The last few posts have been inspired by several books on science I’ve been reading. They have explored the idea that we all come to the big questions in life with existing frameworks. These frameworks in turn lead to our holding various biases and presuppositions, which can result in our seeing what we wish to see rather than what is really there. I have adopted the term Vulcan Theology to describe this as it relates to interpreting Scripture.
As a result of these posts an interesting question arose. What is the role of the Holy Spirit in dealing with the Vulcan problem? If the Spirit provides illumination on a particular passage can that help us see it accurately?
This question invites us to first define the term illumination.
The Moody Handbook of Theology, defines illumination as “the ministry of the Holy Spirit whereby He enlightens those who are in a right relationship with Him to comprehend the written Word of God.” Going on to say that:
The believer is aided by the Holy Spirit’s ministry of illumination in guiding the believer to an understanding of divine truth (1 Cor 2:11-13).
J.I. Packer unpacks this term in Concise Theology: A Guide To Historic Christian Beliefs (link).
[Illumination] is not a giving of new revelation, but a work within us that enables us to grasp and to love the revelation that is there before us in the biblical text as heard and read, and as explained by teachers and writers.
Defining the work of illumination as the process in which the Spirit aids us in understanding the Scripture is a rather broad definition of the term. It does differentiate the work of illumination from other forms of guidance (ed. see this post and this one for more on that topic). However it still leaves open the question: does the Spirit help us arrive at the correct interpretation of a passage and thus eliminate Vulcan theology? Continue reading
“Exegetical Notes on Calvinist Texts” is the next essay in Grace for All. It is written by Grant R. Osborne, professor of New Testament at TEDS (link). Osborne is also a prolific author, having written numerous commentaries and books, including the Hermeneutical Spiral (a Christianity Today 1993 Critics Choice Award winner).
For Osborne, theological problems are the result of “proof texting”.
The problem is that in the past, systematic theology has by and large taken passages out of context, grouped them together in a logical order, and in many cases made them say things not intended by the original authors.
If “proof texting” is the problem, then what is the solution?
The answer is to be found in the methods of biblical theology
Does that mean there is no place for systematic theology? Before we tackle that question let’s make sure we understand what it meant by the terms systematic and biblical theology.
What is systematic theology? Continue reading
In the last post blogging through the book, Grace for All, we saw David Clines present to us the big picture of how one might understand predestination in the Old Testament. In this post I. Howard Marshall gives us a view of “predestinarian thought” in the New.
Marshall is a NT scholar and Professor Emeritus at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. He has authored numerous commentaries and works of theology including the 2005 ECPA Gold Medallion winner New Testament Theology.
Marshall reminds us of the challenge that everyone who reads Scripture and studies theology has regardless of the views one holds.
it is one thing to state what Scripture says; it is another to understand it and to bring it into relation with the rest of what Scripture says.
In debates over soteriology, often a verse like Ephesians 1:4-5 is presented as a proof text for unconditional election because it states that we are chosen and predestined. Continue reading