Are you confused about my views regarding discernment ministries and blogs? If so, I really can’t blame you. Sometimes I probably appear to be talking out of both sides of my mouth, criticizing discernment ministries that capitalize on naming false teachers in one post and then exposing a false teacher in the next. “Which is it, DebbieLynne?” you may ask.
Yeah, I get it. Evangelicals flock to popular false teachers because few pastors identify these false teachers clearly. Furthermore, the leaders of far too many women’s “Bible” study groups use material from evangelical celebrities who routinely mishandle God’s Word. Certainly, we need to be deeply concerned.
John MacArthur often says that the biggest problem in the church today is the incredible lack of discernment. Even churches with solid pastors who rightly handle the Word of God have people who listen to radio teachers known for compromising truth. Women in doctrinally sound churches persist in claiming that God spoke to them personally.
So I definitely see the need for discernment bloggers. In fact, the Lord used several discernment blogs to Continue reading
Longtime readers have read this story before, but I want to tell it again in a slightly different context. In my freshman year of college, I took a Shakespeare class.
My Shakespeare professor scowled as I told him what the passage he’d set before our class meant to me personally. He found my comment entirely too subjective, and therefore not acceptable in the context of scholarly discussion. I tried to appeal to a 1974 mindset by explaining that my Bible Study group used that method to interpret Scripture, but he wouldn’t consider such a perspective. “What matters is not what what the passage says to you,” he explained, “but what Shakespeare intended when he wrote the play.”
That incident sobered me, teaching me one of the most important lessons in my Christian life. All too often, professing Christians read the Bible with the expectation that they can arrive at a personal, subjective interpretation. Just as I showed disrespect to Shakespeare by presuming that I could make his plays and sonnets say whatever I imagined them to say, so we show disrespect to the Holy Spirit by conforming His Word to our personal experiences and biases.
What you and I think Scripture says to us personally may be vastly different from what the Lord intended when His Spirit inspired the Old and New Testament writers to record His Word. We dare not treat it like a piece of putty that we can stretch and mold according to our preferences and ideas.
19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. ~~2 Peter 1:19-21 (ESV)
So, interpreting God’s Word isn’t determined by our subjective thoughts and opinions. What we think it says must be subordinated to what the Holy Spirit purposes it to mean.
Having said that, reading and obeying the Bible requires us to think Biblically. Rather than viewing verses as isolated fragments, we need understand Scripture as a whole. Interpreting Scripture, it turns out, takes the same kind of analytical thought that I learned to utilize in studying literature and art.
My Shakespeare professor taught me to analyze a play’s passage by examining its use of language, its historical context and (more importantly) to the context of the play itself. Additionally, it helped to study how people used certain words in 16th Century England, as well as knowing some biographical information about The Bard himself. Finally, familiarity with literary history offered insight.
Understanding Shakespeare’s intent, in other words, took work. But it could be done. And I had to do the same work in studying Homer, Virgil, Malory, Chaucer, Donne, Byron, Browning, Frost and all the writers in between. In art history, I had to do the same with Leonardo, Michelangelo and Carravargio.
How much more should Christians study Scripture in order to understand what the Lord says through it. Engaging our minds is mandatory in order to rightly understand God’s Word. As I’ll show you in my next blog post, however, a large number of evangelicals fail to use their minds in talking about God.
Imposing your opinions on Scripture is infinitely worse than imposing them on a few Shakespearean couplets. But perhaps we make such impositions precisely because we don’t bother to think carefully about what we read. It doesn’t matter what we think any given verse means to us personally, but it matters a great deal that we think carefully about what God’s Word really means.
From November 1, 2016 to October 31, 2017 I blogged every Tuesday about the Protestant Reformation in anticipation of its 500th anniversary. Whether or not readers appreciated that series, I believed they needed to understand the Reformation’s ties to Biblical discernment. The 16th Century Reformers indeed set the standard for discernment ministry, so they have much to teach 21st Century evangelicals. And several of my Tuesday posts made that connection.
When October 31, 2017 had come and gone, I succumbed to the temptation to put the Reformation on the back burner in favor of writing Continue reading
As a child, I learned that I could most easily get in trouble by using my disability as an excuse for my failings. And I definitely advocate teaching that principle to any child with a disability. But since I don’t have a dog to eat my homework, I see no alternative to playing the disability card in explaining why I can’t remember even one of those great ideas I had for a blog post.
The blogging experts advise bloggers to jot down ideas when they come to us. Good advice for people who can use their hands. As a Cerebral Palsy quadriplegic, I can’t hold a pen, however.
Yes, John’s more than happy to jot down blogging ideas for me. Occasionally he has done that very thing, and I appreciate him for it! But more often than not, Continue reading
Looking at how believers should handle personal sin, Mike Ratliff of Possessing the Treasure rhetorically asks, Do genuine Christians need to confess their sins and seek forgiveness and cleansing? You undoubtedly know the short answer, but Ratliff provides Scriptural substantiation for that answer.
As happens every October, Reformed writers turn their attention to the 16th Century. You’ll see plenty of articles about Luther and Calvin, which makes Steven J. Lawson’s Zurich Revolutionary: Ulrich Zwingli so refreshing. You can find this article on the Ligonier blog.
Leslie A, in Growing 4 Life, passionately declares I’m Not the One Who Moved. She addresses quite a few problems in present-day evangelicalism, rightly tracing them back to an abandonment of three of the five Solas.
As the owner of Berean Research, Amy Spreeman is Holding On to Scripture as she reevaluates the role and implementation of discernment ministry. Join me in praying for Amy and her blogging partner Marsha West as they go through this season of searching God’s Word for wisdom.
Complementing Amy’s post, SlimJim of The Domain for Truth writes Beyond cage stage: Beware of being a Nurmagomedov rage phase Calvinist/Apologist. Given the angry climate on social media these days, all of us could probably benefit from his counsel.
I’m happy to share Who will separate us from the love of Christ? by Mike Ratliff. Although I’ve already placed an article of his in this edition of Saturday Sampler, the Perseverance of the Saints is taught so seldom that I adamantly believe as many people as possible need exposure to this encouraging doctrine.
C.T. Adams of Faith Contender answers a question about Universal Consciousness with a compelling argument for loving God with our minds.
Reflecting on an encounter she had with morning glories, Elizabeth Prata reprises Why can’t they see she’s a false teacher? One reason: “Deception by investment” in The End Time. If you’ve ever experienced backlash for warning someone about a popular teacher, this essay will encourage you.
History really doesn’t have to be boring. And even church history can include a little romance. Don’t believe me? Then check out Simonetta Carr’s Anne Bohemia and her Multilingual Scriptures on Place for Truth and prepare to enjoy a wonderful love story. As an added bonus, you’ll learn some lesser known tidbits about things leading up to the Reformation.
Earlier today I scrolled through some posts on a discernment blog that, in times past, I highly respected. Other bloggers that I regard as sound recommend this blog publicly, thereby implying that it’s a standard in discernment blogs.
For the second week in a row, however, this blog has favorably linked to another self-proclaimed discernment blog that (if I may be so blunt) frequently slanders other ministries in the name of discernment. Both blogs cause me to wonder Continue reading