Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
On the New Covenant
05/19/2005 - James WhiteThe writer to the Hebrews presents an apologetic defense of the supremacy of Christ throughout his epistle, seeking to demonstrate that there is nothing in the "old ways" to attract the follower of Christ. In every aspect Christ is superior to the former administration, so that there is nothing in the "old ways" to attract the believer in Him. It was also seen that the complex of terms related to "better" (mediator of a "better covenant," "better sacrifices," "better promises," "better hope" and "more excellent ministry") are found in distinctively soteriological contexts in Hebrews. The writer introduced the citation of Jeremiah within a context of contrast (8:6-7), continued it within the citation itself ("not like the covenant which I made with their fathers," v. 9), and made the contrast explicit in his conclusion in 8:13. The text presents an apologetic argument in that unlike the old covenant, where "they did not continue in My covenant" (v. 9), the new covenant presents a perfect, full work of God including the internal renovation of the heart, salvific knowledge of God, and the forgiveness of sins. There is nothing in the text that suggests that there are different audiences envisioned in verses 10-12; those who have God's law written on their hearts are also those who know the Lord savingly and likewise are those whose sins are remembered no more. Unlike the old covenant, in the new all know the Lord, "from the least to the greatest of them." That we have accurately discerned the writer's intention in seeing the new covenant soteriologically is borne out by reference to the second citation of Jeremiah 31 in Hebrews 10:16-17, for not only does the author cite the passage in support of one of the central soteriological arguments of the entire book (Heb. 10:10-14), but his interpretation of the final words regarding forgiveness of sins is clearly expressed in the same context. ...
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05/13/2005 - James WhiteThe issue here is not, "Is there more to the Scriptures than mere human words?" All Christians gladly confess this. Surely there is a spiritual, living dimension to the Word. We truly must separate the method of determining the intended meaning of the author from other issues such as, Is the meaning of the author in his own time and own context the only possible meaning that is legitimate or Does it not take a work of the Spirit in the heart to cause a person to understand and obey the Word out of love for God? These are later issues, for they assume that we can first determine a basis upon which to answer such questions, and that basis is the intended teaching of the Scriptures themselves.
Since many believers are introduced to the study of the Scriptures higher up the ladder so to speak, the more basic issues of the howof interpretation are often left unspoken and assumed. Most churches do not seek to introduce their members to hermeneutics or exegesis or such related fields of study, resultingin a basic ignorance of the issues faced in interpreting the text of Scripture itself. At times, the method of exegesis popular in a particular group is a given, part of the very traditionof that group, and is never discussed or examined for consistency. Indeed, some groups identify the entire pursuit of a consistent hermeneutic as an attack upon the faithfor no other reason than that the core beliefs that set them apart are not the result of sound exegesis but of special pleading.
The grammatical-historical method of interpretation is a means of guaranteeing that we are hearing what the text says, not what we wantthe text to say. This is a vitally important point, especially when it comes to the Scriptures. When reading secular texts we are not nearly as tempted to insert a foreign meaning into the words of the author, since it is rare that such a text would be given sufficient importance to warrant the effort. We naturallyapply sound rules of interpretation to such documents since we are not at all threatened by the results. But when it comes to the text of the Bible, much more is at stake. But if we are consistent in our beliefs, and trulywant to hear what the Scriptures are saying and not what we want them to say or feel they should say, we need to have a means of reading the text that does not allow us to slipour own thoughts into the text under the guise of interpretation. The Bible needs to say the same thing in each language, in each culture, in each context, or it cannot be the means of communicating the truth to us that Christians believe it to be. The grammatical-historical method allows us to be both honest and consistent with the text of the Bible.
--Dangerous Airwaves, pp. 50-51.
Now THIS is Nice
05/06/2005 - James WhiteFirst, many kind thanks to the kind brother who sent me my own copy of this as a gift. It is much appreciated--especially since it is large print. Not sure how Dan Wallace swung this, but I'm sure glad he did. The NET's NT translation is quite good (sorry, have major reservations about the OT); and one of the greatest advantages of the translation are the oodles of translation notes. So, put that on the facing page of a large-print (wild applause) NA27 and you have a winning combination. I'm only mentioning this for your information---we aren't selling it, but you can get it here. Just wait till after Mother's Day, guys. :-)
Fairbairn Now in Paperback
05/03/2005 - James WhiteA while back I mentioned that Solid Ground had published a hardback edition of Fairbairn's 1858 work, Opening Scripture. Fairbairn was a leading Scottish Presbyterian in the mid-19th century, and this work provides a wide-range of exegetical discussions on important issues. We have the hardbacks in now, and, Solid Ground has done a run of softbacks as well. I'd recommend the hardback (it is a book you will want on your shelf), but if the price is an issue, the softback will work for you just as well. We have them both on the shelf right now.
One of the enjoyable things about reading material from that period is you are not having to constantly battle with the presence of skepticism, unbelief, and hesitation of affirmation. Sometimes it is nice to get away from the context of unbelief that marks so much of our modern age (and even modern theological writing) and sit with the greats of a past age in the context of faith. It is quite refreshing.
Now, you will notice, I am recommending a book that contains, as one example, a very Presbyterian discussion of baptizw, with which I would take exception. That's called allowing for differences, even important differences, and still learning from godly men who do not agree on every jot and tittle.