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Tuesday, February 02, 2010 | Comments (48)

First, listen to this 11-minute clip:

Launch Player  |  Download  |  Full Sermon

Here's the topic for today's discussion:

At the heart of our hermeneutics is this basic assumption—when God revealed truth, He intended to communicate to us. He used the normal conventions of human language common to the people and time when His revelation came.

That’s why we employ the grammatical-historical method of interpretation (the rules of grammar and the facts of history) to discern the meaning of Scripture. As John has often said, “The meaning of the Scripture is the Scripture.” That’s what we’re after because we know the God who has spoken.

So, here’s the question:Why do so few evangelicals today practice good hermeneutics?How do we get ourselves and our fellow evangelicals back on track?


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#1  Posted by Darla Wormuth  |  Tuesday, February 02, 2010at 5:57 AM

Why do so few evangelicals today practice good hermeneutics? Perhaps they are not diligent in their studies, and are "busy" doing things that are not necessarily advancing the kingdom, but advancing and managing their ministry.

How do we get ourselves and our fellow evangelicals back on track? For me, I have made a commitment to study more diligently. I have prayed and continue to pray the Lord continue to give me the burning desire for His word, and the strength in His love to live it each day; to be a light in the darkness, and that I may be sensitive to those He brings in my path to tell boldly the Gospel message.

#2  Posted by Don Sands  |  Tuesday, February 02, 2010at 6:58 AM

Excellent teaching from pastor John.

The reason is laziness I would think. Rick Warren said we had the time of creeds, now is a time for deeds. I don't think most church people care about the truth of how to study the Word, because they don't think they have to, but simply need to go and love God, and love their neighbor, and so "hermeneutics smermenneutics" lets get on with it.

And the reason the church is this way, is because they have been dumbed down. As John MacArthur said, "Only 1 out of 4 students understands grammer structure."

We need to repent of our laziness, and ask God to fill us with a hunger for His Word. And we need strong pastors in the pulpits first and foremost. We also need to ask those in the pulpits who dont know how to preach to step down. It's sort of a rotating cycle deal I guess.

"Your words were found, and I ate them,and your words became to me a joyand the delight of my heart,for I am called by your name,O Lord, God of hosts."

#3  Posted by Bill Grandi  |  Tuesday, February 02, 2010at 7:11 AM

I think they practice bad hermeneutics for several reasons. Perhaps they were never taught how to study the Scripture. Perhaps because of pre-conceived ideas of what they want to find. Or maybe because of plain laziness. How do we get back on track? Blgos like this is a start. Other blogs taking up the "mantle" of biblical study. Doing it ourselves and mentoring others younger than us. Just a few thoughts.

#4  Posted by Freddy Gallardo  |  Tuesday, February 02, 2010at 8:22 AM

Convenience, laziness, lack of preparation, not ecucation, etc. Also, bad Hermeneutics among most of today preachers is just the easy way for them. When it comes to manipulation (special from tele-evangelist) is much easier to not check on hermeneutics because what they really want is to say whatever they want their audience to listen to. For example, when it comes to the bible being their on interpreter, they don't want to pay really attention to that because it will make them look contradictory; specially in subject about money they just pick & choose verses.....So What should we do? i think: 1) We that stick to the truth must be louder & proclaim it. 2) Bring to light the lies from false teachers just as Pastor Macacthur does; we can't be afraid anymore of critics. 3) Teach our young leaders (preachers leaders of next generation) to be biblically 100% including methods of sermon preparation/delivery.

#5  Posted by Matthew Wilson  |  Tuesday, February 02, 2010at 8:44 AM

Perhaps, if more voices from the pews held our teachers and preachers accountable for what/how they taught us, more leaders would find the importance of solid hermeneutics. So many pastors have thanked me for voicing and sharing the desperate need today for us -- the congregation -- to know good interpretation and the tools that equip us to achieve that end. When they hear we WANT good hermeneutics, they tend to be more inclined to use the principles to shape their messages. I think WE have taught them that WE don't want all that "seminary" stuff -- just give us how the bible makes life better for us.

The other aspect is that of secular teaching -- poor English feeds bad hermeneutics. I think this is another proof of the effects of taking God and the Bible out of our schools. My great grandparents used to tell us how they learned English -- by candlelight and God's Word. That was their textbook and evening entertainment. The various sciences grew out of the belief that God is the Creator of all things and intelligently ordered everything to His design -- therefore, studies of that creation must demonstrate observable order and intelligence. Without God, the governing standard of the types and quality of our education has been dismantled by humanism, secularism and plain ol' apathy.

#6  Posted by Ryan Rosene  |  Tuesday, February 02, 2010at 11:28 AM

I believe that the reason is laziness too. I think there are a few reasons for this. The first being that some pastors are lazy and do not want to spend the time needed to do thorough study of the Word. As John MacArthur has advocated throughout his ministry, hermaneutics is to be gramatical-historical. I have read where John MacArthur, in the earlier years of his ministry, would devote roughly 30 hours a week to a sermon. How many pastors do you know who devote that much time to a sermon? The ones I know are generally devoting one day to a sermon and that is it.

Some pastors tend to get bogged down trying to be socially popular. They are willing to itch the ear that feeds them, because they do not desire to grow spiritually themselves; it is just another paycheck to them. Maybe they fear men rather than God? Some pastors wish to have a high paid preaching position and give the food that is desired by the deacons or the other elders instead of what God wants the people to know and learn about Him. In doing that, they sacrifice true biblcal exposition for the desires of their peers. How sad.

The second part would be that the congregants are lazy and undesiring to learn about God and His gospel. Some do not desire to live the godly life and grow spiritually in Christ. To these peopl. church is just a social gathering to them. As soon as they walk out the door, the words of the pastor are forgotten. They go to see thier friends and strike up relationships. Knowing God is the faterest thing from their minds.

When I was a teenager, I went o see the girls and because my mother threatened to end my life if I did not go. But then again, she only went a fraction of the time herself. I had no desire for God. When I went to prison, I met God on His terms and I desire to hear and learn His Word, not some man's opion. This is why I listen to John MacArthur and John Piper. These men and others like them are devoted to Scripture as being the Word from God to a fallen humanity. These word are for living the way intended us to live, by faith, love, and hope. Without this preaching and hermaneutic, then there is no faith, or love, or hope.

#7  Posted by Chuck Tuthill  |  Tuesday, February 02, 2010at 12:46 PM

I have listened to this portion on Pastor John's sermon a few times and find it refreshing and convicting. I also find within it something unstated. How committed those behind Pastor John need to be in order that he has the freedom to excise this gift that he has. I'm not sure of the habits of Pastor John but my assumption would be that he is not solely responsible for hospital and newcomer visitation, doing follow up with the various ministry heads within the church and the endless tasks of the church.

No excuse is acceptable for poor hermeneutics but I think we should all be aware of the time that is necessary for the kind of study that he is speaking of and in order for that study to take place the kind commitment of the fellow leaders in the church. Many shepherds are not blest with leaders within the walls of their church who are willing to allow their pastor to be this in-depth. I am not saying it is a right reality but a reality none the less.

So, I believe many times pastors are pressured to be all things to all people, especially in smaller congregations. The ministry to people in very practical ways hinders deeper preparation time for teaching. Add to that add the real need of being the high priest of his own family, the pastor can find himself between a rock and a hard place.

If what we desire is the kind of hermeneutics that are God honoring, both the pastor and the leadership of the church has to be committed. Pastors committed to delegate within leadership and for fellow leaders to do whatever it takes to free the pastor so he may prepare thoroughly and for members who respect the pastors need for study time.

Sadly, I believe most church members want a thoroughly prepared pastor who is totally engaged in every other aspect of ministry as well, including a visit from him in the hospital when they break their toe. Meanwhile his wife expects him to be the husband the Bible describes and his children want a daddy that is there as they throw a ball or shot a puck.

Help these men of God for the sake of good hermeneutics!

#8  Posted by Rick White  |  Tuesday, February 02, 2010at 2:15 PM

I believe the biggest reason some have abandoned good hereneutics is because they have become friends with the world.They now let society or the culture dictate the meaning of the bible.So many of the seminaries today have adopted a relativistic approach to teaching the bible.That's why it is so crucial today that we have institutions like The Masters Seminary that teaches proper hermeneutics.I believe if we are to turn things around we must stop supporting these seminaries with a relativistic approach and start supporting the ones that teach properly.

#9  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Tuesday, February 02, 2010at 4:20 PM

I like a grammar and historical approach to Bible study. We need to be a bit broader than this, though. Matthew's use of the Old Testament went beyond grammar and history, using scripture in a way that is uncomfortable for a lot of evangelicals. Hebrews explores types and shadows.

We also have to be careful with a grammatical approach. I am on the mailing list of a retired classics professor (as in Greek and Hebrew) and chair at a state university. His concern is that in his opinion, the typical seminary graduate does not know Greek well enough to make the claims about Greek that many seminary graduates make. He did know of a few exceptions he had met. I have read his expositions where he debunks preacher's claims about Greek by citing actual quotes showing the actual usage in the Greek language does not support the claims. He had a paper from the Southern Baptists he was dealing with recently. Nevertheless, one can get some real insights from someone who knows Greek well and is familiar with the Septuigint and can pick up on references to it that are not obvious from translation in the NT.

#10  Posted by Ed Rudd  |  Tuesday, February 02, 2010at 5:00 PM

The sad fact is, men like their ears tickled, and preachers not truly versed by diligent Bible study and true dedication to expounding God's Word tempered by understanding the genuine weight of the task; will do nothing more than tickle people's ears. But, let's face it, the congregation in many churches runs the church. And the pastors they employ are just that- employees performing the tasks the congregation demands. The end result is blind following blind.

I have said that churches would probably be better served with this approach. When a church interviews a perspective pastor they should ask his ankle size. Then show him the concrete block he'll be chained too as a reminder of the great weight of the job he is being asked to do. Then set the chain and block right beside of the pulpit. The chain will then serve two purposes. Remind him of his responsibility and also keep him from wandering too far from the pulpit where his Bible is. If he is not willing to give you his ankle size then he can't have the job.

I'll take it one more step. Before someone proclaims they are called to preach they should first fashion their own block and chain and have no problem carrying it everwhere they go.

Silly? I know, but, teachers should really consider the gravity of their calling.

#11  Posted by Mike Sexton  |  Tuesday, February 02, 2010at 6:19 PM

Pretty sound consensus...the broader causes for both the lack of good hermeneutics and the abundance of bad hermeneutics are blatant ignorance and laziness. I think the only logical solutions possible are: 1. Pastors and teachers MUST regard the right division of the word as being more important than anything else in the church, as the word is the very foundation upon which all else is built; and 2. The people MUST purpose within their own hearts to seek after the word of God and make it a high priority, as much as physical food is for the physical body. Until they do, ignorance and laziness will remain prevalent. In short, we like it easy and cheap as free.

#12  Posted by Rick White  |  Tuesday, February 02, 2010at 6:48 PM

Link,

I think we need to be careful not to try to interpret scripture in the same way Matthew did.He was "moved by the Holy Spirit" (1 Peter 1:21) in ways that we aren't.So,yes I would not be comfortable at all attempting to interpret scripture like he did.Also, the grammatical/historical approach does not exclude types and shadows.We just must be sure we're not inserting our own private interpretation into the verse.

#13  Posted by Barry Koh  |  Tuesday, February 02, 2010at 7:19 PM

John MacArthur has set a very high standard in the preaching and articulation of the word, and of course his life is in conformity to what he preaches. But very few will measure up to or even come anywhere close to his preaching standard. The fact is everyone have their own strength and weaknesses and John M's strength is in expounding the word.

Jesus' command to pastors to feed His sheep entails not just in the area of expounding the word but in caring and ministering to hurts, emotional and physical hardship, and various needs of members. Unless he has good support team, the pastor will find less time and energy to research and excel in the exposition of the word or even spend time with his own family. Still regardless of the time they spend, not everyone is born to be top class bible scholar/teacher. John M has found his strength and allow God to use him for His service the world over through GTY website.

While I believe pastors must make some deligent effort to preach and expound the word correctly, I will be forgiving if he is not so sharp as to be able to expound every verse or word to a very high standard. The pertinent thing is that he preaches the same gospel the apostles preached, and uphold sound teachings and doctrines. Of course there are pastors that are more concerned about achieving their own dream of church growth and empire building than the word. Managers and CEOs will be a more appropriate name for such.

#14  Posted by Erik Hoffman  |  Tuesday, February 02, 2010at 7:33 PM

I second what Rick White said in post #12, but I'll take it a step further. We not only need to be careful not to take the liberties with Old Testament passages like some of the writers of the New Testament did, we simply don't have the authority to do so. It is presumptuous as best to think otherwise.

They were a special "breed," if you will, with all the authority of the living God behind them. What they wrote was God breathed and absolutely authoritative. This is not the case with us, nor with anyone who has lived since the close of the canon of scripture.

#15  Posted by Erik Hoffman  |  Tuesday, February 02, 2010at 7:38 PM

Sorry, I wish this blog had an "edit" feature. I meant to say, "presumptuous at best," rather than "as best."

#16  Posted by Djony Tanuwidjaja  |  Wednesday, February 03, 2010at 5:49 AM

I had a very shocking statement from someone from Charismatic fellow quoting James 3: 1 (Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.) According to him, by knowing more you will be judged more. This is really amazing out of context of bible reading and interpretation. This kind of mentally and attitude has been a norm in most Charismatic churches in my country. No wonder so many are deceived by bad doctrine, false teacher, etc.
#17  Posted by Ed Rudd  |  Wednesday, February 03, 2010at 6:11 AM

Rick and Erik, I couldn't agree more. We cannot overemphasize the importance of our not viewing the Scripture in a subjective manner. This subjective approach -no doubt- is behind most of the abuses seen in the superficial, materialistic, or emotional driven churches we see today. A subjective interpretive approach to scripture is deadly!

When God had my heart prepared to grasp this truth; I heard a sermon John preached on Romans 5:1. Seeing this verse from the two interpretive approaches- subjective vs. objective- makes all the difference in properly understanding what God was saying through Paul in this passage. Once grasping this truth, I took it to all those other verses I had used to construct my spiritual foundation and found I didn't have a foundation at all.

The objective truths found in scripture must be seen first, before we can experience any real subjective change through our Bible study. But, I'll also have to say this, that God placing within us a teachable heart, makes all the difference in our seeing and being able understanding these truths in the first place. He also places within us a willingness to comply, or obey the truths we see. God has to place within us a new mind- so to speak- one in tune with the Spirit of God. I ,therefore, can take no credit for even my understanding- making me solely a workmanship of God through His Spirit. Thank you God. For Your grace upon grace upon grace.

#18  Posted by Chuck Tuthill  |  Wednesday, February 03, 2010at 6:18 AM

Barry,

Good word. Thank you for stating this truth in many fewer words than I did.

The word lazy keeps coming up in posts and certainly laziness is an issue in some cases but I think this issue goes far deeper than laziness or grammar or syntax et all. The demands that are placed on pastors are many times impossible to meet.

Here is the job description. Mind you this is not on paper but the composite of the hearts within the pews.

Expound the scripture like the guys on the radio.

Visit everyone who is sick.

Visit all who visit the church.

Lead evangelistic outreaches.

Control the vagaries of worship music.

Lead in the financial matters of the church.

Shovel snow off the side walk. "Your there already, so you can do it."

Proof read the newsletter and bulletin.

Pray for every member of the church regularly.

Be a godly example of family life.

Attend the local events to be a face in the community, especially the sports of the teens within the church. "They need to know you care."

If possible be involved in some sort of community organization for the same reason.

Be a physical model for the men of the church.

This list goes on and on and on. Like the energizer bunny. All good things and in some respect all necessary things. But come on, now to hear lazy because the sermon is "shallow"?

Now to be clear: the church today does have ill prepared men in pulpits, every Sunday for that matter, however before we pick that stone we best ask ourselves if on the simplest point that was made from the pulpit; have I completely applied it? Furthermore have I offered myself sacrificially to the work of God so that preparations for the pulpit has not been hindered by my laziness, yes the guy in the pew?

Too long a response, sorry. God bless and keep these men who serve us week upon week.

#19  Posted by Don Sands  |  Wednesday, February 03, 2010at 10:43 AM

I agree that the congregation, and even the elders sometimes, don't understand the Scriptures concerning the role of the pastor. Good point.

That can lead to bad hermeneutics for sure.

The answer is for the teachers in the church to teach the role of pastors, who are gifts to the church (Eph. 4), and the roles of elders as well.

I like to say that the Lord has given the Body of Christ wonderfuls gifts in His pastors. And we need to receive them as a precious gift from our Lord, and encourage them to minister in the Word and prayer.

Surely they will have a full life within the Body of the Lord's people as well, but they will built up by the people to feed the people.

Jesus said to Peter, "Do you love Me, or do you love these?"

Peter said, "I love You Lord, You know I do!"

Jesus said, "Then feed and tend My sheep." And that's what Peter, an elder, pastor, Apostle, fisherman, fisher of men, sinner, and saint did.

He loved Christ first and foremost, and so then He loved the Savior's loved ones.

#20  Posted by Douglas Grogg  |  Wednesday, February 03, 2010at 11:23 AM

Chuck post #18,

What you are describing is not an assembly of believers, but rather, an assembly of unregenerate religious people. Christ gave pastor-teachers for the equipping of the saints that the saints might do the work of ministry. At the judgment of the nations where we see the separating of the sheep from the goats, notice that the sheep were doing the work of ministry. They were not even aware that what they were doing was anything that was noteworthy. It came from their heart, their very (new) nature if you will. Evangelism is not the “duty” of the pastor; it is the very nature of the saints (including the pastor). Christ warned the multitudes who were following Him of the cost of discipleship, “If anyone does not…he cannot be my disciple.”(Luke 14:25-27) Being a disciple is synonymous with being a Christian, see Acts 11:26.

If there are any regenerate believers within an assembly which you describe their only hope of maturing in the faith is for someone to boldly, accurately and faithfully feed them from the word of truth in answer to the prayer of our Master to our Father, “Sanctify them in the truth: Thy word is truth”.

The unregenerate people whom you describe will never become born again unless that imperishable seed of the living and abiding Word of God is preached to them and the Holy Spirit causes that very seed to “germinate”. You must be born again!

#21  Posted by Brian Jonson  |  Wednesday, February 03, 2010at 11:42 AM

I would love for John to give his thoughts and comments on the fast-growing "Christo-centric" hermeneutic that so many reformed evangelicals are adopting. Finding Jesus in every verse - taking Luke 24 (road to Emmaus) discussion way overboard such that every old testament character/story is ultimately about Christ.

This is essentially what Beale is doing as well as nearly all New Covenant theologians. It is worth addressing.

#22  Posted by Paul Young  |  Wednesday, February 03, 2010at 11:44 AM

I have said it before, and I'll say it again. Authorial intent is what we are looking for. Good hermeneutics is driven by a desire to discover the intent the author had for the text. That's why the grammatical/historical approach is the only correct way to interpret Scripture. The meaning of the Scripture does not change from generation to generation, only the application. Therefore, the meaning the author intended for the first readers is the same meaning for today. That's why we must carefully study the words of the text, because the author's meaning is wrapped up in the words he used and the way he used them.

#23  Posted by Erik Hoffman  |  Wednesday, February 03, 2010at 12:16 PM

Regarding #22

Amen! Bizarre teachings can always be traced back to this.

The importance of authorial intent escapes the attention of even fair-minded Charismatics. I know this firsthand and intimately. I have friends who are steeped in Charisma, and no matter what plain, obvious truth I present to them, they continue to plug their ears and parrot the same out of context scriptures over and over, ad nauseum. It goes in one ear and out the other without taking root.

Jesus said, “Let these words sink into your ears.” Unfortunately, with many Charismatics, it blows right through.

I've come near to the conclusion that it is a futile effort, yet I continue to reason the truth with them. I love them so dearly, but they simply refuse to see the importance of proper hermeneutics.

For example, when I asked them what their biblical basis is for thinking that they are able to walk in the miraculous, (which they don't, by the way. They'll preach it vociferously, but the never actually perform any miraculous acts), they say “The same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in me, bless God! Whatever Jesus did, I can do!” Then I take them to the scripture, Romans 8:11, and show them that it really says, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” I explain that a simple, plain reading of the text says that since the same Holy Spirit lives in us that raised Jesus from the dead, that we, also, can expect that we will be raised from the dead and have eternal life. They then argue that I am being far too picky with the text, suggesting that I may have some religious strongholds that need to be broken, and around and around it goes.

It is frustrating, to say the least.

#24  Posted by Chuck Tuthill  |  Wednesday, February 03, 2010at 1:06 PM

Douglas #20,

Well, now we have that cleared up. "What you are describing is not an assembly of believers, but rather, an assembly of unregenerate religious people."

Is the 70 year old couple concerned about the worship songs "unregenerate"?

Is the 35 year old couple that asks the pastor to go to their kid's game "unregenerate"?

Is the 50 year old man in the hospital desiring the pastor to visit an "unregenerate"?

Is the 50 year old man listening to Pastor John on the radio wanting his pastor to preach like that "unregenerate"?

Is the church secretary asking the pastor to proofread the bulletin "unregenerate"?

I beg to differ. Even to the point of saying be careful who you assume are unregenerate. The issues that confront pastors come from so many different angles and yes some do come from "unregenerate" souls within the walls of the church. If only we could just blame it all on the "unregenerate". Paul never did this in 1 Corinthians as he dealt with much greater malfunctions than the ones I listed. Most times however the pastor is feeling the pull from well meaning believers but believers who do not understand the pressures they are exerting. My purpose for this post was to perhaps cause some of those well meaning souls to pause and reflect on what the purpose of their pastor is.

If I were a member at Grace Church I would love to have Pastor John visit me when I am sick, be at one of my son's games and any number of other items but I would know his role within the church body. He is to preach the word. Something tells me that even in Grace Church from time to time there is a rub or two concerning this matter. Maybe not.

My point remains a simple one: jump in people and help and you will find, most times, that the pastor's hermeneutical skills will improve greatly.

#25  Posted by Corey Fleig  |  Wednesday, February 03, 2010at 2:37 PM

Great Comments everyone! I think it would be helpful to think about what Chuck Tuthill has been trying to get across to all of us. I had the unique opportunity in my 20s to travel with a music group and visit churches every Sunday, for 4 years. We selected the church based solely on the name of the church in the yellow pages, and we did it on purpose - to learn what's going on out there in the real world. Many congregations have great, even awesome people, but their theology is so messed up because the leadership doesn't pursue proper studies. Sure, congregations might want to try and change things, and that's another issue, but by and large the preacher didn't make proper study his highest goal. Who knows why. Some preachers only work 10 hours a week at church, and the rest of the time sell shoes. Some churches are so small, while others, even though big, are caught up in the influences of surrounding ideas. One guy I'm thinking of is a 2009 Oral Roberts grad, who thinks MacArthur takes things way too out of context. Now, where did he learn that? My guess is it was his professors. And this guy is not in an environment to know what the counter-arguments are, so its not laziness in this case, its part of our fallen world. Solution? I sure hope Master's Seminary always makes it their highest priority to send out men to other states, other countries, and yes - other denominations, if possible. I fully realize my church (Grace Church, Sun Valley) is incredibly unique. I'm desperate for the day when that's not the case. I'd love to see Grace Churches all over. By the way, we're not "MacArthurites," as JP Moreland would have us think. There are just a lot of people who want the Bible taught supremely. That's just not the case in most, and I mean most, other places. We're all sinners. Most of us don't get it. A wise philosopher once said, "We're all bozos on this bus!"

#26  Posted by Chuck Tuthill  |  Wednesday, February 03, 2010at 4:10 PM

Corey,

Great comment as well.

As you wrote from your experience, so do I and I am speaking of doctrinally sound pastors. I have watched and participated in ministry with pastors who are bombarded by believers with all their expectations. So many of those expectations on the surface sound so good and elder boards meet and discuss these new and great ideas. Unfortunately a few months down the road the pastor is doing the majority of this new work. Is the pastor to blame? Of course but the pressure is immense to fill the void they didn't ask for. Yes they should stand up and resist the temptation to study less or jump into a canned sermon series for the sake of time but some do not for this reason and their hermeneutics suffers. The sin of people pleasing? Yes.

The pastors that I know personally are all sound and very much committed to proper exposition of the scriptures and they are pressed on every side. Ministry is hard work that is not for the faint of heart.

#27  Posted by Barry Koh  |  Wednesday, February 03, 2010at 6:18 PM

Douglas ( #20 ), it is a good to be reminded that not many churches or congregation are of the elite kind with the best of leaders, teachers and other talents and blessings. It is true some pastors are really not called to the ministry and should think of doing something else but it is also a reality that there are many who gave their lives to God and made many personal sacrifices but are hard pressed on all sides in doing the work of the ministry. Would it not be an objective of the ministry of GTY to help out and alleviate the shortcomings in the body of Christ ie in the area of teachings. I feel that is the role of GTY.

Praise God for John M and GTY but don't be hasty to use their high standard to measure or judge a not so elite, not so 'regenerated' congregation or their pastors. Carelessly declaring one sheep and the other goats, is spiritual elitism. Jesus is the good shepherd and his activities and ministry would be good for all pastors (or his team ) to emulate. He spent time preaching as well as ministering to needs. He will even leave the 99 sheep and go search for just one lost one. Some pastors strength is teaching and preaching, some in compassion and other qualities. But ALL should be directed to the furtherance of the gospel and to the glory of God.

#28  Posted by Douglas Grogg  |  Wednesday, February 03, 2010at 10:50 PM

Barry (#27), I think you missed my point. I am not at all suggesting that all pastors should be expected to attain to the level of accuracy or proficiency as John MacArthur, though we all should hold one another to the same level of faithfulness. There is a difference.

My comments are in regards to those who profess themselves to be Christians. If they are in fact regenerate but not attaining to a level of sanctification that they should, then the answer is the same. Boldly, accurately, and faithfully feed them from the word of truth in answer to the prayer of our Master to our Father, “Sanctify them in the truth: Thy word is truth.” Without holiness (sanctification) no one will see God. Sanctification in the life of a Christian is not optional!

I am not “using their high standard to measure or judge a not so elite, not so ‘regenerated’ congregation”. Christ sets that standard. Christ warned the multitudes who were following Him of the cost of discipleship, “If anyone does not… he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:25-27) Being a disciple is synonymous with being a Christian, see Acts 11:26. “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it.” “For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”(Matt 16:24-26)

#29  Posted by Barry Koh  |  Thursday, February 04, 2010at 3:40 AM

Hi Douglas,

I don't think I miss the point. Your statement about the unregenerated church was in reply to Chuck's comment in # 18. You fail to appreciate some real problems pastors face particularly in smaller churches, which Chuck described. Every church has a different background and has a different set of problems. Therefore, it's presumptious to just hastily paint them as unregenerated lot or not attaining a "level' of santification. Yes, it's Jesus who sets the standard of discipleship, and its Him who will understand what's going on, and its Him who will be the best judge. For us, we need to understand those who desires the pastors time, visit and attention. And that time spent can't be inferior to time spent in research and preparing a high standard sermon and certainly not an indication of laziness. In that context I wrote that we should not be expecting every pastor to excel in exposition and articulation of the word, and blame as laziness if he can't measure up to the high standards ( of GC) we might have been used to, or hastily and presumptiously call the people unregenerated.

#30  Posted by Paul Young  |  Thursday, February 04, 2010at 4:15 AM

I am the pastor of one of those smaller churches some have been speaking of. No one knows better than me the reality of being pulled in all directions and having to do many things that aren't technically your job. As the only full-time staff that is just the way it is. However, that is absolutely NOT an excuse for poor preaching. If we as preachers fail to do our job in the pulpit, it makes no difference what else we did well, we have failed in our primary responsibility. Pressures of the job are never an excuse for poor hermeneutics. Sometimes you have to let the good thing go so you can devote yourself to the best thing. But I can tell you from experience, when you deliever the Word of God with depth and accuracy and passion, week in and week out, the people will learn to accept that it takes much time and effort. Listen, I live every day in this world you have been theorizing about. You can devote the time and energy necessary to use good hermeneutics. But you have to make it a priority. I know an awful lot of small church pastors. And the two biggest problems I see that contribute to poor preaching are, 1. A faulty theology of preaching, or a failure to understand what preaching is really supposed to be; 2. An unwillingness to do the hard work necessary to produce in depth expositions. And a close third would probably be that many simply do not know the principles of good hermeneutics, in other words they don't really know how to study as they should.

#31  Posted by Chuck Tuthill  |  Thursday, February 04, 2010at 4:57 AM

Paul #30,

Praise God for your testimony.

It is for men like you I have a burden. I have several pastor friends who are in the same fight you are in and their responses I believe would all be very similar to yours. Devoted to His word and to its proclamation and disciplined in the work of the body.

I will pray for you as my experience with my brothers is that they are often overworked, underappreciated, tired, sometimes feeling all alone like Ezekiel, desiring more time with family and so on.

"You, however, must continue in the things you have learned and are confident about. You know who taught you and how from infancy you have known the holy writings, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:14-17

#32  Posted by Paul Young  |  Thursday, February 04, 2010at 5:31 AM

Chuck,

Thanks for the encouragement. I assure you at times I feel all of those things. I need to say, however, that I have friends who pastor larger churches. They are just as busy. The tasks pulling at them are just of a different sort. Good hermeneutics takes a commitment for any pastor. I thank God for men with a heart like yours.

#33  Posted by Ed Rudd  |  Thursday, February 04, 2010at 6:02 AM

Question? What's the purpose of an apple tree?

I appreciate what you are saying Paul. Unfortunately, the mindset of many parishioners is for a pastor to fill a perceived void in the church of waiting tables, so to speak. I'm not trivializing visiting the sick, or counseling people. But, many people simply see the pastor as an employee who gets paid to marry 'em, to bury 'em and to carry 'em. Hermeneutics - even proper hermeneutics mean little to these kind of people.

Even though the main responsibility of the pastor is the spiritual welfare of the flock, there are some sheep who don't see themselves as in need spiritually. This goes back to your second point. A lazy approach is rooted sometimes in a "what's the use" attitude that comes with having to deal with clicks and non spiritually minded people who have a voice in many churches. Pastors can't have an unrealistic view of their flock as only being wheat with no tares. Pastors will encounter opposition to the truth.

Faulty theology goes without saying as the root of poor hermeneutics. Having an improper view of God, or Christ, or sin will automatically skew ones view of grace, and love, and everything else spiritually discerned. Ultimately, the most important place faulty theology effects is in the area of what it really means to be a Christian. Addressing this issue and Biblically defining what it means to be a Christian is one thing Grace To You Ministries really focuses on, and I thank God for that.

Now , back to my question- what's the purpose of an apple tree? If your answer is to produce apples you are partially right. Ultimately, the purpose of an apple tree is to produce more apple trees. I know, to get the new apple tree you have to first make apples, but, the end goal must be more apple trees. Many pastors get so involved in the present and the varied pull of the "apples" they loose sight of what the real goal is. Building up the kingdom of God. Even while showing compassion to hurting people we can't forget the ultimate goal.

I like a teaching by Ray Comfort where a Doctor tells his young patent ,"I know that splinter you have hurts, son, but, you can see it. What you can't see is a hole you have in your neck that will kill you- I have to first work on the hole before I look at the splinter." Many in churches I've attended focus on their splinters and can't see the hole in their neck. They spend a lot of time trying to get the pastor to pull their splinter out. And unfortunately, many pastors think that's really what they were hired to do.

#34  Posted by Paul Young  |  Thursday, February 04, 2010at 6:32 AM

Ed (comment #33),

You fail to see my point. No pastor can blame his poor hermeneutics on his congregation, whether they be regenerate or not. Do you interpret the Bible differently based on the listeners? Absolutely not! I know without any real doubt that there are many unregenerate in my congregation. But, I do not let their expectations of me or what I should be doing influence my hermeneutics or commitment to a proper study of Scripture. The congregation's theology has absolutely nothing to do with the hermeneutics of the pastor, unless he allows it to influence him. I know all about opposition to the truth. I have much first hand experience. What proper hermeneutics means to ME is the primary issue, not what it means to the congregation. Any pastor who lets his congregation determine his hermeneutics needs to get out of the ministry. By the way, an apple tree has absolutely no conscious desire whatsoever to produce more apple trees. Producing more apple trees is the natural byproduct of a healthy apple tree doing what it is supposed to do, make alot of apples. I understand what you are saying about the mindset of many parishoners. I would agree that many are probably unregenerate. But my hermeneutics is a seperate issue. My hermeneutics are based on my convictions about the Bible, not my convictions about my listeners.

#35  Posted by Chuck Tuthill  |  Thursday, February 04, 2010at 9:22 AM

What's the purpose of an apple tree? So i can eat apples.

"Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food" Genesis 2:9

Sorry Ed, that's what came to my mind. I love apples.

#36  Posted by Ed Rudd  |  Thursday, February 04, 2010at 11:18 AM

Well said Paul, but I was - in my own feeble way- agreeing with your post. I was simply making an observation not picking your post apart. I apologize if my poor communication skills have once again reared their ugly head. My post wasn't aimed at you, just to you.

The Bible speaks for itself when interpreted properly. And I agree, there is no excuse for poor hermeneutics whether it be verses taken out of context, or spiritualizing scripture, Christocentric interpretation or just plain lazy study habits. It's not that I missed the point, I was just pointing out that there are churches out there that won't stand for the truth. I have - and maybe you have too- seen preachers ran off because they wouldn't conform to the dictates of the congregation; that's unbelievably sad!! I would rather be ran off than stay and compromise the truth- and by your post, I believe you would too. The best some pastors can hope for is a Berean church, I was just pointing out that Thessalonican churches are still out there that simply won't stand for the truth. And my little apple tree analogy was just pointing out preachers and churches- not necessarily you or yours - who lose sight of the bigger picture and focus on the splinters instead of the real problems stunting their churches growth. No matter if they lose it by ignorance- their fault- or compromise - still their fault.

uummm....Chuck..........apples!!

#37  Posted by Chuck Tuthill  |  Thursday, February 04, 2010at 12:20 PM

The apple analogy is intriguing in many ways. If God's infinite purpose is to have that seed get into the ground and produce another fruit producing tree. What means does He use? He makes the apple attractive and delicious to the animals that consume it. Then when consumed, well you get the rest.

Perhaps this is silly way to understand a little why some (I include myself, for I have erred also), jump in and display our fallen nature. The fruit of hermeneutics, in this case, just isn't sweet enough, thus candy apples. Put a sweet worldly coat around it and then people will really want those apples. Our foolish sinful minds think we can improve on what the Eternal King has said. It causes us to think that somehow we have made those sweet apples of hermeneutics, somehow now more than they were before we got involved.

Oh' the regret at the Bema seat for all that think somehow God needed a hand or didn't care about the apples at all.

#38  Posted by Ed Rudd  |  Thursday, February 04, 2010at 1:12 PM

To those that are without; the truth is a worm they find in their golden delicious. But, those that are within; the apple tastes like a granny smith in the mouth but goes down like apple pie.

#39  Posted by Chuck Tuthill  |  Thursday, February 04, 2010at 1:16 PM

LOL

#40  Posted by Paul Young  |  Thursday, February 04, 2010at 2:48 PM

Chuck, After my last post I thought about what you were saying and decided we are saying the same thing!

#41  Posted by Brad Pape  |  Thursday, February 04, 2010at 5:37 PM

Q: Why do so few evangelicals today practice good hermeneutics?

A: Good hermeneutics shows that was most evangelicals are doing and teaching is not what Jesus taught.

Q: How do we get ourselves and our fellow evangelicals back on track?

A: Pray. 2 Timothy 2:7 says "Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.". Stop trying to understand the Bible withouth the Holy Spirit.

#42  Posted by Chuck Tuthill  |  Friday, February 05, 2010at 4:25 AM

Paul,

Praying for you this morning. Stay pure and hold the banner of the gospel high.

#43  Posted by Patrick Nolen  |  Friday, February 05, 2010at 8:23 AM

Why do so few evangelicals today practice good hermeneutics because sound biblical preaching will not make you popular. I am a young minister in the African American church tradition where they have bought into entertainment instead of edification. We no longer want "what's good" but rather "what sounds good". The fastest way to popularity in preaching circles among African Americans is how you say what you say regardless of its TRUTH! In this same circle there is a bad hermeneutic being used. It approaches the scripture with a mystical or less than literal view of the text never keeping in step with the surrounding verses or the book that it is contained in. I am often saddened at what I hear and see. I pray that God sends a modern day Great Awakening to force us to see that God is not some cosmic sugar daddy but rather The One and Only True God whom we should respect and worship through SOUND DOCTRINE. Please pray for me!

#44  Posted by Brad Pape  |  Friday, February 05, 2010at 6:59 PM

Comment deleted by administrator.
#45  Posted by Douglas Grogg  |  Saturday, February 06, 2010at 4:10 PM

Patrick,

You are not alone, what you are witnessing is occurring in every culture all around the globe. In the Great Awakening George Whitefield warned his listeners “You must be born again”. Charles Finney denied the necessity of the new birth. The Biblical teachings regarding the true marks of regeneration must be loudly proclaimed. MacArthur’s series on the Beatitudes would be quite helpful. In appendix 3 of “Ashamed of the Gospel” we see a good example of what it is to not be ashamed of the gospel. Study to know and understand the doctrines of grace. For your own edification saturate your mind with the writings of the puritans and join in their pursuit of holiness. You can read or download some of their writings free of charge on the internet. I shall endeavor to keep your name before the Throne of Grace. Faithful and true is the One who has called us. “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” I Corinthians 15:58

#46  Posted by Bill Ziegler  |  Monday, February 08, 2010at 5:10 AM

Curious as to perspectives here as yesterday in Sunday School class the teacher did what he called, "Open Topic Sunday" which in the handout was what I'd call some pretty bad hermeneutics. This led others in the classroom to go off on tangents into more "out there biblical interpretations" one even denied grace in the old testament. At that point I objected somewhat but was slightly rebuffed back by the class leader and another classmate who had helped the class leader in preparing the handout. As I had recently studied this same passage in scripture I open my spiral notebook to my notes from six weeks ago (I use a 5 subject spiral for journaling my scripture study). My study method is read the passage in a couple versions a couple times, focus on key word usage using Strong's, research historical aspects, see what Dr. Mac has on the passage, look at Spurgeon, Campbell and Wiersbe's sermon series for commentary. Anyway the other classmate who basically put the handout together for the teacher now asked me to just read my word study and historical perspective notes which pretty much refuted the bad hermeneutics on the handout.

I live in the shadow of one of the largest seminaries in the SBC. The class has a rather large contingent from the seminary (students and staff); the handout was prepared by one. They live for "Open Topic" stuff. Twenty years ago when I first transferred here for my job with IBM and went to a local church I was asked by the current Youth Minister to take over as he had just graduated and was going home to another state back to his home church as an Associate Minister. While still being employed at IBM three years later the local folks (there is a line of separation between locals and the seminary whether anyone wants to admit it or not) in the church would come up to me and ask, "Bill, when are you graduating; i.e. moving on?" I'd usually just smile and say, "I'm actually a working stiff like you and have a job and don't go to the seminary." The availability of so many new students annually leaves the local churches a ready supply of folks to fill pulpits, associates and youth leaders position that the turnover in some of the smaller churches approachs what I'd call turnover in retail trade. It's almost like a sublime pyshco game is going on where the new students think God's going to use them to change this local small church and the old line church members know they can turn them out and call for a replacement as easy as just dialing a number.

One of my things is to ask newer students lately are these simple questions when first meeting them. "So you got the call?" 100% will respond with Yes. Then I ask, "since you've gotten here have you notice anyone else who got the call but it might be a wrong number and they just didn't know it?" 100% all respond, Yes!

What's the test for seminary students as to whether they belong there in the first place? The check clears in admission? Is bad hermeneutics a result of no accountability whether in leadership or laity?

#47  Posted by Raymond Sia  |  Monday, February 08, 2010at 5:54 PM

This is true even here in my country. I heard many preachers preaching with bad hermeneutics. I don't really know what's the main reason. Maybe some due to laziness or maybe some of them graduated in Bible Colleges which lacks materials to prepare them properly for the vocation but all these resulted to shallow Bible interpretation and led to shallow Christianity due to the fact that even the gospel was not properly and clearly preached. Easy-believism and decisionism is rampant due to bad hermeneutics.

#48  Posted by Joanne Beange  |  Monday, February 08, 2010at 7:00 PM

Many pastors are too busy leading their churches in the latest fad and in doing good deeds that in depth bible study is a very low priority. Rather they resort to quoting authors of books who promote the fads rather than teach from the Word. We have a person in our home bible study group who joined because his church (of 800)did not have a study he could go to. It's pretty sad.