WHOSE MAIL ARE YOU READING?
The scriptures were given for the benefit of the reader, but not all scripture is written to every believer. One of the cardinal rules of interpretation is to discover to whom any given Bible text was written; you just may be reading some other person’s mail! To take for yourself the promises or judgments that were actually written to another is a serious mistake. It is a major flaw in the Reformed hermeneutic.
As children in Sunday school, we were taught a number of “praise choruses” that are examples of this error. For instance, the one that says “every promise in the book is mine, every chapter every verse, every line”. Innocent on the surface, but we don’t have the prerogative to claim promises that were made to someone else. In fact, that cute little chorus is a lie and a sneaky way to rewrite the Bible. If we want to know what the scripture says, we need to ask the text what it means, not tell it what we think it means.
The Reformed hermeneutic actually steals promises from other people. This is clearly represented in the textual twisting behind the Replacement Theory. The result of this man-made hermeneutical process says that the church replaces Israel, or that the two have become one. This teaching is blatantly dishonest in that it makes no apology for stealing someone else’s mail. It is the result of false conclusions having been drawn from part of the scripture rather than the whole. The full scriptures teach that there is a great divide between Israel and the church, and there always will be.
STEALING SMALL THINGS
No matter how popular such theories may become, they are erroneous and based on a misguided hermeneutic. There is another problem, which is even more serious. I speak of the theft of small ideas that appears to be the road to a major appropriation of larger issues. Early in my training, I was left with the impression that we could go to the book of Matthew and remove from it anything we wanted and give it to the church, or that we could put the church in Matthew anywhere we might choose. Such error failed to ask to whom the book was written.
This practice has resulted in Kingdom Confusion and the adding of law to the church. The whole book of Galatians refutes such a concept. The text shouts that the book of Matthew is about Israel, and we must be careful about what we claim ownership of.
The lesson here is that taking small things from Israel for the church, or taking small things from the church and adding them to Israel, is serious. At Pentecost, God chose to do many things with the church that had never been a part of Israel. At best it is unwise to take any of those things and add them back into Israel. The Reformed hermeneutic centers on the doctrine of salvation, that which is stereological. The danger is that it makes theology man-centered. All arguments for such a practice are philosophical and use the same methodology as is found in the replacement theory.
The one biblical hermeneutic is doxological and will always see God at the center. In this mode the questions are asked about God, not about man. The Reformed process relies upon human intellectualism and reason; it suffers from the Lucifer Syndrome with a desire to know the answer to everything. It is far better to accept what the text itself says than what we say about the text.
There is no need to rehash the philosophical debate on this subject, but the New Covenant is a perfect example of hijacking small things. The New Covenant was made with Israel, not with the church. The heart of the New Covenant will be fulfilled prior to the Millennium; it is not fulfilled in the church. The church obviously benefits through the blood of Christ, but it is not a partner in the covenant.
Here we find another example of the Reformed hermeneutic with the failure to let the whole text speak for itself. It may be a small matter to mingle Israel and the church, but it identifies the subtle attempt to close the gap between the two. Any large or small decision to narrow the gap that is clearly described in scripture is dangerous, if not downright disastrous.
During the distinct church age, any Jew who is born again is part of the body of Christ. An individual Jew is not Israel. He will always be a part of the Bride of Christ, not the wife of God. The part does not equal the whole. A Reformed hermeneutic puts these two groups together, which is done through the system used by the Replacement theory. This is one reason the term “the people of God” is used. It views the two as one.
The one way to solve this dilemma is to utilize the one biblical hermeneutic given to us through the text of scripture. There is one correct system, but many philosophical theories. The system known as the “normal, plain, consistent, literal” use of language will always produce a theology that is biblical. It cannot, and will not, produce a multitude of theories. The wide use of various theological views is the result of rejecting that one biblical system. For that reason, any idea that makes Israel and the church one, or even chips away at that distinction, is the result of one of the humanly developed hermeneutical theories.
A communication service of Shepherd’s Basic Care
For those committed to the authority and sufficiency of the Bible
Shepherd's Basic Care is a ministry of information and encouragement to pastors, missionaries, and churches. Write for information using the e-mail address, Shepherdstaff2@juno.com
Shepherd's Staff is prepared by
Clay Nuttall, D.Min
(Reprinted by Permission, bold added)
December 15, 2011
WHOSE MAIL ARE YOU READING?