I finished my Hermeneutics Mega Course, part of my uThM Program and chose to complete the exercises assigned in the Master’s Seminary Hermeneutics course.

You can read all of my course assignments here.

Let’s get started….


Assignment Instructions

I found the premise of this assignment very intriguing. The instructor tasked the students to identify 18 statements the verse made, 7 statements the verse did not say, and 10 questions about the verse that were not addressed in the first two sections of made and not-made statements.

The verse is Ephesians 5:18. I first read it several times, then read the surrounding verses, then read the entire chapter. I also went back and analyzed the verse in the Greek – the ABP, the Majority Greek, and the Textus Receptus. Here is the translation I arrived at:

and [be] not drunk [with] wine in {the} which [illustrates an] unsaved nature, but [be] filled in [the] spirit

The professor went at great length in one of the lectures about how difficult this challenge would be, but I finished it in about two hours. It was not as difficult as I first thought. Here are my answers.

Section 1 – 18 Key Observations the Text States

1. We should not drink so much alcohol that we become intoxicated.

2. Drinking until we are intoxicated is the behavior of someone who is unsaved.

3. We should strive to be filled in/with the spirit of God.

4. This is an issue of proper behavior in how a believer is viewed both by others in the church and also those in the world.

5. To be drunk with wine displays externally an internal condition, the lack of the spirit within the person.

6. To be drunk with wine is to be not filled with the spirit of God.

7. To not be filled with the spirit of God is to live life as if you have an unsaved nature.

8. If we are filled with the spirit we will likewise manifest the outward behaviors seen in vs 19: speaking to each other in psalms, hymns, spiritual songs, singing and making melody’s in your hearts to the Lord, giving thanks to God for all things.

9. To get drunk on wine [or to do any behavior not befitting a saved person] is to to be unwise, as stated in the previous verse.

10. You redeem the time if you remain sober and are filled with the spirit of God.

11. It is foolish to drink until you are drunk.

12. If the days are evil as is stated in the previous verse, it is wise and the Lord’s will to not be evil as the days are (as the world is), but to seek his will and to be filled with the Spirit.

13. Those who get drunk, who are living as if unsaved, are dead, asleep, and not in the light, which is the Spirit of God within them, as described in vs. 14.

14. To be filled with the spirit of God is to walk circumspectly, accurately, precisely, which is wisdom manifest, as per vs. 15.

15. There are two natures, the unsaved nature and the saved nature, and we choose which nature we will abide by and walk in.

16. Being filled with the spirit of God is a choice every Christian makes every day of their lives.

17. The Lord desires that we use our intellect, to understand, to put together logically what is his will for us, as described in vs. 17.

18. If we are filled with the spirit of God, we will direct our attention to each other rather than to ourselves and our own self-ambitions.

Section 2 – 7 Key Observations the Text Does Not State

1. This verse does not say we cannot drink wine [or alcohol].

2. This verse does not say we are lost or are unsaved if we get drunk.

3. This verse does not state why getting drunk on alcohol is necessarily bad in and of itself, but only connects it to the behavior of the unsaved nature.

4. This verse does not define the unsaved nature, or describes any other trait or behavior it manifests other than getting drunk.

5. This verse does not explicitly identify a saved nature, but rather intrinsically links it with being filled with the spirit of God.

6. This verse does not explicitly state the unsaved nature is inherently self-centered and self-serving, focusing on our own personal desires.

7. This verse does not specifically state the unsaved nature is inherently reckless or casts off restraint, while the previous verse (vs15) describes a spirit filled life is one of walking “circumspectly.”

Section 3 – 10 Questions About the Text

1. How does one go about “being filled with the spirit?”

2. How much is too much drinking?

3. Does the spirit come and go based on behavior of a believer?

4. What exactly is meant by, “psalms, hyms, and spiritual songs?”

5. Do drunk people not give thanks to God for all things?

6. Why is submission to one another in fear of the Lord the opposite of being drunk on wine?

7. Why is being filled with the spirit the opposite of bing drunk on wine?

8. How does one develop an understanding of the Lord’s will so that we would chose to walk in the spirit and not in the unsaved nature?

9. How can a believer have or walk in an unsaved nature? Does the saved person remain saved while they simply behave like the lost, or are they continually shifting states back and forth between being saved and unsaved based on being filled with the Spirit?

10. Why is it important that a saved person walks differently than an unsaved person? Why are we instructed to be filled with the Spirit?

Conclusions

The techniques used in this assignment I have instinctively used for years when studying Scripture. It is a process of digging deeply – mining the text – for not just the surface knowledge, but discover the sub-surface insight, the “hidden” meaning.

This is not the same hidden meaning the allegorist seeks, since he desires to read into the text his own personal flights of fancy, his own self-serving agenda in order to prove or support his preconceived beliefs.

Scripture has a depth to it. It is the deepest of wells, from which a mortal may draw from the entirety of his life, without ever exhausting its treasures. It is so much more than a mere three dimensional object, vastly more complex and enthralling than a story book of fables.

This is the basic technique of the diligent student of the Word of God. It is the technique exercised by the Eastern Orthodox monastic who recites the Jesus Prayer hundreds of times a day. To dig. To mine. To extract the treasure of the heart, to purify the soul. To aid the believer along the process of their own sanctification.

Seminarians limit this process to preachers who prepare a sermon, but it is a self-limitation. This process is beneficial to all believers in this age who possess the whole council of God, that they might mine the riches that has been hidden since before the foundation of the world.

Until my next assignment…..


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Excerpt from Ashen Monk Mountain:



There was an old elm tree near the end of the lawn, with a circular picnic table and several short benches.

“This looks like a lovely spot,” Mr. Eckey said, taking a seat.

He set his briefcase on the picnic table and flipped the latches, opening the lid.

Christopher took a seat opposite him and removed his hood, folding his arms in front of him.

“I have a tablet and a pen here somewhere,” Mr. Eckey said. “I had it when I left, that is. Not sure if I can find it in this disorganized briefcase of mine…”

He chuckled at himself.

“So – ”

Christopher ran a hand over his short cropped scalp.

“I’m confused about all this. I’m not sure I understand why exactly you wanted to meet with me.”

Mr. Eckey nodded.

“How long have you been a novitiate here?”

“Going on seven months now.”

“Hmm…and…”

He glanced up at Christopher as he fetched his notebook and ink pen.

“How are you liking it at Saint Joseph’s?”

“It has been – ”

Christopher thought about the question for a moment.

“ – wonderful.”

“I would assume it much different than – ”

Mr. Eckey flipped the first page over, scanned handwritten notes he had on the second page.

“I received some background from the Precept’s office, as well as from Abbot Greenly. You grew up in – North Platte, Nebraska? Is that correct?”

Christopher nodded.

“I’m native of the Boston area myself,” Mr. Eckey said. “Tell me a little about how you came to the decision.”

“The decision?”

Mr. Eckey smiled.

“To become a monk. It must have been quite a journey from Nebraska.”

Christopher shrugged.

“Not really. I guess. I just – ”

Unwanted images flashed through his mind.

Mr. Eckey took a deep breath before speaking again.

“Mr. Ward, I don’t actually know a whole lot about this request, to be perfectly honest. As you know, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Apostolic Life – that’s quite a mouthful, isn’t it – we are entrusted with monitoring abnormal behavior among those called to the consecrated vocation.”

He tapped his pen on the tablet.

“Tell me, what do you like about Saint Joseph’s exactly?”

“It’s the – well – I feel at home here. Like I belong. I very much enjoy the silence.”

“Yes, I know the Trappists to be quite ardent in their devotion.”

Christopher nodded in agreement as Mr. Eckey took a few notes.

“I enjoy the early mornings, the worship, the offices. The undivided devotion.”

“To God?” Mr. Eckey asked.

“Yes,” Christopher said. “Exactly.”

The stranger focused on his notes for several seconds, silently mouthing the words he wrote.

“Tell me, how does your life now differ from your previous one?”

“Previous?”

Mr. Eckey stopped writing.

“Your military career.”

“Oh,” Christopher said, looking down. “I guess – I – I don’t know. There are lots of differences. I’m not – sure I – what is this inquiry about exactly?”

Mr. Eckey put his pen down.

“Mr. Ward,” he said. “The Vatican apparently has interest in your particular gifts and abilities for a – call it – a special appointment. I guess that’s the best way to put it.”

He shifted his weight on the hard bench.

“Normally, the Congregation does not get involved in appointments or a particular monk’s vocational choices. But, sometimes, when the need arises, special arrangements can be made.”

“Are you talking about another monastery?”

“Actually – ”

Mr. Eckey picked his pen back up.

“It’s an entirely different Order.”

Christopher leaned forward as a gust of wind billowed the long sleeves of his tunic.

“I don’t really understand,” he said. “Are you saying the Vatican wants me to move to a different monastery – to a different Order? But…I…”

Mr. Eckey waited a moment.

“Tell me, Mr. Ward, about your military training.”

“What about it?”

“Your experiences. You were a special operator, is that correct?”

Christopher shot him a quizzical look.

“How do you know that?”

“You were part of the 7th SFG? Assigned to operations in Afghanistan for the majority of your enlistment, surrendering your commission as a Captain. Is that correct? What did you like or dislike about your military career? Why was it you left?”

Christopher looked out over the cornfields in the distance.

“Sir,” he said, wringing his hands together. “I don’t really understand why you’re asking these kinds of questions. To be honest, they’re making me a little uncomfortable. I think I – ”

“Please, Brother Christopher,” Mr. Eckey said, putting up a hand. “I don’t mean to pry. As I said, this is a peculiar and rather sensitive situation, not at all normal procedure. So, I do apologize for my rather tactless approach. Let me explain a little, if I can – ”

Christopher tried to relax.

He struggled to repress the memories rising in the back of his mind, the bloody and gruesome images of dead bodies, a horrible, yet all too familiar wave of fear and dread washing over him.

A wave of putrid death enveloped and permeated everything.

He took a deep breath, tried to ignore it.

Mr. Eckey put down his pen again.

“There is a remote monastery in British Colombia. It is of a separate Order, not Cistercian, but similar. It’s rather distinctive, as I am led to believe.”

“What is the Order?” Christopher asked.

Mr. Eckey shook his head.

“You would not be familiar with it,” he said. “There is actually only one monastery in the Order. But it has had a long, and quite fascinating history, to say the least. And, somewhat of a fantastic service.”

“So, why me, then?” Christopher asked. “I’m a novitiate. I don’t have much to offer. I’m not sure what you are asking of me.”

“The Vatican is asking a favor of you, Brother Ward. They are requesting that you take a leave of absence from Saint Joseph’s and visit this other monastery for a time.”

“I’m – I don’t – ”

Christopher stammered.

“I’m honored that the Vatican has called on me,” he said. “I really do feel settled here, though. I would not wish to – ”

Mr. Eckey interrupted.

“Consider it simply a sabbatical of sorts. Without strings attached. We are interested solely in God’s working here in this matter.”

“Are you wanting me to relocate?” Christopher asked.

Mr. Eckey smiled.

“How about we say the Vatican is open and interested in the Father’s call on your life. We simply wish to – test the waters – see if this would or would not be a good fit.”

“So, if I go, and it is not a good fit?”

“Your place here at Saint Joseph’s would be available to you at any time you see fit. Like I said, no strings attached.”

“I would not feel comfortable going without Abbot Greenly’s blessing,” Christopher said.

“You have it,” Mr. Eckey said, his smile widening.

Christopher said nothing.

“Think of it as a vacation. Though, if I’m hearing you correctly, you really are in no need of one. But, then again…. ”

The man shrugged.

“May I – ”

Christopher pondered his words.

“Is it possible to consider this awhile before I decide?”

“Certainly,” Mr. Eckey said. “Because of the situation, though, we would need you to go sooner than later. Is there anything upcoming that you are thinking about in particular?”

Christopher shook his head.

“No,” he said. “I would just like to sit with this for a day or two. Pray about it. How long would the visit be?”

“As long as you need to decide,” Mr. Eckey said. “Preferably a month to start. Longer is encouraged. Like I said, it is a unique situation, so tradition does not really lend itself easily. But, I would ask – ”

He put his notepad and pen back in his briefcase and closed the lid.

“Because of the sensitive nature, the Vatican has requested that you do not discuss this with anyone except me. Not the other monks here, your family, not even Abbot Greenly.”

“But, how – ”

Mr. Eckey put up a hand.

“I’m heading back to discuss the situation with Abbot Greenly before I leave the grounds. He will certainly not have an objection. Not that I can imagine, anyway.”

He fished out a business card from the inside pocket of his blazer.

“Here is my contact information,” he said, handing him the card. “You can reach me on my cell phone any time. Whenever you decide, one way or the other. There is a great need, though, so I do hope you will consider at least visiting.”

Christopher took the card, looked at it, then looked up at Mr. Eckey.

“What kind of need, exactly?”

The man just smiled.

“All in due time,” he said. “Just let us know as soon as you are able.”

Christopher looked back at the card.

“I will.”

“Thank you, Brother Ward, for your time. I do think I can find my way back to the abbot’s office from here.”

He briefly looked around the grounds.

“I do envy you a little,” he said. “What a majestic space you monks have created here. It’s like a slice of Eden. Really.”

He got up, shook Christopher’s hand, then left him there alone, as the stranger retraced his steps to the abbot’s office.

Christopher took a deep breath, then sighed.

The wave of putrid death still lingered as another wind gust blew across the fields, dredging up memories he would have altogether wished could have remained buried, soaking him again in the blood of the past.

He stayed there for a long time, just watching as the endless sea of cornfields waved in the winds.


Buy my book Ashen Monk Mountain to find out what this cryptic and mysterious appointment is the Vatican is asking Christopher to take on. An unheard of monastery, hidden deep in the Canadian Rockies? A secret mission and call? What in the world could be going on?

Click here and grab your copy today! Whatever you do, don’t let this fantastically epic story get away!

But, trust me when I say, you’re not going to believe the truth even when you discover it for yourself. Find out what secrets lay hidden underfoot at Ashen Monk Mountain!


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