What did the text mean? To look at the text and learn what it means requires that we cross a big gap and go “back then” in our minds. But then we must also cross that divide to “today” and progress to Live! This is the application stage of seeing the life impact of the text. What difference does the text make to my life today?
Something is missing. Too much training in Bible handling is missing something critical. Either we get the technical interpretation elements well: such as recognizing the distance between the world of the text and the world of the contemporary reader, and seeing the gaps that need to be crossed (linguistic, cultural, geographical, religious, etc.). Or, we dump the technical process and lose both textual accuracy and authority as we treat the Bible like an ancient source of contemporary devotional material.
To put that another way, while some are stronger on the “back then” nature of the text, others are too quick to rush to a “for today” impact. Good Bible handling requires both a “back then” and a “for today” mindset.
We Must Cross the Divide
The traditional inductive approach to the biblical text requires that we cross the divide. We begin with Look! This is the observation stage of seeing what is actually in the text.
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By Jeffrey A. Tucker — 2 years ago
Written by Jeffrey A. Tucker |
Wednesday, January 19, 2022
The very existence of this [OSHA vaccine mandates] case in the Supreme Court reveals that something is fundamentally broken about our presumptions about the relationship between the individual and the state. It must be fixed. It won’t finally be fixed by a court but rather a dramatic cultural change that embraces certain fundamental propositions about liberty itself.
This morning I listened to the oral arguments in the case of the Biden administration’s vaccine mandates as enforced by OSHA. It was a demoralizing experience.
I heard some crazy things, such as a claim that “750 million” Americans just got Covid yesterday, and that 100,000 kids with Covid are in the hospital, many on ventilators. The correct number is 3,300 with positive tests, but not necessarily suffering from Covid. I further heard strong claims that the vaccines block disease spread, despite every bit of evidence to the contrary.
It was my first time hearing oral arguments in the Supreme Court. I might have thought that facts on the ground would actually matter to people who are holding the fate of human liberty in their hands. I might have thought that they would be getting their information from somewhere other than their political intuition, mixed with wildly inaccurate claims from bloggers and media pundits.
I was wrong. And that is deeply alarming. Or maybe it is a wake up call to us all. We have learned today that these people are no smarter than our neighbors, no more qualified to address complicated questions than our friends, and arguably far less informed than the Twittersphere about basic issues of Covid and public health.
The backdrop of today’s arguments is that 74% of Americans of all ages have had at least one shot. Meanwhile, case numbers are up 500% in many places, and 721,000 new cases have been logged throughout the country, and that’s obviously a large underestimate because it does not count at-home tests which are selling out in stores around the country.
The extremely obvious point—the most basic observation one can make about this data—is that the vaccinations are not controlling the spread. This has been granted already by the CDC and every other authority.
No matter what people say in retrospect, I seriously doubt that anyone would have predicted a future in which the pandemic highs would be reached following mass vaccination. It’s not only true in the US but also all over the world. However much they help with mitigating severe outcomes of the disease, at least for a time, they have not been successful in stopping the spread of the virus. They will not end the pandemic.
And yet, so far as I can understand this, that is the whole point of the vaccine mandate. It is to protect workers from getting Covid. There is no zero evidence that this is possible with mass mandates in the workforce. People can get and are getting Covid anywhere and everywhere, among which surely means the workplace too. The vaccine is not stopping that. What will bring this pandemic to an end will not be the vaccines but the adaptation of human immune systems, exposed and then developing resilience.
Apparently there was not one mention of natural immunity during the oral arguments, which is truly astounding. From what I could hear, there was a strangely truncated environment in which no one was willing to say certain obvious truths, almost as if a pre-set orthodoxy had been defined at the outset. There were certain givens that simply were not questioned; namely that this is a disease without precedent, that the state can stop it, that vaccines are the best ticket we have, that the unvaccinated have absolutely no good reason to remain that way.
By Peter Mead — 4 months ago
Remember how Romans 10:9 combines words with reality: “confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord” and “believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead.” The profoundly sober warning here is also a precious gift – Jesus wants his hearers to recognize the danger before it is too late. The reality he seeks is a real relationship with God the Father so that we want to do his will.
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount has undoubtedly stood the test of time. It remains well-known in church circles and well-quoted even outside the church. However, we might want to question how much it has been taken to heart and implemented. Jesus knew there was no guarantee that his hearers (and subsequently, Matthew’s readers) would implement it. That is why his conclusion is so firm.
Let’s consider the four parts of the conclusion:
1. Everyone Must Choose Their Path in Light of Jesus’ Exclusive Claims
(Matthew 7:13-14) We live in a world that loves the idea of there being many roads and that they all lead up different sides of a mountain to the same lofty peak. That is a nice sentiment, but it is not reality. Jesus taught that there are only two. There are two roads, two gates, two crowds, and two destinations. To take the wide gate onto the broad road is easy. No discernment is needed, no stand needs to be taken, the crowd is large, and affirmation flows freely. That road leads to destruction.
C.S. Lewis reflected on the point in his education where he began to “broaden his mind.” He wrote,
“I was soon altering ‘I believe’ to ‘one does feel.’ And oh, the relief of it! . . . from the tyrannous noon of revelation, I passed into the cool evening of Higher Thought, where there was nothing to be obeyed and nothing to be believed except what was either comforting or exciting.”
It is easy to pass through a wide gate. All baggage is acceptable, even our sins, self-righteousness, and pride. But getting through a narrow gate requires us to pass through alone – without being propped up by others or weighed down by baggage. Jesus is the only way to God. That may be uncomfortable to hear in our contemporary culture. Still, it is no less valid or demanding than ever.
2. The Narrow Road Requires Vigilance
(Matthew 7:15-20) There will be false prophets who seek to lead Jesus’ followers astray. Two things are true of these false prophets. They are both disguised and betrayed. Disguised means they are not easy to spot – they are not cartoon villains! But they will ultimately be betrayed by their fruit.
By Jonathan L. Master — 1 year ago
Written by Jonathan L. Master |
Wednesday, July 27, 2022
Over the last ten years, PCA members made several overtures designed to initiate the withdrawal of the PCA from the NAE. Each time these overtures were voted down. In this case, although it was clear that many within the denomination’s administration favored maintaining membership in the NAE … the vote from the floor was not close. The will of the body was clear.
The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) was founded in 1973. At that time, its identification with the evangelical movement was so strong that its members, when deciding on the name for the fledgling denomination, briefly considered calling it the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. The PCA’s connection to evangelicalism was also signified by its membership in the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), which it joined in 1974. That membership ended last month, when the PCA voted at its annual General Assembly to leave the NAE.
The NAE is an activist organization based in Washington, D.C. It seeks to speak and lobby for its constituents in the broader culture and within the political machinery of our nation’s capitol. The NAE describes its history this way: “The National Association of Evangelicals was founded in 1942 as a fresh voice for biblical, Christ-centered faith that was meant to be a ‘middle way’ between the fundamentalist American Council of Christian Churches and the progressive Federal Council of Churches.” Today, many denominations and networks belong to the NAE, including the Evangelical Free Church, the Salvation Army, the Free Methodist Church USA, and the Wesleyan Church.
The middle way is hard to maintain. While most of the public positions of the NAE have broad, perhaps universal, support among PCA churches, some are more contested. This was a concern for some at the General Assembly. Much of the commentary since the withdrawal has centered on the “Fairness for All” legislation that the NAE supported. This legislation, in attempting a compromise, would in fact enshrine the reigning ideology of gender and sexuality into law, while offering few religious protections. This issue no doubt lurked in the background, and it played a slight role in the public debate on the assembly floor.
The public arguments for leaving the NAE also had little to do with the term “evangelical” itself or with its historical precedents. The concerns were broad, relating to the freedom of conscience given to individual Christians and congregations on matters of policy about which the Scriptures and our confession do not speak clearly. While many issues of public ethics are clear and therefore binding, and others about which the denomination has made public statements, there are many other political issues about which there has historically been wide diversity in the Christian church, and no clear consensus in our ecclesiastical or denominational tradition. The NAE, however, speaks loudly on many contested issues: creativity and the arts, gun violence, COVID, foster care, international poverty, and voting, to name just a few. Those arguing for separating made allusions to NAE support for bipartisan immigration reform and the strengthening of nuclear treaties.