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3. A Brief History of Biblical Interpretation

Chester Clark III


Learning from the past often brings the present into clearer focus! In this seminar, we explore how Christian thought has often swung between pendulums of biblical interpretation – and we will be better equipped to recognize the extremes.


Chester Clark III

Pastor, Evangelist, and Educator



  • December 29, 2016
    2:45 PM
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This message was presented at the G Y C twenty sixteen conference when all has been heard in Houston Texas for other resources like this visit us online at W W W T Y C. Where you are Jeanne good afternoon. It is time to get started. So we're going to go ahead and. And try to use all the time we can today to. To get as much coverage as we can we're going to be covering the history of Biblical interpretation. No I don't propose to we'll be able to make an exhaustive study of biblical interpretation but we are going to seek to do as much as we can with the time that we have a lot of to us today we. Study this because it helps us understand some of the trends and some of the moves. I guess you might say and interpretation today in biblical interpretation and it helps us to sort of see as we've seen the way people have approached the Bible in the past. It helps us to I think it helps us to know how we ought to appropriate the Bible to date. So let's just begin with word of prayer and we'll get right into this history Father in heaven. We thank you that you've given us the opportunity to study to learn today. We thank you for the Bible and as we've already seen in the previous sessions. It's a it's a power it is the power of God that works to change us the living in eternal Word of God and it's the object of our or I should say it's the it's the you use it to bring. About our conversion our cleansing as well. And so as we study today we pray that you would just guide our hearts and our minds and we think you in Jesus name and men. All right. So we're going to start with the Jewish a jewish an interpretation the apostolic age we're going to start talking about how the Jews viewed the Scriptures at the time of their early church and this is not too hard to do because we have a number of thought leaders that spoke or wrote widely about the use of the Bible. We're going to start with file of Alexandria Alexandria of course was where many Jews were. Were scattered during the die a sports file OA Jewish commentator philosopher used allegory with great force. Knowledge not many of his contemporaries were using such methods of interpreting the Bible but phyla use this. For example an example of how follow used allegories he said the trees of knowledge and life and. In Eden did not actually exist but were some bulls just as the serpent who seduced Eve was a symbol of lust So basically what a person does when they take an allegory they take an allegorical view of scripture they say this this passage wasn't meant to describe something factual or store a goal. It's an allegory with a hidden meaning we just have to understand what that hidden meaning is now this is a trend that you're going to see coming back over and over and just in the history of biblical interpretation fi low is one of the early. To use allegories and a very dramatic way Bi-Lo taught that when every text presented difficulties made no sense contained contradictions or was unworthy of scripture. That's quite a list of possibilities right that at that point the literal meaning should be given up in favor of an olive. Gora cool interpretation he called this the laws of allegory. So whenever a text prison a difficulty is made no sense contain contradictions or was unworthy of scripture the literal meaning should be given out now there's a problem with this philosophy of this principle of interpretation. The problem is we might think it doesn't make sense because we don't like what it says right or it presents difficulties because it crosses with my natural desires. So that's no problem. And now and file those mind all we need to do is now view this as an allegorical passage. We read it as an allegory and we just have to understand what those symbols are those actual literal words represent the result was that very few of the biblical stories were retained as if as factual and file those commentaries everything was spiritualized an alligator eyes and if is a philosophical language appealing to the intellectuals of the age of the Greek Hellenistic world it took centuries for the church to recover from files influence. Now it's talking about the Christian church even though we had the Jews not being a Christian. This was and he was an influence in the early Christian church. So we're going to talk a little bit about the early and medieval church and I think you're going to see some of the same things coming up the use of scripture as allegories but we'll get into that just a minute. Clement one of the church fathers as they call them. Wrote to the Corinthian church as early as ninety five a deed this would have been probably while the apostle John was still alive appealing to scripture as a basis for his exert to unity illustrating the evils of jealousy the value of repentance the need for humility or unity orderliness and respect for proper authority. So here he uses scripture in a very we would consider an appropriate way using scriptures to exhort the church to these good things to to in another father Church Father gives the first example of the use of a. Christian extra biblical source he moved from mainstream thought to a stricter movement of the day called Monton ism. This was an offshoot of the Christian church you know it didn't take very long for the church to start having divisions right Paul said that after my departure this would happen and it did happen Monson ism was a group of Christians that follow the teachings of the prophet they considered a prophet Montanists and there was a prophet isn't too prophet as is involved. Priscilla next Amila and this offshoot of Christianity began to be involved with and he appeals to their writings as authoritative in addition to scripture in works such as on the veiling of virgins. Arrhenius another early church father. What is generally referred to as an early church father. A disciple of Polycarp from the about eighty one eighty five allegorize is the law of clean and unclean animals as referring to people. Now this is a good Alexander a good example of what an allegory is OK I use this term allegory in. Or allegorical and you're probably thinking what's an allegory What's an allegorical we often think of Pilgrim's Progress as an example of an allegory right. An allegory is something like a parable. It's a story it's like a historical factual passage that's written with names and dates and places or that type of thing but they're not real. They they all symbolize something else. So in Pilgrim's Progress you have the slew of Despond right. And we know that allegory is really talking about the days in our Christian life when we get discouraged and and that's an allegory right we have an allegory or parable some very similar idea in the rich man and Lazarus Jesus told it was a story that was well known in the Greek will of the day. So here you have an example of what an hour. Gauri is he said about the law of clean and unclean animal. Ols that we find in the Old Testament book of Leviticus it actually refers to people so don't be so worried about their camel burgers they're OK this is talking about people. What's the people clean it are true Christians who make their way steadily towards God in the sun. That's what a divided hoof is got that makes sense right. That's divided hoof. And met also they meditate day and night upon the words of God that's chewing the cud So do you two you're cut. Wait a minute. Don't you meditate day and night on scriptures that's true in cuts it as an allegory. Now this is this is this is beginning to take their Bibles as is what happened. You take your Bible and you start looking at it not. What do the words mean as in the literal meaning of the words and what is it saying to me this is saying what is the what could it symbolize OK an allegorical reading. So that's a clean animal are true Christians to make their way steadily towards a father and son and also meditate day and night upon the Word of God Think You Are The unclean. He said this is. Raining this done clean there are three classes of unclean the Jinn Gentiles who do neither of the Jews who chew the cud but lack the divided who of the they don't go towards the Father and the son there just towards the father. So they're not dividing their of and heretics who don't chew. But have the divided have so somehow their. They don't study their Bibles but they believe in the Father and Son. Now this is a good example of what an owl ogre ization of the Scriptures is and this became very very popular Barnabas about eighty one thirty tried to imitate Paul's use of alligators ation in glaciers for twenty two to thirty one. But he differed from Paul's methodology and to use the civic ways he allegorize profusely. And his kind of allegation is such as to deny or at least minimize the original intent of the Old Testament Scriptures. So this is what Paul did you remember and in chapter four he talks about there are two cities right. The New Jerusalem of the Jerusalem love the Jerusalem of the need he talked about the two sons the son of of of. Of Hagar Ishmael and he talked about the son of promise the child of promise a son of Sarah Isaac right. And he used these two sons too as an allegory to represent the salvation by faith of salvation by works in essence. So he uses this in a very powerful way as an allegory. But there's a couple of things that we want to remember. And when we come back to this maybe a little later in the next seminar we can talk about this more but I'll just mention it. Now since some of you may not be here for the next seminar what I'm going to say is that the use of allegories is not is not recommended or it's not indicated in the Bible. Unless it's obvious that it's an allegory. So you have the rich man and Lazarus write the story the rich man. Lazarus You know that story how when you die you go straight Abraham's lap right now many people are going to fit on Abraham's lap right. Doesn't that become a little bit of us to the statistical problem and and the poor fellow down in in in hell he's asking that a drop of water be dripped on to his tongue to help him and his thirst from the fires of hell is a drop of water really going to help you if you're burning in hell is clearly for this and other reasons. This is an allegory right this is this is not a literal story. So then why does Paul take an allegory and make it type and type ology type in and to type. Why does he do that. Well there's a couple of things I want you to remember first. Paul had the gift of prophecy. He was a prophet. OK so I believe that while Paul took a passage and made it allegorical use it allegorically we can now study that and also use it allegorically right. But we do not I don't believe we do not have the right to take a story from the Bible and just make it an allegory make it a prophecy. You'd be surprised how many people take an Old Testament story and try to apply it down to our time using the allegorical interpretive method. The allegorical interpretive method is a great way to teach truth it is also a great way to teach air because now you are deciding what those types and types are you understand. Not the Apostle Paul not someone with the gift of prophecy but you are deciding that now. As in our previous example chewing the cud means studying the Bible. How do you know that it doesn't mean eating vegan. How do you know that it doesn't just mean you know chewing your food or a well or whatever else. There's all kinds of personal interpretations that can come in when we start using Al Gore's so many and many people use allegories to teach truth but the problem is that that same principle of interpretation can be used to teach as well. So before we go on. I want to just touch they say on that fact. So origin moving on origin had a three fold interpretation scriptures. Is comparable to body soul and spirit in the human being in other words when you read a given passage. There are at least three meanings that past at least three meanings. Just like we have a body a soul and a spirit. There's a there's a three there are three three meanings to a passage. So following the Greek way of thinking he viewed matter negatively. So the least significant in interpretations. There was the literal meaning and more was placed on the spiritual or allegorical or spiritual interpretations. So he said the Scriptures. They basically describe sometimes what did not take place. Sometimes what could not have happened and sometimes what could have happened but did not. Sounds like he had a very high confidence in the Scriptures didn't he. He wasn't he wasn't really any different than some of the others who simply said if it's if it doesn't make sense. It must be an allegory. And origin views were not universally accepted but they were influential so influential that origins three fold interpretation was later expanded to a four fold one a literal a literal reading of the scriptures that's what it says right then an allegorical one one where this word this person represents this spiritual aspect or a spiritual experience a tropical logical which is basically talking about heaven or the things. I'm sorry the end of goggles have been trouble is a is talking about the morals a moral metaphor sort of like an illustration of of a moral teaching sort of like an idealist interpretation we would talk about of prophecy and finally in an a goggle which is talking about the afterlife or haven't or what happens after this. So every passage in this paradigm of interpretation. Kinda be viewed as having four meanings. You understand why you need to so many theologians write because they had to figure out all four meetings and if you think four was hard to figure out there were some who went far further we'll talk about that in a little while. So Martin Luther's early lectures in which in Berg use these principles you're talking about many many hundreds of years later. Origins influence on theology was still profound and that his three full days are four fold. Meanings of Scripture were still being used by Spaza years in Martin Luther's time in the fifteenth century. Martin Luther's early a collectors in Wittenberg used these principles. Although he later rejected them for the grammatical historical approach which we'll be talking about in our next seminar. So moving on. Augustine of Hippo probably the most influential father both in doctrine and hermeneutic he he influenced the the teaching of the millennium Augustine for one thing. As I recall he was the one who basically said that the the the devil being thrown into the bottomless pit and sealed for a thousand years that took place on the cross and the thousand years that they were living in was the time when the double was sealed. Now this had an unintended consequence when they came to your nine nine nine. Because remember two K Y two K. was a big deal right. This was why one K. and Y. one K. was a real big deal too because they reasoned thusly that if the Devils been in prison. The last thousand years and worlds been this bad. How bad was going to be when he gets out of prison right. And so a lot of people were committing suicide and and dreading. The the new millennium. That would that would come about but Augustine had a very interesting view on hermeneutics we will go a lot into as is his. His views right now as. Now during the Middle Ages you can see these church fathers sort of set the groundwork for some rather complex complicated viewing of scriptures it's no wonder that people began to say look this reading of the Bible thing is so complicated that we really shouldn't have laypeople doing it. I mean after all there's four different readings the least important which is the literal that laypeople can easily understand so. These these other readings and Goggle the trouble logical the allegorical these readings that we need. We need educated philosophers theologians to have to come up with these meetings. Otherwise they're all going to be arguing about what the allegorical meaning of this passage is well that's true fact during the middle ages these people brought the bible study the Bible. They actually began and many days many times in those days they would write notes in the margins they would actually write the scriptures the original text they write them with the lines fairly spaced apart and then they would read they would write notes as to what their interpretations were well I think that meaning of the trouble logical meaning or the ANA goggle meaning of this passage and they write these notes in the in that the term they used to was to gloss and today we have the similar term we use for glossary right. But the glosses were basically the commentary written between the lines. You heard that phrase before we still use in English something you have to read between the lines to know what they mean. Well because back then they wrote between the lines to say what they meant to see. So they would write between the lines. Sometimes there would be so much written between the lines that you couldn't even read the original language text anymore but that didn't really matter because that was the literal text and these were just the there meanings or the interpretations or the commentary on the texts. So this was the Bible in the Middle Ages. It was we should note the most studied book we sometimes have the idea that the Bible just wasn't studied during the Middle Ages while it was studied it was a study by the laymen it wasn't generally available to the layman in the common vernacular and their common language. The the the language of the lay person but it was studied by the edge. You created in the church that was generally the people who were educated where the theologians the priests the monks and so forth. So the Bible is definitely a very studied book there's a period of transition however to where less and less theology based on Biblical interpretation. And. This transition took place noticeably in the writings of Thomas Aquinas. At least for up to seven meanings would be Saudis text or to talk about the four right. That wasn't enough for some theologians they needed to find a seven different branches of meanings throughout the Bible and they would be looking for that. And of course as you know the Greek way of thinking the body is less important than the spirit right corpus is inferior the Spirit this is it's that's the the. The immortal spirit and so forth. That's what's really important. So in their mind the corporal of the body was the literal sense of the text and that was the least important. It really was what was more important to these other interpretations that would come from that and it's very interesting because this. This led to an elevation of the view of the interpreter rather than to elevation of the view of scripture you understand the difference in other words it's a lot more fun to come up with something creative and have people say wow how did you figure that out that is so D. you found the seventh meaning of this verse rather than elevating scripture and saying the little me it says what it says. And the scripture is what's important not the interpreter you understand the difference. And sometimes we we tend to elevate the interpreter still today instead of the scripture. So all things were considered to have sacramental significance that leads to God these different these different inter schools of interpretation or. Streams of interpretation. The universities of the day of the Middle Ages had a big influence on the view of Scripture Studies was were centralized in Paris. And all interpretations were based upon the multiple senses of scripture so if you were to go to a theologian theological school in those days. If you were even to the point up to the time of Calvin or so if you're to go to a school in Paris and you were to study theology. You really would be studying the Bible. You'd be studying how different just commentators viewed these different interpretations of Scripture very very complex and very difficult to sort of wrap your mind around. The throughout most of the Middle Ages the influence of the Greek Fathers led theologians to the allegorical mystical interpretations of scripture and eventually there Stalin manner of exposition led to the question What is God saying in his word. Did he intend to conceal his meaning or did he intend to express it. And this led to a new emphasis on the literal. So you see sort of a little bit of a pendulum swing here don't you all of a sudden we're bringing our emphasis back to the literal meaning of scripture which in our view would be a very good thing to do and this would actually be something we'll come back to in a minute. This would this would really come to an apex after the fall of Constantinople. When a lot of the the European type scholars who were in the Eastern world fled the rise of the Turks and came back to Europe and with them they brought back their knowledge almost lost by this time of the biblical languages Hebrew and Greek. And all of a sudden in Rome and in Paris and the other places around Europe. People began studying the Old Testament in its original language. They began studying the newt. Testament in its original language when you did that you were doing it without the glosses you didn't have all the commentary so they were getting back to the text which by the way God was working to bring about the great Protestant Reformation through that very process but we are getting ahead of ourselves a number of medieval interpreters we can look to and sort of understand how they interpret scripture. Bernard wrote eighty six sermons on the Song of Songs you go saying Victor. Although he followed the three fold principle of origin. He emphasized the literal sense Androv saying Victor leaven hundreds use it to full principle based on the Christian and Jewish interpretation. And this in his day was a rare arousal of interest in the original sources. Stephen Langton to the twelfth thirteenth century Archbishop of Canterbury sought to clarify the distinction in the spiritual and the literal and by the way we can. Oh. Langton Langdon Langton quite a bit of credit because he is the one that we believe was the most influential in our current divisions of the Bible into chapters and verses. Imagine if someone said to you in Sabbath school or during the sermon Let's turn our Bibles to the Book of John the story about the the healing of the man born blind and you just had to know what part of John that was in and be able to get to that passage that story. There is no verses there's no chapters right now to be a little difficult and Langton is the one who divided the Bible into chapters and verses very interesting thirteenth century not that long ago in the great scheme of things. Thomas Aquinas a still a philosopher still primarily to scripture for the confirmation of dogma church dogma but a sort of the literal sense of scripture was the basis for the other senses which can be built upon it. And a change gradually takes place but was. Company by an increased emphasis on philosophy and human reason. So this moves us down to the to st of biblical interpretation in reformation times we know the story of Martin Luther and his his arraignment before the diet. Where he said Here I stand. I can do no whether I am bound by scriptures and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. Remember we mentioned earlier. Martin Luther began teaching theology at the church and school and Wittenberg with the principles of fourfold interpretation being his methodology. However he soon diverge from those four full principles and began to see the Bible as meaning what it says God not trying to conceal his message but trying to reveal his message. John Colet. Again we noted that the fall of Kant's Constantinople took place in fourteen fifty three and John Collee born thirteen years later and working throughout much of the next century. He he he caught from Italy the renewed emphasis the talian human humus placed on understanding ancient cultures and he returned to England. So these these from Costa noble some of these these. Exposures and philosophers and I guess you might say experts in Biblical language had come largely to Italy and now it's taken back to Rome through John Calais he began giving a series of lectures on Paul's epistles with the focus on making the passages the meaning of the passages practical to the lives of the listeners. It's interesting that one of the people who attended Kohli's lectures was a man by the name of a Rasmussen and harass miss was a contradiction of of a person very bright very brilliant man in fact he was at one point in England he was he was visiting and. He was in some sort of a little restaurant a little cafe and he was eating a meal. And this stranger to him walked in course this was before they had Facebook right. So they didn't know what people looked like even if they had been communicating with them or they had read their works they didn't have photographs like we would have today and all the rest. So this fellow walks in and and. Erasmus they begin talking and as they begin talking they begin realizing they both begin realizing that that that there was a lot of of intellect residing in the other side of the table and I'm trying to remember exactly who this person was an English philosopher at the time Protestant sort of Protestant. Anyway. In the middle of their conversation or Rasmussen jumped up and said you either. You must be so and so and the other person jump from a stable and he said. Either you're Rasmussen you're the devil and. And they they began a friendship this friendship was or their debate I should say will largely centered over transubstantiation these two fellows didn't agree on transubstantiation they both had a non Catholic view the Protestant view but but the. Why should say that the Englishman actually had a Protestant Catholic view for instance substantiation this is what happened. In their discussion. The Englishman told a Rasmussen he said if you really believe that you have the body of Christ in that way for then you will have it you know it's based upon your faith. So that's not quite catholic because the Catholics said the priest made the body of Christ. Whereas the Englishman is arguing that it's based upon the faith of the partaker to make the body of Christ. OK. Erasmus says it's never the body of Christ. So they became friends in the end to make a long story short they they parted ways. Well this is how they parted ways Erasmus asked his friend if he could take his favorite horse for a ride one day. And harassments rides off on. It's friend's horse and takes it with him back to Hall and across the English Channel. Takes off with his friend's favorite horse his friend was not happy. He wrote a scathing letter to Rasmussen demanding that he return his favorite horse. And harassments wrote a very short letter back he said simply believe that you have your horse. And you will have it. And yeah this was a Rasmussen of the. His his his best known work is his co-leading of the Greek New Testament basically Erastus speak again to look at all of the different Greek manuscripts that existed of the Bible and by that time there were several hundred maybe I don't remember exactly I think there was over six hundred that they knew of During that time. So he's analyzing them to see which ones. If you look at all of them. I mean if all six hundred have the same verse in the same way you're pretty sure that that's an original verse right. But when there's one transcript that is missing a verse in the five hundred ninety nine that say I'm just using that number as a as an illustrated illustration five hundred ninety nine have the verse one is missing it. You're pretty sure the verse belongs there. You understand idea so he's he's analyzing these different manuscripts and he then Cole ates them into one Greek manuscript we call the Textus Receptus and this is the Received Text In other words and he Coates that into the Greek New Testament he published in fifteen sixteen the Greek New Testament harassments would become the foundation of all Protestant Bibles translated there after it would be the true it would be the foundation of of Calvin's Bible and of Luther's Bible and so forth so he was a very easy very well known expository. And because of the. The new approach these men took Luther translating the New Testament into German Calvin later into French the new to. These men took more closely followed that of the early church of positives of the New Testament. Why because they relied on the Hebrew and Greek texts. And instead of instead of more of the traditional views of the church the Apocrypha another of other passages which were deemed by Rasmussen and others not to be have not to be a part of the canon and by the way if you've ever studied with Jehovah's Witnesses. You will probably know that they they did they dispute a certain verse their Bible the New World translation does not have a certain bird verse in the writings of the first John where it talks about these three bear witness the Father the Son the Holy Spirit right in heaven. They say they believe that that verse was added. Because the doctrine of the Trinity needed to be supported. You'll hear people that say that. Job's witnesses but I guess even Samanta Trinitarians in Adventism a problem make that argument and we can think or rasam As for that debate. Because in our asses earliest manuscripts. He also did not include that verse in his tent and his transcript of the New Testament later however further studied and I don't think there was any it I know there was no papal pressure because he was quite clearly not in the fold of Rome but later there was further study and he decided that verse was in the original manuscripts and should be there but again that whole debate that job as witnesses might take us to task on goes back to the time of Rasmussen and his work in co-leading the Christian the Greek New Testament inadvertently At first they also repudiated tradition with the Vulgate now the Vulgate is the Latin translation of the Bible that the church said was the appropriate translation. But the Latin Vulgate. Was not their original source of course the Greek and Hebrew were the original source the law. It was a translation and it did not in all cases rely upon very accurate original sources of Hebrew and Greek. So the reformers rejected the Latin Vulgate. And with the historical grammatical method they renounced the fourfold exert exegetical system and replaced it with a literal principle of interpretation. Moving on through the Council of Trent twenty five sessions the church convene this is the Roman Catholic Church between fifteen forty five and fifteen sixty three over those eighteen years the Catholic Church convened twenty five sessions to try to plan and execute the counter-Reformation you understand the Reformation is taking place. Martin Luther is nailed is theses on the church door in Wittenberg and fifteen seventeen the five hundred year anniversary is next year. And. By fifteen forty five the Reformation is in full bloom and the Catholic Church is saying what are we going to do about this. We need to do something about these Biblical it sponsors who are pointing to the Word of God as authority for their teachings and overthrowing the authority of the church and overthrowing some of the dogma and doctrines of the church. So one of the issues that had to be addressed was the issue of inspiration this year of the Bible the fourth session in fifteen forty six decreed concerning the Bible seeing the Scriptures and ecclesiastical tradition be received and venerated with an equal affection of piety and reference you see what the church has just done. The church has just said look we understand there's debate about how the Bible should be interpreted that was an understatement. The Reformation had pretty much shook their world. But he said the church said we ought to not put everything into the Bible or exam one basket. Instead there are two streams of divine revelation coming down one is ecclesiastical tradition what is the church said in the past one of the Church Fathers written. What is. Practice our liturgy and our our our literary history. So these two streams are to have equal affection of piety and reverence. It was also declared by the way by the way it was not just to have equal streams. Equal piety and reverence they they came to the point where they said of the two tradition is the more safe because it's easier to be sure that we're understanding it correctly there is also declared that the Latin Vulgate which by the length and usage of so many ages had been approved by the church be in public lectures disputation sermons and expositions head of held as authentic. And that no one is to dare. Or presume. To reject it under any pretext whatever. So the Latin Vulgate is the Bible that Roman Catholicism and approved and any other translation was considered anathema. It was considered heretical you were not to use any other Bible. Now you understand this is why wars were fought over which version of the Bible they were going to use. They they had to do the the Protestant Reformation through cow through Rasmussen's received text and now the translation. Earlier they had had Wycliffe translation English but now they have these new translations based on their Textus Receptus and they they were holding to their Bibles while the Roman Catholic Church was saying only the Latin Vulgate. Can be used in public. Discussions at worms. Luther not only said unless I am convinced by testimony from scriptures but also added or evident reason. And here is referring to reason not innate to mastic or rationalist sense but in the clear sense of clear deductions from the Bible. So Martin Luther was not saying that there are two authorities in my life. The reason. From a very rationalist point of view humanistic point of view and scripture No he's saying the Bible and reason as in clear deductions from what the Bible is saying correct reason is bound by the word and enlightened by faith and the inner witness of the Holy Spirit so. There's a number of things that took place in the Christian church as a result of this view of scripture the reformers themselves were forced transformed by an encounter with the Scriptures. They were among the most educated men of their age familiar with ancient and medieval philosophy but they did not have peace with God and the Bible alone is what gave them an understanding of salvation and brought them to peace. This was a very very important thing because they personally had an interaction with the Scriptures that was life changing. They also believed that salvation was by grace alone grace through faith. You know the story from the great controversy by recent credal and goldens had been promised by the pope to all who should ascend upon their knees and pilot staircase said to have been descended by our Savior before on leaving the Roman judgment hall and have been miraculous conveyed from Jerusalem to Rome by Constantine's mother by the way was the saint that made that happen but Luther is going up these steps and by the way I don't know if any of you have ever been to the Scala sonne to the holy steps in Rome. It's just across the street from the main cathedral of Rome we sometimes think of St Peter's Basilica as being the main cathedral because that's where the Vatican is headquartered now but the the original church of Rome is actually the Church of St John the Lateran and that's on the other side of the Colosseum from the from the Vatican and this is actually the pope is the Bishop of that church St John Lateran that is the that is the primary church in Rome and right across the street there in the Reformation days. That's where the scholars Santa was a. Still is so if you go and you see seen John Lateran. And then you see the. Across the street this staircase you will find that if you go to in the middle of the day. There's not very many people there you can see all the steps and by the way half way up the steps are actually three or four steps up there's a there's a little glass window because the real steps the real steps from Jerusalem. You know that were transported miraculously there to Rome the Jesus walked on they've been covered by wood so they don't get worn out you know I mean after all these centuries they have would covering them and over in the wood there's some little glass windows and those little glass windows you can see down through to the to the stone steps below and there are stains that are believed to be the very blood stains of Jesus and I'm just telling you what they believe and as they no doubt very honestly and sincerely as they climb of these steps they kneel on the steps and then they say a prayer they have their rosaries there and they're saying a prayer and then when they finish that prayer. They move on to the next step and they say another prayer and they say a prayer on every step as they go on but as they come past these Plexiglas windows. If they're lucky enough to have enough room there they will bend over and kiss them because those are over the the very blood of Jesus. And if you go there during the evening like after work. It's out five six o'clock. There will be so many people on the steps. So many people on the steps that when the top rope moves off and stands up and gets up the rest of the moves rows move up. Nobody can move until everybody moves they all move at once because just packed solid people going on their knees up the steps. There's a plaque there that says they get indulgences plenary indulgence during the during the months of Lent and someone has just told me they were there recently. And there's because of a year of Jubilee or something like that there's an. Even special plenary indulgence is there right now. So this is what Martin Luther was doing. Can you believe it. Five hundred years ago. That's exactly the same staircase case he was on and. Luther was one Dave devoutly climbing these steps when suddenly a voice like thunder seemed to say to him The just shall live by faith. He sprang upon his feet and hastened from the place in shame and horror the text never lost its power upon his soul from that time he saw more clear than never. The fallacy of trusting to human works for salvation and the necessity of constant faith in the merits of Christ His eyes have been opened and we're never going to be close to the delusions of the papacy. When he turned his face from Rome. He turned away also and heart from that time the separation grew wider until he severed all connection with the papal church. Led Luther says This died and day I pondered until I saw the connection between the justice of God in this statement that the just shall live by is faith then I grasped that the justice of God is that righteousness which by faith which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and have gone through open doors into paradise. The whole of scripture took on new meaning. And whereas before the justice of God had filled me with the hate with hate. Now it became to me expressively inexpressibly sweet and greater love the passage of Paul became to me a gate to heaven. So this became the great divide between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. What do is it based upon it was based upon a different reading of the Scriptures. The Paul the reformers Luther as a primary example of this point Luther is reading his Bible. And when the Bible says The just shall live by faith. That's what it means right. He's using that and terp reading it and applying it to himself and by the way whenever we begin to study the Bible and. Have a personal rebirth experience. Just like Luther said the Bible look like a new book yet you read it with new eyes. This changes the way we read the Bible itself. How could let me say this a little more carefully because the Bible is spiritually discerned. Our best understanding of what happens when we have a heart that's been regenerated by the spirit that makes sense. So a theologian looking at it simply intellectually may fail to grasp the true meaning impact of the Scriptures. When a common person. Reading it under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit because their heart is a converted heart may come away with a much deeper and more profound meaning of the scripture and so this is something that the reformers began to experience themselves. This is the Council of Trent responded to this message of faith and grace alone. The Council of Trent if anyone says that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the Divine Mercy which remits sins for Christ's sake or that this confidence alone is that whereby we are justified. Let him be anathema. I don't want to get too far off the subject here but. Do you understand the contrast between Luther and the Roman Church of this time you understand the total opposite based upon their scriptures and the understanding of scripture they interpreted principles. Total opposite understanding of salvation to the point where Luther is saying. Salvation is by grace through faith is not because of anything we do. It's because of what Christ did we accept His sacrifice on our behalf and we receive the gift of salvation. It's a gift the church says if anybody says that let him be anathema that means cursed by means cut off right. So they've drawn a line in the sand. You cannot be a Protestant You cannot believe in salvation by grace through faith alone and also. The Roman Catholic you are out of here. That's what was happening. Can you believe. Can you believe that five hundred years later the lone The Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran church says they now agree on the doctrine of justification. Yeah that's what they say they say we we agree on the doctrine of justification. Now I don't know who changed. But somebody had to change. I don't think the Church of Rome changed as far as I know they still have to do the second seven sacraments in order to be saved. But this is now five hundred years later. They've swept that all under the rug it was a political disagreement. It was it was the result of a some historians of suggested for many decades is the result of strong personalities and the moving of the culture of the time and that the spirit of the age and all the rest. I don't believe that I believe the Holy Spirit is working through a correct understanding of the Scriptures which hadn't been around for a very long time. And by the way a few months ago. You may have seen that there was a big celebration in Sweden with the pope the pope went up there and they went to study because it's B. We're beginning the five hundredth year of Protestant Reformation and basically throughout this year they're planning a lot of ecumenical events where the pope and the other churches will get together and they're in Sweden all the different Protestant churches in the pope they met together and they had this big public event where they were saying we're all in a fraternity now we all believe we all agree we're all friends we're all Christians and the seventy AD miss church was invited to be a part of that celebration. And to their credit I'm very proud of our church leadership in Sweden. They wrote in a kind response back and they said we will respectfully decline to be a part of this celebration. And they included in that letter. The basic idea was we believe the Reformation still needs to be completed. It's not over yet. And that was that was something I felt was very appropriate to do so. Anathema for if you believe by by faith grace through faith the papal encyclicals page eleven. Why goal says the Catholic does not say in the first instance what does the Bible say rather he asked What does the teaching church say over the bookstands the church. While according to the reform conception over the church stands the book very very important conflict contrast reformers based the school a script to a principle any two full back to the Holy Spirit the first the Spirit that inspired the prophets and second the spirit penetrating the hearts of those who read the prophet So not only the inspiration of of the Prophet revelation inspiration to talk about the last hour. But also the importance of the Spirit speaking to us in this hour the church is the creation of the words of the Spirit governs the church only through Scripture. According to the reformers the spirit cannot be inconsistent with himself. So will not bring doctoral instruction not already found in the Bible Reformation include an emphasis on personal discovery over time a clear understanding a standing of biblical truth could be expected. Why because for centuries. The Bible when it had been written had been read I should say I had been studied it had been studied in the context of commentaries it had been studied in the context. I was talking to a theologian a week or two ago. And he was sharing with me how sometimes in theologians as as they as they study their commentaries and other people's opinion of the Scriptures. They fail to look at the Scriptures themselves and I don't remember exactly where he was but he quoted someone as saying you know what we should really. We should really study we should really what the read what the Bible says sometimes the Bible sheds light on the commentaries. This is what happened in the Middle Ages the churches were reading the commentaries more than they were reading the Bible. And and they were often reading a translation which was or a from the originals manuscripts that were not very accurate. So as they came to personal discovery and as they themselves began to be moved by the Spirit. You could expect that their minds would be clearer and they would continue to understand further biblical truth. Creeds were only confessional statements of faith understood to be under the tutelage of the Scriptures and creedal statements were given only a relative authority while the scriptures are the absolute authority will give you an example of this the first Basel Confession of Faith we submit this. Our confession to the judgment of the divine scriptures and hold ourselves ready always thankfully to obey God and His Word. If we should be corrected out of said Holy Scriptures. So even though the reformers did establish creeds their intention was not those treed should be replacing the Bible. It was only after their death that the creeds came to have more importance than the Bible the Bible was in the purely Protestant understanding the unregulated regulator. It was over the church stood the Bible to the book that was the way they understood it. Creeds aside the Bible would be the paramount authority. Ellen White writes this Decimus measures page four forty one four forty two. Christianity has a much broader meaning than many have hitherto given it. It is not a creed. It is the word of him who lives in abides forever it is a living animating principle that takes possession of mind heart motives and entire men Christianity. Oh that we might experience its operations. It is a vital personal experience that elevates and ennobles the whole man again she reads writes in such messages volume one. For sixteen the Bible in the Bible alone is to be our creed. The sole bond of union. So the the scriptures are to have that Paramount place in our both corporate life and in our personal life. Reformation limited to Sola Scriptura to the canonized books of the Bible. So they did away with the Apocrypha. While in facades in the unity of the same. From the thirty nine Articles of the Church of England we read the Holy Scripture holy scripture contains all things necessary to salvation so that whatsoever is not read there in nor may be proved thereby is not to be required of any man or to be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. I'm sorry. Scotland is not to be required of any man that is not that it should be believed as an article of faith or be thought requisite or necessary for salvation. Luther characteristically recur refers to all Scripture all of Holy Writ the entire Bible and appeals to the constant and unanimous judgment of scripture the reformers also recognize that the theological conclusions. Should be drawn in harmony with the Old Testament and the Greek New Testament which were generally placed for reference at their table during disputations. So what's happening during the Protestant Reformation faithfulness to the A Early ancient church and life and doctrine is the is the mode of operation in the Catholic Church. The reformers. However dispute that they hold that what they taught was also taught by the ancient church. The Scriptures became the corrective norm because much of the traditions of fathers the councils were not read the Bible long basically what this is saying is that the Catholic Church claimed that it had its roots that went all the way back to the Apostles right. So we are the true church where the true Catholic Church kava just means universal We are the church. And so we have a thought. Because we go all the way back to Peter our first Pope. That's what they claim the reformer said not so fast because we go back all the way to the apostles because we teach what they taught early church the past all of church taught Jesus taught. What is in harmony the Scriptures and that's what we are rediscovering and now teaching as well. Luther in his theses in fifteen seventeen says First I testified this or that I desire to say or maintain absolute nothing except First of all what is in the Holy Scriptures and can be maintained from them. And then what is in and from the writings of the church fathers and is accepted by the Roman Church and preserved both in canons and people decrees. So what did this happen. What effect did this have on preaching during the Reformation emphasis of the clergy moved from the altar to the pulpit preaching of the word as the basic function of the ordained ministry grew out of the sola scriptura context. So let's look real briefly at the Reformation hermeneutics a passage should first be understood in its literal or obvious simple meaning they rejected as Martin Luther did earlier we talked about he rejected those fourfold interpretation the text should be studied in its context by means of the historic historical grammatical method which takes into consideration the conditions of the times and the people to whom the scriptures were first written. The Hebrew and Greek texts the Old Testament and New Testament should be consoled Another words the historical grammatical method says this we're going to study what the verse says. But in order to understand what the verse means we're going to take into cars into consideration the historical context in which it was given. Now this is a basic this is very very important. Because some people when they say well we want to just have the plain reading of the text there somehow saying that there's. No interpretation necessary. And the reality is there's always interpretation necessary. If you want to quote me from something I said yesterday. You better be ready to interpret it correctly you understand if I say stop and you quote me to day is saying stop. But you're using it in a completely different context you're taking it out of context right you're mis applying what I've said interpretations always necessary for us to understand what was being said what it meant to those people what the principles were being taught were and then once we understand that we take what we've learned and we call the bridge of interpretation right. We take it sometimes two thousand years in the case of Ellen wide it's only one hundred fifty years or so we take it and we take it past this passage of time and we say OK that's what she was saying that's what it meant to those people then at that time in that situation. How can I apply that in two thousand and sixteen almost two thousand and seventeen in my life today. Right. That is that bridge. From what was said yesterday. To what how I apply it to today is always necessary and it's only possible to build that bridge after we have understood that context. What was being said what was being meant. Are you with me on that. It's very very important that we don't we don't we don't lose that that bridge of interpretation down to our time we talk about that for Furthermore in the following seminar. Next hour. Scripture is used in troops entered Tirpitz scripture. The canonical scriptures being a self-sufficient authority in religious matters. And the Christ a central principle which makes Christ the focal point of the Bible as applied. Understand the correct relationship between long Gospel and the threefold usage of the law is basic to the interpretation of the Scriptures. And the interpreter should be illuminated by the Holy Spirit any personal. Faith alone and grace alone. Experience these are the Reformation hermeneutics and we would continue in biblical authority in post Reformation times but we are out of time I will say this much that in the movement of Adventism. We actually let me say it this way in post Reformation times modernism and other ways of thinking see feud the thinking of the theological word world back towards more of an allegorical understanding of scripture. OK. Conte and other early modern philosophers. Looked at Scripture very differently than the reformers look to Scripture. We don't have time to trace all that in this hour. But Adventism is I believe indeed a continuation of the Reformation going back to the sola scriptura Sola fetus Sola gratia. Movement understanding. And it is seeking to apply that is that that Scripture to our word our world today. And so Adventism brings us back to a literal view of the Scriptures and the same principles of interpretation that we just went over that led to the Protestant Reformation. Let's bards word of prayer and then we'll have a short break before our next. Seminar Father in heaven. We thank you that you've given us this day this what we just thank you give give us this Bible and for the Word of God Lord we've seen throughout history yes. Some people have sought to make it an allegorical or just a spiritual mystical book but you have a message for us today and we just pray that you will help us to find that message to be faithful as we study our Bibles to study it. From the position of a person as a woman aided by the Spirit of God willing to be surrendered to the border of the book over our lives and filled with the experience of going comes by grace through faith. We thank you Jesus. And this message was presented at the G Y C twenty sixteen conference when all has been heard in Houston Texas a supporting Ministry of the Seventh Day Adventist Church seeks to inspire young people to be bible based Christ centered and so winning Christians for other resources like this visit us online at W W W G Y C Web dot com where Gene.


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