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An Overview of Theological Method

Posted by Nathanael Szobody on

1. Hebrews’ Method:
Tell a story about great stuff God has done in the past. Conclude he can do it again—if we behave.

2. Pharisees’ Method:
If you’re not obsessive compulsive about cleanliness, learn to be, then you’ll understand the law.

3. Jesus’ Method:
Agree with the majority position on most issues. Apply it to all the “wrong” people at precisely the “wrong” moment.

4. Apostles’ Method:
Use some obscure rabbinical method to make unrelated passages, read allegorically, speak to the issue at hand. Plus, “God told me”.

5. Agnostic Method:
Well, I’d tell you, but if you were one of the elect you would already know.

6. Early Fathers’ Method:
Systematically read the OT allegorically as referring to Christ and the church. Don’t quote your sources so it sounds like you speak scripture itself. Add an argument from nature. If your reader is not yet completely sick of the topic at hand, add some philosophical principles for good measure.

7. Medieval Method:
Take allegory to a whole new level: make any passage speak about anything. Sound devotional. Mary is always appropriate.

8. Orthodox Method:
Quote the Early Fathers. If it’s not there, you shouldn’t be asking.

9. Reformers’ Method:
Make all of your theology revolve around a couple novel insights into a few passages. Say that they are actually not novel but obvious. Insult the Papists and the Enthusiasts as often as possible for thinking they are novel. No holds barred.

10. Historical Critical Method:
Point out that no two Bible authors say exactly the same thing. Relativize the ones you don’t like. Use the others.

11. Fundamentalist Method:
Pick a contentious issue. Find a bunch of passages that make your point. String them together in scripture reference short hand and declare yourself the winner.

12. Modern Lutheran Method:
Quote the Lutheran Confessions. If it’s not there find a Church Father who agrees with you.

13. Modern Calvinist Method:
Fundamentalist Method + Aristotelian Logic = “unassailable” conclusion.

14. Post-Modern Method:
Use the Historical Critical Method to outline the historical development of a doctrine. Conclude that the popular Post-Modern intuition is the naturally evolved—ahem, divinely guided—outworking of that development.

Romans 7: 7-23 for the Greek student.

Posted by Nathanael Szobody on

7 What should I say, is Greek grammar a linguistic sham? Not in the least; but I would not have know my wrong translation but through Greek grammar, for I would not have known that ‘en’ could signify a dative of means had not Greek grammar said “‘en’ does not always mean ‘in'”. 8 And folly of the subconscious, seizing only on the point that ‘en’ usually means ‘in’ as implied by the very grammar rule stated, produced in me all sorts of narrow translations. 9 Formerly I was oblivious to such a distinction, but when the rule was stated, the narrow translation of ‘en’ sprouted up all over 10 and I lost all integrity as a translator, and found that because of my lack of critical thinking the rule that was meant to be instructive proved my downfall; 11 for when my laziness sought refuge in the rule, the rule killed me. 12 So the rule is good and Greek grammar is instructive, and useful and beneficial. 13 So the good rule was my downfall? No, of course not; but that my error might be pointed out as such, it used the good rule to bring about my downfall so that a slight mistake might be known as a serious grammatical error through the rule. 14 For we know that the grammar rule has the final say; I am but a student, paying through my nose to get a piece of paper that says I know something. 15 I don’t have a clue what I’m doing here; cuz I don’t mean to write what I end up translating; I actually think my translation is pretty hysterical. 16 But atleast if I recognize its absurdity I’m acknowledging the purity of the original Greek grammar–that it does actually make sense. 17 So it’s not really a reflection of my integrity that my translation is bad, but only a recognition of the limited extent of my learning. 18 For I’ll confess I hardly remember a thing I studied in Machen, that is conscientiously, cuz I can remember the rule when I see it, but I can’t reproduce the results in my translation; 19 for I can’t remember the rules that I know are correct, and so even though I don’t want to produce a horrible translation that’s exactly what I end up doing. 20 But If I didn’t mean to butcher the grammar so badly, it’s not really something you can hold against me personally, but it just shows you what empty pockets and a bad memory does to you. 21 So the general principle is that the more I try to memorize rules, the more I realize what a horrible rule memorizer I am; 22 Cuz I love Greek as far as that is concerned, personally and all, 23 but I see the constant struggle with my limitedness and bad memory just taking over my actual translations. 24 I really am a hopeless case. Who can get this stuff pound into my head? Thank God his Word is greater than my linguistic prowess. So I can say I really enjoy translating the truth, althewhile recognizing that, as a translation, it’s really worthless.

Bit ‘o Greek

Posted by Nathanael Szobody on

When doing a little research for my dad in Acts chapter 6 I read the first part through verse 7 where the apostles appointed men to oversee the distribution of bread so that they could concentrate on the service of the word and prayer. This is often said to be where the deaconate was established.

However the word ‘diakonos’, meaning ‘servant’, is never used in this passage. It’s cognates ‘diakonew’ (to serve) and ‘diakonia’ (service) are used. Steven and his pals were to ‘diakoneiv’ the tables (v.2). And the Apostles were to give themselves to the ‘diakonia’ of the word (v.4). Also, in verse one, the service of the tables is called the ‘diakonia’.

So if both the service of tables and the service of the Word are ‘diakoniai’ then why are only the servers of tables called deacons? Why aren’t elders rather called deacons as well and the deaconate split into two branches; physical service and the service of the Word? Both of them do service of intercession.

Church and State

Posted by Nathanael Szobody on

The separation between Church and State is as firm a doctrine in America as the Trinity is in Christianity. The Church as a visible orginization must surely remain seperate from the State; the two instititions are given entirely different tasks in this world and to mix them ends up weakening one or the other.

However, every Christian has a different application of that principle in daily life and politics. Some understand this principle to mean that a Christian should not be involved in politics. I understand this view point to be a confusion between the church government and the true church. In fact the separation is not between the spiritual church and the State, but between the government of the Church and the government of the State. For the true church is the collective body of all those whose lives are controled by Christ and who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. One cannot separate this sort of pervasive faith from one’s life in politics or anything else.

Who Needs Finals

Posted by Nathanael Szobody on

So why am I studying for finals? Theoretically a test, and especially a final, should be simply a reiteration of what has been taught in class or read in the text book. It is simply a way to determine if a student is progressing academically at a satisfactory rate.

In this case, there should never be cumulative finals. A course grade should be an assesment of the cumulative participation and production of a student throughout the semester.

Whereas in reality a final only shows a students ability to retain information studied the day before in frantic effort to grasp those essential bits of information for the test.

Maybe I should ditch college and get a real education.

God’s Will

Posted by Nathanael Szobody on

In response to Lora

What God wants us to know of his will he has already revealed; what we ask to know concerning our calling he has already given. The problem is that we do not take seriously what he has revealed to be his will, and we often do not recognize the freedom that we have to use what he has given.

Time and Measure

Posted by Nathanael Szobody on

If time only exists insofar as it can be measured, then it is not too difficult to imagine the absence of time. For certainly in eternity there is movement and succession of events.

It is written in Genesis that the heavenly bodies were placed to measure dates and seasons–that is, time. So the absence of time is not something mystical if it simply means that there is no repetition or cycle by which to define it.

All this is but vain speculation.

Time and Movement

Posted by Nathanael Szobody on

If time is the succession of physical events, i.e., if all motion should stop then time also would be suspended, then it is not too difficult of a problem to understand that there was no time before creation. For as soon as God commands that something physical ‘be’, and it ‘is’, then time begins. For otherwise there is no physical motion to be time.

To Blog or not to Blog

Posted by Nathanael Szobody on

IF you’re reading this it must mean that you find some value in the recently discovered pastime of blogging. Personally I never was one to surf the internet in search of random information/entertainment. But the blogging culture seems to have quickly become one of ‘clicks.’ It seems that people have certain blogs they go to, be they about news, or interests, or friends or just plain hot air.

I am incouraged that Americans have again seen the value of a public forum with the free exchange of ideas, but it seems that blogs have become more of a means of exclusivism that open exchange. We go to those blogs that are related to where we are in life, unwittingly bypassing the wealth of information that could help jolt us out of our comfort zone and come face to face with ideas that make us uncomfortable. It in effect blinds us to what is happening in other parts of society. Whereas traditionally when we browse the newspaper we can’t help but come across any range of topics within our society.

Finally, many blogs serve what we seem to have an insatiable desire for: random bits of information and opinion that have very little meaning outside of thier narrow context–often meant purely for entertainment. For this reason on my blog I attempt not to gain a ‘following,’ nor to entertain, but to perhaps provoke a bit of edifying thought on some more universally implicit topics in the midst of a hectic day. A futile endeavor in modern American culture? Perhaps, but I haven’t given up yet.