Friday, October 17, 2008

When Is An “Example” Binding?, Thomas B. Warren

When Is An “Example” Binding?, Thomas B. Warren

Interpreting the Bible correctly is what “Biblical Hermeneutics” is about. Only by interpreting the Bible correctly can one truly know the will of God. Dr. Warren has done much work in the field of hermeneutics and has demonstrated the value of logic in order to properly reason from the Scriptures. In this work, Warren makes important distinctions that make a difference in our approach to pattern theology of command, example & necessary inference. For example, Warren points out that necessary inferences are really implications which are binding on man, not because man has inferred them, but because God has implied them. In this work, Dr. Warren makes another important distinction in regards to examples. He points out that a more precise description would be the use of the term “course of action”. When we read of various actions & events in the Bible, how do we determine what is binding on us today? This is the focus of the book. Warren identifies five classifications of actions in the Bible and how to properly identify and understand them including: (1) Action which was permanently sinful, (2) Action which was optional and temporary, (3) Action which was optional and permanent, (4) Action which was obligatory and permanent, and (5) Action which was obligatory and permanent. In this work, Warren provides a detailed analysis of Acts 20:7 and how we know Christians are to observe the Lord’s Supper upon the first day of every week only. Everyone should read the analysis of this passage so they have a thorough knowledge of the use of immediate and remote contexts to understand the conclusions drawn.

Another important matter Thomas Warren reminds us is the binding authority of the Old Testament. Many realize that the law of Moses is not binding upon us today; however, Warren reminds us that there are principles of the Old Testament that are indeed binding on men today. For example, the case of Nadab and Abihu, in Leviticus 9, who used fire that God had not authorized to their destruction—God will be worship in the ways He has prescribed and we dare not add, subtract, or change those ways!

Reading books dedicated to logic and its application in interpreting the Scriptures have led some to consider this book (and Warren’s other works) out of balance with emotions. This is a false attack. What Warren has done left for us is sound instruction on how to properly reason with the Scriptures. Warren’s words should be kept in mind:

It must be re-emphasized that all men, having been created by God with intelligent minds (able to recognize, to observe and to properly consider the evidence which God has given) are required by God to draw only such conclusions as are warranted by the evidence. It has been noted already that logical reasoning is not the answer to everything. Logic is necessary to a proper life, but logic alone is certainly not sufficient for such a life. Correct reasoning has its place and so does emotion. But both reasoning and emotion must be given content by the revelation of God, the Bible (Jer. 10:23; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). No purely intellectual life can be adequate any more than can a purely emotional one. Both are necessary, but both also need revelation from God. (Page 31).
Based on some the influence of post modernism and denial of absolute truth in society impacting the church, it is more important than ever to be able to reason properly. Regardless of the assertions of men that “there is no absolute truth for us to know”, Jesus said “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” (John 8:32). Do not be deceived by the post modernists who are building houses on foundations of sand!

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