All Your Rubiks Are Belong To MeHermeneutics: The theory and methodology of interpretation, especially of scriptural text.

When I find that a topic comes up in conversation several times in the virtual world and the real world in a short period of time, I tend to see it as a signal that I ought to pay a bit more attention to it, consider its application to me, and – possibly – write about it. One such topic that has come up in the past few weeks has been one of ‘hermeneutics’ – the way we interpret scripture.

So, perhaps it’s time to touch on the topic briefly.

First off, it is possible to get a Ph.D. in Hermeneutics, and my formal training consists of part of one course, so I claim no professional expertise in the subject. Rather, I will offer some thoughts, based upon my own study, and see where the conversation (if any) leads.

Bedrock Principle

The primary bedrock principle I consider is that everything in the Bible, in the original language, is inerrant, as it was inspired by the Holy Spirit. This has a couple key implications:

1) In general , if there appears to be a conflict between one part of Scripture and another part of Scripture, then either a) there is a reason for the conflict due to revelation over time (for instance, the change in dietary law revealed to Peter, in conflict with OT dietary law); b) there is a conflict because of translation nuance/error; c) there is a conflict because our interpretation of one or more ‘conflicting’ passages is incorrect; or d) there is a conflict because we do not (or can not) understand the full truth which would annul the conflict.

2) In general, if there appears to be a conflict between Scripture and scientific/logical/critical comparison, then (primarily in light of Romans 1) either a) the scientific/logical/critical evidence is insufficient to explain why no conflict exists; b) there was a specific reason God exerted his supernatural abilities in contradiction of scientific/logical/critical evidence, stated within scripture; c) our interpretation of the religious truth in scripture is faulty.

http://sinyalhaber.com/2018/02/15/order-lady-era-side/ Interpretation Methods

There are a plethora of techniques and methods for use in interpreting scripture, and most people – even if they are intentional about it – vary the techniques to meet each situation. This variation cannot be avoided without the potential of committing serious error.

Historical-Contextual Technique http://www.sex-titan.com/non-classe/where-can-i-buy-cytotec-in-malaysia/

In general, the first principle I ascribe to is the ‘historical-contextual’ hermeneutic. This can be summed up in this tree-step process:

  1. What did the original people to whom the scripture was first written to understand it to mean (i.e. what was the context in which it was understood)?
  2. What is the cross-cultural principle being communicated in this original meaning?
  3. How does this principle apply to us in our culture?

In many cases, the plain meaning of a passage scripture would be understood the same way now as it was to the first people it was written to. Apart from this, the absolute best way to determine step #1 is through the review of earlier Scriptural writings on the same topic. This is because, in general, the Word of God builds upon itself as it progresses through time. Thus, to fully understand and appreciate the later writings, we must first understand what came before.

Sometimes, particularly with colloquialisms and cultural practices, determining the original context is not fully possible within scripture, and so we look to evidence outside of scripture to guide interpretation – keeping in mind that this is more prone to fallibility. A couple examples of this:

nolvadex no rx, generic dapoxetine. Example 1

Women are instructed by both Paul and Peter that they should not braid their hair or wear jewelry. Multiple first-century sources indicate that braided hair and excessive jewelry were the calling-cards of temple prostitutes. Additionally, other sources indicated that this was both an expression of wealth and a means of protecting what they owned (by keeping it close to them at all times). The cross-cultural principle many Christians take from this is a) not dressing in ways to suggest you are sexually available; b) not putting your wealth on display; and c) not putting your hope in earthly riches.

Example 2

In Luke (and a parallel passage in Matthew), we read Jesus’ words:

“Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you.”

From a number of pre-Christian and post-Christian Jewish sources, we have learned that having a “good eye” means that you are generous with your resources and that having a “bad eye” means that you are stingy. In light of this, we can see that Jesus is teaching about generosity and using the ‘eye’ as part of his illustration in a colloquial way, understood by his original audience.

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An additional ‘method’ (actually sub-methods to the above) I use when reading quotes from Jesus, Paul and Peter is called the “garden” method, from the Hebrew Word pardes, which means ‘garden’ and forms an acrostic for the four key techniques used in Second Temple rabbinic teaching:

  1. P’shat – the plain, or simple, meaning
  2. Remez – a ‘hint’ at additional meaning (by referring to verses before or after a quoted passage from the OT)
  3. D’rash (or Derasha) – a story or interpretive meaning
  4. Sod – a ‘hidden’ or esoteric meaning

I have discussed this method more in-depth here, if you are interested. Also, you can see a beautiful short video which illustrates Jesus’ use of remez on the cross. Additionally, I am working up a piece on recently published comparison between the Passion events in Mark (the gospel written to the church in Rome) and the sequential events in the coronation of a Caesar – which would have been recognized by the Roman church as a declaration that Jesus, not Caesar, is Lord.

Methods I Avoid

In general, I avoid strict literal interpretation, which tends to treat the Bible as an antiseptic literary work, completely disconnected from the culture in which it was written. This method was not used in the early church, as most Jewish members of the community knew scripture orally and the context of the epistles and gospels was well-understood. It was not until the majority of the church did not have large portion of scripture memorized and the printing press made the Word available to the masses is a “lazy” format (because it could be read without being memorized) that ill-placed literalism became a problem.

Strict literal interpretation is particularly problematic when used for cultural practices (in the epistles), parables (in the gospels), poetry and apocalyptic literature. In each of these cases, a literalist interpretation ignores the method being used by the Holy Spirit through the writer to convey religious truth, with the potential of completely missing the truth being conveyed.

Another method I try to avoid is the proof-text method – which ignores the context of scripture. More often than not, this is employed by conservative fundamentalist/evangelical Christians. In one extreme example, I’ve seen writers proof-text John 6:60-66 to suggest that the sign of a “true” church is that it drives people away. In another, I saw a sanctimonious writer try to use Jesus’ words in John 7:24 to try to force another person to agree with him.

On the other side of the coin, I also try to avoid the ‘reader-response’ method, often used in liberal Christian circles – both in some mainline and Emergent http://www.indobookies.com/indobookies.com/aleve-for-sale-online/ churches – in which the meaning of the scripture is derived from the opinions and attitudes of the reader, rather than from the original context of the scripture.

What About You?

So – turning the spotlight a bit – do you even consider how it is you interpret scripture? If not, why not? If so, what is your hermeneutic? http://kwbrentwoodla.com/cost-of-alevere-diet/




Comments

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008 at 1:59 pm and is filed under Hebrew Context, Misuse of Scripture, Musings, Religion/Philosophy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

18 Comments so far

  1. Roland on January 2, 2008 3:54 pm

    Never tried to put my finger on my hermeneutical processes. But I follow along the lines you have delineated. I guess it’s good to know not only what I’m talking about, but how I got there.
    Thanks.

  2. Mark on January 3, 2008 11:38 pm

    My Hermeneutic is that everything a Christian really needs to know was said by Jesus himself. That’s why one would call himself a “Christian” instead of something else. All other text in the Bible is relatively minor supporting material. My greatest religious conflicts of opinion arise with people who prefer to give emphasis to Paul’s writings even when it directly contradicts Jesus’ instructions. I have never understood a person who thinks the words of a mere prophet are somehow equal in weight to words spoken by God himself.

  3. Chris L. on January 7, 2008 1:41 am

    Mark,

    Just wondering – Where do you find Jesus and Paul in conflict?

  4. Mark on January 7, 2008 8:26 pm

    The first glaring example that comes to mind is that Paul hates Gays.

    Jesus does not.

  5. Chris L. on January 8, 2008 12:35 pm

    Mark,

    I guess I would disagree with your interpretation of the treatment of homosexuality between Jesus and Paul.

    1) Paul does not “hate” gays. He does affirm that sexual sins, including homosexual practice, are still sins. But to take this as Paul “hating” homosexuals goes too far.

    2) No hermeneutical principle I am familiar with suggests that Jesus affirmed that homosexual practice is not sinful behavior. In fact, the hermeneutical principle that some have tried to use (trajectory hermeneutics) used women, slaves and homosexuality as its test cases, and determined that the treatment of women and slaves was based on cultural practice, but that forbidding homosexual practice was a cross-cultural absolute supported throughout scripture – from Torah, through Jesus to the apostles.

    3) It should be noted that prior to Paul’s epistles, the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) enumerated ‘avoiding sexual sin’ as part of its ruling for what parts of the law Gentiles should keep, and that this is defined by Torah to include homosexual practice (explicitly by males, implicitly by females).

    4) The church has done a pretty awful job distinguishing between homosexual temptation and homosexual sin. It is interesting that if I am tempted to steal, I am not a thief unless I fall to that temptation. However, if I was tempted sexually by my own gender, I would be labeled a homosexual – even if I did not fall to that temptation. The church needs to treat this sin as it does other sins – lying, stealing, adultery, greed, etc. – and it has a long way to go. This does not, though, suggest that Paul and Jesus were in conflict. In that particular case, it is the failings of the church in both orthopraxy and in orthodoxy (unequal treatment of sin).

  6. Mark on January 8, 2008 7:49 pm

    Chris, I agree that Paul probably does not “hate” gays. That was a very short and not very precise statement on my part, but you got the general idea. I expected that you would object to the characterization right after I pushed the send button. There are some that say Paul was referring to male temple prostitutes and thus the thrust of his objections were about sex with strangers as part of religious worship.

    Your response above includes several examples of “human” pronouncements about homosexuality as a sin. At one point you even said:

    “The church needs to treat this sin as it does other sins – lying, stealing, adultery, greed…”

    My question is this. Why do the Ten commandments specifically and clearly forbid lying, stealing, adultery and greed (thou shalt not covet) but yet the Ten Commandments say nothing about homosexuality? This is a point that should not be ignored. This clearly tells me that God does not view committed, monogamous homosexual relationships the same as he views lying, stealing, adultery and greed or he would have said so. Its also very clear in my soul that they are not the same. The commandments are believed to be as old as five thousand years. They have stood the test of time. Then, many thousands of years after the ten commandments were issued by God to mankind, Jesus came to Earth to challenge the significant sins of that day and once again God is completely silent about committed, monogamous homosexual relationships. This second indication from God himself confirms to me very clearly that monogamous homosexual relationships are not a very significant sin if indeed a sin at all.

    I believe that Christians should focus on what God actually said (and what he didn’t say) and not worry much about words or meanings that mere people invented and tried to put in God’s mouth. People have been trying to use God to bolster their own profits and egos since the beginning of time.

    I have found that when you ignore the self centered chatter of men, then a lot of the “clutter” currently clouding the Christian religion gets swept away and God’s will becomes much more clear.

    In the interest of full disclosure I should let you know that I am a flaming heterosexual. Thus I have no vested interest in the outcome of trying to understand God’s word in this matter. My only concern is in making sure that we understand God’s true words, instructions from God that are free of human biases and bigotry’s.

  7. Chris L. on January 9, 2008 12:47 am

    Mark,

    There are some issues with the hermeneutic you’re trying to take here:

    There are some that say Paul was referring to male temple prostitutes and thus the thrust of his objections were about sex with strangers as part of religious worship.

    When you view Paul’s teaching in context, you get a different picture:

    Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

    Paul separates these into distinct categories – separating temple prostitutes from adulterers and from homosexual offenders (noting that it is not the orientation, but the ‘offending’ on that orientation which is the sin). The section that follows this deals specifically with the broad range of sexual sin – not simply anonymous sex. The hermeneutic at work in your logic is “reader response”, a subset of eisegesis, which is not an acceptable hermeneutic for scripture.

    You asked:

    My question is this. Why do the Ten commandments specifically and clearly forbid lying, stealing, adultery and greed (thou shalt not covet) but yet the Ten Commandments say nothing about homosexuality? This is a point that should not be ignored. This clearly tells me that God does not view committed, monogamous homosexual relationships the same as he views lying, stealing, adultery and greed or he would have said so.

    First off, the “Ten Commandments” as a distinction is one that we have placed on scripture. What we refer to as the “Ten Commandments” is a preamble to the Torah (Law, Guidance), the covenant between God and His people. As such, it lays out the major categories into which all of the Law falls (Later, Jesus suggests there is a higher summary – Love God, love your Neighbor – into which these 10 and the 613 beneath them fall).

    While greed falls under covetousness, it is a subset, not the whole.

    While “adultery” is included in the preamble, those laws which logically fall beneath this one are then enumerated in Leviticus 18 (similarly to the way other laws are enumerated under their preamble “commandment”). Included in Lev 18 is:

    “‘Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.”

    Along with commands against adultery, bestiality and other sexual sin.

    You said:

    Its also very clear in my soul that they are not the same.

    Once again, you have described a “reader-response” hermeneutic in which there is no rule which determines the meaning of scripture other than what is felt by the reader. This has never been an acceptable means of interpreting scripture, especially in Jesus’ day.

    You said:

    The commandments are believed to be as old as five thousand years. They have stood the test of time. Then, many thousands of years after the ten commandments were issued by God to mankind, Jesus came to Earth to challenge the significant sins of that day and once again God is completely silent about committed, monogamous homosexual relationships. This second indication from God himself confirms to me very clearly that monogamous homosexual relationships are not a very significant sin if indeed a sin at all.

    1) God was not silent in Torah on homosexual sin – it is specifically enumerated in a list of sexual sins in the details of the Law. To suggest that it not being “in the Ten Commandments” completely ignores what God passed down to the people through Moses in the Torah.

    2)In the synoptic gospels, Jesus says:

    But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. (Matthew 15:18-19)

    Here, you will note that Jesus lists “sexual immorality” apart from “adultery”. With his audience, he has no need to enumerate what is included in “sexual immorality” because his audience already knows that this is everything listed in Leviticus 18.

    3) In Acts 15, Jesus’ disciples in the Jerusalem Council reaffirm his teaching regarding sexual sin:

    “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”

    In case there is any lack of clarity on what is included in “sexual immorality” and the other items, the clause about Moses being preached in every city makes clear that the definitions for these are in the books of Moses – which includes the entirety of the Covenant in Torah (including Leviticus 18’s description of what “sexual sin” is).

    4) Paul does not list zoophilia in his list, either, but its non-inclusion is not a tacit approval of bestiality (which is in the verse following the prohibition of men lying with other men as he would lie with a woman).

    You wrote:

    I believe that Christians should focus on what God actually said (and what he didn’t say) and not worry much about words or meanings that mere people invented and tried to put in God’s mouth. People have been trying to use God to bolster their own profits and egos since the beginning of time.

    I agree, as well, which is why I eschew systematic theologies (like Calvinism, Arminianism, Creeds, etc). However, in this particular case, God has actually weighed in (rather loud and clear, excepting for those who don’t like to hear it) on this topic. I would note, though, that much more time is spent on what behavior people should have – particularly relating to care of the poor, the widow and the stranger in the land – that what things should be avoided. This does not excuse ignoring the parts we don’t happen to like, though.

    In the interest of full disclosure I should let you know that I am a flaming heterosexual. Thus I have no vested interest in the outcome of trying to understand God’s word in this matter. My only concern is in making sure that we understand God’s true words, instructions from God that are free of human biases and bigotry’s.

    I have similar concerns, but – per the text of the OP – I believe that God’s word must be first understood in its original context and then translated into the principles we should follow, rather than taking the sympathies of the day and trying to justify them in scripture…

  8. Mark on January 11, 2008 10:14 am

    Paul separates these into distinct categories – separating temple prostitutes from adulterers and from homosexual offenders (noting that it is not the orientation, but the ‘offending’ on that orientation which is the sin).

    You are replowing well plowed ground here but you are not addressing my point which is that God didn’t say these words, Paul did. Paul is not God.

    The hermeneutic at work in your logic is “reader response”, a subset of eisegesis, which is not an acceptable hermeneutic for scripture.

    To restate my point once again, I’m not interested in what or Paul (or any other mere mortal) thinks is an acceptable hermeneutic for scripture. I’m only interested in what God thinks. Paul is only useful to the extent that Paul’s words help me understand the mind of God.

    First off, the “Ten Commandments” as a distinction is one that we have placed on scripture.

    What we refer to as the “Ten Commandments” is a preamble to the Torah (Law, Guidance)…

    Have we read the same Bible? I thought the ten commandments were instructions from God etched in stone and brought down by Moses from a mountain. Thus the Ten Commandments in my view are much more than a “preamble”.

    What we refer to as the “Ten Commandments” is a preamble to the Torah (Law, Guidance), the covenant between God and His people. As such, it lays out the major categories into which all of the Law falls (Later, Jesus suggests there is a higher summary – Love God, love your Neighbor – into which these 10 and the 613 beneath them fall).

    Thus, once again, is my point. Jesus clearly said that God’s instructions are for us to love God and our neighbors. Nowhere in that command (nor in the original ten commandments) is a prohibition against life long, committed, monogamous homosexual relationships.

    While “adultery” is included in the preamble, those laws which logically fall beneath this one are then enumerated in Leviticus 18 (similarly to the way other laws are enumerated under their preamble “commandment”). Included in Lev 18 is:

    “‘Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.”

    Along with commands against adultery, bestiality and other sexual sin.

    This is also well plowed ground but not having much to do with my point. I am amused every time in the news when someone cries out that if Gays are allowed to marry then we will have to also let people marry animals. It seems to me that the argument you are supporting [that the word "adultery" in the ten commandments must forbid life long, committed, monogamous homosexual relationships so that it can also logically forbid bestiality] is an attempted “reader-response” hermeneutic on your part in which there is no rule which determines the meaning of scripture other than what is felt by the reader. It seems that you desire to keep your distaste for life long, committed, monogamous homosexual relationships linked to bestiality so you adjust your interpretation of scripture to levy this requirement upon God’s words.

    “Its also very clear in my soul that they are not the same.”

    Once again, you have described a “reader-response” hermeneutic in which there is no rule which determines the meaning of scripture other than what is felt by the reader. This has never been an acceptable means of interpreting scripture, especially in Jesus’ day.

    Let me respond to this with a theoretically extreme example:
    There are passages in the Bible where its claimed that God gives permission for the Israelites to murder women and children in cold blood and take the land for themselves. If someone came along with a logically air tight hermeneutic that requires that I also kill women and children and take their land I will say “NO!”. I will not do that. If I am then asked to show where the Bible says I don’t have to kill women and children, I will simply say that I don’t need to turn to the Bible because its written on my soul and I will not do it no matter what the Bible says.

    My point is that there are “soul” issues that outrank the printed word. It is not a “reader-response” hermeneutic to refuse to kill women and children. Likewise, I know in my soul that life long, committed, monogamous homosexual relationships are not the same kind of sin as murder, adultry, lying, stealing and greed. Take special notice that I did not say homosexuality wasn’t a sin, just not the same kind as those listed in the Ten Commandments.

    God was not silent in Torah on homosexual sin – it is specifically enumerated in a list of sexual sins in the details of the Law. To suggest that it not being “in the Ten Commandments” completely ignores what God passed down to the people through Moses in the Torah.

    Quoting the Torah is always a tricky business. Leviticus is especially interesting.
    Did you notice that Leviticus 18 does not forbid having sexual relations with one’s own daughter or one’s own slave? Why is that? Does that mean its ok? Also, in Leviticus 18:17 it says “Do not have sexual relations with both a woman and her daughter.” This means that I can have sex with either the woman or her daughter but not both. Focusing on the Ten Commandments and what Jesus actually said helps clear away all this clutter and confusion.

    To restate my point. God was indeed silent in the Ten Commandments and Jesus was also silent on the issue of life long, committed, monogamous homosexual relationships. This tells me clearly that if its a sin then it isn’t a very important one, not as important as murder, adultry, theft, lying and greed.

    My argument is that the mainstream Christian churches of today are applying their own “reader-response” hermeneutic by reducing the sins of adultery, lying and greed to lower importance while raising the issue of homosexuality to extreme proportions.

    In Acts 15, Jesus’ disciples in the Jerusalem Council reaffirm his teaching regarding sexual sin:

    Once again you list the opinions of men. My point is that I’m only interested in what God has to say in the matter.

  9. Chris L. on January 12, 2008 12:42 am

    Paul is not God.

    No, he is not, but if you do not believe what he wrote is inspired, then you basically have no basis for hermeneutics, as you’ve denied the basic inspiration of the Bible. If that’s the case, then we really have no place for discussion, because you believe that the Bible is optional. However, if you believe the Bible is inspired by God and written by men being directed by the Holy Spirit, then it doesn’t matter if it came literally from God’s mouth (which all of the Torah did) or from Paul’s pen directed by God.

    I’m only interested in what God thinks.

    He’s told you what He things through Paul, but it’s inconvenient to your opinions. Unfortunately, God’s opinions happen to matter more, and He’s expressed them in ALL of scripture.

    Have we read the same Bible? I thought the ten commandments were instructions from God etched in stone and brought down by Moses from a mountain. Thus the Ten Commandments in my view are much more than a “preamble”.

    We have read the same Bible, but it’s rather apparent you have not studied it, or its origin. ALL of the Law (Torah) came from God on Mount Sinai, not just the written portion on the tablets. The Law was passed on orally by Moses initially, and the Ten Commandments (per all Middle-Eastern cultures) is what is known as a ‘preamble’ in a contract or covenant between two parties – it contains the summary of the contract/covenant, and it is to be broken if either party breaks the intent of the covenant.

    If you study Torah, you will note that it is broken up into sections which correspond to each of the “Ten Commandments”, with Leviticus 18 being tied to the command dealing with sexual sin. Homosexuality is defined within the bounds of what is covered in ’sexual sin’, and there is no caveat given for “life long, committed, monogamous homosexual relationships”.

    This is also well plowed ground but not having much to do with my point. I am amused every time in the news when someone cries out that if Gays are allowed to marry then we will have to also let people marry animals. It seems to me that the argument you are supporting [that the word “adultery” in the ten commandments must forbid life long, committed, monogamous homosexual relationships so that it can also logically forbid bestiality] is an attempted “reader-response” hermeneutic on your part in which there is no rule which determines the meaning of scripture other than what is felt by the reader.

    Contrary to your assertion, the reason I brought up bestiality was because it was the next verse in Leviticus, not as a ’slippery slope’ argument or a ‘reader response’ hermeneutic. It has been that way in Torah since it was given to Moses.

    It seems that you desire to keep your distaste for life long, committed, monogamous homosexual relationships linked to bestiality so you adjust your interpretation of scripture to levy this requirement upon God’s words.

    It has nothing to do with my like or dislike for homosexual relationships – I have a number of gay friends who I pray for on a regular basis. They do not ‘creep me out’, nor are they ‘distasteful’ to me any more than other friends who sin in other ways – lying, cheating, being drunk, etc. I has nothing to do with what I want scripture to say – it is just what it says. I have no say in the matter.

    There are passages in the Bible where its claimed that God gives permission for the Israelites to murder women and children in cold blood and take the land for themselves. If someone came along with a logically air tight hermeneutic that requires that I also kill women and children and take their land I will say “NO!”. I will not do that. If I am then asked to show where the Bible says I don’t have to kill women and children, I will simply say that I don’t need to turn to the Bible because its written on my soul and I will not do it no matter what the Bible says.

    This is a complete red herring. God gave some specific instructions for the cleansing of Israel in the OT, but He also ended those in the text, as well. Additionally, in the “Ten Commandments” (which you seemingly choose to recognize, while ignoring pretty much everything else in scripture) include “Do not commit murder”, which would overrule whatever interpretation might be at work. Your assumption falls apart from the beginning, because there is no hermeneutic that would justify the murder you’ve described, and even if such an interpretation was attempted, is would not be writing “on your soul” which said that such a thing was wrong – it would be scripture, itself. Just because your “soul” is in-line with scripture, doesn’t mean that it superseded what was written or inspired by God.

    My point is that there are “soul” issues that outrank the printed word. It is not a “reader-response” hermeneutic to refuse to kill women and children.

    No, it is not a ‘reader-response’ hermeneutic to kill women and children – all of the major hermeneutics – historical-critical, historical-grammatical and historical-literal – would forbid such an act.

    However, when you say that My point is that there are “soul” issues that outrank the printed word, you have just stated that your basis of hermeneutics is ‘reader response’- that is exactly what “reader-response” is!

    Quoting the Torah is always a tricky business. Leviticus is especially interesting.
    Did you notice that Leviticus 18 does not forbid having sexual relations with one’s own daughter or one’s own slave?

    Actually, it does. 1) It forbids having sex with a woman and her daughter. If the woman’s daughter is your daughter, then you had to have sex with her mother, by definition. 2) If you are married, it forbids adultery. Having sex with your slave would be adultery. 3) Sexual relations outside of marriage are forbidden in Torah, as well, so having sex with your slave would not be allowed.

    To restate my point. God was indeed silent in the Ten Commandments and Jesus was also silent on the issue of life long, committed, monogamous homosexual relationships. This tells me clearly that if its a sin then it isn’t a very important one, not as important as murder, adultry, theft, lying and greed.

    Jesus was not silent on the subject – he said For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’ ‘Sexual Immorality’ for EVERY first century Jew – including Jesus – is based upon where it is defined, that being Torah. Therefore, homosexual practice of any kind is included.

    I do not say this because I want it to be that way. For the sake of those who have such temptation and inclinations, I wish it was not a sin, but God defines what sin is – not me – so I have to accept that.

    My point is that I’m only interested in what God has to say in the matter.

    And you’ve also made it clear that you don’t wish to hear what He has to say on the subject. It’s not a matter of ‘reader-response’ hermeneutics on the part of modern churches that SOME tend to treat homosexual practice as having ‘higher importance’ than other sins.

    You will notice that I did not bring this subject up, BtW, so please don’t accuse me of holding this stance – because I don’t. You will notice that one of the writers on my other blog made this same observation earlier today. However, just because some churches are poor-to-awful witnesses when it comes to their treatment of homosexual practice does not justify an opposite reaction, making homosexual practice a lesser sin – or no sin at all…

  10. Chris L. on January 12, 2008 12:53 am

    FYI – just to view my consistency and compassion on this particular issue, I would direct you to the other blog, including this podcast, and this article, in which I argued that the church needed to take a much more caring and private stance when working with people struggling with homosexual sin.

    Here’s an excerpt:

    Let’s be clear, first, as this is an easy mistake to make (I did in the first article back in January). The Bible does not show that homosexuality is a sin. The Bible shows that committing homosexual acts is a sin. We in the church do a pretty good job separating temptation to sin from acting upon that temptation – except for the glaring inconsistency with homosexuality and homosexual practice.

    [A fundamentalist commenter] was rather insistent that we must not treat homosexual sin differently than other sins, and I would suggest that we are forced to because we already treat the sinner differently. We don’t call someone who is tempted to steal a thief. We don’t call a man who is tempted to have oral sex with a woman but does not, a fornicator or an adulterer. However, we do call someone who is tempted with an attraction to the same sex a homosexual, whether or not they ever fall to that temptation.

    As for your interpretation, you might as well be honest and say that you don’t care what God has to say about homosexual sex if it doesn’t jibe with your opinion. It’s more honest as you’re concerned, and it avoids lying about God, as well…

  11. Mark on January 12, 2008 7:55 pm

    >”Paul is not God.”

    No, he is not, but if you do not believe what he wrote is inspired, then you basically have no basis for hermeneutics, as you’ve denied the basic inspiration of the Bible. If that’s the case, then we really have no place for discussion, because you believe that the Bible is optional.

    The Bible is not optional. It is fundamental. Your mistake is to believe that I have “no basis for hermeneutics” just because you are having difficulty understanding my basis. You should be honest and humble and admit that there are ideas in this world that you don’t understand.

    > “I’m only interested in what God thinks.”

    He’s told you what He thinks through Paul, but it’s inconvenient to your opinions.

    Actually its only your interpretations of the words of God and the words of Paul with which I take issue.

    Unfortunately, God’s opinions happen to matter more, and He’s expressed them in ALL of scripture.

    Actually, for me, God’s opinions are the only opinions that matter. Thus again is my point. Paul’s opinions and your opinions are much less important to me because you and he are not God.

    ALL of the Law (Torah) came from God on Mount Sinai, not just the written portion on the tablets. The Law was passed on orally by Moses initially…

    In my hermeneutic it is very important to understand why the ten commandments were etched in stone tablets and the rest of Torah was not. Why did God go to all that extra trouble? This is a key question that all of your hermeneutics ignore. This is a flaw in your hermeneutics. I’ll try to not to be so bold and arrogant as to say you don’t have any hermeneutics just because I disagree with some of your techniques.

    It has nothing to do with my like or dislike for homosexual relationships…

    I believe that it does indeed have much to do with your likes and dislikes but you have cleverly covered your tracks with historically complicated and cleverly legalistic hermeneutics. My hermeneutics are much more simple and straightforward that don’t dead end into logical quagmires.

    I have a number of gay friends who I pray for on a regular basis.

    I don’t even keep track of which of my friends are “gay” and which ones are not. I notice instead, which of my friends struggle with promiscuity and which ones celebrate life long, committed, monogamous relationships. Some of my promiscuous friends have died from AIDS. None of my monogamous friends have any issues with sexually transmitted diseases. Imagine that?

    >”Quoting the Torah is always a tricky business. Leviticus is
    >especially interesting. Did you notice that Leviticus 18 does
    >not forbid having sexual relations with one’s own daughter or
    >one’s own slave?”

    Actually, it does. 1) It forbids having sex with a woman and her daughter. If the woman’s daughter is your daughter, then you had to have sex with her mother, by definition. 2) If you are married, it forbids adultery. Having sex with your slave would be adultery. 3) Sexual relations outside of marriage are forbidden in Torah, as well, so having sex with your slave would not be allowed.

    Hey, that’s quite a clever set of logical hoops you have jumped through. So tell me, why is Leviticus 18 even required since you have just pointed out that one is not allowed to have sex with anyone but their own wife? Are the prophets who passed down Leviticus 18 a bunch of morons for not being able to remember that its already been forbidden??? If they were inspired by God (as your hermeneutic claims) then you must be saying that God himself is a moron for repeating himself yet forgetting about sex with daughters and slaves. Does your God not care about the raping of daughters and slaves? You see, this is one of those dead end logical quagmires caused by the currently popular but deeply flawed hermeneutics that you subscribe to and that I was talking about earlier.

    >”To restate my point. God was indeed silent in the Ten Commandments
    >and Jesus was also silent on the issue of life long, committed,
    >monogamous homosexual relationships.”

    Jesus was not silent on the subject – he said For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’ ‘Sexual Immorality’ for EVERY first century Jew – including Jesus – is based upon where it is defined, that being Torah. Therefore, homosexual practice of any kind is included.

    Let me explain it once again. Your hermeneutic of referencing all of Leviticus 18 in Jesus’ words “sexual immorality” above requires Jesus to condone and approve of having sex with your daughters and your slaves. It’s just another logical quagmire in your favored hermeneutic that you refuse to deal with because its not convenient for you to do so.

    >”My point is that I’m only interested in what God
    >has to say in the matter.”

    And you’ve also made it clear that you don’t wish to hear what He has to say on the subject.

    I humbly suggest that you are confusing my interest in understanding God’s true and uncluttered words with my hesitation over blindly accepting your own personal interpretations which as I have pointed out above contain significant logical quagmires.

    You will notice that I did not bring this subject up, BtW, so please don’t accuse me of holding this stance – because I don’t.

    Actually, this homosexuality discussion is just one example of my hermeneutic of separating the words of God from the words of men and giving a priority to God’s words. Another example that we can discuss later is Paul’s obnoxious and violent attitude that I believe is completely contradictory to Jesus’ instructions for how Christians should behave. But then again, Paul is a reformed murderer so it is understandable that in the soul of a cold blooded killer there would be lingering violent tendencies.

    I wonder how many Christians would not have suffered at the hands of Paul if he had followed his God given “soul” instead of blindly following his flawed Jewish hermeneutic that required him to murder Christians.

    You will notice that one of the writers on my other blog made this same observation earlier today. However, just because some churches are poor-to-awful witnesses when it comes to their treatment of homosexual practice does not justify an opposite reaction, making homosexual practice a lesser sin – or no sin at all…

  12. Mark on January 12, 2008 9:03 pm

    Hey, I screwed up the editing of the last paragraph above. It was something you wrote that I meant to delete but because of my error in editing it looks like I wrote it. Feel free to delete that last paragraph from my post along with this post.

    thanks

  13. Chris L. on January 12, 2008 10:03 pm

    Mark,

    My apologies for pointing this out, but you’ve demonstrated that you have no biblical hermeneutic, at all. The basis of all biblical hermeneutics is an acceptance that the Bible, in its original language, is the inspired Word of God. Without this assumption, then you’re merely engaging in textual criticism of a religious book, and you might as well not even pretend to believe parts of it.

    It has seriously been a long time, perhaps never, since I’ve seen such a demonstration of brazen ignorance.

    Leviticus is, literally, dictated from God – it says so. You’ve said that you only accept “the words of God” as authoritative, and Lev. 18:1 reaffirms that everything in that chapter is dictated from Him. So, in reality, you even refuse your own definition!

    The reason for the lengthy lists in Lev 18 is because of the high mortality rate (and the availability of divorce) – preventing inbreeding, disease and perversion. As I’ve already demonstrated, there is no need to separate out having sex with your daughter (or your wife’s daughter from another marriage), and marrying your slave is not prohibited, unless you are already married (in which case, it would be adultery).

    Let me explain it once again. Your hermeneutic of referencing all of Leviticus 18 in Jesus’ words “sexual immorality” above requires Jesus to condone and approve of having sex with your daughters and your slaves. It’s just another logical quagmire in your favored hermeneutic that you refuse to deal with because its not convenient for you to do so.

    There is no logical quagmire to unravel, because Lev 18 does not condone or approve incest.

    In my hermeneutic it is very important to understand why the ten commandments were etched in stone tablets and the rest of Torah was not.

    I’ve already explained it to you, and most any Christian pastor or elder could explain it to you, as well. The Ten Commandments is the high-level summary of the law.

    I need to head out here, but I will continue later, preferably on my other blog.

    I will be out for a bit this evening and much of tomorrow, so if you want to keep discussing, I’d suggest going to my post about our conversation on my other blog here, where folks have already been commenting on it.

  14. Chris L. on January 12, 2008 10:04 pm

    You can read more about the Ten Commandments here.

  15. Mark on January 13, 2008 11:16 am

    Hmmm… I’m getting “moderated” over at the other blog so I’ll also post my comment here:

    You might notice that I use the term “logical quagmire” quite often. I selected the word “quagmire” carefully. It does not imply logical error. The logical thinking you guys use to dig down into scripture is fine but it often leads to strange results that, in my view, conflict with Jesus’ instructions. Paul’s logical hermeneutics lead him down a murderous path until God had to intervene to straighten him out.

    The logical quagmire I’m most interested in discussing at this moment is why did God give us the long and gritty details in Leviticus 18 (although sex with daughters and sex with slaves is conspicuously absent) when all those prohibitions are clearly already forbidden by the simple rules that you can’t have sex until you are married and then after marriage you can only have sex with your own wife? Is there something else going on in Leviticus 18 that the currently popular hermeneutics is ignoring?

  16. Mark on January 13, 2008 1:16 pm

    Chris L wrote:
    >”Whoda thunk that this would be the trigger of a
    >bizarre discussion trying to justify homosexual
    >practice (within a monogamous relationship)
    >as being congruent with the kingdom”

    I still don’t understand what is so “bizarre” about the idea that if God is going to send to hell homosexuals who are involved in a life long, committed, monogamous relationship then why didn’t he bother to mention it specifically in the ten commandments and why did Jesus not bother to mention it while he was walking the Earth? I’m looking for an answer other than “find a pastor or elder with lots of church credentials and just blindly believe what he tells you”

    Also I would like to clarify an important point. I’m not saying that homosexual practice is “congruent with the kingdom”. I’m saying that Christians need to instead be worrying about much more important sins such as lying, cheating, stealing, murdering, divorce, adultery and coveting. Once a Christian has conquered all those planks in his own eyes should he put any time or effort into worrying about the life long, committed, monogamous homosexual relationships of other Christians.

  17. Chris L. on January 13, 2008 6:36 pm

    You shouldn’t be moderated now – I think it was because you either switched PC’s or spelled your email address differently, so it thought you were a new commenter.

    Spam is a REAL problem, so I have to moderate the first comment to catch the ads for Viagra, casinos and other junk. (In fact, I will probably have to rescue this comment from moderation, since I used the V-word).

  18. Chris L. on January 14, 2008 3:20 pm

    Just to avoid cross-posting, I’m going to close comments here so that any more will be on the other site here.

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