Thursday, October 19, 2017

Are You a Transformer, Translator, or Transplanter?


I was a transplanter. By the grace of God and for His glory I am becoming a translator. I pray that I never become a transformer.

Do we contemporize theology, and if so, how and to what extent? In order to explain, some defining must take place:

1. A transplanter does not think that the text of scriptures needs to be contemporized at all. The Bible should be stated as it was written.[1]

2. A transformer believes that the world has changed so much since biblical times and people with it that the message itself must be changed.[2]

3. A translator believes that the authoritative message that the Bible is speaking never changes, but since language, culture and situations have changed from biblical times the authoritative message needs to be contemporized for the modern audience’s ear.[3]

Millard J. Erickson said with regards to transplanters,
Taken to its logical extreme, this would mean that one should make no attempt to present the message at all, instead relying on a direct work of special manifestation by God to another person. Actually, it is unlikely that anyone really follows this approach to its logical conclusion. I have never, for example, heard a sermon that was composed entirely of direct quotations from Scripture. Some form of adaption, explanation, restatement, or application is usually found in any presentation of biblical truth.[4]

When I read what Erickson wrote I had to giggled, because I have actually done that on several occasions. The Lord has given me the ability to memorize large portions of scripture. I can preach a coherent biblical message from creation, to the fall, to Mount Sinai, to the cross and the judgment without ever using my own words.

I did this because I understood that Jesus trained 12 men, apostles, for the purpose of commissioning them to go into the world and make disciples. I also understood from John 15:26-27 that there are only two witnesses for Jesus Christ, the Spirit and the apostles. "When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, and you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning." (Jn 15:26-27)

Therefore, I came to the logical extreme that Erickson wrote about. It had not occurred to me until fairly recently that I could contemporize the authoritative message of the Bible for the modern audience without altering the authoritative message.

However, I am guarded when I do this, because it is the inspired word that God has authorized, not my words. There are differences in language, culture, time, place, situation and covenant that separates our audience from the biblical audience. However, do so with wisdom lest you become a transformer who thinks that he is a translator.



[1] Millard H. Erickson, Christian Theology, 3rd edition (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013), 73.
[2] Ibid, 76.
[3] Ibid, 77.
[4] Ibid, 75.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Blog #7: Comparison and Conclusion

For the past 7 weeks, I have been explaining a passage out of the book of Isaiah through a series of blogs. The passage is Isaiah 14:3-23. This is the 7th blog in the series, but it is actually the 8th. Eight weeks ago, I wrote a blog titled “What Does This Passage Mean: Isaiah 14:12-15.” Vv. 12-15 are in the center of the greater passage of Isaiah 14:3-23. 

Therefore, that blog that I wrote eight weeks ago serves is sort of a prologue to the interpretive journey. This blog would then serve as an epilogue to that journey. The prologue was based on my presuppositions.

I read Isaiah 14:12-15, then wrote what I thought that it meant without doing any research; I took both an intuitive and spiritual approach in my interpretation. Today I would like to compare what I thought that the passage meant eight weeks ago with what I have come to understand it to mean through "a 5-step interpretive journey."[1] To read the Prologue from eight weeks ago click on: 
“What Does This Passage Mean?”[2]

How My Understanding of the Passage Changed

My thoughts on this passage did change as a result of the 5-step interpretive process.[3] The change began in step 1 which is reflected in blogs 1 and 2.

In step-1, I began to understand the passage in its historical-cultural-literal context. No one in Isaiah’s day would have interpreted the passage to mean “a taunt against Satan at the eschaton.”[4] They would have understood this passage to predict the physical death of a tyrannical king yet to come.[5]

Then in steps 4 and 5 I saw the differences between the audience in Isaiah’s day and our day. Having noted those differences I was able to write three timeless-theological-principles from the text that is both true for them and for us:
1. A ruler can be cruel, because of pride and sinful desire.[6]
2. When an evil ruler is taken out of power the people and earth rejoice.[7]
3. The Lord God is omnipotent and eternal; therefore, death is the leveler of all men.[8]
Having come up with these three timeless-theological-principles being taught in the text I was then able to see how the New Testament modified these principles so that they could be applied with regards to Christians today.

Final Thoughts

The 5-step interpretive journey taught by Duvall and Hays is fantastic. It is imperative to have a historical-cultural-literary understanding of whatever Biblical text that you are going to interpret. This allows us to accurately come to a timeless-theological principle that can be applied in our lives and the lives of those whom we may be teaching.



[1] J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays, Grasping God’s word: A Hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012).
[2] Michael Peek, What Does This Passage Mean: Isaiah 14:12-15, a paper presented for M-BS2400 Introduction to Hermeneutics, Mid-Western Baptist Theological Seminary, August 2017.
[3] J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays, Grasping God’s word: A Hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012).
[4] Ibid, last sentence.
[5] Michael Peek, Blog #2 Isaiah 14:3-23 Verse-by Verse Commentary, a paper presented for M-BS2400 Introduction to Hermeneutics, Mid-Western Baptist Theological Seminary, September 2017, 14:12-15.
[6] Michael Peek, Blog #4 Cross the Principlizing Bridge, a paper presented for M-BS2400 Introduction to Hermeneutics, Mid-Western Baptist Theological Seminary, September 2017, The Cruel King.
[7] Ibid, The People and the Earth Rejoice.
[8] Ibid, Descending to Sheol.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Blog #6, Isaiah 14:3-23, Application

I have been explaining Isaiah 14:3-23 through a series of blogs. This will be the sixth blog in the series. In this blog, I will explain how the timeless-theological-principles taught in the text might be applied in the lives of Christians today. In a previous blog I identified three timeless-theological-principles taught in the text:

1. A ruler can be cruel, because of pride and sinful desire. (vv. 4b-6)

2. When an evil ruler is taken out of power the people and the earth rejoice. (vv. 7-8)

3. The Lord alone is omnipotent and eternal; the Lord God is the sovereign of the universe and death is the great leveler of all men. (vv. 9-21)

How the Timeless Theological Principle Applied to the Original Audience

Isaiah was a prophet of the Lord God in Judah and Jerusalem during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, Kings of Judah. (Isa 1:1) Isaiah prophesied during the time of the Assyrian threat and destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel. Chapters 1-39 deal primarily with Jerusalem during the time period of the Assyrian threat, but looks ahead to the future threat of Babylon.[1]

The things that Isaiah had been prophesying were very difficult even for the prophet to take. Although Judah and Jerusalem escaped the Assyrian threat, they would not escape a future threat by the Babylonians. Chapter 14 is an interlude in which he looks past the future threat of Babylon to a future rejoicing by the house of Israel over the death of the wicked king of Babylon.

Therefore, it is the desire of Isaiah that those in his day who heard and read this text repent and trust in the sovereignty of the Lord God to destroy evil. It is a frequent theme in Isaiah’s writing for those who hear to “trust in the Lord.”[2]

How the Timeless Theological Principle Applies to People Today

None of us are living in Judah or Jerusalem in the 8th century B.C. None of us are under the threat of the Assyrians. Our closest neighbors to the north have not been invaded by the Assyrians. None of us are under the Mosaic covenant and are not faced with the curses promised in the book of Deuteronomy for not keeping the covenant; therefore, we are not threatened with invasion by Babylon and subject to its cruel king.

We can however find ourselves subject to a cruel person who has authority over us. Therefore, the timeless-theological-principles that are taught in this text have application in our lives when we find ourselves under the authority of a cruel person. I am going to talk about a scenario that is close to me and close to those that I work with.

I work as a Registered Nurse in a Cardiovascular Intensive-Care-Unit. I have been a Registered Nurse for twenty years. I have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Texas at Arlington. I have received certifications from the American Association of Critical-Care Nursing: Critical-Care-Registered-Nurse (CCRN) and Cardiovascular-Surgery-Certified (CSC).

A surgeon has authority over a nurse when we are caring for a patient whom that surgeon took to surgery. On our unit, there is a particular surgeon who can be very cruel to the nursing staff. If anything goes wrong with the patient it is always the nurse that he blames and does so very cruelly.

Cardiovascular surgery is very high risk with many potential complications: Bleeding, respiratory failure, kidney failure, stroke and even death. The nursing staff on my unit are all professionals who do a great job caring for the patients, the majority recover and go home within five days.

But complications do occur and there is nothing that we can do to prevent it. When they occur, with this particular surgeon, he will often say, “WHAT DID YOU DO?” Instantly blaming the nurse and acting very angry. Even though I have many years of experience, if one of his patients begins bleeding I lament, because I know that wrath is coming my way when I report it.

It was the desire of Isaiah that those in his day who heard and read this text repent and trust in the sovereignty of the Lord God. Therefore, all the nurses that I work with can trust in the Lord. He is the sovereign Lord of the universe. Though we may endure cruel persons who have authority over us today. The Lord Jesus Christ will return. When He does there will be a new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness reigns.

The Story of Bob, Pat and Steve

Once upon a time there were three young men by the name of Bob, Pat and Steve. All three young men loved the game of baseball. They would often play a game of catch with each other in the neighborhood. Sometimes they would even go to the local park during their summer break and play a real game just like the big leaguers. All three young men were Christians. They had meet in their youth group.

The summer break had ended. Bob, Pat and Steve were all excited because they were going into the 8th grade. You see, their school had a baseball team in the 8th grade, but they would have to endure school until March. That’s when try-outs for the team were held.

On the first day of school all three young men received their schedules. As they went over their classes it was noticed that Pat had Mr. Franklin for 5th period Biology. Bob and Steve warned Pat that they had heard that Mr. Franklin gives Christians a hard time. All three went to their classes looking forward to the year ahead and especially baseball try-outs.

When 5th period began, Mr. Franklin gave an assignment. “Write a 100-word essay on the evolution of species.” Pat wrote his essay, in which he stated, according to the class text book, what the theory of evolution is, but he also stated that he did not believe it to be correct. Pat said that he believed that the Bible’s account of creation was correct. That God created everything in heaven and on earth and that people were created by God in His image.

On the following day papers were passed out. When Pat received his paper, the Mark was an “F,” in red ink and circled. From that point on, no matter how hard Pat tried, he could not get a passing grade in the class even though he was passing all of his other classes.

This was a problem for Pat, because school rules stated that a student had to be passing all of his/her classes in-order to try-out for baseball. The month of March came around, Bob and Steve made the team, but Pat was not even able to try-out.

Bob and Steve’s warnings about Mr. Franklin had come true. Pat was failing his class and knew the reason why, but could not prove it. Even though he was passing his other classes he did not have high marks, because he was an average student.

It was a very difficult year for Pat. He could not play the game that he loved with his friends. Pat’s Sunday school teacher had recently taught a lesson on Isaiah 14:3-23. In which he gave three timeless-theological-principles taught in the text:

1 A ruler can be cruel, because of pride and sinful desire. (vv. 4b-6)

2 When an evil ruler is taken out of power the people and the earth rejoice. (vv. 7-8)

3 The Lord alone is omnipotent and eternal; the Lord God is the sovereign of the universe and death is the great leveler of all men. (vv. 9-21)

Pat’s Sunday school teacher taught the class to trust in the Lord during times of difficulty. Trust the Lord even when faced with a cruel person who has authority over you. That person’s authority will eventually come to an end.

Pat understood that Mr. Franklin would not always be his teacher. He understood that there will be another year in which he could make the baseball team. He trusted in the Lord, believing that one day Christ would return. When Christ returns there will be a new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness reigns.


[1] Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible Book by Book a Guided Tour (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002) 175.
[2] Isaiah 26:4, NASB95.

Bibliography

Fee, Gordon D., and Douglas Stuart. How to Read the Bible Book by Book. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002.

The Holy Bible Udated New American Standard Bible. La Habra: The Lockman Foundation, 1995.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Blog #5 Isaiah 14:3-23

In Blog #1 I explained that the author is the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. I have given the date and occasion of his writing. I explained who the Biblical audience is and explained their historical cultural context. I also explained the literary context of the passage. In Blog #2 I gave a verse-by-verse commentary of Isaiah 14:3-23. In Blog #3 I gave a list of similarities between us and the Biblical audience and a list of differences between us and the Biblical audience. In Blog #4 I gave three timeless theological principles that are taught in the text. In Blog #5 I will explain how these timeless theological principles fit in with the rest of the Bible.
The Cruel King
The first timeless theological principle being taught in this text is this: A ruler can be cruel, because of pride and sinful desire.

Can you think of any other cruel kings in the Bible? How about King Ahab who wanted Naboth the Jezreelite’s vineyard? King Ahab allowed his wife Jezebel to plot against Naboth to have him killed so that Ahab could have his vineyard.[1] Ahab desired what did not belong to him. He sulked to his wife Jezebel, because he could not rightfully have what he wanted. He knowingly allowed his wife to have a man murdered to get what he wanted.

Or in the New Testament. Herod slaughtered babies in Bethlehem, because of his pride and sinful desire.[2]
The People and Earth Rejoice
The second timeless theological principle being taught in this text is this: When an evil ruler is taken out of power the people and the earth rejoice.

It is a common theme throughout the Old Testament that the Lord defeats the enemies of His people: “Since the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp to deliver you and to defeat your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy; and He must not see anything indecent among you or He will turn away from you.”[3]

In the Psalm 47:1-3 and 98:1-9 God’s people rejoice over the Lord defeating their enemies. And in Psalm 126:1-3 this rejoicing spreads outward, they tell the people of the world about it.

In the New testament Satan has bound people,[4] but in the New Testament we are told that Satan is bound[5] and will ultimately be cast into the lake if fire.[6] However, the rejoicing in the New Testament is not with regard to the defeat of a wicked king, but that righteousness has come to rule.[7]
Descending to Sheol
The third timeless theological principle being taught in this text and ultimately what it is about: The Lord alone is omnipotent and eternal; the Lord God is the sovereign of the universe and death is the great leveler of all men.

Who better to give an answer to this than Job? “He said,

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,

And naked I shall return there.”

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.

Blessed be the name of the Lord.”[8]

These were the words of Job when he heard the news about his children’s death. We can see how the sovereignty of God; the sin of man and death throughout all of scripture. Take a look at the following passages found in Genesis and Romans:
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”[9] “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”[10] “Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die."[11] The man ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.[12] “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.”[13]
In the Old Testament Sheol is the underworld. It is the place to which the dead descended.[14] The New Testament expands our understanding of death. There is the death of the body, but there is also a second that is to come, at the judgment, the death of the soul in the lake of fire, the eternal death. “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”[15]
Conclusion
There are three timeless principles being taught in Isaiah 14:3-23:

1. A ruler can be cruel, because of pride and sinful desire.

2. When an evil ruler is taken out of power the people and the earth rejoice.

3. The Lord alone is omnipotent and eternal; the Lord God is the sovereign of the universe and death is the great leveler of all men.

All three of these principles are timeless and true throughout the entire canon of scripture. All three together demonstrate that the Lord God is the sovereign King of the universe. That no matter what a man thinks he is, ultimately, he is just like everyone else. Therefore, we should all love our neighbors as ourselves.



[1] Cf. 1 Kings 21.
[2] Cf. Matthew 2:16-23.
[3] Deuteronomy 23:14, NASB.
[4] Cf. Luke 13:16.
[5] Cf. Revelation 20:2.
[6] Cf. Revelation 20:7.
[7] Cf. Revelation 12:10-12.
[8] Job 1:21, NASB.
[9] Genesis 1:1, NASB.
[10] Ibid 1:27.
[11] Ibid, 2:15-17.
[12] Ibid, 3:6.
[13] Romans 5:12, NASB.
[14] Robert L. Thomas, Ed., New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries (Nashville: The Lockman Foundation, 1981), 1600.
[15] Revelation 21:8

Bibliography


New American Standard Exaustive Concordance of the Bible Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries. La Habra: The Lockman Foundation, 1981.

The Holy Bible Updated New American Standard Bible. La Habra: The Lockman Foundation, 1995.