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Christianity >> Scholarship, Generalities, and You

What happens when two views disagree on everything but the result? How does the man on the street handle the Bible? Can the church get its act together and carry the Gospel into the world?

The purpose of Jude Ministries is discipleship. I am a firm believer that every Christian should know and understand the basics of his faith, be able to defend his faith, and be able to explain his beliefs to others.

Knowledge about the faith is discipleship and falls under the clause of the Great Commission about "teaching." Paul makes extensive comments to Timothy about this need to teach others and admonishes others about being well trained and good disciples, knowing the Word of God (2 Tim 2:15).

Peter tells us to be ready to defend our faith, because Satan is out roaming around wanting to steal our joy and stop us from telling others about this joy (1 Peter 3:15).

The explaining of one's fiath to others is the frist part of the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20) and is further explained in Acts 1:8.

For my part, I am an avid reader. I especially enjoy the book of Romans and have over the past several years been making an effort to read every commentary I can find on this epistle. This has led me into the issues of the new perspective on Paul, a view that desires to read Romans, and other letters, as being Jewish in nature.

This view essentially looks upon Christianity as a true continuation of Judaism, the true Judaism, and not as the formation of a new faith or group. They reinterpret major chunks of Scripture to fit this new picture they offer.

This concept is combined at times with an interpretative framework called literary analysis. This approach uses literary methods as the basis of understanding the text. As such, the Bible becomes, essentially, one big narrative. This fits well with the scholar's views of the modern world, in its post-modern philosophical framework. Everyone likes a good story, so the Bible becomes the story of God, man, and Jews. Jesus fulfills all of the promises to the Jewish people and the formation of the church demonstrates it is possible for God to create a holy people as envisioned by the story.

I recently finished an interesting work which combined both of these views with the traditional framework of Covenant Theology. In today's world there are two basic systematic frameworks, Covenant Theology and Dispensaltionalism. Under the first, God entered into a covenant with Jesus prior to creation. Following the Fall, God and man entered into two covenants, the second involving Jesus and grace. This framework provides the basis of interpreting all of the Bible.

This approach allows one to decide that the church and Israel are the same entity, or that the church is a continuation of Israel. This fits with the narrative concepts of literary analysis, as well as allowing for a Jewish reading of Romans. What it ignores are those passages that appear to make Israel and the church obviously separate, such as portions of Revelation, parts of Romans 9-11, and so on.

Dispensationalism finds no covenants other than those recorded in Scripture. In simple terms, this approach finds God providing man with revelation, man failing to live by this revelation, God judging man, and then commencing the cycle over again. This approach allows for a natural reading of the Bible and provides for end times prophecy to be fulfilled in a future, literal fashion.

I am a Dispensationalist. I believe this provides the best framework for interpretation. At the same time, I read works from the other side, both in order to understand and respond to their arguments, as well as to consider the possibility that my views need adjustment.

So, I just finished one of their short works. What I found most interesting is the fact that I agree with virtually all of the conclusions of this books concerning what the church needs to do to combat the secular world of pluralism and post-modernism in which we reside. Even though I disagree with almost all of the steps and doctrinal suppositions used to arrive at his conclusion, the author and I would agree on an outline plan of action.

One wonders what the results would be if enough of us could talk long enough to get past the doctrinal divides and discuss the real conclusions. Could the church, the real body of believers, not those who just play at church, find a common plan of action to carry into the world? Could we find that one accord necessary to evangelize the world?

I believe this is necessary since Jesus will return soon to impose judgment upon the earth. He believes, I think, that it is necessary to usher in paradise. We see the end differently, but this one step we agree upon. The church needs to exercise the power and authority of the Gospel and carryout the Great Commission. The church has fallen short on this the past hundred or so years. We both agree it is time to move forward.

I wonder if we could agree on anything else? Doctrine is such an important area, yet, it is not as important as that relationship with Jesus, nor, I suspect, with our relationships with each other. I wonder if there is a method of placing major areas of disagreement on the sidelines and concentrate on the finite plan of carrying the Gospel into the world?

Of course, maybe the Gospel would have to be narrowly defined, but there should be enough basic agreement, this would work. You know, the part from 1 Corinthians 15 -- Jesus died on the Cross for you and me, is the first fruit of the resurrection, so we can be redeemed and resurrected as well.

From an evangelistic perspective, I don't think we need any more. Do you?

Jim A


Posted On: 2006-07-19 11:30:56 || Comments (0 ) || Add a Comment
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