Well its time I get around to the promised Part II. Most Christians have a hard time identifying with, what they probably see as an unneeded and very dry topic. But they would be wrong. Just take a read of this gentleman’s idea of biblical interpretation. Unfortunately, this practice is fairly widespread. If not from the pulpit, in the Sunday school classes or the pew. If you want to you can peruse Part I first.
A pastor friend of mine forwarded to me and a number of different people an e-mail he had received from a man I will call Fred. Fred’s e-mail was rather lengthy and presented a lot of proof texts. Here is Fred’s basic proposition in paraphrase to save space.
We know the apostles believed, knew and taught that Christ died and paid for their sins, was buried and rose again and that the blood of Christ washed away their sins and that they trusted Jesus Christ as their Saviour [this premise is correct].
We also know that they did not teach the gospel of grace as the apostle Paul did. We know that Peter and the apostles taught that you had to endure unto the end, that your works were involved and such [was that for eternal or temporal salvation?].
The apostle Paul taught that your works were not involved and that you were sealed unto the day of redemption and so on. So even though Peter and the apostles had some things in common in their doctrine as Paul had in his, overall they taught two different doctrines as most grace brethren are quite familiar with.
So now let’s get to the question at hand; . . .We have a man that believes exactly like Peter believes. There is no difference between his belief and Peter’s. His belief is the exact image of Peter’s belief.
Here is the question:
Does the Lord:
A) put him into the kingdom program?
B) put him into hell?
C) put him into the body of Christ?
Fred concludes by saying, “This is not a joke. This is a serious salvation question and I would really like to hear the answers of other grace preachers.”
Do you see the fallacies in Fred’s proposition? Even more so, do you see Fred’s real problem? I italicized the phrases where Fred erred. He actually believes that Peter and the other apostles taught a different gospel from Paul’s.
But Fred’s biggest problem, as I see it, is exegetical (interpretation). Instead of coming to the biblical text to see what it has to say to him, Fred has come to the text with his own presuppositions and applied them to the text, or read them into the text (eisegesis).
I pointed this out in my e-mail response to Fred, and he responded with what he thought was a sound riposte to my argument: “Your problem is you interpret what the Bible says; I just read it.”
Of course when you read anything you are interpreting it, either rightly or wrongly. Many things, like your paycheck, don’t take much thought, but you are still interpreting the information. You are going to find the meaning of the number very quickly. If they paid you $1,000 and not the $1,500 you should have been paid, you will quickly interpret that as wrong!
This conundrum presented above is a sad commentary. Fred told me he had been preaching for thirty years! Had Fred ever been discipled? If so it was a pitiable job and brings out how discipleship done in error can be very damaging to the person discipled and the body. If he had any formal training to prepare him for the pastorate it too was poorly done. But the most disconcerting thing to me was his attitude. If you did not stay in his preconceived little box he did not want to talk to you.