Thursday, May 18, 2017

Context Replacement

One of the biggest exegetical fallacies committed by those seeking to support their theological paradigms is that of context replacement. If one needs a word used in a particular text to refer to something other than what it refers to in its context, he must give it another context with new referents. The interpreter will construct a new context for a passage, verse, or word by piecing together other texts of scripture, speculative background material, and his or her own reasoning and then replace the existing context with the reconstructed one. What this practice does is allow the interpreter to make the passage appear to say what he wants it to say, whether supporting his paradigm or simply allowing a passage that contradicts his paradigm in its current context to be consistent with it. Since context determines the meaning of the words used, this has the power of completely changing the text to say something different, and even the exact opposite, of what it originally said.

For instance, if I were to take a simple statement from a reading book, “the cat sat on a hat,” and give it a different context, I can make it say anything I want. I can do this by saying something like, “the word ‘cat’ was often used at the time period this book was made to refer to Sammy Davis Jr. He was ‘the cat’, and often used the phrase in reference to others and himself. The phrase, likely therefore, refers to him. The phrase “to sit on something” often meant to conceal something, as in the phrase, ‘to sit on a story’. The word ‘hat’, of course, often referred to one who played many roles in life, as in the phrase ‘he wore many hats’. This context, then, tells us that this sentence should be understood as, ‘Sammy Davis Jr. concealed the fact that he had diverse talents in life’.

The context, however, existing in pictures in the book, tells us that this is referring to a literal cat sitting on a literal hat. What I must do is ignore that context and replace it with the reconstructed one above. This happens quite a bit with lay interpreters of the Bible. In fact, it is the very reason that massive books, and even series of books, articles, and Youtube videos must be created to convince others of a reconstructed interpretation of a single passage. Pages upon pages, volume upon volume, video after video, consisting of all sorts of “context” from other texts and the interpreter’s own surmising, are created before he ever touches the text at hand. This happens because the interpreter must construct the context he is using from somewhere other than the actual text in front of him if he is to change what the text seems clearly to say in its actual context. Authorial intent is bypassed and the interpreter can now make the text say anything he wants it to say. This is precisely why it is called eisegesis. The interpreter is pouring a context into the text in order to reinterpret it. What he is essentially doing is rewriting the text by supplying another context for it. 

This is why people often think the Bible can be used to justify any position. It's not that it actually can be interpreted to support any position from a linguistically responsible standpoint. It's just that, as any piece of literature or any type of speech whatsoever, its context can be ignored and twisted by context replacement. Force someone to stay on the text without reaching for a fabricated context, however, and the many interpretations one can get out of a single text reduce quite drastically. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Inclusivism and the Postmodern Church

I think the real reason the postmodern church so easily accepts things like inclusivism, i.e., the idea that people can be saved outside of receiving the explicit gospel, is because it is essentially made up of Christless Christianity.

What inclusivism essentially argues is that one can be allied to Christ, not by receiving Him as Lord and King, and thereby cognitively receiving His death and resurrection as punishment of their sins and reward of salvation, but by doing the things that Christ commanded ("love your neighbor" etc.).

The problem is that "neighbor" means fellow covenant member, and we are to love them because they represent Christ and we love Christ. Explicitly.

Another problem is that this is a works-based system, where I become united to Christ, not by faith/confessional allegiance to Him, but by my works. This has the cart before the horse. One is first transformed and united to Christ, THEN he obeys Christ by loving others who are in Christ who represent Him, etc.

Again, it's simply bad theology and ethics that stem from bad exegesis that leads to this sort of Christless Christianity, where I follow Jesus by being loving (according to my own definition of love), rather than I follow Jesus by faith working through love.

Essentially, all of these churches removing Christ as the center of morality and love are setting people up to adopt inclusivism, universalism, etc.

All Dogs Don't Go to Heaven

One of the symbols of an unbeliever in Scripture is that of a dog. The dog, throughout the Bible, is seen as a mangy creature that scavenges off of society, living to please itself rather than contribute anything worthwhile to the lives of others. It is an outcast animal because of this behavior. Hence, those outside the covenant of God, rejected by God, are described as dogs.

It's interesting to read that the "Christian" blogger, Glennon Melton, a Rob Bell protégé, who divorced her husband and took up an affair with another woman, has now married that other woman. Of course, the world loves this; but I went onto her blog in order to read her theology from years ago on up to today, and what fascinates me is the ability to claim that one is a Christian because she somehow incorporates the name "Jesus" into her theology. We really do live in the postmodern garbage dump of ideas today. Her Jesus has nothing to do with the Jesus of the Bible. Her theology and ethics are completely divorced from any understanding of the biblical witness. It's clear that she has the same decontextualized understanding of shalom as Rob Bell does. Shalom is an ordering of all things, including one's sexuality, which would exclude all disordered sexual activity, like homosexuality. Order and disorder in the Bible have to do with what creates and preserves covenant human life. Homosexuality does not create human life. It is disordered. It is the opposite of shalom. Ironic, isn't it?

Yet, this progressive secular humanism that continually wants to identify itself as "Christian" sees order in terms of gender equality and the acceptance of what the Bible considers sexual immorality. In other words, we have a conflict of theology and ethics between real Christianity and this counterfeit.

I read a recent blogpost where progressives try to argue that progressive Christianity is all about placing orthopraxis above orthodoxy, but this is as shallow and dimwitted as one can get. Liberal "Christianity" doesn't place orthopraxis above orthodoxy because Christian orthopraxis logically comes from orthodoxy. What is clear is that liberals are actually attempting to place their orthopraxy over that of Christianity's biblical and historic orthopraxis. What this ends up being is simply an attempt to slip in the theological assumptions of liberalism that reject the historic and biblical faith by presenting itself as the ultimate Christian ethic of love. Talk about wolves in sheep's clothing. How about hate in love's clothing? After all, why bother with all of that debate about what is true and good if you can just throw out anything in the Bible and historic Christianity that you don't like as unloving? With one big swoop of an accusation, you can ride out an entire life of rebellion by saying that you're really just loving. You can undermine the entire exclusivity of the faith by saying that you're really just coming into a deeper understanding of love. So, really, liberalism is just love. No need to examine that claim any further. If you do, you're not being loving.

I find it humorous actually that whenever someone wants to engage in sexual immorality, something that rejects the glory of God in the act (a hateful move toward Him), rejects the symbolism of Christ and the Church in the act (a hateful act toward Christ and the gospel), denies the creation of human life (a hateful move toward children), and corrupts the entire community in its thinking of sex as purely man-centered and pleasure-centered, whether in terms of sensory or romantic fulfillment (a hateful move toward all those involved), as loving. It's pretty much nothing but hate. Hey Everyone, didn't you know, my hedonism is actually just my expression of love. LOL. Yes, uh, self love. And not even love for the self in the long run, as the Scripture states, the one who partakes in sexual immorality destroys himself both now and in the judgment to come.

But what I really want to say is that the Bible indicates that this acceptance of sexual disorder is a result of rejecting God's FULL revelation of Himself in the Bible. Romans 1 seems very clear that this acceptance is the manifestation of the wrath of God upon the individual and culture right now. If one wants to know whether he is a Christian in right standing with God, who is in submission to His revelation, he only need look at whether he justifies or condemns sexual immorality. I say, "justifies or condemns" because I am not arguing that if you are a Christian you will not struggle with these things. I am saying that the acceptance and even unrepentant practice of these things, i.e., seeking to justify the practice of these things, is one of the primary indicators that the individual is worshiping a false god and is not in submission to the true God.

When I read her blog from years ago, I see a false god, a false Jesus, a false gospel, etc., and all the bad ethics that stem forth from false religion/paganism. There is no real Christ in her "Christianity." Why would one think there was any real Christian ethic of true love in it either? I'm just waiting for the day when the world will argue that pedophilia and bestiality are just expressions of love too. Hey, you don't like those things? Well, you're just a staunch fundamentalist. Love wins. It's the empty rhetoric of the show, "Sister Wives." "Love should be multiplied, not divided." Do you hear that women? All those men committing adultery on you are just spreading their love.

Now, what would give people the impression that God loved in some sort of unconditional, all accepting of our rebellion, manner? What seems to be the center of all of this is antinomianism. It's why I think it is the biggest heresy of our time. This idea that grace means that we get to live whatever way we want, say whatever we want, do whatever we want (wasn't that a Miley Cyrus song?), and God accepts us no matter what is the biggest lie the devil has ever perpetrated on the human race.

What about the God who orders the execution of everyone who practices such things in Leviticus 18? What about the God who kills everyone on the planet in the flood for practicing these very acts of "love"? What about the God who condemns it from Genesis to Revelation and states that those who practice such things do not belong to Him, are and will receive His wrath, and rightly receive the eternal penalty of their sins?

Oh, well, that's the inconvenient God of the Bible. The One that actually reveals Himself to us external from my incredibly biased opinions as a criminal. The problem is that the Bible is what reveals to us who Jesus is as well, and it says that He is the God of the Bible. He's YHWH who killed the Canaanites for their sexually immoral practices. He's the One who states that Sodom and Gomorrah should have repented, agreeing with its judgment. He's the one who states that sexual immorality defiles a person. He's the One who says He's going to return to cut His enemies to pieces, specifically speaking of so-called Christians who are supposedly saved by that unconditional love and grace. Uh Oh.

So what Jesus are we talking about and where did we get this information about him? How do we know he's so accommodating and accepting of us in our rebellion? Where are we getting our ideas of this person? Where does Bell and this woman get her information about him? It can't be from the Bible, as the Bible doesn't present this Jesus.

Clearly, he's made up. Much of this antichrist is made up from taking verses out of context about love. Since love trumps all else, we can ignore what God means when He says, "love," and just place in our own definition. I call it "contextual replacement." Bad exegesis begets bad theology and bad ethics. It then becomes circular. If I define love as unconditionally accepting, then I can do and say what I want and still be accepted by God. If I'm wrong about it all, then God is loving, and so He'll unconditionally accept me even in my wrong thinking and lifestyle.

This is where Bell and others get this idea that everyone, or most people (at least all the people who are good in their estimation), will be saved in the end. After all, God is love and love is unconditionally accepting. All dogs (i.e., unbelievers/false believers) go to heaven.

Yet, of course, if you're wrong about it all, then He isn't unconditionally accepting and He has and will reject you. And how would we know if you're wrong? Well, that's what revelation is for. That's why we don't need to wait to find out. We already know what God has revealed, and He isn't an antinomian.

The last judgment scene of the Book of Revelation tells us that all dogs don't go to heaven. Instead, none do. Unbelievers (including false believers in the book), those who reject the biblical witness of God in theology or practice, are cast out. Interesting that hell in the Synoptics is often described as a fiery garbage dump. Maybe it's to indicate that the people who are going there, in a way, already live there now. So, you see, there was no Christian blogger who married a lesbian today. Just two dogs mindlessly pleasuring themselves in the garbage dump. There is really nothing beautiful and loving about it. May God lead them into true Christianity and true love through faith and repentance.