannot honestly assess their doctrine then or today without admitting how far they have strayed from biblical theology. They are tossed about by every wind of doctrine, following after the masses in hopes of pacification in hopes of maintaining their strangle hold on power and authority. This is why I pray for judgment to come quickly. That day will reveal all things. All hidden things. Truth and righteousness will prevail. Jesus will stand and take his rightful place as ruler of the earth. He will take to his throne and subjugate all the wicked in this world and all will bend the knee and confess, Christ is Lord.
If it is a later doctrine it is only due to the abuses that came later.
An “anachronistic fallacy” is when one demands that someone find or enforce a contemporary articulation of an idea upon people of earlier times. How do Roman Catholics commit this fallacy when they 1) interpret the word “tradition” in Scripture and the early Church fathers and 2) when they demand that Protestants find an articulation of sola Scriptura in Scripture or the early Church fathers?
This has been handled elsewhere in this document. Just because moderns use the term “tradition” doesn’t mean it is identifying the same practice or belief that the NT writers were referencing when they used the same term. The biblical use is more aligned with the Jewish Law and Prophets and the oral teachings of the NT authors before there was the NT documents.
I’m becoming more convinced of the distinct phases of God’s word as it progressed through its revelatory process. First there was the Five Books of Moses. Then there were the Prophets. Then the Writings (not necessarily in that order). Then there were the NT authors. Then there was the codification of both into one book. Then there was the printing press and mass production. Now there is digitization.
There is no need for tradition today as a source of authority since we have in our written record all the existent writings available to us from antiquity and the compendium of commentary and opinion through the last 2000 years.
To have the bible speak of the Catholic traditions of Mass and the worship of Mary and the saints and all the other heretical ideas is counter to the authority of Scripture. It is an excuse so they can make up whatever doctrine they so desire. It’s called doctrines of men (or demons).
4.How have you been frustrated by the practical disunity in the Protestant Church today?
Disunity is a sign of shallow faith and lack of spiritual maturity. But, we all suffer from it. In fact, I think the unity of the Christian Church, the ekklessia, is much the same as the giving of the law for the Jews in the Old Testament: impossible to keep. For whatever reason, you cannot barely get two people to agree on anything, let alone three or more. What starts as innocent and genuine fellowship seems to always become perverted, watered down, mired in perversion of one sort or another. It almost seems as if the church has been lost in its acceptance, drowned out an diluted by unregenerate people who claim to be believers but who are not.
I have no interest in what the modern evangelical church is offering. I have no interest in what the emerging (what once was the house church movement) church (otherwise known as post-modern, post-Christian, or aka a neo-christic-paganism). I have no interest (nor do I really understand) in the Catholic or Orthodox.
My interest lies wholly and solely in my faith in Christ. In his plan for me. In drawing closer to him daily. In my own sanctification. In quickened anticipation, with great and terrible longing, I await the return of my King, the resurrection of the dead and the predicted rapture of the saints, to meet him in the air, to watch with fascination, the great and terrible day of the Lord.
I am made and have been formed from my youth for this endeavor. To step out into the deep of the mystical and the mundane. To ascertain what it is one can comfortably do without, to strip down to the bare minimum. To learn. To experience. To grow. To explore. To examine the hidden places and uncover the secrets of nature and discover the mysteries of his word.
I seek spiritual awakening, metaphysical understanding, and supernatural experience.
I desire to know and walk with God, for there is nothing on this earth or among this people that I wish for anymore.
5.Do you think that this disunity needs to be solved? If so, how would you suggest the Protestant Church create unity, and how absolute should this unity be?
I honestly don’t believe it could be solved for the protestant faith as a whole. I think it can be resolved for the individual by opting out. Do I leave the church? No. I’m still a part of those called out, the set apart. I’m still a part of the church universal (made up of all those who believe, both the living and the dead). I think we’re seeing the death of the organized and institutional church, both protestant and catholic. It is the great falling away that Paul predicted (or, at least, it appears to be, much more so than it did 20 years ago). I think soon, the idea of exclusivity in faith will be shunned and persecuted, while inclusivity will be highly praised. The gospel will be lost, save by those eclectics who live at the margins. The church will then be revived and will thrive once again in the western world under persecution and a second holocaust will occur. I think religion will be replaced by science and technology and the world will usher in a new apostasy unimaginable. There is no hope for the world. There is no hope for the organized church. There is no hope for humanity. It will only be getting worse from here.
6.Do you believe that the doctrine of sola Scriptura has been abused in the Protestant church? Give examples.
Abused, not exactly. I do believe that most if not all churches that profess single source really practice dual source. Their actual objection is in who controls the second source and how that second source interprets the first source. As long as their leadership is interpreting scripture the way they want it to be interpreted, then that’s fine. Independent Fundamental Baptists frequently do this. They claim single source, but then lean on the tradition of the KJV. They profess the bible as the final authority, yet heap upon themselves and their congregations a new law of rules and regulations that mire them in the culture of the 1950’s (there is nothing in the bible that says you are required to wear a suit to a church meeting or that a man cannot wear shorts).
So, it’s not necessarily abuse of single-source, but hypocritical behavior that is the abuse.
7.Do you believe that the Bible supports the sola Scriptura theory or the dual-source theory more?
There are references that allude to tradition. The Greek word παράδοσις (G3862) is used in the bible 16 times. In the OT use, it seems to be translated exclusively as “to deliver up,” but I find this peculiar. It appears a closer translation would read, “if [by] tradition, you would deliver up the sons of Ammon into my hand” (Judges 11:30). But, the Vocabulary of the Greek Testament confirms this meaning for the word, which leads me to assume the meaning of this word changed over time. Given the 300 plus years between the LXX and the NT, it stands most likely that this word took on a more specialized usage. It was used in Matthew and Mark eight times, all in reference to the traditions of the elders (doctrines of men), and negatively. Paul uses the term five times: once for the traditions of men, once for the traditions of the Jews (that he used to follow), and three times referencing the traditions Paul taught the other believers.
I have a hard time equating the traditions of our day with the traditions referenced in these verses utilizing this particular word. It could be equivalent to the traditions of the elders or the traditions of men Paul and others speak about. But, the traditions Paul taught the believers in the first century were certainly distinct from those old, Jewish traditions, and we have no idea what those new traditions entailed. We could, of course, speculate by allowing Scripture to illucidate: baptisms, fasting, freedom from the old traditions, serving each other, the Eucharistic feast, etc.
Does that mean we can do whatever we like, whatever seems good to us, and just slap a stamp of tradition on it and we’re good? Just because something has been handed down again and again over the ages, does that mean it carries with it some sort of authority, in and of itself?
Absolutely not. If it did, then the traditions of the Essenes, the traditions of the Gnostics, all of these would need to be included. Their traditions are much older than our own, certainly in Protestant circles.
So, to answer the question: yes, the bible, in 2 places, mentions certain traditions (apparently a collection of them) that were taught by Paul to his disciples. We can in no way infer with any certainty what those traditions were because Paul does not elaborate on them. We most certainly cannot transpose the term tradition from then onto the rituals performed today in Christianity and claim first century or biblical authority, simply because we have no idea what those traditions were in the first century. They are not described to us (other than those stated above – and can anyone argue with those?).
Likewise, there is an argument to be made that, just as Paul had traditions that he passed on to his disciples, we too might, could, should have traditions we pass on to our disciples. The question is, what traditions? Do we have liberty in what we decide the gatherings of the church do when gathered together? Are there activities that are good for Christians to do individually throughout their daily lives? Certainly we should answer both questions. But, how do we determine what is proper tradition that should be propagated and what we would conclude is doctrines of men or worse, doctrines of demons?
I would say whatever mirrors or describes the truth found in the bible (and what does not contradict it) and what truly edifies believers is profitable for tradition. If the tradition pacifies the disciple, rendering them ineffective in their work, if it keeps them from consuming the word, from growing in their faith, keeping them mired in the first principles, rather than moving on, becoming effectively equipped for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body, then it should be discarded.
Most tradition today does the latter not the former and the Scriptures would certainly not support such carnality.
8.How has this lesson most challenged your thinking?
It makes me wonder what it means to be engaged in ministry. This is typically a buzz word in the modern, institutional church, typically reserved for functions and activities that a group of Christians are engaged in. This usually takes on the form of some kind of teaching “ministry” or a “school.” It might be a church that focuses on building itself up and “teaching” its members and visitors endlessly on different surface topics, always learning yet never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. It could be an evangelistic ministry, focusing on spreading the gospel. This typically just replicates the model of the western church in a foreign country. By and large, most ministries are teacher based, one way or another. It is focused on knowledge. Catholics and Orthodox do not seem so concerned with teaching or right theology as much as they have imbued their liturgy with the essence of Christian activity. You go to Mass to experience Christ and God. You go to Confession to receive forgiveness. You prostrate. You recite. It is not faith but works. Or, maybe it is faith in works. Faith and works.
Make no mistake, there were traditions being handed down in the first century church. But, they were also, at some point, in some way, baptizing people for the dead (and Paul seemed to approve, using it in a juxtapositional example).
Only Mormons do that today. But, they kind of went overboard with alot of things.
I can’t help but wonder, though, what is the purpose of the church? Is it intended to be a teaching institution? Teacher is only one of the fivefold ministries. There are also elders (pastor really isn’t in the bible), evangelists (we have a lot of these still), prophets (oh boy, here we go), even apostles (yikes). The goal: equip everyone else. To what end? Build up the body of Christ until we “all” come to the “unity of the faith.”
This could mean two things. 1. It could be talking most specifically about evangelism. If so, the current, modern model for the church is all kinds of wrong. We should only get as large as our living room and then split, like a cell. The five fold gifts would obviously be in operation throughout all the meeting groups. But, as Paul explained pretty clearly, he only has authority over the groups he started. He doesn’t work in another man’s field. He doesn’t build on another’s foundation.
But, I have attempted this in the past to no avail. So, either it is just fanciful ideas or I am clearly heretical and God is keeping people from me (thankfully), or it is a sign of our times.
The other focus is on the church itself, the gathering. But, I find this faulty, as there is only so much learning one needs to go through. The Christian plan is rather simple in its complexities.
But, either one, where does this leave me? I am not called to be an evangelist. I’m not called to be an elder (nor would I qualify under the traditions of men) nor do I desire it. I am certainly no prophet. I’m not an apostle running around planting churches, getting myself in trouble with the government or running foul of kings.
If this is true, then my calling is elsewhere, in the body of Christ, I am one of the multitude, the unnamed. But, with certainty, I’m called to be equipped for works of service. And that is to be focused on others in the body of Christ, to bring about unity.
Keep in mind, it never says in Scripture anywhere that we will actually achieve this stated goal. It says they will know us by the love we have one for another. It never says they will know us because we have love for each other. They could know us if we did, but since we don’t, Christ’s name is slandered among the disbelievers.
I think what is to come will be in God’s hands. If I accomplish my goal, if I somehow managed to move to Eden full time, affording myself the luxury and the leisure to learn and study and grow and work on my own sanctification, I believe the time will come when God will say to me, “go now.” I have no idea where or when that will be. I have no idea how it will come about. But, I do not believe I will remain in solitude forever.
If only it is a teaching ministry! I can do that in isolation. There is no telling, though, what the future holds. In five years, it is already assured, life will be unrecognizable. Only God knows what awaits us in this darkness we are leaping headlong into.
But, we must trust, for he alone knows what lingers there in the unknown.
Discussion Questions for Lecture 3
1.Find the copyright date on your Bible, and read it to the group. How does the fact that it was written nearly 2000 years before your copyright date make the study of Bibliology necessary for a Christian?
We need to learn about the bible, where it came from, how it was put together. It is not like any other book ever written, and has its very own, unique history. We also need to be aware of the hostility it must endure, even from within the ranks of the modern day church and especially from the Catholic church who have completely usurped the authority of scripture in favor of their own traditions and the opinions of the world.
2.How does knowing that there are over 300,000 textual variants in the NT alone disturb you?
It does not disturb me. Back in the early 2000’s I embarked on an informal research project, determined to understand the controversy surrounding the different versions of the bible and their underlining textual variants. I came away from those months of intense study with a firm confidence in the Majority Text of the NT and the LXX translation of the OT.
Coming away from that research, I eventually realized no translation (even the ones I favor) can be trusted – not now and especially not in the future. This forced me to gather a great cloud of witnesses to the text, both majority and critical, hebrew and greek, with also a handful of English translations that varied on the translation approach spectrum (from Formal to Dynamic to Paraphrase). All my study tools eventually migrated to my laptop (and then even later to my phone), and now I have no printed texts (save a large print copy of the NKJV and a printed copy of the ABP Interlinear stored at Eden if in case the power ever goes out for good.
I now have a digital library that would be the envy of any scholar in antiquity. Nearly all translations are available, Greek and Hebrew texts in various versions, Interlinears, specialized dictionaries and lexicons, and a host of commentaries. Outside of my bible software (which itself renders concordances obsolete) I have a much larger digital biblical library with over 1000 titles, a much larger collection of human knowledge (70,000 titles), plus several online repositories and a local library system with over 400,000 titles.
But, I have confidence, despite all these resources I can bring to bear, the bible is internally and eternally consistent in its message and effectiveness. It was able to bring me to life, to alter my course, by the reading of just one chapter, really just one verse.
Textual variants only illustrate the hostile jamming the bible must endure from the adversary and from the fallen will of mere men.
Those disbelieving are blind, naked, wandering around in the darkness of their own lusts. But, for us, we can see the truth that has been hidden in the word. We see plainly what they can only see as confusion and sadness.
Those who are called, they hear his voice. Those who do not, awaits them the eternal flames of the Lake of Fire.
3.Have everyone but one person in your group take ten minutes to handwrite this paragraph, making at least one intentional error without telling the others of your error. How close did you come to reconstructing the original?
I skipped this exercise, as I am neither in a group, nor do I like to do applicative exercise such as these. It’s quite repetitive. Just tell me the lesson you would like me to learn and lets then move on.
4.Knowing that this is about the same situation that text critics find themselves in (around one or two variants per verse), how does this exercise give you more confidence in the science of text criticism? Explain.
I have little confidence in textual criticism. Well, more specifically, I have no confidence in the objectivity of textual critics and translators. They always have their own personal ideologies, and always insist on interjecting their own biases and denominational distinctives into the text itself. Whether they are liberal or conservative, there is always a slant. This is why I instead have at my fingertips the entire spectrum from highly formal to ridiculously dynamic, even whorishly paraphrasic. Years ago I settled on the NKJV as my main reading English version. This is readable, while maintaining the Majority/Masoretic text. Before that (and which prompted my research into translations) I used the NIV exclusively because of its readability. These were the two major translations that battled in the research and the NKJV won by having the Majority/Masoretic in the text, and relegating the critical variants to the margin (which was the exact opposite for the NIV). I then shifted to a Greek / Hebrew interlinear for all serious studies, and shifted again to the ABP for a fully Greek bible Text interlinear.
As I embark on my uThM program, I plan to learn biblical Greek with modern Greek pronunciation and expect I will eventually shift to reading the biblical text exclusively in the Greek, with little need for English translations or interlinears.
5.Review the comparison chart of the New Testament with other ancient manuscripts. How does the evidence show how serious God is about protecting His Word? Would you call it miraculous? Explain.
Antiquity has left us an abundance of writings, but much of it we have very few copies. The bible, on the other hand, we have thousands of copies and fragments. It was not only important to Christians who came before us, but it is apparently very important for God that the bible be preserved throughout human history.
6.In light of the fact that God is serious about protecting His Word for us, how serious should we be about searching it to find Him? Are you?
It should encompass our lives. I’ve been a believer for 30 years now, and the bible is increasingly becoming the main focus of who I am. Everything up to this moment has been in preparation, has been readying me for this day, for this journey I am now undertaking with my uThM program and with my hopeful future move to Eden and embracing a hermitic lifestyle and vocation.
But, I’m not just interested in studying the bible to find out what it says. This is a rudimentary task, a first principle. Not that we are to ever cease from being exposed to the text, but I hope to transform study to more ritualistic, more devotional, more metaphysical expressions of faith. Not in outward forms, but in inner and inward discoveries, in the mystery of the sanctification. I want to grow in my faith, I want to explore his natural world, his inner world inside my own mind, explore human knowledge and the wisdom of God. I don’t necessarily study, for I strive that the whole of my life, the daily details would be immersed in the will and word of my King.
I am done with this earthly shell, this earthly tent and habitation. There is nothing left here for me. There is nothing left I desire to achieve, but to be with the Lord in paradise or to no longer exist in evolutionary nothingness. For, if there is no God, I wish not to live, and would have chosen never to be born. If there is a God, I long to be by his side, at his right hand, at my master’s beckon.
Everything else is but a prelude to this on and eternal moment yet still to come.
7.How has this lesson most challenged your thinking?
I am failing again. I have done this before and then pulled back. And again and yet pulled back again. I’m not certain now if this time is any different, but it does feel as if I’m inching ever closer to him.
I long for the day when my King will make his enemies his footstool, when he will strike the earth and her inhabitants, and they will scatter to the cracks and crags terrified of their impending judgment.
My God’s will be done.
I am convinced this is the last segment of my life. Not only do I think I have less time left than I have already lived (do we really know in the end), but I pray every night now for the Lord to take me. Take me in my sleep, that I might rest, that I might stand with Abraham in paradise, that I might, if it be God’s will, suffer the flames of torment. I tire of waiting here in this cesspool. But, I trust in the Lord’s timing, in God’s knowledge and eternal and merciful grace.
Discussion Questions for Lecture 4
1.Further discuss what the Church should do if we were to find Paul’s real first letter to the Corinthians. Would you include it in your Bible? Why or why not.
My first instinct would be to say they will never find new letters or books. Then again, who really knows what awaits us in the future or awaits the church going forward. There is a hint from Peter, “scoffers will come in the last days…saying, ‘where is the promise of his coming, for since our fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were before’” (2 Peter 3:3) that many will lose hope in the second coming and our resurrection. Even in the first century, some thought it had already come and gone, while others simply didn’t believe in it at all (1 Corinthians 15:12; 2 Timothy 2:18).
I think for many, many years it would be akin to such books as the Gospel of Thomas or others like it. Interesting. Maybe even provocative. But it would not be considered canon for probably hundreds of years after its discovery.
I do not have to worry about a newly discovered bible text in my lifetime.
2.The canon was defined as in class as being “closed” only to the degree that God is no longer adding to it through verified writings. Do you think that it is possible for God to add to the canon? If so, in what sense is it really “closed”? Discuss.
God has never actually said it was closed. Revelation just seemed to cease after the apostles in the first century. What else is there to say, really? There are many, many secrets yet to be revealed. There are a multitude of mysteries still to discover. But these will be explained in the next world, in the kingdom to come, not here on earth. We have to keep in mind the purpose of Scripture, as John put it, “And Jesus did many other signs…which are not written in this book…but they are written that you may believe he is the Christ, the Son of God, and that, by believing, you may have life in his name” (John 20:30-31) and elsewhere, “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25).
And, if every deed and thought we do or have throughout the entirety of our lives is recorded as evidence for the judgment to come (Revelation 20:12), I would contend all of the deeds and thoughts of Jesus are also recorded in heaven. I would even speculate there is some kind of metaphysical, supernaturally powered library in the spiritual world that contains not only all of human wisdom, but accounts with complete accuracy the entire history of Creation and before and after (I secretly hope, after the resurrection, I receive a job as a librarian or studier or researcher of some kind – the idea of spending eternity in the library of the Lord I find truly blissful).
But, the canon, specifically the 66 books we have we now call the bible, was given to us for a few specific reasons. 1. To declare Christ that we might be saved. 2. To teach us and remind us, and equip us for good works. The bible is, essentially, our instruction book for our sanctification.
3.It must also be understood that Scripture is not an exhaustive history book. It is a collection of books that record soteriological history (the history of the fall and redemption) and an “instruction book” on how to live as God intended. Read 2 Tim. 3:15-17 and discuss how this is true.
Discussed it in the previous question…
4.Now read Heb. 1:1-11 and discuss how this passage might lead us to the seemingly assured yet somewhat tentative conclusion that there is probably not going to be any more Scripture added to the canon as we know it.
The work is complete, at least for us, those who dwell on the earth. This is the culmination of God’s redemptive plan, to rectify what had been subjected to futility at the fall. A remnant will be saved. Those who have been or will be, who were called from the foundation of the world will be gathered up and plucked from the fire, while the rest will burn.
5.If someone were to say that they wrote a book that is inspired by God and that should be added to the Bible, how should you respond?
In this age (after Christ’s ascension) we should treat them as we would someone claiming to be the Christ (Matthew 24:23). He tells us, “do not believe them.”
Many have done this exact thing. Joseph Smith. Jehovah’s Witnesses. Mary Baker Eddy. The list goes on and on. I would treat them like any other commentator. I would review what they had written, what they have to say. If it aligns with Scripture, great. If not, they are a false prophet and are simply discarded.
6.How did the lesson challenge your view of the canonical status of the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical books? Do you think that they should be part of the Bible? Are you willing to die for your answer? Discuss.
I am willing to die to defend my faith and testimony in Jesus Christ (as a witness before God), that he is the Son of God, that he is the Messiah, that he was raised again by God and ascended to heaven and is at the right hand of the Father, that he will, too, resurrect me at the last day, at his return, and I will be in his presence forevermore.
If someone in authority came to me and confiscated my bible, I would comply. If they said I had to deny Christ openly, I would not (I pray not).
I would not die for the assertion that the Book of Enoch should be included in the canon. Simply because it is unnecessary. We have ready access to it and the bible itself.
There are people throughout history who have died for a lot of inconsequential things. A pastor, not too long ago, lit himself on fire in a shopping mall parking lot over politics.
We already know the world and the betrayers who falsely claim to be part of the church will twist scripture to their own ends. They have been working diligently to discredit the bible all along. Just as Abraham said to the rich man as he burned in torment, “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead” (Luke 16:31). The bible is there for them to accept or deny. God knows who is his. They hear his voice.
7.How has this lesson most challenged your thinking?
I would have to say there appears to be a theme for me running through the entire course so far. The question that keeps nagging me. What is ministry? What is the work we are to do in Christ?
I am saved, yes? Am I not a person of the book? Do I not separate myself from the world, from the wickedness and the corruption and the evil of the lost? Am I not dedicated to my own personal sanctification, my own growth, the continued renewal of my mind in Christ?
What is left? What are, in the mind of God, good works? Is it simply about evangelism? Are we all called to evangelize? That seems to conflict with Paul, “There are many members, but one body…are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all miracle workers? Are all healers? Do all have the gift of speaking in a foreign language they have never learned? Do all interpret languages they’ve never learned?” (1 Corinthians 12:15, 29).
I am none of these. I am not an apostle. I’m not a prophet nor a teacher or a minister or any sort of miracle worker or healer. I’m not an edifier or a equipper. I’m not a professional theologian or philosopher.
So, what is my gift?
I work with words. I study. I research the word of God and the repository of human wisdom.
Maybe, quite possibly, my gift is to remain separate from the body of Christ so that I might not mislead another. Maybe my contribution is to spare the body evil works by my hand. Is it possible that I would perish but might spare others? Keep them from a shipwrecked faith worse than death? Where has this view come from, that the institutional church is somehow more legitimate than I?
Or, am I even speaking of the modern, organized church? Maybe I speak only of others individually. Anyone that might find their way in my sphere.
Or, am I merely in a desert of preparation? Most of Christianity has been encapsulated by the written word throughout its history. Maybe I serve a small part in that story. Maybe I have written or will one day write a treatise the future world will find useful and necessary for faith, hope, and love. Is that possible?
I think less of that of myself. Maybe this is why I struggle with defining ministry and what is the work of the Lord.
What I do know is I am certainly not called to the traditional roles. How could I possibly be called to the fivefold? I am not an extrovert. I do not particularly care for the company of others. I do not wish to interact with them directly. I do not wish to foster better relations.
Rather, I wish to be forgotten by the world. To step over the threshold, to pierce the veil, to wander through the mysteries of the eternal. I wish to explore and mine all that is exsquisit of God’s truth, all that echoes that truth in the knowledge of men. To synthesize, categorize, organize what is right and understandable of reality and the world around us.
Is this a work of God? Is this a ministry? A good work? Are philosophers ministers of God?
I struggle to know.
I’m not interested in the status quo. I will not simply step into a common role, into convention to placate orthodoxy. If there is no room for me at the inn, I am okay with that. If there is no place set for me at the table, believe me when I say, I will be fine. I can eat my food with gladness in whatever closet you might have handy. I need none of your recognition. Rather, it is God I desire to please.
What is it he has called me to? I don’t think he has made me an introvert just so I can uncomfortably walk a lifetime in an extrovert’s shoes.
We are at the cusp of a new era in the church. For all humanity. Technology has leveled the field of dissemination. I need no apparatus, no institution, no funding to spread the word, the message.
But, is this the gift I have been given? Is this the purpose for which I have been formed? Is this not somewhat pedantic? Are there not enough teachers in the world already? Enough teaching ministries? Especially enough that charge a fee?
Is it not enough to simply live the life I have been given? To walk in the way of faith, to await with watchful expectation until I breathe my last breath? Are we not called to good works? To serve Christ and his church (and in this I mean the church universal, the ekklessia, no modern organization)?
On this I need to pray and think more.
Discussion Questions for Lecture 5
1.Discuss again the importance that we have the right canon?
There is no way to objectively know we have the right canon. There is no way to know there should be a canon. We have no way of knowing if the Muslims are actually correct and the only God out beyond reality is Allah, and that a fate worse than death awaits the infidel (though, some Muslims seem to say Christians are still saved by Allah in the afterlife).
There is no way to know with any level of certainty. It is a call. A predisposition. A gift. The truth of Scripture is spiritually discerned and yet, there are still influencing spirits which readily deceive many. None of us will know one way or the other until we cross over into the intermediate state. Until we taste death and are brought into the afterlife. Then we will know all things, or we will know nothing and will cease to exist.
I cannot speak for anyone else in this matter. All I know is what I have experienced in my life, how God turned me from my old ways, from the old delusional religions of Romans 1:23. I cannot deny him. The truth of him. Of his existence. I simply know truth supernaturally. Metaphysically. Fundamentally. But, I have no way of knowing if I am on the right path or if I am wholly deluded.
2.Are all books of the canon equally important? Do you think that you would ever have noticed if 3 John did not make “the cut”?
I’ve often wondered this myself. How many times have I read Deuteronomy or Leviticus compared to Genesis or Romans or Jude? Revelation, of course, gets a lot of traction, but Obediah?
I would say there is more significance in those oft forgotten and passed over books and passages than we can ever comprehend. I think beyond the resurrection, in the new heaven and earth, once the dust settles and all is made right, in the new Kingdom, as we pass the time (not that time will exist), we will discover that the bible is a testament, a witness to all that is and ever was. Jesus said, “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18). The Jews (apparently) believe that when the Messiah comes, he will interpret not only the Torah, but also the words of the Torah, the letters of the Torah, even the spaces in between the letters. Just the little I know already about the internal integrity and design present in the bible, I think it will confound us how intricately woven together is God’s word.
I think those we consider the least will be the most important.
3.Further discuss the importance of the early acceptance of the Gospels and the Pauline corpus.
It appears as if almost immediately the works of the new testament writers carried weight in the church. Peter referenced Paul and his writings, considering them to be equivalent in authority to the “rest of the Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:16). We find the eye witness accounts accurate to a fault, with no apparent embellishment on facts or events (as there would be in fictitious works, or the Christian works we find later through the centuries).
The New Testament writers considered their teachings (and writings) on par with the Old Testament as well, citing them as the “foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus the chief cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:20). This moment in time was of a special dispensation of God, not repeated in so far the future. And, aptly so, as stated above, Abraham’s words, “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead” (Luke 16:31). We now have all three. We have the testimony of the Torah. We have the testimony of the Prophets. An we have the Testimony of the one who was raised from the dead. In this is infinite opportunity, yet, it remains the mystery and profundity of predestination, “Many are called, few are chosen.” But, it is apparently true: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44).
4.Can you think of any essential doctrine that is not dealt with in the Gospels and the Pauline corpus? How is this significant?
There appears no essential doctrine that is absent from the gospels or Paul’s writings. Though, we might certainly wrestle with what is considered essential. I would assume the questioner means essential for salvation. This is completely found in romans 10:9-10. It is threaded throughout the New Testament and is found likewise in the Old.
Even of non-essential doctrines, such as the doctrine of the fallen angels of Genesis 6, there are hints throughout the New Testament, though if we had only the gospels and Paul, we would only see glimpses of a greater truth.
5.Are you more or less confident about the canon of Scripture after this lesson? Explain.
This lecture (and the entire course) felt much more like review for me. I did not really receive a whole lot from it, especially much new information or insight. I’m starting to think some (or much) of this material is shallow water, and I require more depth to really engage with the topics I’m interested in exploring. But, all in good time. Peter was not above having his disciples review the fundamentals of the faith. It certainly cannot hurt. But, I certainly should not remain here in the shallow end for too long. There is much to learn, and much more exploration in the quiet places, the secret spaces beyond the veil. I’m excited at what I might potentially find along the journey.
6.How does your view of the providence and sovereignty of God affect this study?
I’m not certain I understand the point of this question or why my view of God’s sovereignty would affect this course in any way. If you are referring to how I believe God has his hand in every single facet of my life, then I would say both this course is predestined for me to take and open for me to reject. I’m not certain where the intersection is between God’s sovereignty and my free will and independent volition. I do believe God is involved in literally every aspect of my life, down to the consisting from moment to moment of the atoms that make up who I am – for no sparrow falls from the sky without his approval, in fact, the very hairs of my head are all numbered (Matthew 10:30).
Likewise, I believe the bible has been intricately, comprehensively, and incalculably designed by the master maker. The author alone knows the beginning from the end, he knows all things, all of our actions, our deeds, our motivations. He knows and hears our prayers and he aligns and guides our lives expertly as a loving father (1 Corinthians 2:9; Romans 8:28).
He knew I would take this class.
7.How has this lesson most challenged your thinking?
What truly is our fate? How is this life necessary, especially once we have been saved? Are we to solely focus the remainder of our life energy on saving as many as we possibly can from the fire? Cannot they likewise be reached as I was reached? But, who would place those bibles in the spaces they are needed? How might I further the cause for Christ?
There are new people born every day on this earth. Especially in this day and age in the western world, in our Godless culture, it is a ripe and ready harvest. It is a difficult challenge, for people are no longer drawn to the institutionalized church.
How might the ministry field look today? Where is that field? How might we reach the lost if they will not stand for sound doctrine? This world and culture is increasingly coming under the sway of the evil one. Is it too late for this generation?
If I am not called to the work of the evangelist, how might I contribute? Do I support the evangelist? Do I provide resources for the evangelist? For the apostle? For the teacher? For the healer and prophet?
Could not the remainder of my life be better spent on someone who could and wanted to use it? Why must people suffer and die who have a life to live? Children die? Mother’s die? Father’s die? Why am I not able to trade my life to them? This would be a good use of the life remaining in me. We all should have the ability to trade our life so another might live.
So, if I support a missionary, how does that work? How would I know? I simply must trust them. Trust the Lord.
Missler provides a good blueprint. Giving is not based on need alone. There is always need. Giving should be considered investing into the Kingdom of God. Paying it forward into eternity. So, if I contribute to bibles being placed, then I must also contribute to overhead of the institution. But they do a good work. I was shown the light by their work. I was brought to repentance by their work.
If I am led to a minister or an evangelist who is producing fruit, then I can support him financially, but more so by prayer.
There is a good investment with innumerable and explicable dividends. Prayer. I need to develop my prayer habits. As a solitary, prayer is expected. Indeed, I do need to foster my prayer life.
The greatest challenge for me is, I do not fit into the mold of the modern, institutionalized Christian. I’m not interested in passivity. I’m not interested in interactivity. I’m not interested in propagating asset based, program focused religion. I’m drawn to the interior spaces. I’m drawn to the introspective life.
So, what ministry has God called me to then? What purpose do I serve in the body of Christ? Is it one of prayer? Of contemplation? Of writing? Of teaching? Of witness, waiting the day of Christ’s return? Am I preparing for what is to come next, in the next life, in eternity? Oh, I do hope for a position as in house researcher at the royal celestial library in heaven. The things I could learn.
Discussion Questions for Lecture 6
1.Why do you think that there are so many different views of inspiration?
People are by nature, fallen. That means we are complicated, messy, often stubborn and willful. We struggle to understand the world around us, the people around us, and more importantly, we struggle to understand even ourselves.
This makes faith and religion just as complex. It is not a rote endeavor. The spirit must intersect with us where we are at, where we are found, in the context in which we are ensnared by God.
Inspiration is but a belief about the origin of the Word. There are just as many differing views on what the Word actually is or how we should interpret it or apply it. Inspiration is no different. But, then I would contend that biblical inspiration is not essential to salvation.
Is salvation our only aim, though? Really? Is it the end goal of Christendom? If we have qualified for salvation, does that mean our race is run? Do we cease from labor? Or, is it not just a prequalifying milestone, a touchstone on a long an arduous journey?
Granted, the race does not have to be run well. We can take off from the starting line and quickly wander off course. Yes we are in the race. Yes, our eternal destiny might be secured. But our works are fruitless and lost, saved only for the fire of judgment. We will be saved, but only as escaping through fire.
2.How important do you believe it is to get the right view? Explain.
I think it is important to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. There are many, many lessons to be learned. The first of which is simply, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7).
But, Paul made it clear about our differences, “let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. To the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind” (Philippians 3:15-16). There will be differences among us in both doctrine and practice, as Paul confirms, “there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you” (1 Corinthians 11:19).
3.How does the fact that C.S. Lewis held to a view of inspiration that most would call unevangelical at best and unorthodox at worst affect your view of its importance?
It does not affect my view of inspiration at all. C.S. Lewis is but a Christian, just like the rest of us. He has no special insight into truth, and is no less flawed in his knowledge than any other fallen creature alive or dead.
My view of inspiration is based solely (I believe) on the bibles’ own opinion of itself concerning inspiration. It states, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
For the true believer, we can see the hand of God working in us, through us, and for us in this fallen world. We can see the text come alive.
But, he does bring up some provocative points.
1. The issue of parables. I think they are more often true if personal names are used.
2. The nature or process of inspiration?
All edifying writing is inspired of God. Any inconsistencies we might think appear in the text are only mysteries yet to be revealed. Jesus will, at the end, interpret the entire volume of Scripture to us, and I think we will be left utterly astounded at its complexity, its sheer severity, and intricacy with not only the entirety and sustainability of the world and reality but with our very existence. I believe Jesus’ words we live on every word of God is literal. I don’t know how it is true. I don’t know the underlining and fundamental processes by which this statement is made true. But I discount the idea that this is simply fanciful speech.
The interesting idea of inspiration. Is it the text? Is it the text + the reader reading the text? Is it the text + the reader + the spirit? Is the text uninspired completely, simply words on a page just like any other, and the inspiration occurs at the intersection between a human reading the text and the spirit working on the human? Inspiring the act of reading?
Scripture says it is inspired by God. It is God breathed. It is able.
To deny supernatural inspiration and inerrancy is to deny the internal consistency and overall design built into the collection of books. Are there more scriptures? That is obviously open to interpretation just like each passage is subject to the individual option (as we each stand or fall and will answer for all in the end). Catholics accept the Book of Tobit, but Protestants do not. Protestants likewise do not accept the Book of Enoch, but the Coptic church does.
I would lean toward the idea that all knowledge, if truly edifying of God, is Scripture. Paul makes an argument in Romans 1:20 that even Creation testifies of God and his work. As much as we might not want to accept the Book of Enoch, both Peter and Jude thought enough of it to both make the same reference to it. Does that make it Scripture? Does Paul’s reference to Greek philosophers make their writings Scripture? Why not? Why the dividing line at the 66? I think the only way to discover this would be to read a historical account of the collecting of the bible itself.
Jesus warned us not to build our houses on sand, but on a sure foundation. We should not prop up bible teachers, commentators or any other fallen human. If we do, we run the risk of following after doctrines of men.
4.Further discuss why it might be dangerous to say that inspiration is limited to only those issues that speak on matters of “faith and practice”?
The greatest challenge I see here is faith and practice could include literally anything. Plus, once doubt enters then the entire bible is subject to error, just as Paul warned, a little leaven leavens the whole lump. There has already been a concerted effort over the last several decades to erode the authority and confidence in the biblical text. Inspiration has been the primary target.
5.Further discuss why it might be dangerous to say that God sometimes speaks in accommodating language and that the “accommodation” might be wrong?
I disagree outright with the idea anything in the bible could be in error in the original autographs. Maybe that is a trap set for the disbelieving, so they have the reasons they need to not believe. The end brings great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible even the elect. This is the test. God knows our hearts. He knows our thoughts. He is playing here with much more than a full deck. More even than a stacked deck. God knows the beginning from the end and everything in between.
If there is a point in Scripture that seems to contradict with another point in Scripture or with the natural world or with science or philosophy or logic or reason, then the fault or contradiction lies in our limited understanding and faulty knowledge base. One day, the bible will be explained, and I think at that point we will discover how intricately and fundamentally attuned the bible is with all of creation, reason, logic, science (real science) and a grander, all encompassing spiritual realm that provides the basic matrix for our physical reality.
6.If the message of inspiration lies in the mind of the author, how should this affect your hermeneutic (method of interpretation)?
I struggle between inspiration being a shared work beetween book+person+spirit and author. The bible is clear, it is inspired by God and the bible authors were led by the holy spirit to write. The bible is not subject to the author’s own personal intepretation. These are the words given by God, while simultaneously chosen by men. It is a dichotomy, yet remains true.
How, then, should we read the text if it is, indeed, inspired by book+reader+spirit and inspired by writer+spirit? We approach the word with all humility, in faith, trusting that the Lord that was raised from the dead by God will, likewise, raise us from the dead at the resurrection.
All we can do is hope. Hope first in the resurrection of Christ and of ourselves. Hope that we will not succumb to the falling away, for it has been designed to capture even the elect. We read and interpret in hope that we will not be taken in by every false doctrine. We hope that we will not be blinded by our own selfish will. We hope that God has truly begun a good work in us and trust he will complete that work. We hope that we are not counted as vessels made for wrath as examples for those vessels made for mercy.
We must strive to understand first what the author’s intent was in writing the particular text. We must then ascertain the universal truth underlining that intent, if there is one (some passages in the bible may not apply to us today – example: the tithe reference in the OT about bringing tithes and offerings to the temple). We must then apply that universal truth to our own lives.
7.Discuss ways in which you have practiced or witnessed Biblical Docetism in action.
I don’t believe I’ve ever actually encountered Docetism before. Not really. I would argue that amillennialists hold to a form of docetism (denying the humanity of Christ), at least as they argue a spirit only resurrection.
A quick search revealed these two verses used to justify no humanity in Jesus:
Romans 8:3 (KJV): For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
John 4:1-2 (KJV): When therefore the LORD knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)
You would really have to have a presupposition to come away from these verses with that interpretation. But, stranger things have occurred.
I more often encounter (from non-believers) the exact opposite. Rather than denying the humanity of Christ, the lost hope to rationalize away the divinity of Christ, making him just another man, a good teacher only.
So, my answer would be, those who seek to discount Christ’s humanity in the modern age for the expressed purpose of denying the bodily resurrection in the future.
8.How has this lesson most challenged your thinking?
There were issues addressed that I have no real context for. Not sure if this is simply not an issue today or if I’m lacking in experience with a large sector of the Christian community. I know there are a myriad of denominations, and most of those are based on one heretical issue or another. I find it interesting that there are so many diverse opinions on what the bible says or what it doesn’t say or what a particular individual believes it should say (and then typically will start another religion or write another section of the bible to bring it in line to their preconceived beliefs).
I’m not interested in any of this. People will be led astray on virtually any point or opinion. The world is utterly and irrevocably lost in its own sin and led astray by its own debased nature.
But, it is difficult to justify such a doctrine, as it nullifies his ability to take our place. This cancels out the gospel message entirely and renders us still dead in our sins. But, of course, most of those who ascribe to such a peculiar doctrine have no issue with denying the need for a savior in the first place.
Discussion Questions for Lecture 7
1.Before this session, for what reasons, if any, were you confident that the Bible is the word of God?
I’m convinced the bible is the Word of God because that knowledge was given to me mystically, supernaturally, all at one moment, upon reading a passage in 2 Peter. It was a moment of clarity, a moment where all falsehood fell from my mind, where stark reality came to the forefront and presented itself, declared itself. I did not want to believe. Did not want to acknowledge. I cannot help but accept it as true and as fact.
2.Of the evidences presented in this session for the inspiration of Scripture, what one evidence do you find most convincing?
For me, of the typical evidences, it is fulfilled prophecy. Isaiah 53 alone is incredibly compelling. The prophetic fulfillment of Cyrus. Psalm 2. The gospel of Christ hidden in Genesis 5.
These are all beyond human capacity to formulate, especially over 1500 years and between 40 authors.
3.It was said in class that Christianity is based upon history first, not the inspiration of Scripture. Discuss how a skeptic might need to see the biblical documents as separate pieces of literature that must historically stand on their own merits before they see them as part of the inspired whole.
I disagree completely with this statement. Seeing the bible as individual documents that stand on their own human merit in no way communicates the gospel to the lost individual. Maybe one is stubborn and unwilling to be exposed to the biblical text until they are drawn in by the integrity present (voluminous fragments and copies, etc). It is just as possible for this to occur as my experience with the text of reading the text and receiving supernatural insight, then having that insight confirmed by the textual integrity.
I don’t believe either are common place approaches to a saving grace.
4.The evidence of the individual author’s honesty is an often overlooked evidence for the historicity of Scripture. Read Judges 2:11; 3:7, 12; 4:1; 6:1; 10:6; 13:1; 17:6; 21:25 and further discuss how the recording of the nation of Israel’s perpetual failure adds to the historicity of the book of Judges.
It is argued from this point when stories are typically written and conceived, and likewise, when history is written to a slant (history is written by the victors), the failings of the victors is typically glossed over and down played. This does not occur in the biblical text, and basically the dirty laundry is put out front from all to see. They claim this lends to textual credibility, since this depicts accuracy in historical rendering.
I’m a little beyond apologetics and tend to side with Abraham. If you don’t believe the testimony of Moses and the Prophets, you won’t believe, even if one is raised from the dead. I really don’t think it matters how we present the Scripture to the lost. They will either believe or not. Though, we are cautioned by Jude to handle some people sensitively, while others need to be dealt with with fear, as if plucking them out of the fire. Diversity in gifts. Maybe that’s why we’re not all supposed to be evangelists. Do you hear that, evangelical Christians? Stop saying, because I’m not a foot, then I am not part of the body of Christ.
5.How do the prophecies in Isaiah 41 and Isaiah 46 tell us that God wants us to use our minds and not just believe any message that claims to be from Him?
Not only do I see no prophetic statement in these two chapters, but I see no way they are connected to the idea that God wants us to use our minds. Am I missing something here?
6.The book of Isaiah was written in the seventh century B.C. We have copies of Isaiah found among the Dead Sea Scrolls that date to 150 B.C. Discuss the significance of this as an apologetic concerning the inspiration of Isaiah.
What this means is the work of Isaiah predates it’s prophetic fulfillments by at least 150 years. A great example is Isaiah 53. It depicts in incredible detail and accuracy, the life, death of Christ. How could Isaiah do this? More importantly, how could Jesus fulfill this prophecy on his own? He could not. Only God could bring about both the prophecy and then fulfill it as well. This is actually the sign of the prophet. 100% accuracy 100% of the time. It’s funny how modern church leaders beg and plead for the tithe from the OT, yet not a one of them (especially the charismaniacs) use the OT to qualify a prophet. If using the Law, a prophet had to be 100% accurate 100% of the time, or he was taken out and stoned to death. Only the biblical prophets had this track record.
7.Read Jn. 10:26–27. The Scriptures claim to be the voice of God. Christians are told that we, by virtue of our new nature, recognize this voice. How do you hear God’s voice speaking to you when you read the Scriptures?
This is a fascinating question. For the longest time, I thought God was directing my path, speaking to me, telling me what to do. Then, abruptly, everything in my life came crashing down around me and I discovered I had invented all that I had heard. I was trying to play the game, follow the rules of the modern church, and I was miserable for it. I was a fraud. The person in my life closest to me said, “God will never let you be a leader of people if you hate them.”
She was right. I am not certain of the work I am called to, but I am certain I am NOT called to that. I am not called to play at preaching or at pastoring a modern, evangelical church. I am not called to be a bible teacher, lecturer, or the lot. I’m not certain what I am called to. But, I do have great desire for God’s truth, for reality, for my purpose here. But, so far, there are few answers, and way too many questions, a whole lot of confusion and way too many personal agendas. No one can be trusted, no human can be relied on. Everyone is out for their own self-interest. People are despicable, wicked and self-serving. Not a one speaks for God.
But, the bible is at least some what objective. It is as much as can be, universal, absolute, truth. Of course, our interpretation is faulty.
But, all I can do is hope God will see me through this deplorable world and I might have mercy in the resurrection and judgment to come.
8.How has this lesson most challenged your thinking?
I really don’t care for people. Since I was very little, my opinion of the people around me, the people I was forced to interact with has been very low. I am a misanthrope. And, I don’t believe this is a mental health issue. I think it is a rational, legitimate response to the depravity of the world and an indictment on human nature.
But, it is clear, whatever people are born with, or whatever they are encoded with through environment, that leads them to want connection, that wants interaction, that craves intimacy with other humans, this I simply do not possess.
I spend five days a week alone. Seven days a week are spent mostly alone. Even my work is semi solitary and carries very few interactions with other sentient beings. All that alone time, I am never drawn to fellowship. Never feel as if I am lacking something. Missing out. In fact, the longer I experience this life of solitude, the less I desire interaction when it does arise. In fact, I abhor it. Actively avoid it.
I’m sorry. I do not see this as an abnormality. I do not view this as some psychological irregularity. If you want me to react differently to the world, then the world needs to change their ways. We all know this is not going to happen.
I personally seek judgment for the world. I pray for hellfire. It is just. It is right. It is what the world deserves. Whatever awaits us, whether it be condemnation and eternal torment or mercy and peace for eternity, or simply ceasing to exist – these are all welcomed by me and cannot come soon enough.
Come, Lord, quickly. Come.
Discussion Questions for Lecture 8
1.The twentieth century witnessed great development in the doctrine of inerrancy. Some have said that the doctrine did not exist in any form until twentieth century, thus implying that neither the early church nor the Reformers believed in the doctrine. How does the rise of liberalism and the higher criticism of the Scriptures (e.g. the Bible is full of historical mistakes and is made up of fairy tale stories and embellishments) make it understandable that inerrancy would not be articulated until now, but that it was always believed?
This is the same argument as that of sole authority resting in the text instead of in tradition. The bible was preeminent, respected, and its authority unquestioned until higher criticism took it upon itself to question everything.
The reality is, though, high criticism was not based on an interest in truth. It started in origins of occultic believe and practices. It thrived in the environment of “how can we prove this wrong” instead of “what is really true.”
Articulating inerrancy is a response to heresy. There was no need to address the issue before. Addressing the issue of Origen’s heresies never came up until it needed to. You can’t turn around and say it is not a legitimate objection because it was not written clearly in the NT.
2.How important do you believe the doctrine of inerrancy is? Explain.
I think inerrancy is a foundation stone for our faith. The bible is the sole authority we have on this earth, at this time. No one else can be trusted. God is no longer speaking to us directly. Through the church age, he has given us this testimony, this collection of witnesses, that we might believe. It is also an indictment against those who refuse to accept Christ. A witness that will stand against them at the judgment.
If we reject inerrancy, we are rejecting God’s omnipotence. We reject his sovereignty over the physical world and over all of creation when we deny the perfection of Scripture.
Not that the bible is complete. It is not. There are gaps in the story. There are things hidden that have yet to be explained. All kinds of mysteries await us as we venture down this road toward glory. But, the world would have us reduce Christ to a good man, a good teacher, and with that, remove the ability to save us as Savior. If a good man, a good teacher, he is but like us (which is what they want so they can go on doing their evil) and he is incapable of the office of Redeemer.
But, may God be true and every man a liar. He is perfect. He is right. He is just. He is merciful. He is able.
His word is inerrant as it was originally written, and is effective in bringing about a saving knowledge in Christ.
3.Further discuss the differences between inerrancy and infallibility. Can the Scriptures be infallible without being inerrant?
Some would argue these two terms mean the same thing. In fact, my dictionary uses basically the same definition for both and list each as the other’s synonym.
But, in light of this age’s critical theology and scholarship it is clear the consensus would like to redefine infallibility as a lesser status of inerrancy, meaning infallibility points to the bible’s ability to achieve its aim, regardless the supposed errors found within its pages.
Inerrancy claims there can be no error in the original biblical texts because it is from God. It is divinely inspired and God cannot lie, cannot deceive, cannot mistake (and here cannot would reference not having these found within his nature, not denoting an inability of some kind).
4.Identify and explain this alleged discrepancy: Proverbs 26:4-5.
Answer not a fool according to his folly. Just as Jesus did not bother to answer the scribes in many cases. There is simply no reasoning with people in many respects and instances. If you do, if you entertain their perversity, their stupidity, their verbose arguments against what is right, you become like them, and even encourage them.
Then again, you should answer a fool when answering will bring him benefit. If you do not call him out on it, he will wander away in his own conceit, believing he is right.
It is up to us to judge the appropriateness of the moment and situation. If by answering we succumb to his stupidity, and we will certainly get nowhere and will never convince him of his own foolishness, we are waisting our time. But, if there is a chance he could be swayed, we should take the chance, because he has no other hope on this earth. If you don’t speak he is doomed. If you do speak, you take the risk of dooming yourself; at best, you will be wasting your time.
5.Identify and explain this alleged discrepancy: Matt. 5:22; Matt. 23:17.
These supposed discrepancies tend to arise out of poor hermeneutics. A rush to judgment and most certainly a preconceived bias.
Matthew 5:22 and 23:17 pose no contradictions of themselves or each other. In fact, they speak to the same truth.
In both, Jesus takes the example of a law or statue that the scribes apply with a specific judgment attached. Murder and swearing by gold requiring obligation.
Jesus expounds on both of these examples, showing how it is not the action that is condemned but the origin of that action. If you murder, it is not the act of murder that is condemned, but the motivation, which is hate, ill will (Raca, you fool). Hating your brother is, in God’s eyes, the same as killing him. You will be judged accordingly if you are found at the judgment without the covering of the blood of the lamb. Likewise, the Jews strain a gnat but swallow the camel. If you swear by the temple it means nothing, if you swear by the gold in the temple, you are held to your obligation.
But Jesus made it clear (just as in the other example), it is not the gold that is sacred. It is the Temple that makes the gold sacred. It is not the offering on the altar but the altar itself that is sacred.
The scribes were hung up on the details, on the emblems, on the shadows, when they should have been focusing on the Christ, which all of these are mere pictures of what was to come.
6.Identify and explain this alleged discrepancy: 1 Sam. 31:4–6; 2 Sam. 1:6–10.
This is an interesting supposed contradiction, yet again, only when lacking clear resolve to solve the dilemma or an intentioned bias against the word (and if so, you have much greater troubles than contradictory passages such as these).
If, indeed, the two accounts do contradict, it is most likely a scribal error. There is great precedent for this. Of course, without the original autograph, there is no way to know with any certainty which account is the correct one (not until the resurrection, when all will be made clear). I am confident in the inerrancy of Scripture, despite this supposed contradiction. The problem again here is not with God or his word, but with the malicious manipulation and mutilation of man’s hands on it throughout human history.
But, with that said, there is another possible explanation that rules out discrepancy altogether. If the King was killed by his servant, fine. If he committed suicide, fine. But, the idea that he was killed by another, this idea is rejected by many scholars who state this individual’s account is a lie to help him gain favor. I would have to do more research into this controversy, but I personally opt for a wait and see option.
7.Identify and explain the discrepancy in the creation order in Gen. 1 and 2.
I know this very well. There is no discrepancy. These are two tellings of the same events. Overall view, detailed view. Just because the overall view does not contain all the details does not mean it is incorrect.
8.How has this lesson most challenged your thinking?
There is a concerted effort to discredit the biblical text. However they can do it, the disbelieving want to eradicate all belief in the supremacy, the supernatural origin, and the standard measure of the bible and its message of impending judgment by the Creation’s rightful King. They want to continue on in their depravity, having been turned over to their lusts of the flesh, their debased minds. They cannot help what they do, having been given over by God. But, they have only been given over because he knows their heart, he knows their thoughts, and it is wickedness always.
Discussion Questions for Lecture 9
1.Before this session, how would you have described your hermeneutic?
I would say it is literal, meaning the plain text first. Then type, as the bible interprets itself by use of type, such as Joseph is a type of Christ, Paul’s good seed and bad seed, Ruth is the picture of salvation for both the Jew and the Gentile, etc.
I would align with how the NT authors interpreted scripture, primarily utilizing the Jewish four sense of interpretation: Literal, Midrash, Pesher, Allegorical, and Typological, but primarily focused on utilizing NT interpretation examples of how they interpreted OT passages. Not to say that because Paul used Allegorical in one instance means I can use allegorical at will. Rather, because Paul used allegory in a particular passage means I can also interpret that specific same passage allegorically. Literal is by far the first and most prominent interpretive method I use. The plain reading of the text. The logical meaning.
After that, of course, is Midrash, or the expositive approach. This is what normatively pastors, preachers, and teachers do every week from the pulpit and classrooms. But, then there is Pesher, focusing on uncovering the hidden meaning of the text. Examples of this would be Isaiah 53, Psalm 2, Genesis 5, Jude 1:6, etc. I typically will reserve allegory for the instances when the NT writers interpret particular passage allegorically. Typology is also used sparingly, or whenever it is simply beyond deniability .
2.How important do you think that knowledge of the history of hermeneutics is? Explain.
I think it is important to be informed on the subject if for no other reason than to avoid the traps and pitfalls those in the past have already succumbed to. I am convinced that God will see a believer through any obstacle they have with the text, if they truly are saved, truly are converted, truly do believe.
So, is it a prerequisite to accurately understanding the biblical text. No. Do you need to understand proper hermeneutics or its history in order to be saved? No again. I would argue that it is important for the believer to understand, that they will, at some point, be brought into this knowledge along the journey of their sanctification. Will it require formal training in a classroom setting? No. It may not require anything at all. The spirit may simply impart it to them supernaturally.
3.The statement was made in class that while the Scriptures were inspired, this does not necessarily mean that the writers of Scripture used an inspired method of interpretation. Discuss the problems and merits of this way of thinking.
I would completely disagree. Not only were the bible writers inspired to inerrancy, but also was their interpretation inspired and inerrant. Meaning, because Jude used Enoch in his letter, that was, in effect, authenticating Enoch for those specific quotes. Likewise, I am convinced not only are the biblical writers inerrant in the knowledge of their day, but also in the knowledge of the past and all knowledge of the future. Not because they are inerrant, but because God is inerrant and perfect. He cannot make an error. The biblical authors may not have even known what they were writing at the time they were writing it. Jude would have had no idea that Enoch was not part of the canon, or that the doctrine of the fallen angels and the hybrid angelic humans would be of disrepute in the future. Same for Moses and Genesis 1-2 or the writer that recorded Cyrus.
Scripture is inerrant. We are ignorant. Human knowledge is foolishness to God and he chose the foolish of this world to confound the wise (1 Corinthians 1:27; 2:14; 3:19).
4.Do you think that it is possible that the apostles like Matthew used a valid typological hermeneutic in which they were able to see a “hidden” underlying Christological fulfillment of some text because they were inspired, while you and I cannot use the same hermeneutic today? Explain.
Not necessarily. I would say it is rare in the NT to use such an interpretive approach. It occurs approximately 28 times in the New Testament. Hands down, the NT writers interpreted the OT literally. The greatest use of the OT in the NT was example (101 times out of 363). Literal use was 184. Prophetic use was only 118. Type, surprisingly, only once. 60 times the NT writers interpreted the OT passages that could not stand on their own contextually from the OT alone (these could technically be included in the prophetic number, which would raise that total to 178, so about half and half).
We can use the same hermeneutic as the NT writers. In fact, we should. We should definitely utilize the OT and NT as examples to look back on and apply the lessons from the past to guide us in all life and living today. This is how we should use the bulk of Scripture. We should likewise utilize scripture to interpret Scripture. We should likewise utilize the rule of two or three witnesses, just as sound prudence. If we have a pesheristic understanding from scripture, can it be logical? Is the truth of it found elsewhere in Scripture? How often is it found? This holds true for Allegorical and Typological interpretations, too. For you, individually, personally, in your devotional life, in your spiritual life, you alone will answer for what you’ve done, what you’ve thought, and the conclusions you’ve come to in life. More especially, what you’ve done with it all. But, that in no way means you spread a theological idea to the general public or to other believers. There can and should be secrets between you and God.
There is a particular belief I have, a doctrine that I have formulated, based on several texts in the bible. But, it is purely conjecture. I have no substantive Scriptural basis for it. It is not directly or even indirectly expressed anywhere in Scripture. It might be hinted at in one or two places. Yet, I do believe it. And I believe it based on personal prayer, personal theology, personal philosophizing, and drawing logical conclusions. But, it is in no way save to base doctrine on this presumption. In fact, it could be down right dangerous to give credence to such an idea for others, especially those who are weaker in the faith, who could get carried away with great flights of fancy. Likewise, if I am guilty of such imaginative fiction, and it in the end will amount to not, I am hard pressed to find a reason to bring others down with me. So I keep it between me and God and express it in the realm of fiction where it belongs until the end and all things are revealed.
The most dangerous part of interpretation is people won’t shut up about it. Stick to the literal, we have trouble enough just living up to that.
5.Why do you think it was and is so common in the early Church for people to say that inspired Scripture has a “second” meaning that goes beyond the literal?
Quite honestly, I think it’s because they had no television. Most of the people engaged in such activities were wealthy, high born, high status individuals who had a lot of time on their hands. They were not scraping together scraps just to get by. They were not eating out of gutters. Not to mention, by the fourth century, the persecution was over and the clergy was now paid by the state. No one wanted to rock the boat and ruin the good thing they had going. Self-interest wins again.
6.Further discuss the dangers of using the allegorical method of interpretation.
There is nothing wrong in and of itself to use allegory. The problem is most who do so unanchor themselves from the literal sense of meaning, and run wild in the allegorical woodland. Allegory allows people to find and invent all sorts of twisting of Scripture to make it say what you want. This allows people to support presuppositions, rather than change how they believe and how they manifest their actions in light of the new belief. It allows people to prop up human institutions for the sake of the status quo and forever retards their growth and service in Christ.
7.How has this lesson most challenged your thinking?
It makes me question my own doctrines and my own theology. How much of it is second and third hand? How much can truly be found in the bible? Actually, I think probably 99% can be found in the text. It’s the interpretation of those texts that are a concern.
How can I know? I can’t trust others. So many (probably most) have been led astray by one doctrine or another. No one is without ulterior motive. All you can do is hope Christ will say well done at the end. You hope that the Spirit has led you into genuine knowledge and not a deception. You hope you have not led yourself astray or been led astray by others.
Plus, how do we know that this is not all a waste of time? If there is no resurrection, we are the most pitiable. This is all we have and in this life I’ve been led down the wrong road, given all the wrong chances, lied to, betrayed, swindled. Even family and parents and authority figures are untrustworthy in this God awful place. I would gladly give this life for nothingness. I would be overjoyed to step into eternity, whether into condemnation or into bliss. Either would be better than this monotony, this constant barrage of artifice.
Discussion Questions for Lecture 10
1.Further discuss the merits and dangers of an authoritative approach to Scripture. Give further illustrations of how this method has been abused in Church history.
Because of the inherent nature of man, authoritative approach is impossible. Look at what he has done with it thus far. The early church was rife with heresy. The church in the middle ages killed more Christians than all pagans combined. Again, man was given an opportunity to fix it, and God gave him the reformation. What did we do with it? He repeated his mistakes. Now the protestant church looks nearly no different than its catholic progenitor. We can look back at the first, maybe second century for what we should do, might do in the name of Christ, but from then on, we can only look at Church history to see what not to do.
2.Further discuss how important it was that the reformers returned to the historical-grammatical method of interpretation.
I’m not so certain it was the best idea. As with all things reformative in Christianity, they didn’t seem to go far enough, or often went too far. They should never have abandoned the monastic vocation. Some protestants have reinstated such, but not many. They should have addressed the issue of marriage, for Scripture (especially Paul) spells out that marriage is a concession and not the ideal. Fine, if you want to marry, if you feel the call to marry, but tell the truth. Instead, the church has whipped up a fanciful theology about soul mates all in the name of propagating the organized asset driven, family oriented church model (because stable families are easier to control, remain in the same location for long periods, and are more often passive and build assets over time that church leaders can effectively fleece).
Historical-grammatical is just another way of saying literal sense reading, which the Jews have been doing for centuries and the NT writers utilized when interpreting more than half of the OT references they used. But, again, the Reformers did not go far enough. They should have made the move all the way back to the first century, adopted a genuine persecution model for the church structure, and positioned itself to ignite. They should have adopted a NT interpretative approach instead of just the first of four.
3.The liberal approach to Scripture is to see only the human element within Scripture. How can we avoid becoming too liberal in our interpretation?
I wouldn’t necessarily call this liberal as much as I would disbelieving. If you strip away the divine nature of God’s word, you also remove the deity of Christ. Deny Christ and he will deny you at the last day.
But, if honest, I’m not sure if those who are liberally minded really have any hope in steering back from being led astray. If we read Romans 1 literally, “Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory” (Romans 9:20-23).
Which are we? Vessels of honor or dishonor? Are we being prepared for destruction or mercy?
Did he not prepare us beforehand for glory? If so, did he not likewise prepare beforehand those destined for his demonstration of wrath?
I believe they are being build up for hellfire, for God’s glory. He is not really the God you learned about in Sunday School or early on Saturday morning on TBN.
4.Discuss some of the preunderstandings that you bring to the text that can affect your interpretation.
Everything that you currently believe casts some kind of gloss on the text whenever you read it. Just believing a certain belief predisposes you to jump to specific conclusions. Your mind desires to incorporate new material into your already formed world view. It will go to great lengths to resolve dissonance.
If I am convinced marriage is out of weakness, I will certainly view it that way in all that I read. If I believe there are fallen angels who had sex with mortal women and had hybrid offspring, this will color how I interpret the bible. If I believe and have personal experience of speaking in tongues as a personal prayer language that not only everyone should get but it is a sign of salvation, this will lead me in certain directions while interpreting Scripture. It is confirmation bias.
5.Discuss which hermeneutical fallacy you believe is committed most by the average Christian today.
Discounting or outright discarding the divinity, inspiration, and ultimate inerrancy of the Bible. This has shipwrecked countless faiths and have led many into disbelief. It is, ultimately, a denial of Christ, and Paul is clear, “It is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame” (Hebrews 6:4-6).
6.How has this lesson most challenged your thinking?
I struggle with the idea of my own salvation. It can be said our faith hinges on very shaky ground. For as much as we might think we know, it is quite possible that Jesus never actually even existed, that the apostles were liars (or worse, created later by monks and religious fanatics), and when we die we simply slip off into the nothingness of non-existence.
Of all the countless generations that have come and gone, an infinite number of souls that have lived their entire lives in absolute obscurity and misery and without purpose. Who am I to be acceptable to God? What makes me think I am even worthy to look upon his shadow? I am constantly reminded of Paul’s admonition, “let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12) and “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).
What I’ve learned the most and keep re-learning is how much there is yet to learn. How much distance there still remains between myself and Christ, for this is the ultimate goal (Romans 8:19).
What I Learned from this Course
Yet again, I come away from a course online a little bit disappointed. It was good, don’t get me wrong. But, it really felt like a rehash of the first course in this series, Intro to Theology.
I did learn how unorthodox or heretical I really am in my beliefs. But not really. Most of the typical heretical ideas I have no affiliation with. More so, I am despondent and disillusioned by modern, mainstream, orthodoxical Christianity. It is a shallow sham of disunity, self-interest, and propagation of non-biblical ideas and practices.
Please consider supporting my work, my unschooled studies, and my hermitic lifestyle by purchasing one or more of my books. I’m not supported by academia or have a lucrative corporate job – I’m just a mystical modern-day hermit trying to live out the life I believe God has called me to. So, any support you choose to provide is GREATLY appreciated.
Excerpt from Our Daughter:
“Okay, mom,” Randy said.
“You behave yourself and be nice. You’re lucky to have company while you wait for the doctors.”
The woman turned and started back the way she came.
“The nurse said it would be twenty or thirty more minutes, so we’ll eat quick and be back up here before they take you in, okay?”
“Sorry for him,” the woman said to Katie as she walked by.
As the woman left, Katie noticed the boy moving around again on the bed. Before she realized what was happening, the tiny lump disappeared and she could hear the faint sound of bare hands and feet on the tile floor.
He was low crawling under the beds toward her.
A moment later, Randy popped his head out from under the nearest hospital bed, craning his neck around to look up at her.
“Hello, there,” Katie said.
Randy disappeared back under the bed, the bed sheet draping down almost to the floor. Katie could still see three little fingers pressed to the tile.
“What are you here for?” Katie asked, readjusting her seat in the chair, trying to get the ache in her chest to lessen.
For whatever reason, the wheelchair was really uncomfortable.
“Why are – ”
Randy’s voice trailed off for a moment as he looked around.
“Why are you here?”
“I’m getting my leg fixed,” Katie said. “See?”
Randy poked his head back out from under the bed and looked at the leg she was pointing to.
“What’s wrong with it?”
“The doctor said it’s broken,” Katie said. “Shattered.”
“Can you feel it?” Randy asked, able to stay out from his hiding place.
“I can feel it, but it’s not too bad,” Katie said, then tapped the IV in her arm. “This thing is giving me medicine of some kind for the pain. At least that’s what the nurses said.”
“Why are you – ”
Randy stopped mid-sentence.
He scooted out from under the bed entirely and slowly crept over to her on all fours.
“What are you, some kind of spider?” Katie asked, giggling a little.
“What are you?” Randy echoed.
He was now only about a foot away from her chair and sat there, his legs folded up under him, gawking up at her.
“What are you staring at me for?”
“I’ve never – ”
Randy put out a hesitant hand and ever so gently touched her arm.
“Are you some kind of ghost?”
He looked around again.
“Are you – ”
He leaned in, talking in a whisper.
“Are you dead?”
A nurse came around the corner and stopped abruptly, spotting the empty bed in the far corner where Randy should have been.
“Randy Andrews,” the nurse said, her hands now on her hips. “You get right back into the bed and you stop playing around, please. They are ready for you in surgery.”
Katie watched as Randy scrambled on all fours under the beds and back up onto his, pulling the sheet back over top of himself again.
She started to ask him about his question, but couldn’t get the words out before his parents appeared at the door.
Katie sat there quietly, watching Randy stare back at her from under his sheet. She glanced over at his parents and the nurse, noticed Randy’s dad had no hair on the top of his head.
Are you dead?
What kind of question was that?
The snap of the wheel locks being disengaged on Randy’s hospital bed jarred Katie out of the confusion she was in.
The doctor she’d first seen was now at the door, waiting for Randy.
He was his surgeon.
They wheeled Randy out of the room, his parents following right behind, disappearing to the left, heading for his operating room.
The pre-op room was empty again.
Are you dead?
What kind of crazy question was that?
The nurse came back through the double doors.
“It won’t be long now,” she said.
Katie tried not to think about the dull ache growing just behind her sternum.
The nurse disappeared around the corner as Katie watched the double doors to the operating rooms slowly shut.
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