Patriarchy and Hermeneutics

He Who Defines, Wins

by Mark Hanson


Introduction

Approximately ten years ago, as a conservative Reformed homeschooler, I had become a passionate proponent of what some have called “Biblical Patriarchy”.  I spent years working under and fellowshipping with other “Biblical Patriarchy” adherents.  I so admired their zeal to take "every thought captive unto the obedience of Christ" and to apply God's Word to all of life and this desire spurred me to learn more. This still current “sub-movement” in the home school world desires to encourage Christians in their unique Biblical calling as men and women, encourage fathers to take the mantle of leadership in the home, cultivate a culture of life that embraces the blessing of children, promote family integrated worship, promote the Christian discipleship of children by their parents, teach God’s providential hand in history, advocate theonomy (the applicability of the Mosaic Law for Christians today), prepare men to be Christian statesmen, and finally show Christians how to think biblically.  I still wholeheartedly agree with these motivations and believe these to be biblical themes but I now view these things through a new set of lenses after having the opportunity to study Scripture and theology in a more formal setting.

In my search for Biblical truth, I started pursuing an undergraduate degree in biblical studies at The Masters College (John MacArthur, Jr. is the president) in Santa Clarita, CA.  While attending, I took every opportunity to tell those around me about the new reformation that I believed was taking place in families and in churches through the Biblical Patriarchy movement.  This included my spending hundreds of dollars buying Biblical Patriarchy resources (tapes and books) to hand out to professors and fellow students.  This sparked many conversations and dialogues with my fellow classmates and professors.  These men showed themselves to be patient and gentle in their thorough approach in proving that in some areas I was not “rightly dividing the Word of Truth".

After finally applying proper hermeneutics (how to interpret Scripture) to my study of Scripture, my views began to change. I was realizing just how important hermeneutics were and how having the wrong approach to interpreting Scripture, can lead one down a trail that goes farther and farther away from what God intended us to take away from His Word.  As it has been said by R.J. Rushdoony, "He who defines, wins". For if one approaches Scripture wrong, their interpretation/application will be wrong and will hence be encumbered in their advancement of the Kingdom of God. It is my passionate desire to help as many Christians as I can to "rightly divide the Word of Truth".  So subsequently this article's goal is to serve as an examination into the hermeneutical principles that those in the “Biblical Patriarchy” movement utilize,

This article will cover the following areas:

  1. The Author's Intent & Historical Context
  2. Extended Applications
  3. The "Pattern" Hermeneutic
  4. Old Testament Narratives
  5. A List of General Hermeneutical Principles

The Author's Intent & Historical Context

In this discussion on hermeneutics, it is my starting presupposition that God’s written Word is inerrant and infallible.  Having stated this, it is important to understand that the various books of the Bible were written to and for God’s covenant people in various times and places in human history. We need to realize that the various authors of the Bible were not trying to communicate in such a way that their writings would be always easily understood at a face value reading by anyone that was not living during that time period. Equally as important, concerning the books of the New Testament, we need to understand that these letters were written by the Apostles themselves or their legates (representatives) who had received the deposit of faith, the teachings of Christ and thus were applying those teachings in various situations in local churches. Therefore, we cannot read the various Epistles as if they were textbook answers given in a systematic way, but instead we have to realize that the Epistles are polemical in nature. Gordon Fee, an Evangelical New Testament scholar states,

However diverse the Epistles might be, they nonetheless have one thing in common. They are occasional documents of the first century, written out of the context of the recipients. We are often, as it were, on one side of a telephone conversation and must piece together from this end what the other party is saying or what the problem is.

The interpreter, if you will, must remove his or her twentieth-century bifocals, shedding the filter of twentieth-century mentality, and journey back in to the first century. For the Epistles this has a double focus:

(a) The interpreter must try as much as possible to reconstruct the situation of the recipients. That is, one must ask, how is this letter, or this section of the letter an answer to their problems or a response to the recipients’ needs? In every case, a primary concern of interpretation is to try to hear what they would have heard.

(b) One must try to live with the author and understand his mentality and his context. Above everything else the interpreter must try to understand what the author intended the recipients to hear.1

It is important to remember that a passage “cannot mean what it never could have meant to its author or his readers."2 A good example of how Christians violate this principle is in the following example: Many Bible teachers will suggest that the phrase, “when the perfect comes” found in 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 (“Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.”), is speaking of the completion of the canon of Scripture.

They point out that the Greek word for “perfect” teleios seems to mean Scripture rather than Christ because the word is in the neuter gender, just as the Greek word for Bible, biblion is in the neuter gender, whereas Christ is always in the masculine gender. Others though would rightly reply that teleios can just as easily mean “mature” or “complete” in reference to our Christian maturity because this makes the most logical sense from the context of the Scripture, is talked about in verse 11. The latter proposition is true as Gordon Fee states,

Not only does the immediate context imply that the eschaton is intended (v. 12, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known,” NIV), but there seems to be no way either that Paul could have meant the completion of the canon, or that the Corinthians would have so understood him.3

Extended Applications

In addition to the mistake of making an interpretation that would not be understood by its original recipients, Christians also make “extended applications” from Scripture passages which are unwarranted. For example,

Second Corinthians 6:14-7:1 has often been used in Christian moral theology as a proof-text against Christians marrying non-Christians. But neither the immediate context nor the language of the passage suggests that this is the problem Paul is addressing [I am NOT, I repeat I am NOT saying and neither is Gordon Fee, that it is alright for Christians to marry non-Christians. The point that is being made is that sometimes Christians take Scriptures out of their context to try and bolster their position which may be right but nonetheless they should not be using that passage to support their position]. Probably Calvin is right – the text in its entirety repeats the injunction of 1 Corinthians 10:14-33, that the Corinthians may not under any circumstances join their pagan friends at the idol’s temple. Indeed, “what agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God.”

We simply have no context which is comparable. Into what kind of contexts, then, do we translate the principle, “do not be yoked together with unbelievers”? And even if Calvin is wrong as to the particular historical context, it is surely true that this text is concerned with the community, not with individual believers. One may rightly question the legitimacy of transferring the context of this passage from the church and pagan temples to individual Christian and their marriages [Fee notes in a footnote that, “Although the point often made from this text is surely a proper one. However, such a point needs to be based on firmer ground than this one dubious text. It has to do finally with the compete incompatibility of “two becoming one” who cannot be one at the single crucial point of their relationship.

Usually the “extended application” is seen to be legitimate because it is otherwise true; that is, it is clearly spelled out in other passages where it is the intent. If that be the case, then one should go to those other passages and stop abusing texts where it is not the intent. If there are no such passages where it is the intent, then one may legitimately ask whether that can truly be the word of God which one learns only by “extended application.4

The "Pattern" Hermeneutic

Another manifestation of making illegitimate applications found in the "Biblical Patriarchy" movement is their frequent habit of finding “patterns” (repeated similar actions of behavior) in narrative texts to make applications. They believe emphatically that this type of hermeneutical approach is valid because they are finding “normative patterns” in Scripture. See the following example of this hermeneutic in a discussion on earrings and body piercings,

In the Bible, piercing is a sign of submission. A piercing may or may not be acceptable based on a similar analysis as mentioned above about body mutilation (i.e., association, purpose and intent), though we must be clear that the Bible speaks positively about piercing male servants who voluntarily submit themselves in love to a master...Concerning men: The only possible biblical justification for piercing of which I am aware is to identify ones’ self with slavery. Realize it or not, Christian men who pierce themselves are taking upon themselves the mark of one in submission — in essence they are saying: “Look at me. I am a slave to this unchristian culture with which I am seeking to identify myself.” The following are some Scriptures I would offer for your own personal studies: Leviticus 19:28; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 1 Kings 18:28; Deuteronomy 14:1; Genesis 35:2; Exodus 32:2-3: Isaiah 3:18-23; 2 Timothy 3:1-7; 1 Tim 2:8-9.5

Another example of this "pattern hermeneutics" is found in an excerpt from God's Design for Scriptural Romance, Part VII):

Every scriptural example where the father (or another adult if the father was dead) initiated and oversaw the romantic relationship (such as Adam/Eve, Isaac/Rebecca, Joseph/Mary, etc.), the outcome was blessed by God. On the other hand, every example where the father did NOT initiate and oversee the relationship (such as Esau/wives, Shechem/Dinah, Samson/Delilah, etc.) the outcome was either mixed or disastrous!6

Not only does he see that we should actively follow “patterns” found in Scripture but that we should also abstain from “patterns” not found in Scripture. John Thompson again, “It is instructive that in Scripture there are no positive examples of romantic relationships apart from betrothal, whether Jewish or Gentile”.7

To challenge the "Biblical Patriarchy" movement’s assumption concerning their “pattern hermeneutic” is to them challenging the very doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture and essentially denying the non-neutrality of Scripture.  It is interesting to note that the opponents of Lex Rex (a book written by the great Reformer and Westminster Divine Samuel Rutherford), used this same hermeneutic against Rutherford's arguments. They stated that Samuel Rutherford’s proposition that Christians could defend themselves against unlawful tyranny is not a “pattern” found in Scripture. Look at Rutherford’s response, “It is a great non-consequence: this duty is not practiced by any examples in God’s Word, therefore it is no duty. Practice in Scripture is a narrow rule of faith”.8  To paraphrase Rutherford, "It does not matter at all that are not any examples of this practice in Scripture. Interpreting the Bible this way is limiting the way that God can work." As a caveat, Rutherford was not stating that Christians are permitted to do "whatever is not explicitly prohibited by Scripture." He is simply stating that just because a "pattern" does not exist in Scripture does not necessarily prohibit us from doing that action. Rutherford clearly states that just because something was not practiced in Scripture does not mean that it is something that we cannot do. He calls this “pattern hermeneutic”, “a narrow rule of faith”. This hermeneutic, finding binding patterns from narrative text, seems to be a hermeneutic that was first popularized by Bill Gothard, who is known in the Biblical Counseling circles (Carey Hardy, Jay Adams, etc.) and among other theologians alike for his horrendous hermeneutics. Dr. Ronald Allen states, “Gothard seems obsessed with finding sequential, mechanical outlines of principles in the Biblical narrative, even when these outlines of principles are not evident at all in the passage he uses.”6

The pattern hermeneutic shows up most in Gothard’s principles for Biblical romance,

Gothard’s view assumes that since the majority of Biblical characters, who were products of their times and culture, had arranged marriages, that the narrative text is communicating the correct, and Godly, way to do courtship – the model we all must follow. The fact that the Bible mentions how people in those days prepared for marriage does not constitute command for us to do it that way.10

This whole “pattern hermeneutic” is probably the most glaring and prevalent hermeneutical error found in the "Biblical Patriarchy" movement. This hermeneutical approach begs many a question and presupposes a framework of Scripture that Scripture itself does not impose on itself. Douglas Stuart and Gordon D. Fee, “Unless Scripture explicitly tells us we must do something, what is only narrated or described does not function in a normative way – unless it can be demonstrated on other grounds that the author intended it to function in this way.11

The "Biblical Patriarchy" movement does not follow their own hermeneutic consistently. An example of this is their non-requirement for men to have beards. If the "Biblical Patriarchy" movement followed their hermeneutic to its logical end after asking the question, "What does the Bible say about male's shaving either their beard or head?", they would inescapably come to the conclusion that men should wear beards. Let me show you in detail what I mean. Using their hermeneutic we could say that there is no Scripture that positively speaks of a man who is shaven. In fact, we could go one step further and state that all of the Old Testament narratives (such as the ones below) speak of shaven men as being in a shameful or mournful state and often in a place of judgment.

We could say something like this,

In the Bible, shaving is a sign of mourning, being under judgement and viewed as shameful.  A shaven face may or may not be acceptable based on a Scriptural analysis in regard to its association, purpose and intent. We must be lucid in our understanding that the Bible only speaks about a male shaven face as being shameful and/or a sign of mourning and judgment.  Thus the only viable Scriptural justification for shaving that I can find in the Scriptures is to identify yourself with being under judgment or in a state of mourning. The following Scriptures below offer compelling evidence for what has just been stated.

II Samuel 10:4-5 So Hanun seized David’s men, shaved off half of each man’s beard, cut off their garments in the middle at the buttocks, and sent them away. When David was told about this, he sent messengers to meet the men, for they were greatly humiliated. The king said, Stay at Jericho till your beards have grown, and then come back.

Jeremiah 48:37 - Every head is shaved and every beard cut off; every hand is slashed and every waist is covered with sackcloth.

Jeremiah 41:4-5 - The day after Gedaliah’s assassination, before anyone knew about it, eighty men who had shaved off their beards, torn their clothes and cut themselves came from Shechem, Shiloh and Samaria, bringing grain offerings and incense with them to the house of the LORD.

Isaiah 15:2 - Dibon goes up to its temple, to its high places to weep; Moab wails over Nebo and Medeba. Every head is shaved and every beard cut off.

Isaiah 7:1 - In that day the Lord will use a razor hired from beyond the River the king of Assyria to shave your head and the hair of your legs, and to take off your beards also.

Jeremiah 47:5 Gaza will shave her head in mourning; Ashkelon will be silenced. O remnant on the plain, how long will you cut yourselves?

Ezekiel 27:31 - They will shave their heads because of you and will put on sackcloth. They will weep over you with anguish of soul and with bitter mourning.

Amos 8:10 - I will turn your religious feasts into mourning and all your singing into weeping. I will make all of you wear sackcloth and shave your heads. I will make that time like mourning for an only son and the end of it like a bitter day.

Micah 1:16 - Shave your heads in mourning for the children in whom you delight; make yourselves as bald as the vulture, for they will go from you into exile.

In summary, we have just seen how a stronger case could be made using the "Biblical Patriarchy" movement's hermeneutic to state that men should not shave their heads or shave the edges of their beards (which means that a clean-shaven face, go-tee, a trimmed beard or a mustache are out of question) than some of the other assertions that the "Biblical Patriarchy" movement makes.  The "Biblical Patriarchy" movement fails not only in their ability to follow their own hermeneutical framework consistently but also in their ability to contextualize the Scriptures.

Is it any wonder that we find “patterns” of behavior etc. in the Biblical narrative texts since the Israelites had inherited a culture which already existed long before God ever called Abraham from Ur to be the father of His Holy nation? We certainly should not be surprised that we do not see certain practices exemplified for us in Scripture because Scripture was written in a different time and culture. What makes an action or non-action a sin is when we do not obey the positive or negative commands of the Lord, not by non-subscription to “patterns” or the lack thereof in Scripture.  Don and Joy Veinot with Ron Henzel, point out, “The fact that God gave Moses laws to show people how to behave in an already existing culture with its own traditions and practices does not mean that those traditions and practices set a divine precedent. God does not command everything he permits.”12

Thus, the "Biblical Patriarchy" movement's proclivity for using "patterns" to support their various conclusions is completely invalid unless the intent of the Biblical author in that given passage is to speak to that matter in principle. So, it is simply wrong to approach narrative Scripture from a statistical/pattern standpoint to determine what is right practice.

Properly Interpreting Old Testament Narratives

Samuel Hardin in his paper: "A Model For Theologically Validating Contemporary Applications From Old Testament Narratives: A Literary Foundation" makes a great observation:

Toombs13(1969) offers a poignant description of moralizing: ”By making Biblical characters into marionettes who dance on the strings of moral law, the preacher simultaneously distills the humanity and vital life from them and conceals what their stories may have to say about man’s existence as a historic being.”14

To say that method A worked out very well for these people and method B did not, so method A must be God’s way is to draw unsupported/unwarranted conclusions. This is an entire interpretative system that is being forced on Scripture that leads to grossly mishandling the Word of God and interpreting Scripture out of its theological and contextual pericope. This is a fallacy which gives rise to forcing Scripture to say things it does not, to deriving patterns and mandates and principles from narratives which are only historical documentations of events, not prescriptive for us. I believe the actions of those in the narrative are not prescriptive unless God says so in the pericope (context of the passage) either implicitly or explicitly, or in other special revelation. In addition, at the most, sometimes when there is no praise by God of the actions of the characters (either implicitly or explicitly), one may say their deeds were permissible and that they were not in sin. Even when there is praise of an action, one cannot always say that the action that they took was the only way. Roy Zuck,

When deriving the meaning of a story as a basis for principlizing, the meaning must always be developed from a careful historical, lexical analysis: the meaning must be the author’s intended one. Principles derived by this method may be either normative or non-normative. For example, it is valid to say that Satan sometimes uses the above methods to tempt believers today, but it would be invalid to say that he always uses these methods, or that he uses only these methods.15

What, then, is the correct way to deal with historical Scriptural narratives? I believe that Scriptural narrative accounts are to be interpreted by the theological pericope of the passage and the book. Interpreting Scripture narratives must be done in a proper exegetical and contextual manner. Samuel Hardin points this out,

The common hermeneutical saying, ‘One interpretation and unlimited applications,’ should be replaced by, ‘One interpretation that establishes a limited range of applications’ …The questions is, ‘What establishes the boundaries between legitimate and illegitimate applications?’ There can only be one answer. The author’s intention as expressed through the chosen genre in the specific idea of the passage is what establishes the boundary for legitimate applications.16

R. B. Chisholm states, “From ones exegetical study the text’s primary theme/s in its original context should emerge. One can then transform the main theme into a general theological principle that would be true now as well as then. The next step is to derive from this principle an applicational point which stresses how we should think and/or act.”17

When interpreting Old Testament narratives we need to ask the following questions:18

  1. Based on observations of the Hebrew narrative devices employed in the text, what is the author apparently trying to emphasize.?
  2. What is the primary tension in the story?
  3. What is the primary element of resolution in the story?
  4. What is the story about?
  5. What is the story saying about this subject?

Beyond narrative portions of Scripture, there are sometimes direct commands whose application can be transformed or changed depending on what culture the Christian finds themselves in. Properly applying commands that were given in another culture is referred to as contextualizing (determining what part of that message is transcultural). It is at this point that many Christians make mistakes. As an illustration of this in I Timothy 5:23 Paul tells Timothy, “Use a little wine for the sake of your stomach”. Virtually all Christians would agree that this command was time/culture-bound and individualized because the water was unsafe to drink. Many of these same Christians though would see that according to I Corinthians 11:14 that it is wrong for a man to have long hair because the text states, “Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him” (It is interesting though that no one seems to ask the question that short hair is only a result of non-natural means – a haircut).19 A short rule of thumb is that if the expression would not carry the same meaning in our present culture, then we are to find a way to obey that principle in a way that would express that underlying principle in our culture today.  See the chart below,20

Narrative.jpg

Hermeneutical Principles

So how do we avoid making unwarranted "extended applications" and improper contextualizations of Biblical commands? Below are several principles (Many of them excerpts taken from Introduction into Biblical Interpretation by Craig Blomberg, Robert L. Hubbard, Jr., and William W. Klein and Reading The Bible For All Its Worth by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart) that will help in this area:

  1. One should be able to distinguish between principle and specific application. It is possible for a New Testament writer to support a relative application by an absolute principle and in so doing not make that application absolute.21
  2. It is false to assume that just because the Mosaic Law presupposed certain cultural customs, etc. in its various case laws (eg. the Patriarchal culture and the degree of authority fathers had, etc.) that those cultural customs becomes normative along with the principle itself.
  3. Is the particular cultural form expressed in the biblical text present today, and if so does it have the same significance as it did then?22 Whenever we share comparable particulars (i.e., similar specific23 life situations), with the first-century setting, God’s Word to us is the same as His Word to them.
  4. Does the text present a broad theological or moral principle or does it give a specific manifestation of such a principle, which Scripture elsewhere embodies in one or more different forms?24 
  5. Does the larger context of the book in which the passage appears limit the application in any way or does it promote a more universal application?25
  6. Does subsequent revelation limit the application of a particular passage even if the book in which it appears does not?26
  7. Is the specific teaching ‘contradicted’ elsewhere in ways that show it was limited to exceptional situations?27
  8. Are cultural conditions mentioned in Scripture or assumed by its authors that make it inappropriate always to apply a given text in the same way?28
  9. One should first distinguish between the central core of the message of the Bible and what is dependent upon or peripheral to it. . . . Similarly, one should be prepared to distinguish between what the New Testament itself sees as inherently moral and what is not.29
  10. Is the command or application at variance with standard cultural norms of the day? If so, it likely indicates a transcultural or timeless mandate.30
  11. [Determine] the cultural options open to any New Testament writer. The degree to which there is only one option increases the possibility of the cultural relativity of such a position.31
  12. Does the passage contain an explicit or implicit condition that limits its application? Conditional promises are valid only if the conditions are met.32

A Challenge to The Homeschool Community

Particularly challenging in the field of hermeneutics has been the art of contextualizing Scripture, which we have talked about already. When contextualization is approached wrongly, it can result in grave errors that cause no small damage to the Church. This has occurred in great numbers in various sectors of the homeschooling community. Thus, we promote the following essential contextualization principles below and encourage various ministry leaders and families in the home school community to reform their hermeneutical approach according to these principles:

A Hermeneutical Statement

  1. We affirm that lower textual criticism, the study of all extant Biblical manuscripts to determine what the original text of the Bible was, is the first essential step to Biblical interpretation.
  2. We deny any hermeneutical approach that presupposes that Holy Scripture may be interpreted correctly only and always by relying exclusively on the "plain reading of the text" to the exclusion of lexical, syntactical, cultural and historical research.
  3. We deny that the various authors of the Bible were trying to communicate in such a way that their writings would always be easily understood at a face value reading by anyone that was not living during that time period.
  4. We affirm in order to discover the original meaning of the Biblical text there are times in which it is necessary to research the Biblical texts in their respective original languages (whether Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek). In addition, one also may need to undertake specific studies of the classical world, the ancient Mid-Eastern world, the Hellenistic period, Jewish tradition, church history and the Patristics.
  5. We affirm the need to reconstruct as much as possible the historical situation of the recipients/audience of any given canonical book in order to completely understand the author's intention and meaning.
  6. We affirm that a passage cannot mean what it never could have meant to its author or his readers.
  7. We deny that any application can be made from a textual pericope (a specific section of the Biblical text) that does not flow from the author's original intent.
  8. We affirm the legitimacy of questioning any application that claims the support of Holy Scripture but is based solely on passages where it is not the intent of the author to teach the principle behind that application.
  9. We affirm that unless Holy Scripture commands us to do something or to abstain from something (either an outward action or an inward heart attitude), what is only in narrative form or described, does not function as a precept, principle or model, unless it can be amply and convincingly demonstrated that the author intended the narrative pericope (selected portion of Holy Scripture) to function in this way.
  10. We deny that any so-called "Biblical normative patterns", when based on repeated patterns of behaviors found in narrated Holy Scripture (and not within the author's intent to teach a didactic principle through the narrated story), is to function as either a principle or a model for the life of the believer.
  11. We affirm that we are neither bound to follow “patterns” found in narrative portions of Holy Scripture and neither are we limited to participating in any given behavior because of a lack of "patterned example". To do so is to go beyond what is written and to place an incoherent and specious interpretative framework on Holy Scripture.
  12. We affirm that the majority of Biblical characters adhered to a particular patterned sociological framework (which may have adhered to a greater or lesser extent to God’s eternal unchanging Law) because they were a brought up in the ways of their culture that existed before the giving of the Mosaic Law. Thus, any given sociological framework that Biblical characters adhered to does not function as either a model or example for the believer as such, unless it is found to be the author's intent to do so.
  13. We affirm that it is possible for an Old or New Testament writer to support a relative application by an absolute principle and in so doing not make that application absolute.
  14. We deny that because the Mosaic Law presupposed a certain sociological framework in its various case laws that it makes that societal framework normative.
  15. We affirm that the Mosaic Law was regulating an already existent cultural and societal framework, with its own traditions and practices and as a result these various frameworks and practices are not divine precedents unless they are shown to be based on other criteria.
  16. We affirm that some of the practices permitted (because of "hardness of heart") in the Mosaic Law and subsequently regulated, were not according to God's desired will.
  17. We heartily affirm that principles can and should be found in the Mosaic Law in light of Christ’s redemptive fulfillment. These principles when rightly filtered through Christ’s redemptive work can be extracted and transculturally applied without bringing over the sociological framework or cultural practices in which it was originally situated.
  18. We deny that anyone should teach that the Hebrew model of life (derived from narrative portions of Scripture whose authorial intent was not to be didactic or from societal frameworks regulated by the Mosaic Law) is necessarily more of a model to follow than any other cultural model.
  19. We affirm that the commands in God's Word are to be followed in the same exact way as commanded (unless revised by further revelation) in so far as we share the same particular cultural expressions/customs and life situations.
  20. We affirm that even when we do not share the same particular cultural expressions, customs and life situations that operated as the historical milieu and backdrop in which the moral principles of God were communicated, those principles can be extracted and applied transculturally.
  21. We affirm that the larger context of the canonical book in which the passage appears may limit the application or it may promote a universal application (in keeping with the already stated principles).
  22. We affirm that later Biblical revelation may limit or expand the application of a particular passage even if the book in which it appears does not.
  23. We affirm that if any given command or application is at variance with the standard cultural norms of the day that it has a fairly high degree of probability that would indicate a transcultural or timeless mandate.
  24. We affirm that the authority of the New Testament is derived from the Apostles themselves who were given authority directly by the Lord Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, to authentically declare His teachings and apply them to His Church.

Summary

God is sovereign and we must submit to His will through a loving obedience and heart trust.  He has communicated His heart through His Word, so properly interpreting it is essential for us as believers.  We must equally be vigilant to not eliminate the active presence, leading and operation of the Holy Spirit, which is far more than just the illumination of Scripture (though certainly not in contradiction to Scripture and does no longer reveals universal teaching for His people).  It is the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, the Spirit of Christ, who enables us to participate in the Divine Life and reflect the image of God by being in loving communion with God and by loving our neighbor as our self.  It is to Him, for Him and through Him that we study Scripture so that we might understand His redemptive purposes in Christ to His people to glorify Him in all the earth.

Endnotes

  1. Fee, Gordon Gospel and Spirit: Issues in New Testament Hermeneutics, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1991, 6-7. 
  2. Fee, Gordon, Stuart, Douglas, Reading the Bible For All Its Worth Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1993, 60.
  3. Fee, Gordon, 8.
  4. Ibid., 15-16.
  5. Phillips, Doug "Questions Concerning Piercings and Body Mutilation" June 26, 2004 [article online] available from http://www.visionforumministries.org/sections/hotcon/ht/family/bodypiercing.asp; Internet; accessed 29 July 2006.
  6. Thompson, John “God's Design for Scriptural Romance, Part VII” July 31, 2001 [article online]; available from http://www.patriarch.com/article.php?sid=90; Internet; accessed 29 December 2004.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Rutherford, Samuel Lex, Rex, or The Law and The Prince Edinburgh, Scotland: By the author, 1624 Reprint, Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1982, 179.
  9. Allen, Ronald  “Gothard-Again”, 2.
  10. Veinot, Don, Veinot, Joy, Henzel, Ron A Matter of Basic Principles Lombard, IL: Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc., 2002, 256.
  11. Fee, Gordon, Stuart, Douglas, Reading the Bible For All Its Worth Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1993, 106.
  12. Veinot, Henzel, 265.
  13. Toombs, L.E., The Problematic of Preaching from The Old Testament Interpretation, 23, July 1969, 302-314.
  14. Hardin, Samuel L., A Model For Theologically Validating Contemporary Applications From Old Testament Narratives: A Literary Foundation Doctrinal Dissertation, May, 2001, 91.
  15. Zuck, Roy, Rightly Divided: Readings in Biblical Hermeneutics, Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1996, 237.
  16. Hardin, 92.
  17. Chisholm, R.B., Jr. (1998). From Exegesis to Exposition: A Practical Guide to Using Biblical Hebrew, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 223-224.
  18. Hardin, 82.
  19. Fee, Gordon, 3.
  20. Hardin, 196.
  21. Blomberg, Craig L., Hubbard, Jr., Robert L., Klein, William W. Introduction into Biblical Interpretation Dallas: Word Publishing, 1993, 415.
  22. Fee, Gordon 14.
  23. Fee, Gordon, Stuart, Douglas, 60.
  24. Blomberg, Hubbard, Jr., Klein, 411.
  25. Ibid., 412.
  26. Ibid., 412.
  27. Ibid., 413.
  28. Ibid., 414.
  29. Fee, Gordon, Stuart, Douglas, 66.
  30. Blomberg, Hubbard, Jr., Klein, 418.
  31. Fee, Gordon, Stuart, Douglas, 68.
  32. Blomberg, Hubbard, Jr., Klein, 418.

Ubique, Semper et ab Omnibus                      Everywhere, Always and by All