Saturday, December 11, 2010

Living By Every Word That Proceeds From the Mouth of God – Part 4


The Anti-theological, Anti-hermeneutical, Anti-logical, Anti-practical Perspective on Scripture

(This is part four in a series that examines the view of Justice Boshoff who advocates that God’s word comes to us personally and directly from the Holy Spirit through prayer for wisdom and that the scriptures are a hindrance to hearing the word of God. You can read a transcript of two of his You-Tube videos: According to the Scriptures, You Won't Make It and Breaking Through the Bible Barrier.)

The inspiration and authority of scripture is misunderstood, ignored, or outright rejected by many today, including those who would claim to be Christians. If the inspiration of the scriptures is understood in terms of the classic exposition of B. B. Warfield (The Inspiration and Authority of the Scriptures ), that the words of scripture, though not devoid of the style, vocabulary, and intellectual prowess of the human author that penned them, are nonetheless the out-breathed words of God (I Tim 3:16) written under the superintending work of the Holy Spirit (2 Pet 1:19-21) and therefore the inerrant, authoritative word of God – these words are worthy of our full attention and every effort on our part to understand their meaning through the use of sound principles of interpretation.

I suspect that Mr. Boshoff does not hold such a view of the Bible; even if he should claim otherwise, his attitude toward scripture strongly suggests he does not.

If scripture is allowed to speak for itself, there is no other conclusion that we may come to but that the inspired writings of the prophets and apostles are the words of God, and as such are inerrant and authoritative in all of faith and life. The human authorship of the words of scripture does not detract from this one iota. Neither the human limitation in understanding nor the sinful disposition of the human heart prohibited the words they wrote to be the very words of God. They were borne along by the Spirit of God whose oversight of the ideas and concepts of the mind and the translation of those thoughts into words on parchment resulted in the inscripturation of divine speech.

If the origin and nature of scripture is not understood as God-breathed and therefore absolutely authoritative and inerrant, it is of little more benefit to us than the writings of the deepest or loftiest thinkers in the history of man. The Meditations (167 AD) of Marcus Aurelius, polytheist and pagan emperor of Rome, would have as much authoritative weight as any word expressed in the Bible. But if the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are taken as the written, inspired word of God, they demand that we heed them; they are the expression of God’s will for us concerning all of faith and life. And though they were written to a generation long ago, they are still binding on us today for they have never ceased to be the word of God.

There is an anti-theological bias in today’s church. Mr. Boshoff has undoubtedly been affected by it and is nurturing it when he disparages the need to apply the scriptures to our situation today.

Theology in its broad sense is the study of all things that pertain to God – his nature and being, his purposes, commands, behavior, and everything that comes under his sphere of influence – which according to the scriptures is everything there is. Nothing can be understood apart from its relation to God. If there is no relation to God there is no existence, for all things live and move and have their being in (by means of) God (Acts17:28).

How do we know this?

The particular pieces of theological knowledge are not known innately by man. Granted, through the creation he sees that God exists, and he has some sense of his power and sovereignty (Romans 1:20). But the creation does not give the details. The details come only by a self-disclosure of God. God must willfully reveal himself to us.

Redemptive history is that history that traces God’s redemptive acts (the Exodus is an example) which go hand-in-hand with revelatory acts – acts by which he has disclosed something about his nature and purposes. The acts themselves are revelatory; they tell us something about God. But God has spoken more directly, through human speech. God, in various ways and at various times has spoken to us in the past through the prophets. In these last days, he has spoken to us through his Son (Heb 1:1, 2). Of that which has been spoken, God in his providence has preserved what he deemed necessary through writing.

The self-disclosure of God, necessary for any understanding of God, is preserved for us today in the writings of the Old and New Testaments. Without them, everything we might proffer about God would be hearsay, conjecture, or tradition, none of it having any guarantee of its veracity or intelligibility. The prophetic word, the scriptures, being God-breathed and written under the superintendence of the Holy Spirit (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:19-21) has guaranteed that God’s revelation is both true and understandable. Without the scriptures, there is no sure understanding of God, there is no sound theology.

Hence, our only source of knowledge of God (his nature, will, purposes, etc) is the scriptures. And because the scriptures are written in human language, it is understood through the use of known principles of interpretation (hermeneutics). Language, whether divine or human, is meaningful because it communicates information in accordance with grammatical rules and logical relationships. As human language communicating God’s self-revelation, the scriptures cohere logically – they make sense. The message of the revelation does not violate the rules of logic (rules that were discovered by man, not created by him).

The discernment of the message in human language requires a knowledge of the language and its interpretation according to sound rules of hermeneutics, the science of interpretation. God speaks intelligibly, not illogically or in jibberish such that his speech is unintelligible to human understanding. Because of inspiration, the scriptures are guaranteed to cohere logically – they are the only writings of human history that have such a guarantee.

Because of the source of the words of scripture (God-breathed), and because they are meaningful, the scriptures are the only source from which we may gain wisdom for our day-to-day lives; the scriptures must be applied to our situation for any guarantee that what we do in our situation is not sin. The scriptures, therefore, are invaluably necessary for our practical needs – how we must live and behave.

Mr. Boshoff's theology leads us away from the only sound source of wisdom and replaces it by a subjective internal insight. Yes, he claims that it is the Holy Spirit who speaks inwardly, but he bases that on a misunderstanding of certain passages of scripture. Mr. Boshoff ironically has applied the scriptures incorrectly and advances a method of Christian living that is wrong. We will examine Mr. Boshoff’s erring hermeneutics in a coming article.

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