Archives For Hermeneutics

November 18, 2014

Peter the Apostate?

by Dave Farnell

Peters_DenialsToday’s article is adapted from Dave’s larger article entitled: “Robert Gundry, Gaining Renewed Support from ETS, Declares Peter an Apostate in Matthew’s Gospel.” To read the entire article, click here.

On October 6, 2014, Robert Gundry delivered an address at Westmont College in which he made the shocking claim that the apostle Peter was actually “Peter the apostate and false disciple according to St. Matthew.” According to Gundry, Matthew’s gospel depicts Peter, after his denials — not as a forgiven apostle — but as an apostatizing false prophet. (To see the video, click here. To read the press release from Westmont, click here).

In essence, Gundry puts Peter on equal footing with Judas Iscariot.

Gundry’s claims are astounding — especially when one considers that never in church history has anyone suggested that Matthew’s gospel depicts Peter as an apostate. But that fact does not faze Gundry, who apparently sees no problem with his novel interpretations. Continue Reading…

Psalm 119 is the longest poem in the Bible. It is the longest prayer in the Bible. It is the longest acrostic in the Bible. It is the longest chapter in the Bible. It stands at the center of the Bible, and it is about the Bible. The longest Psalm is a psalm about Psalms. The most intimidating chapter in the Word is also a chapter about the Word.

The scope of Psalm 119 is both huge (22 stanzas) and limited (every verse is about scripture). The chapter covers every aspect of life—successes, failures, victories, defeats, prosperity and adversity—and yet is also almost entirely a prayer (nearly every verse is directed to Yahweh).

Because of its length, the unity of it can often be missed. The stanzas are not interchangeable. Instead, this Psalm is masterfully crafted to guide the reader in a progression through the believer’s life. It covers all you need to know about leading a godly life, from A-Z (or aleph-to-tav, as it were). And it does so in order.   Continue Reading…

Judges 11 is one of the darkest chapters in the Bible. God’s judge, Jephthah, offers up his only child as a human sacrifice, under the incredibly sinful assumption that Yahweh is worshiped in the same way the pagan gods are. The story stands as evidence that without faith, God’s people are as depraved as the world, and that Israel is in desperate need of a savior better than a Judge.

(10-11) wrong becomes right

In the last few weeks I’ve read two articles (here and here) that have argued against that understanding of Judges 11, essentially saying, “no, no…you have it all wrong…God wouldn’t allow one of his Judges to do something that horrible… Jephthah didn’t sacrifice her, he asked her to live a life of chastity in service to Yahweh.”

I think this attempt to rescue Jephthah’s reputation comes up short though, and here is why:

Continue Reading…

Under the churchillian title “Blood, Sweat, and Fear” a sanguine little article by J. E. Holoubek made a big splash in the arid annals of The Journal of Medicine (02/1996). It presents seventy-six patients who claimed to have, at least once, sweated blood. The descriptions of these putative stigmatics were channeled into broad categories (disease, exertion, psychogenesis) and filtered further into likely causes. The causes most likely to, um, precipitate the symptoms were acute fear and intense mental contemplation.drop

This exceedingly rare condition, called hematidrosis, is when blood pressure becomes so high that the subject’s subcutaneous capillaries rupture and leak out the pores and tear ducts.

It sounds like something a Bond villain would have on his résumé, but occurrences have been documented in reputable sources including Leonardo Da Vinci who mentions a knee-knocking soldier who became so fearful before he entered battle that his sweat became mingled with blood. Another case manifested in a man facing imminent execution.

Because of the causes of the condition— intense fear in the face of impending death—there are very few stories involving hematidrosis that have a happy ending.

But I found one.

Continue Reading…

kingdom_comeIs Revelation 6:9–11 a proof text for amillennialism?

A few months ago, Sam Storms wrote a blog article explaining that, unlike many of his fellow amillennialists, he came to embrace amillennialism because of Revelation 20, not in spite of it. According to Storms, the evidence in Revelation 20 is altogether persuasive that the millennial reign of the saints is “a reference to the experience of co-regency on the part of those believers who are now in the intermediate state with Christ.” For this reason, in contrast to the premillennial view that the thousand years of Revelation 20 will take place after the Second Coming, Storms believes “the millennium is a current phenomenon, in heaven, spanning the age between the two advents of Jesus Christ.”

In the remainder of the article, Storms offers ten reasons why Revelation 20 itself persuades him that amillennialism is true, all of which were also articulated in his recent book, Kingdom Come. In the fifth reason, Storms appeals to “the obvious parallel” between Revelation 20:1–6 and Revelation 6:9–11 (also see Kingdom Come, 457–58). Continue Reading…

James Street, from The Master’s College and Seminary, made this five-minute summary of the Old Testament’s plot:


Thoughts?

night skyReverend Robert Evans is a retired pastor who lives in Australia. Many ministers these days claim to have various supernatural gifts. But unlike the usual suspects of contemporary charismania, the Rev Evans actually does posses an ability that is closer to supernatural than any claim I’ve seen on TBN. It’s practically a superpower–though Evans neither acts nor (thankfully) dresses, anything like a superhero. As far as superpowers go, it’s not the most flashy one would pick; nevertheless it has proven very useful to cosmologists and astronomers. You see, if Rev Evans fixes his gaze on an array of particles (of any magnitude), then the next time he looks at them he can instantly tell if one is missing, or has been added.

Like I said, it’s not exactly leaping over tall buildings in a single bound.

But to impress you with how remarkable this gift really is, I want you to imagine a pool table with a fistful of salt grains causally strewn over its surface. These ruinous white specks on the felt backdrop represent stars. Now imagine 1,500 more such tables arranged in the world’s biggest pool hall, each displaying thousands of salt grains randomly spread over them. After Rev Evans has walked around and inspected each table, you could then surreptitiously sneak one grain of salt off any table and toss it on any other table. Upon his next stroll through the dining hall, Evans would be able to pinpoint exactly which spot the ambulant grain used to occupy, and where it now resides.

It might not help curtailing crime in Gotham, but it’s more impressive than Benny Hinn’s ability to make old ladies fall over with a wave of his Armani-clad arm, or banishing back pain for long enough to pass a collection plate.

With characteristic modesty, Evans explained to one interviewer, “I just seem to have a knack for memorizing star fields. I’m not particularly good at other things. I don’t remember names well.”

—“Or where he’s put things,” added his wife Elaine.

How is this party trick helpful in the real world?

Continue Reading…

angelThis post is part 5 in our series on the gift of tongues. (To access previous posts, please click here.)

In particular, we are considering the continuationist claim that tongues in the New Testament were not necessarily real human foreign languages. One leading evangelical proponent of this position is Sam Storms, who articulates his views in The Beginner’s Guide to Spiritual Gifts. In this series, we have been responding to the arguments presented by Storms in that book.

In today’s post, we will consider one of the most common arguments for a type of tongues-speech that is non-earthly and non-human in character.

Continuationist Argument 4: The reference to “tongues of angels” in 1 Cor. 13:1 demands the possibility of heavenly (non-earthly) languages.

Sam Storms articulates this argument as follows:

Paul referred to ‘tongues of men and of angels’ (1 Cor. 13:1). While he may have been using hyperbole, he just as likely may have been referring to heavenly or angelic dialects for which the Holy Spirit gives utterance.

I am thankful that Storms (as well as other continuationists like D. A. Carson) allow for the possibility of hyperbole in 1 Corinthians 13:1, because I am convinced from the context that that is exactly how the phrase ought to be understood. Why?

Continue Reading…

Today’s post is Part 4 of a series focusing on the gift of tongues. (Click here to view Part 1, Part 2, or Part 3.)

Tongues_Newspaper

In particular, we are considering the continuationist claim that tongues in the New Testament did not always consist of real human foreign languages. Wayne Grudem, in Making Sense of the Church, represents the continuationist position when he writes:

“Are tongues known human languages then? Sometimes this gift may result in speaking in a human language that the speaker has not learned, but ordinarily it seems that it will involve speech in a language that no one understands, whether that be a human language or not” (emphasis added).

In his book, The Beginner’s Guide to Spiritual Gifts, continuationist author Sam Storms echoes that same thesis, insisting that “Acts 2 is the only text in the New Testament where tongues-speech consists of foreign languages not previously known by the speaker.” Storms’ assumption is that, even in the New Testament, the majority of tongues speech consisted of something other than human language.

Storms marshals nine arguments to defend that assumption. We have already considered his first two arguments (in the previous two posts). Today we will consider a third.

Continuationist Argument 3: First Corinthians 12:10 states that there are different kinds of tongues, therefore not all tongues are human languages.

In 1 Corinthians 12:8–10 Paul writes,

For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues.

Because Paul says that there are “various kinds of tongues,” continuationists assert that this means there are at least two categories of tongues speech: human (earthly) languages and non-human (heavenly) languages. Storms articulates the argument like this:

Note also that Paul describes various kinds [or ‘species’] of tongues (gene glosson) in 1 Corinthians 12:10. It is unlikely that he means a variety of different human languages, for who would ever have argued that all tongues were only one human language, such as Greek or Hebrew or German? His words suggest that there are different categories of tongues-speech, perhaps human languages and heavenly languages.

Based on that interpretation, Storms believes 1 Corinthians 12:10 provides exegetical support for the notion that tongues can be something other than human languages.

So what are we to make of the phrase “various kinds of tongues”? Is Paul differentiating between two fundamentally different categories of tongues (as Storms and other continuationists contend)? Does this verse really distinguish between earthly (human) languages on the one hand, and heavenly (non-human) languages on the other? Continue Reading…

What are believers today to think about the gift of tongues?

D. A. Carson asks that question in his book, Showing the Spirit. On pages 84–85, he writes:

How … may tongues be perceived? There are three possibilities: [1] disconnected sounds, ejaculations, and the like that are not confused with human language; [2] connected sequences of sounds that appear to be real languages unknown to the hearer not trained in linguistics, even though they are not; [3] and real language known by one or more of the potential hearers, even if unknown to the speaker. . . . Our problem so far is that the biblical descriptions of tongues seem to demand the third category, but the contemporary phenomena seem to fit better in the second category; and never the twain shall meet.

Storms_GuideAs Carson helpfully articulates, contemporary tongues “appear to be real languages . . . even though they are not.” By contrast, biblical tongues consisted of “real language known by one or more of the potential hearers, even if unknown to the speaker.”

But if biblical tongues consisted of real human languages (i.e. a real language known by one or more of the potential hearers), then how can modern continuationists advocate tongues-speech that produces nothing more than the appearance of language? (Those interested in Carson’s unique solution to this dilemma can find it here.)

In his book The Beginner’s Guide to Spiritual Gifts, author Sam Storms — like most continuationists — attempts to answer that dilemma by giving a list of reasons why he believes the New Testament gift of tongues did not necessarily produce real human languages. If he can show that biblical tongues were not always actual languages, he can demonstrate a precedent for the modern gift of tongues. We addressed his first reason in last week’s post. Today we will consider his second argument. Continue Reading…