From the Beginning – True Authorial Intent

I read a discussion concerning my earlier article on allegory in which someone identified himself as a writer. He stated that if a reader saw something in his writing that he had not intended, then either he or his reader had failed. His statement is an extreme example of what is called “authorial intent”: what the author intends for the reader to see is indeed what the reader sees. Of course, no…

Reading Beneath the Words

The relationship between Old and New Testaments is much less straightforward than most people realize. A majority of Christians, particularly in our contemporary world, probably assume that their relationship is mostly historical, that the Old Testament is about things that happened before Christ while the New Testament speaks of Christ Himself and things that come later. That is “sort of” true, but not the real story. The New Testament does not so…

An Important Conversation – How Should We Think About the Bible as History?

A recent conversation on the blog seemed worth a full article. The question centered around the problem of the historical character of the Biblical record. I’ll let the question speak for itself: I have a question to ask about the historicity of the New Testament, one that’s been gnawing at me for quite some time. Paul was wiling to interpret Scripture allegorically, as his treatment of Galatians makes clear. How, then, do…

About Fairy Tales

If you want to teach a child not to do something, then clear directions and consistent discipline will generally do the trick. However, if you want to teach a child not to do a certain kind of thing, something completely different is called for. Most likely, you will have to resort to stories. Stories tell us about characters. Characters in good stories (particularly good children’s stories) are more than simple individuals with…

History’s Detectives

The search for the historical anything is an exercise in fantasy and imagination, a good movie, but not good for much else. C.S. Lewis noted that reviewers of his books, speculating on how they were written and other such intimate historical matters, were almost universally wrong. He wondered out loud why we should presume historical critics of the past, sometimes of a past stretching back for millennia, should be taken at all…

Behind Every Rock and Tree – An Allegory

How is an allegorical interpretation of the Scriptures possible? In the fourth chapter of Galatians, St. Paul invokes the story of Abraham and his two sons, one born of a bondwoman (Hagar) and the other of a freewoman (Sarah).  As he prepares to draw a lesson from the story he says of it: “These things are an allegory.” He then proceeds to draw a very authoritative (for him) conclusion based on this…

Authority: Answers Without Questions

We imagine that life is made up of questions seeking answers. The opposite is also true: life is often made up of answers seeking questions. More troublesome than this are pseudo answers seeking questions, for the questions created by pseudo answers are inevitably pseudo questions. This, I suggest, goes far in describing the landscape of modern Christianity. For whatever the real question might be, what we see in modern Christianity cannot be…

The Bible and the Spirit of Democracy

My first introduction to ancient writings was in my Classical Greek classes my freshman year of college. Most of those were tortuous exercises filled with the rules of a foreign grammar. My friends laughed at how hard and long I labored in those studies. With time, however, the work began to yield pleasure as the language became a familiar friend. The same experience followed in my sophomore year as I added Latin…

The Grammar of the Faith

Recent studies have documented the fact that we begin to acquire language from our earliest moments. Even the babbling of infants plays a role. Sounds, words, facial expressions – all have a part in perhaps the most complex of all human activities. As we learn to speak, we not only learn words and sounds, but we simultaneously learn the unspoken rules that govern every language – the rules of grammar. I recall…

The Church and the Scriptures

My recent articles on the place of the Scriptures, their relationship with the Church, and the proper manner it which they are to be regarded have drawn more than a little comment (and some fire) including on other blogsites. In this article I want to take time to answer some specific points and to add some further observations. A Reform article, by Michael J. Kruger (Professor of NT at Reform Theological School in Charlotte),…