I realized today it has been a LONG time since I have shared anything on my blog! I guess the word that comes to mind is “committed”. I haven’t been very “committed” in this blog lately, but I had good intentions. I would like to put entries on here consistently but, while my intentions are good, I just fail to get it done. It made me think about our Christian walk. How many times do we have the best intentions and just fail to get it done. Reading God’s Word, prayer time, ministry, etc. It takes commitment! It helped me to remember that everything we do for God should be 100%! So… while my blog suffers at times, it is my desire to always be committed for God on a daily basis!
Yesterday, about 2:45 am I set out for Georgia from West Nebraska. My family and I will be moving back to Georgia for jobs that my wife and I have been offered. My entire trip was mapped out, planned, and all the details decided. My family and I said our prayers, goodbyes, and shared hugs the night before and I was on my way early. I travelled through the night without any issues, through long stretches of nothing and towns miles apart. About 11:30 yesterday morning, while going through Kansas City, MO, I exited the interstate to get gas. I noticed something that smelled like it was burning and then noticed smoke coming out from my driver side FRONT tire! Sure enough, my front brakes had locked up on me. My first reaction was helplessness. Here I am in an enormous town compared to my 3,600 population back in Nebraska – who do I call? My wife and I had discussed AAA just a couple of months earlier. I pulled out my membership card and started the process. With that initial work done, my focus then became one of anxiety quite honestly. Why did I have to break down here???? I think I honestly had to get that question out to be able to appreciate the answer. Why? Because God ordained it! I could have been stranded on the side of a road somewhere in the barren lands of Nebraska and Kansas at 4am, but God allowed me to make it to a safe place where help would be readily available. God also allowed me to be stopped at a gas station and not going down the road at 65 mph while pulling my enclosed trailer. For every anxious excuse I might have, God has an answer. I am suppose to start my new job tomorrow, yet I am still over 17 hours away from home- but the friend I will be working for is a Christian who simply said to “drive safe and get here when you can”.
So, this morning I sit in a hotel room. I am thankful for the unseen hands of God’s protection, His direction, His mercy, and His love. I did find out that both REAR seals had blown out of the rear of my jeep. Wow… and I just noticed smoke on the FRONT tire and never knew anything was wrong with the back. The mechanic told me everything looked good on the front and that the brake had just temporarily locked up. I’m not a mechanic, but I know my front from my back! Had God used the temporary lock up to get my attention so that the rear issues could be found and repaired to prevent an accident later down the road? All I know is that God is good – all the time. Sure, I have spent quite a little fortune here in repairs, hotels, meals, etc. but I am safe.
Later this afternoon, I will hopefully, by God’s grace and providence, be able to get back on the road. I don’t know what else is in store for me on this trip. I have a LONG way still to go. I do know that God is good – all the time. We have a way of just uttering that without much thought as we go through life unaffected for weeks or months sometimes without major obstacles, worries, or financial problems. Sometimes it takes a wrecker service, mechanic shop, and nice warm shower in the safety of a hotel room to allow us to experience that. It is then up to us as to how we will realize and appreciate that thought in the coming days. Thank you Lord, for your blessings and unseen hands at work in our lives.
Today I am a man without a job. Not permanently- but it’s a weird feeling. Yesterday was my last day at a job I have been blessed to have for the last 8 years. I have met great people and had an excellent boss. The Lord opened the doors for me to return with my family to my hometown of Southwest GA and a wonderful job opportunity there. I will miss my family and friends here in Nebraska, but so look forward to new challenges that await back home. Our life has gotten so hectic over the last year that I have been unable to really focus on my Biblical training or just life in general. I look forward to new opportunities and returning to a church home where sound fundamental Bible preaching exists without the ever present ecumenical push by Pastors unwilling to stand strong on God’s Word and a clear cut plan of Salvation. No – we are not all the same, No – we are not all in some pie in the sky church if we just “believe in God”, No – we are not all God’s children and just have different ways we come to Him. My Bible plainly states by my Father that the ONLY way to Him is through His Son Jesus Christ and through the process of recognizing I am a sinner, asking for His forgiveness, turning from that sin, and asking His Son to be my Lord, Savior, and Propitiation for that sin and stand in my place! It is not based on anything I have done, can do, or will do in the future to merit or to retain that Salvation.
As I see our Country continue to unravel and decline in moral and spiritual matters, I am saddened to know that we are most likely seeing a nation who is coming under judgment by a Holy God. While it is so easy to get upset about Satan and his crowd ruining the spiritual fabric of this nation, I think we must realize that sadly much of this problem can be traced back to the spiritual cancer and decay within the walls of what once were fundamental Bible preaching and believing churches and institutions. A revival of God’s people is greatly needed throughout the land if we would desire to once again see homes, churches, communities, and country following the old path and standing on God’s Word. Until then, each one of us has the responsibility to do our part to lead our families in the way that pleases the Lord and seeks to fulfill His will in our own lives.
The Literal Method of Interpretation
The Literal method of interpretation stands in direct opposition of the Allegorical method discussed in the previous study. The Literal method of interpretation is defined by Pentecost as “that method that gives to each word the same exact basic meaning it would have in a normal, ordinary, customary usage, whether employed in writing, speaking, or thinking.” (Pentecost, 1974) In short, this could be stated in the more simple idea that God meant exactly what He wrote. There is no need for trying to decipher words or phrases in search of some “deeper meaning”. The Literal method also employs using both the grammatical and historical considerations of the passage, which helps to bring writing from antiquity into a more understandable meaning today as it also accounts for customs and practices of that time period. (Pentecost, 1974)
It is noted by Ramm that Ezra is considered to be the first of the Jewish Interpreters and therefore the first instance of using Biblical hermeneutics. (Ramm, 1970) As this method moves throughout history, the key component of its practice is that the interpreters continue to use the Word of God as the Authority for interpretation and that interpretation is based in a literal rendering of the passage. Some of the key rules developed during these periods in history are still in use today. Ramm points out that these include: (i)Words must be understood in terms of the sentence , and a sentence in terms of its context. (ii) Scriptures dealing with similar topics should be compared to relieve apparent contradictions. (iii) Clear passages should be given preference over one less evident if both are dealing with the same subject matter. (iv) Very close attention should be paid to spelling, grammar, and figures of speech. (v) Logic can be used to determine the application of Scripture to problems in life not specifically treated, and (vi) God has chosen to speak in the tongue of man so that he can understand it. (Ramm, 1970)
There would continue to be schools of Allegorists to emerge during this same time and would be in direct opposition to the Literal approach but much support can be given for the Literal method. Some of these included by Pentecost are: (i) The literal meaning of sentences if used as the normal approach for all languages. (ii) Any secondary meanings found in the passage are dependent upon the previous literal meaning of the terms. (iii) The majority of Scripture makes adequate sense when interpreted literally. (iv) The literal approach maintains room for figures of speech, symbols, allegories, and types when the nature of the passage demands so. (v) The literal approach is the only approach that offers a way to check and confirm the interpretation. (vi) This approach clearly fits with the nature of Inspiration of Scripture. (Pentecost, 1974) One point to re-emphasize is the fact that the Literal method does allow for figurative speech. When figurative speech occurs in the Scripture, the Bible student realizes that the purpose of the figurative speech is to reveal a literal truth but never at the cost of destroying the literal truth that is intended in the Scripture. (Pentecost, 1974)
The Literal approach is certainly not without its objectors. Three objections are brought out by Pentecost concerning this approach: (i) The Bible contains figures of speech. (ii) God is a spirit and therefore the teachings of Scripture are Spiritual in nature and are taught with earthly objects and human relationships. (iii) The Old Testament holds deeper meaning in its words than what they appear to literally contain. (Pentecost, 1974) How is the Bible student to answer the critics on these objections? Is there merit for these complaints of the Literal method? In answer to the appearance of the figures of speech found in Scripture, it has already been shown that both the literal method and figures of speech can easily co-exist within the boundaries of sound hermeneutical practice as long as the Bible student realizes that the figures of speech are there to reveal a literal truth. The student must remember that the Literal method includes the historical characteristics as well, which include figures of speech possibly found and known to the people of the period. For example, all throughout Scripture the Lord is referred to as the “Shepherd”. The Bible student clearly understands that the Lord is not a physical Shepherd in the sense of having sheep, a sheepfold, pasture, etc. The figure of speech however is used to express the great and marvelous fact that the Lord very much has the duties and characteristics of a Shepherd towards His people. No harm is done with the fact that this “picture” is used to teach the literal truth of God’s provision and protection for His children. Literal methods of interpretation and figures of speech can be used in harmony.
The second attack on the Literal method employs the idea that, because God is a Spirit, there is no “tangible” teaching of literal things to be drawn out of Scripture. There is merely “ideas” and “life mottos” that one can take and use to commune with God on a Spiritual plane. God simply used earthly objects and human relationships understandable by carnal man to present Spiritual teaching. This idea would be used to support the heretical Allegorical approach. Things such as the Garden of Eden, The Flood, even Satan himself are “stories” to present a humanistic lesson to mankind. This could not be further from the truth! God, though existing in Spirit, very much longs for His creation to know Him and to know His Word. It is not a Book of suggestions and ideas, but is a Living Book that is overflowing with literal truth for the Christian. It is the Literal accounts of Biblical lives of God’s people and truths given to mankind inspired by the Spirit. Sin is real. The penalty for sin is real. A real Hell awaits for all those who die without Christ. What a sad account it would be if that is where it ended! There is also the fact that Christ and His Sacrifice is real! Salvation through His shed blood is real! Heaven and the future Kingdom and new Heavens and Earth are real! The idea of “spiritual” ideas and philosophies without tangible truths is totally unfounded.
The last argument deals with the idea that there is more in the Old Testament that meets the eye. Lessons and truths brought forth in the Old Testament and discussed in the New Testament seem to perhaps go deeper than realized at first glance. Interpreters then use this idea to allegorize Scripture. When the Bible student truly studies this relationship, however, the conclusion is arrived that shows the New Testament truths of the Old Testament are brought about through literal fulfillment. Types are many times used in the New Testament to refer back to the Old Testament, yet this is not allegorization. Just as with figures of speech, types are used to represent and teach a literal truth that can be used by the believer. God has perfectly chosen the components of Scripture for mankind. Its truths are real. The Literal interpretive approach is the only vehicle through which the Bible student can arrive confidently at the intent and teaching of Scripture.
Pentecost, D. J. (1974). Things To Come. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.
Ramm, B. (1970). Protestant Biblical Interpretation. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Cushing-Malloy, Inc.
The Dangers of Misusing Allegorical Interpretation
The proper interpretation of Scripture is crucial to the Bible student if he wishes to correctly know and apply Biblical knowledge to his life. It is no different than attempting to read a road map with a distorted view or complete misunderstanding of which highways lead to the destination one needs. If the wrong highway is chosen, then the destination could be missed by blocks or by thousands of miles. In either case, the person fails to reach the destination. It doesn’t matter how much they trusted in the map because, although the information was placed there correctly by the original writer, misuse and ignorance of proper utilization by the map user negated the true facts and caused him to err in his travel. Such is a simple example of Biblical Interpretation. When one fails to use the Literal Interpretation of Scripture and trusts in Allegorical “suggestions”, there is no end to the number of destinations one will arrive at. One thing remains certain, however: among all the many directions Allegorical Interpretation can take the Bible student, it will never deliver them to the true destination of correct Biblical Exegesis of Scripture.
Allegorical Interpretation can be defined as “the method of interpreting a literary text that regards the literary sense as the vehicle for a secondary, more spiritual and more profound sense.” (Ramm, 1970) A simple paraphrase of this definition could be stated: “read between the lines”. Its belief is that the words are simply the method of delivery to the reader and its underlying tones and unwritten meaning must be gleaned by “experienced scholars” and delivered to the layman. This lie has been propagated for thousands of years by Roman Catholicism who have taught its people that only the “church” can truly read and understand what Holy Scripture says and therefore must be the “voice of God” and the only one to distribute “knowledge” to the people. This has created untold wars throughout history, but sadder is the fact that it has sent untold millions to an eternity of damnation.
The Bible student would do well to understand that, according to Pentecost, there are three real dangers associated with Allegorical Interpretation of Scripture. (Pentecost, 1974) These are not mere “grey areas” of argument and debate but are indeed core problems with the very root of this Interpretive System. The first danger associated with Allegorical Interpretation is that it does not interpret Scripture. This makes it very easy for the interpreter to make very broad and even abominable uses of God’s Word. It leaves the area of passage interpretation open to much speculation. An account such as the Creation Story found in Genesis 1 is held by true Bible Students of the Literal Interpretative method as the documentation of the actual events involving actual people in history past. Because of this, the student realizes the origin of sin in mankind, the reason for the depravity of man up until this time in history, and the future judgment as well as redemption that awaits different groups of people. Not so with the Allegorical approach. Much speculation and “fairy tale” characteristics are attributed to this account under that system. God’s powerful and mighty Word is reduced to nothing more than a “bedtime story” for children that speaks of “make believe” events that help the reader to understand good and evil on earth, thereby rendering the transforming power of the Word as “none effect” in the heart of the unregenerate.
The second danger seen in the Allegorical Interpretative approach to Scripture is that it moves the Authority of Scriptures from the Word itself to mankind. This is perhaps the most dangerous error of the three in that it takes God’s Sovereign and Omniscient power as Creator and delegates it to a product of His creation: man. There is the absence of the believer being “illuminated” by the Spirit as he reads the Scriptures in humble and authentic thirst for the Word and is replaced by total dependence upon a man and his view of the passage. Intense study and prayer in search of Biblical meaning has been replaced by “soaking up” another man’s unfounded beliefs and opinions. The student is easily led down the path of heresy because of the lack of personal diligence and labor in the pages of God’s Word. His sword is “dull” so to speak, and he is simply unable to rightly divide the Word of Truth in this setting. This has been seen throughout history with the endless number of Cults who have mislead countless numbers of people away from God’s true Word to that of manmade religion and idolatry.
The third danger of using Allegorical approach to Interpreting Scripture is simply that there is no way to test the conclusions of the Interpreter. Without solid Literal Interpretation and a clear “black and white” approach to the passage, there is no way for the Bible student to reproduce the same meaning or message of the text in question. It is opinion. Just as in Science, if there is no way to repeatedly glean the same meaning from the experiment, then there is no way to fully rest in the satisfaction and security of its contents. Allegorical Interpretation stands guilty of this practice time and time again. Once again, its unfounded beliefs and practices have been used throughout history to twist and pervert God’s Word offering alternate views of the Gospel and of even sin itself.
The Allegorical approach to Scripture is a very dangerous practice. Its conclusions are the attempts of man to create a Utopia on Earth and be “co-laborers” with God in the Redemptive process of mankind. Its teachings lead people in spiritual darkness and in the end can deliver their souls to an eternity of hell and damnation. The Allegorical approach to Scripture must at all costs be avoided by the Bible student seeking to know the truth.
Pentecost, D. J. (1974). Things To Come. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.
Ramm, B. (1970). Protestant Biblical Interpretation. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Cushing-Malloy, Inc.