"Daily frame me more and more into the likeness of Thy Son, Jesus Christ." - George Washington

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

End of the first month

Oh my, I can't think of a time that I have been this busy since high school, what with nannying, teaching art lessons, swing dancing/competition, and a church plant. Also working on various illustrating projects, and the hermeneutics class of course. Not to mention TeenPact is coming up...

But I'm still chugging along with the class! The hard part isn't watching the lectures (I've watched 7 out of 40-something), but completing the reading assignments so that I can finish the quizzes and move on to the next segment. (It's work-at-your-own-pace, remember?)

And today is a snow day! So - wonder of wonders - I get to stay home, and dive into those projects like reading and illustrating. It is so good to be home, and to have so much free time to use to catch up. I don't want to waste much more of it on the computer, really.

As far as the hermeneutics class goes, I've been almost overloaded with methods, and tips, and tricks of the trade, what to look for, etc... Dr. Akin keeps reminding the class that he is just throwing all the puzzle pieces out so we can piece them together later on.

To boil all of it down, good hermeneutics is in three steps:

Observation: learning to see what's in the text. Looking deeper, digging deeper. Using different reading techniques to notice different things. Reading patiently, over and over, reading prayerfully, imaginatively, thoroughly. Asking who? what? why? when? where? how? All that I have read thus far in Living by the Book addresses ways to observe what is in the text. Track the verbs, they are action words.

Interpretation: What does the text say? What is the author's intent? What is the context? What Peter calls "rightly dividing the Word of truth". What is the real meaning of the text - the objective meaning that doesn't change, versus the significance you might want to pull from it? What is the principle that transcends culture and time, that is true any time, any place, under any circumstance?

Application: The humbling part - how do I apply this correctly to my life? What do I learn about God from this text? What should I learn about myself? Scripture should be studied with the intent of changing our own lives. Scripture is living and active, sharper than a sword, dividing your thoughts and motives.

^ Nutshell version of lots of notes, right there.

I'll keep posting! Happy snow day!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

First week update


The hermeneutics course opened on Friday, so I'm already one delightful week into it. And it is just as awesome as I was hoping it would be! I've been taking so many notes, I hardly know where to start, but I'll try rambling and see where it goes.

I did read through the dictionary, most of it (the last third is just terms not strictly related to hermeneutics, just general Biblical knowledge, so I didn't put any pressure on myself to get through that.) My intention was just to get a leg up in the course, but it turns out I'll have to read through it as assigned homework anyway. So I'm set.

But more than just becoming savvy with the concepts and terminology, I learned that there is a liberal and conservative side to hermeneutics - apparently people don't just read the Bible, they have to discredit it too. (Satan wouldn't leave untouched the methods of interpreting Scripture, now would he?)

The liberal side has many theories, and variations, but one term to sum it up would be allegory. They view Scripture sometimes as fallible, not always - or ever - meant to be taken literally or at face value. The most extreme thread of the last century even affirms that is it totally impossible to know what the Biblical author intended when he put pen to paper, and that the words are their own autonomous being. The only way they are to be understood is to interact with them and come up with your own conclusions based off your your emotions and experience with the text.

A bunch of horse apples, right?

I'm so grateful that the professors directing this course have nothing to do with those theories. In the first lecture (well the second one, after the first one about the syllabus, and classroom protocol, etc...) Daniel Akin, the President of SEBTS, laid out the necessary precommitments of anyone taking the class, or anyone even willing to interpret the Bble correctly. Namely:

> Commitment to a high view of Scripture // Matthew 5:17-18, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:20-21
Scripture is inspired, and inerrant. Jesus Himself believed the Bible was inerrant and inspired, words of God. Akins quoted "To question the Bible is to question Christology." If you don't believe Scripture to be infallible, then you throw into question the authority of Christ.

> Conviction of the profitability of all Scripture // 2 Timothy 3:14-17
No one area of the Bible is more inspired than another, all is written by the Holy Spirit, one author through many. Every word of it is necessary, and makes up a complete whole.

> Calling to rightly divide the Word of Truth // 2 Timothy 2:15
The purpose of hermeneutics is to make clear the meaning (not the significance, big difference - more on that in a moment) of a passage.

> Commitment to think about what Scripture means and how to rightly apply it // James 1:22-25
Being a doer, not just a hearer. The interpreter must be sincere about handling the Word, and sober about proclaiming it correctly.

> Willingness to be confined to the intention of the Author // 2 Timothy 4:1-5
What the author says is what the interpreter must say. If it is outside the author's intent, it is outside the intent of the Holy Spirit and outside the realm of authority. And, authorial intent IS retrievable through the text.

I'm confident of some good things to be learned, by seeing the standard set so high! I pray that God will keep me discerning.

I must explain what I meant earlier about meaning versus significance. When the term "meaning" is used, that refers to what the text intents, what the unchangeable message is that the author is conveying. The term "significance" is more liberal, meaning what someone takes from the text, regardless of the message of the text itself.

This is already a really long post for me, but I'll finish by explaining that all of the points above, as well as things I have mentioned in a previous post, such as sola Scriptura, make up the conservative side. Literal interpretation, typology (i.e., Christ being the scapegoat, the Passover lamb, etc.) and applicability are the healthy alternatives to allegory.

Thankfully, this course is all work-at-your-own-pace, so I don't have to worry about the syllabus, or deadlines or grades... Whew. I feel sorry for the suckers that do. *wink*

That's not even a fraction of my notes, but I'll cut off here and pick up again later. Blessings!