Bible

The Limits of Tradition as a Hermeneutical Aid

Interpreting Scripture is sometimes a challenging endeavor. I previously considered whether the Rule of Faith or regula fidei provides a guide to believers. Here, I consider the role of tradition as an aid to interpretation. Members of hierarchical church communities have sometimes chided evangelicals for their disregard of tradition, saying that tradition should not raise an objection for anyone because we find the principle in Scripture itself. Paul tells the Thessalonians to “stand firm and…

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Bible Theology

Coming Up Short: The Rule of Faith as Hermeneutical Guide

Is the Rule of Faith an aid to understanding the difficult parts of Scripture? In an age of interpretive diversity, many wonder if there is not some tool or method that can serve believers as a kind of theological umpire. In short, how do we interpret the difficult parts of Scripture? Some have argued that the rule of faith, or regula fidei, functioned as an authority in the early life of the church, serving as an…

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Life in Christ

Thinking Rightly About our Identity in Christ

Most Christians have a view of themselves that acknowledges they have not yet arrived at full Christian maturity. That’s a sensible perspective and accords with what Paul writes to the Ephesians. “This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. (Eph. 4:13 TLB)   But focusing only what…

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Bible

The Problem with Red Letter Bibles

All God’s Words are Important If you are a Bible reader, chances are at some point in your life, you’ve owned a red letter Bible. A red letter Bible is one where the words of Christ are in red font, to highlight their importance. I was reminded of this by an NPR story about a new edition of the gospels that contains no chapters or verses, but the text only. Other editions have done this…

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Theology

You are a Dispensationalist: You just might not know it.

“Dispensationalism” should not be a trigger word. Over the past several decades, the rise of the “New Calvinism” has greatly influenced evangelicalism. As part of that, many have taken a different attitude toward dispensationalism, and its relevance for theology. For those who may be unfamiliar, dispensationalism refers to a way of viewing the Scriptures that sees God acting in different ways at different times throughout history. To be clear, it does not state that God…

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The Church

Is Your Church Fun?

A mailer arrived at our house the other day asking this question in so many words: “What if church was fun and relevant?” As I looked more closely at the material and went to the website of this new church, what struck me was the completely different view of the church and its purpose. At the outset let me say that I don’t doubt the sincere desire of the folks behind this effort to reach…

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Christology Worship

God Manifested in the Flesh

Among the New Testament mysteries is the peculiar description Paul gives to his precis of the life of Jesus. Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory. At this time of the year, we focus on that first phrase, “He was manifested in the flesh.” There is little…

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Bible

The Truth of Apostolic Succession

Does the Bible have anything to say about apostolic succession? It does, in fact, but in a different way than what some teach or believe regarding the term. In what is likely his last epistle, Paul writes to Timothy “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Tim. 2:4.) There is succession, but of the gospel itself and…

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Catholicism Reformation

Is Doctrine a Matter of the “Wisdom of the Crowd?”

The recent quincentennial of the Reformation brought a passel of celebration within Protestantism. For the most part, this has been a reaffirmation that whatever else he failed to reform, Luther’s recovery of justification by faith alone a thing to be cherished.  Even Pope Francis, speaking of Luther’s view of justification by faith alone said, “On this point, which is very important, he did not err.”[1] But as the Twitterati were rejoicing over these Reformation truths,…

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Culture

Should Christians Vote?

 Many have written about the word “evangelical” being emptied of meaning. Questions about what it means to be an evangelical are not new, but the issue has taken on new urgency when it comes to our political engagement.  For much of Christian history, this was not really a factor, because representative government did not exist.  While the question of political involvement is not unique to the United States, the current atmosphere has believers rethinking what…

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