Archives For Long

It is almost the unanimous opinion of interpreters that only the grammatico-historical meaning of Holy Scripture is the true one and that those who interpret it otherwise present, not the meaning of the writings, but their own, or one different from the writings.

But Jesus’ teaching is not merely something historical, nor merely part of history, not simply of a historical nature; it also contains eternal unchangeable, divine truths which one can fully explain to himself and make comprehensible to others, never on the ground of history and grammar alone, but rather by one’s own spirit, meditation, by elevation to ideas of the reason, and from the truths themselves.

Such books (speaking of Scripture), it should be emphasized, must not be interpreted only grammatically and historically, but also morally, religiously, philosophically.  All power of the spirit, of reflection, of emotion, of religious exaltation, must be brought into play to plumb the depths of their meaning.

C.F Stäudlin, De interpretatione librorum Novi Testamenti historica non unice vera (On the historical interpretations of the books of the New Testament as not containing unique truth), 1807.

On Grammatico-Historical Interpretation

To grasp the biblical message of God’s reign, we must avoid two tempting but false extremes.

The first temptation is to quarantine God’s kingdom safely in the distant future up in the clouds, in “heaven,” sealed off away from the blood, sweat, and tears of the present.  In this view, we would expect the world to be corrupt buy beyond repair.  There’s nothing we can do about it.  The world’s going to hell in a handbasket.  Don’t bother polishing the brass on the sinking ship…In this telling, Christian faith is at worst a story about me-and-Jesus, about saving my soul and little else, and at best it’s about a gospel message that can save souls but has little power to transform the larger world for good…

That doesn’t mean, however, that we will establish God’s kingdom in its fullness through our own good works.  God is responsible for establishing his kingdom, not us.  God came first in humility in Jesus.  He will come again in power and glory.  But that hasn’t happened yet, and we can’t trigger it.  If we try, we won’t just fail, we’ll do far more harm than good.

Money, Greed, and God: Jay Richards

God’s Kingdom and Our Responsibility

…the exegetical data does not all point in one direction.  Much will depend on the particular perspective from which one approaches the passage and which arguments are given greater weight.

Interpreting Rom. 7 is like fitting pieces of a puzzle together when one is not sure of the final outline; the best interpretation is the one that is able to fit the most pieces together in the most natural way.  Because of this, it is inconclusive, and even misleading, to cite several arguments in favor of one’s own view and conclude that the issue has been settled.

The best interpretation will be the one that is able to do most justice to all the data of the text within the immediate and larger Pauline context.

Doug Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, p. 445.

Interpreting Romans 7

For although to true religion there must indeed be something else besides affection; yet true religion consists so much in the affections, that there can be no true religion without them. He who has no religious affection, is in a state of spiritual death, and is wholly destitute of the powerful, quickening, saving influences of the Spirit of God upon his heart. As there is no true religion where there is nothing else but affection, so there is no true religion where there is no religious affection.

If the great things of religion are rightly understood, they will affect the heart. The reason why men are not affected by such infinitely great, important, glorious, and wonderful things, as they often hear and read of, in the word of God, is undoubtedly because they are blind; if they were not so, it would be impossible, and utterly inconsistent with human nature, that their hearts should be otherwise than strongly impressed, and greatly moved by such things.

Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections, 24, 

Religious Affections

It is therefore in vain that so many burning lamps shine for us in the workmanship of the universe to show forth the glory of its Author. Although they bathe us wholly in their radiance, yet they can of themselves in no way lead us in the right path.  Surely they strike some sparks, but before their fuller light shines forth these are smothered…But although we lack the natural ability to mount up unto the pure and clear knowledge of God, all excuse is cut off because the fault of dullness is within us.

John Calvin, Institutes 1.5.14, 15 

Calvin on Romans 1:18-32

The only safety is to have a standard of plain, central Christianity which puts the controversies of the moment in their proper perspective. Such a standard can be acquired only from the old books. It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones.

C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis on Reading Old Books