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7/25/2009

The Word
Preconditions for Studying Gods Word

To Properly approach and


study the Bible, there are
a number of preconditions
that we must agree to
The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

Preconditions for Studying Gods Word

I. God
II. Miracles
III. Revelation
IV. Truth
V. Logic

VI. Language
VII. Meaning
VIII. Interpretation
IX. History
X. Exclusivism

The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

7/25/2009

God

The Metaphysical Precondition


Obviously, there can be no Word of God unless
God exists. With respect to existence,
metaphysics (beyond the physical) concerns
itself with the study of being or reality.
Christianity believes in Theism, which says one
God created all of reality as we know it and that
this God transcends everything. Many things
may have being, but only one thing can be Being.
And what is being? Being is that which is.
Or as God said in Exodus: "God said to
Moses, I AM WHO I AM; and He said,
Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, I AM
has sent me to you. "(Exodus 3:14). Literally,
the verse says I be that I be.
The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

God

The Metaphysical Precondition

"...people say to me
continually,
'Where is your God?'"
(Psalm 42:3)

The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

God

The Metaphysical Precondition


I.
Something exists
II. You dont get something from nothing
III. Therefore, a necessary and eternal Being
exists.
IV. The only two rational options are an eternal
universe or an eternal Creator
V. Science has concluded the universe had a
beginning and therefore is not eternal
VI. Therefore, God exists , is the eternal
Being, and created all that we know
" In the beginning God created the heavens and
the earth."
(Genesis 1:1)
The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

7/25/2009

Miracles

The Supernatural Precondition

The Bible is filled with miracles. Skeptics claim that miracles cannot occur, but if
you have a transcendent Creator God, miracles become possible.
But if we admit God, must we admit a miracle? Indeed, indeed, you have no security
against it. That is the bargain.
- C. S. Lewis
The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

Miracles

The Supernatural Precondition

The Purpose of Miracles:


1. To glorify God (John 2:11)
2. To validate Gods prophets/spokesmen (Acts 2:22)
3. Provide evidence for belief in God (John 6:2)
The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

Miracles

The Supernatural Precondition

Argument against miracles from Benjamin Spinoza


1.
2.
3.
4.

Miracles are violations of natural laws


Natural laws are immutable
It is impossible to violate immutable laws
Therefore , miracles are impossible

Premise two is flawed.


No proof natural laws
are immutable; God
transcends the natural
order.

The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

7/25/2009

Revelation

The Revelational Precondition

Three Prerequisites for Divine Revelation


1. A Being capable of giving a revelation
2. A being capable of receiving a revelation
3. A medium through which a revelation can be given
The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

Revelation

Three Mediums used by God

General
Revelation

Special
Revelation

Ontological
Revelation

"For since the creation of


the world His invisible
attributes, His eternal
power and divine nature,
have been clearly seen,
being understood through
what has been made, so
that they are without
excuse. (Romans 1:20)

"All Scripture is inspired


by God and profitable for
teaching, for reproof, for
correction, for training in
righteousness; so that the
man of God may be
adequate, equipped for
every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17)

" In the beginning was the


Word, and the Word was
with God, and the Word
was God.And the Word
became flesh, and dwelt
among us."
(John 1:1,14)

The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

Revelation
All Denied by Fallen Man

General
Revelation

Special
Revelation

Ontological
Revelation

For they exchanged the


truth of God for a lie, and
worshiped and served the
creature rather than the
Creator, who is blessed
forever. Amen.
(Romans 1:25)

"For the time will come when


they will not endure sound
doctrine; but wanting to have
their ears tickled, they will
accumulate for themselves
teachers in accordance to
their own desires, and will turn
away their ears from the truth
and will turn aside to myths.
(2 Timothy 4:3-4)

"the wisdom which none of


the rulers of this age has
understood; for if they had
understood it they would
not have crucified the Lord
of glory;
(1 Corinthians 2:8)

The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

7/25/2009

Revelation

Differences in General and Special Revelation


General Revelation
God as Creator
Norm for Society
Means of Condemnation
In Nature

Special Revelation
God as Redeemer
Norm for Church
Means of Salvation
In Scripture

"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine
nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they
are without excuse."(Romans 1:20)
"and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the
wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus."(2 Timothy 3:15)
The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

Revelation

A God Who Reveals and Hides


" At that time Jesus said, I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that
You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them
to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. All things
have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the
Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the
Son wills to reveal Him."
(Matthew 11:25-27)
"Simon Peter answered, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. And
Jesus said to him, Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did
not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven."
(Matthew 16:16-17)

The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

Truth

The Epistemological Precondition


The Bible purports to tell the truth about incredibly
important things such as God, reality, ethics, Jesus,
eternal life, judgment, and more. Moreover, the Bible
claims that its truth is absolute, that is, it applies to all
people, in all places, for all time.
The source of truth is God. Just as with being, many
things can have the truth, but only one thing can be
the truth. And the Bible is plain on who and what
truth is:
"Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and
the life; no one comes to the Father but through
Me."(John 14:6)
"Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is
truth."(John 17:17)
The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

7/25/2009

Truth

The Epistemological Precondition


Enemies of absolute truth include:
I. Relativism
II. Agnosticism
III. Skepticism
IV.Postmodernism
V. Pluralism
Each one of these philosophies is self-defeating
they cannot live up to their own truth claim.
For example, the relativist says, all truth is
relative Does that include their own
statement? If so, then why believe it? If not,
then absolute truth exists.
The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

Truth

The Epistemological Precondition

If anyone ever tells you there is no such


thing as truth, they are asking you not to
believe them
So dont!
The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

Logic

The Rational Precondition


Logic is the study of right reason or valid
inferences, with the rejection of arguments that
contain fallacious thought. Throughout all of
Scripture, you find logical and universal
propositions and arguments being put forth
about matters.
"And according to Pauls custom, he went to
them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with
them from the Scriptures,"(Acts 17:2)
Literally, Theology is a logos about the theos
the logic of God.
The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

7/25/2009

Logic

The Rational Precondition


There are four laws that serve as the foundation
of logic:
I.

Law of non-contradiction something


cannot be A and non-A at the same time
and in the same sense.
II. Law of the excluded middle something is
either A or non-A.
III. Law of identity A is really A.
IV. Law of rational inference e.g. All men are
mortal, John is a man, therefore John is
mortal.
"Elijah came near to all the people and said, How long will
you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God,
follow Him; but if Baal, follow him. (1 Kings 18:21)
The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

Language

The Linguistic Precondition


If the Bible is Gods Word in human words, then
we must acknowledge that finite human language
is capable of meaningfully expressing thoughts
about an infinite Being God.
God-Talk can only occur in one of three ways:
I.
Equivocally totally different than God is
II. Univocally exactly as God is
III. Analogically similar to the way God is
The Bibles language affirms the analogical
method of God-Talk

The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

Language

The Linguistic Precondition

"The Christian faith is mysterious to the core. It is about


things and beings that ultimately can't be put into words.
Language fails. And if we do definitively put God into
words, we have at that very moment made God something
God is not"
-Rob Bell, Emergent Church Leader
Velvet Elvis, p. 32

The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

7/25/2009

Language

The Linguistic Precondition


Equivocal talk leaves us completely in the dark about God and
assails the concept of special revelation.
Univocal talk isnt possible as the finite cannot adequately describe
the infinite: "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your
ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher
than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My
thoughts than your thoughts."(Isaiah 55:8-9)
The Analogical method is the only form of God-Talk left to us. As
an example, God is called good, but is His good the same good
as that which might be applied to a human being such as Mother
Teresa?
The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

Language

The Linguistic Precondition


"Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who
is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by
God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human
wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts
with spiritual words."
(1 Corinthians 2:12-13)
Here, the Apostle Paul makes clear that Gods thoughts can indeed
by communicated via finite human language.

The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

"They said, Come, let us build for ourselves a city,


and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us
make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be
scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth. . . .
Come, let Us go down and there confuse their
language, so that they will not understand one
anothers speech.
(Genesis 11:4,7)

Regarding language what was done at Babel was undone


at Pentecost to unite all under Gods Name
" When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together
in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like
a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they
were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire
distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to
speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them
utterance."
(Acts 2:1-4)
The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

7/25/2009

Meaning

The Semantical Precondition


If we accept that the Bible is Gods Word
written in a language we can understand, then
our next step to claim that it has meaning.
Further, it has objective meaning, which equates
to a meaning that applies to all people, equally,
everywhere, regardless of what language is used
to convey the truths contained in Scripture.
This objective meaning can be conveyed
regardless of the language used to convey it
(English, German, Aramaic, etc.) so it is
transcendent from a linguistic perspective and is
not dependent upon particular signs and
symbols.
The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

Meaning

The Semantical Precondition

To get rid of God, we


must get rid of
Grammar.
- Frederick Nietzsche

The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

Meaning

The Semantical Precondition


Opponents of objective meaning include
philosophers such as Saussure, Ludwig
Wittgenstein, and others. Philosophers such as
Hume and Ayer say that all talk about God is
meaningless as only statements that (a) are
tautologies or (b) speak about empirical facts
can be meaningful; all God-talk to them is
nonsense.
However, such a position is self-defeating as
their claim is neither a tautology nor an
empirically verifiable statement. Unfortunately,
this is still the stance of many Postmoderns
today relativistic meaning .
The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

7/25/2009

Meaning

The Semantical Precondition

If you dont think relativistic or


postmodern views of meaning have
entered the Church, ask yourself
if youve ever been in a Bible
study where a leader has asked:
What does this passage mean to
you?

The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

Interpretation
The Hermeneutical Precondition

Because there is absolute truth and objective


meaning in the text of Scripture that has been
revealed by God about Himself to rational finite
beings, the next question is if we are capable of
deriving the objective meaning from His word
can we properly interpret what the text actually
says?
Even if everything else is true God exists, He
has revealed His Word to us, a Word written in
human language that contains truth, rationality,
meaning, we must still accurately interpret the
text to discover the true meaning behind what
God is saying.
The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

Interpretation
The Hermeneutical Precondition

Some philosophers (such as postmodernist


Jacque Derrida) hold to a private interpretative
position that any text must be interpreted
subjectively by reading, deconstructing, and
reconstructing the text so that the interpretation
and ultimate meaning fits with what the reader
believes it to be. The proper interpretation and
ultimate meaning does not lie with the author but
with the reader. There is no one correct
interpretation.
Yet, this view becomes self-defeating for
postmodernists such as Derrida who write books
and expect their writings to be properly
interpreted and followed in the manner they the
author intend and desire.
The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

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7/25/2009

Interpretation
The Hermeneutical Precondition

The science of Biblical interpretation consists


of a number of guidelines that should be
followed, including the following:
I. The author determines the meaning, not the
reader.
II. The authors what is more important than
their why in writing.
III. The meaning is in the text, not outside it.
IV.There is one correct interpretation one
objective meaning in a text
An author is the efficient cause of meaning the
goal of interpretation is to determine that
meaning.
The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

History

The Historical Precondition


Christianity is inseparably tied to historical
events. The knowability of history is key to
Christian theology, but also apologetically as
well because the life of Christ as we know it
depends on the historicity of the New
Testament documents.
How do we anything from history actually
occurred? We rely on written eyewitness
accounts from individuals whose testimony can
be trusted (preferably multiple sources that
agree). And using this standard, there is not
another historical document from antiquity that
has proven to be more reliable than the Bible.
The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

History

The Historical Precondition


Some argue that we cannot really know anything
from history and put forth the following
arguments:
I.
The past cannot be directly observed.
II. Our knowledge of history is fragmentary.
III. Selective inclusions/exclusions can skew
understanding.
IV. History depends upon selective and proper
arrangement.
V. Value judgments enter into recording of
history.
VI. Worldviews enter into the recording of
history.
VII. Miracles are super-historical.
The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

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7/25/2009

History

The Historical Precondition


Each objection to history being knowable is easily answered:
I.
II.
III.
IV.
V.
VI.
VII.

Forensic science is very highly regarded and used to understand what


happened in the past. Many crimes solved with this discipline.
As long as you have the key pieces of evidence, you can understand what
happened. You dont need 100% of the evidence to make a decision. Rarely
does a jury have 100% knowledge when they render a judgment.
There is a difference between condensing an account and excluding material
that produces a different understanding
There is no reason to conclude that a historian cannot properly arrange
events.
Value judgments are needed to properly do the work of a historian.
Concluding that worldviews cloud the recording of history is like saying a
Holocaust victim couldnt record events of the Holocaust.
The evidence for the rare (miracles) can exceed that for the regular.

The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

Exclusivism

The Oppositional Precondition


The Bible is a book that makes many exclusive
claims such as:
"I am the Lord your God, who brought you out
of the land of Egypt, out of the house of
slavery. You shall have no other gods before
Me."(Exodus 20:2-3)
"Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth,
and the life; no one comes to the Father but
through Me."(John 14:6)
As such, these claims exclude any and all
challengers to them. Any other religion is
deemed invalid.
The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

Exclusivism

The Oppositional Precondition


The challenger to an exclusivistic stance is the
philosophy of pluralism, which makes the claim
that all religions are equal and basically teach the
same thing. This, however, runs against logically
thinking as all religions teach radically different
things about major religious doctrines (e.g. the
nature of God).
In short, pluralism may be fine in matters of
opinion but not reality:
Pluralism is desirable and tolerable only in those
areas that are matters of taste rather than
matters of truth.
- Mortimer Adler, Truth in Religion
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7/25/2009

Preconditions for Studying Gods Word

I.
II.
III.

God He exists
Miracles Are possible because God exists
Revelation God has revealed Himself in creation, His
Word, and Jesus Christ
IV. Truth Is absolute and knowable
V. Logic Is used by a rational God and His rational creatures
to decide things
The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

Preconditions for Studying Gods Word

VI.
VII.
VIII.
IX.
X.

Language Analogical language is used to express ideas


about God to finite human beings
Meaning Objective meaning is available in the Bible
Interpretation Can be used to discover the true meaning in
the text of Scripture as placed there by the author
History We can trust and believe historical accounts by
applying criteria that ensures its validity
Exclusivism Must be used in matters of truth and is used
throughout the Bible

The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

But there is one last precondition for


Studying the Bible

The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

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7/25/2009

Salvation

The Regenerative Precondition


"But a natural man does not accept the
things of the Spirit of God, for they are
foolishness to him; and he cannot
understand them, because they are
spiritually appraised."
(1 Corinthians 2:14)
" For the word of the cross is
foolishness to those who are perishing,
but to us who are being saved it is the
power of God.
(1 Corinthians 1:18)
The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

The Bible is not addressed to just


anybody. Its message is directed to a
chosen few.
A. W. Tozer, Why People find the Bible Difficult

The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

Philosophy without God


"Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks
that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that
he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is
foolishness before God. For it is written, He is the one
who catches the wise in their craftiness; and again, The
Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are
useless.
(1 Corinthians 3:18-20)
"Professing to be wise, they became fools,"
(Romans 1:22)
The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

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7/25/2009

A Warning to All
"See to it that no one takes you captive through
philosophy and empty deception, according to the
tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of
the world, rather than according to Christ."
(Colossians 2:8)
Lit. Rob; Spoil (as one would a young girl)

We have educated ourselves into imbecility


- Malcolm Muggeridge

The Word Preconditions to Studying Gods Word

The Word
Preconditions for Studying Gods Word

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