Home > Comment, Gospel, Hermeneutics, Theology > Does an Independent Minister have a right to preach what he so desires? Pt 2

Does an Independent Minister have a right to preach what he so desires? Pt 2

Last week I began a post discussing two Charismatic Pastors, of which I know personally. The first Charismatic I called ‘The Teacher’ and the second Pastor’s name is Otis Graves. Before I begin my post concerning these two individuals I want to lay down a few things concerning examining other ministers.

I realize that what I proclaim from this blog is not popular in today’s church world. Many think that it is condescending or critical to examine a Charismatic’s doctrines. They think that you are being unloving because you examine what Charismatics have preached from the pulpit. The reason that I know that these things are unpopular is because I can get almost a hundred views on these post and not one person will comment. If I were spreading the doctrines that the Charismatics do, then my comment section would fill up.

I want to say from the beginning that it is not unloving to examine what another minister states from the pulpit, over the radio, or through the television screen. I happen to believe that it is unloving to stay silent if you hear something that is unscriptural and do not speak out against it. Paul told the elders atEphesusin Acts 20:28-30 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed thechurchofGod, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after themselves.

The reason men like Harold Camping can gather disciples around him are because people have remained silent. They fear persecution and do not want to live a life of being shunned or spoken evil against. I am not going to be unloving when I examine other ministers’ doctrines, but I also will not be ashamed of the gospel of Christ. I will not shun being persecuted by remaining silent concerning the truth of God’s word. Therefore I will not be silent concerning the doctrines of the ‘Teacher’ nor Otis Graves.

One thing I will commend Otis Graves for is that he is not like the ‘Teacher’; he has refrained from putting his sermons on audio. This is because he contradicts himself so much that if someone went back and listened to his sermon from last week, then they would catch him saying something entirely different this week. Though he doesn’t record his sermons on to audio, nevertheless when I was under his ministry I wrote down some of the stuff he stated from the pulpit.

For instance, onAugust 31, 2008Otis Graves made the statement, “that whosoever Jesus sets free is free indeed, but not entirely. Once Jesus sets us free, then we must go on and set ourselves free from things that Jesus did not free us from.” Otis was actually saying that Jesus is not enough and we need something more. This teaching denies the Reformation principle of ‘soli Christo’ or Christ Alone. This teaching also is a distorted interpretation of John 8.  A more fitting interpretation would be: The Jews believed that they were not in bondage, but Jesus goes on to explain to them that if they commit sin (and we all do) then they are the servants of sin. In other words they are slaves to sin. Jesus tells them that if he makes them free, they shall be free. In other words if they become his disciples, then they will no longer be a slave to sin.

This leads me to my next point and that is that we have no right to twist or distort the scriptures to fit our doctrines. I am not going to defend the Roman Catholic Church, but to its credit I will say that they warned Luther against putting the scriptures into the hands of ignorant and unlearned men. They told Luther that if the scriptures were translated into the common language of the people that a flood gate of sin would come out of it. They told him that the church would begin to split and splinter into all kinds of different denominations. This is because that unlearned men will not take and interpret scripture according to the tradition of the Church. Luther responded by saying that he knew that if he put the scriptures in the hands of ignorant and unlearned men, that it would open a flood gate of iniquity, but nevertheless every person ought to have the scriptures to read for themselves.

So the Reformation opened the door for private interpretation. But just because we have the right to interpret scripture privately does not mean that we have the right to distort scripture. The Reformers taught what is known as the perspicuity of scripture or that the scriptures are so plain that even a child could understand it. This doctrine does not teach that scripture is plain in every place, but it teaches that the doctrines that are essential to salvation are so clear that even a child could find his was to Christ by reading them.

The main point I want to focus on today is the principles of a proper methodology. In other words, Mr. ‘Teacher’ and Mr. Otis Graves, it is unreasonable to expect that everyone will agree on the exact interpretation of every scripture, but we should agree on the fundamental approach to biblical interpretation. In other words we ought to be using the same methods on how to interpret scripture. There is a difference between an occasional misinterpretation and unacceptable methods of biblical interpretation. The former is common to us all and the latter no one should be guilty of holding to.

Had you two studied you would have realized that the church has developed a method of interpretation that makes everyone approach the scriptures the same way. The church developed a science of interpretation known as ‘hermeneutics.’ Hermeneutics is the science and art of interpretation. Holding to a proper hermeneutic will keep us from falling into much error when we interpret scripture. (I challenge both of you to go to my web site and click my Hermeneutics page link and study up on this principle.)

Many today claim to hold to a literal interpretation of scripture, but what they are talking about has nothing to do with proper interpretation. In other words they believe that if the Bible plainly says something, then we can take that something and use it anyway we want to. This is not literal interpretation. The word literal comes from the Latin word ‘literalis’ and means the literature in which it was written. In other words, to use the literal interpretation method means that we are to interpret scripture according to the literature in which it was written.

Scripture is written in many forms of literature, some of which are: poetry, proverbs, narrative, didactic, apocalyptic and so forth. We are never to take narrative scriptures and make doctrines out of them because they are giving us a story of what happened and not trying to teach us what we should or should not do. For instance Charismatics are big on using the book of Acts to build their doctrines on, but the book of Acts is recording events that happened within history and not trying to teach us doctrines. There may be doctrine within the book, but it is still a history record. We are to only use the didactic or the instructional material of scripture to build our doctrines on.

While the Bible is filled with many types of literature it also uses many forms of speech within that literature. The Bible uses hyperbole, simile, symbolic, irony, sarcasm, metaphor, parallelism, synonymous parallelism, metonymy, personification, anthropomorphisms, anthropopathisms, and many more. The Bible also uses types and shadows to convey its message. So without a properly working hermeneutic we all would misinterpret scripture all the time.

I want to say one more thing before I close this post. I want to tell the ‘Teacher’ and Mr. Otis Graves that there is only one interpretation to every scripture in the Bible. In other words the writer was writing to a specific audience of his day and meant a specific thing when he wrote what he did. Therefore we should try to understand the Bible in its grammatical-historical-redemptive setting. In other words we are to interpret a scripture according to the grammar it was written in, according to the historical setting of which it was written, and according to the redemptive plan of God in history.

No one reads a newspaper, magazine, book, or any other piece of literature any different than what I have described. If we ripped a sentence out of a newspaper article, then we could make it say whatever we wanted it to. We must understand it within the author’s original intent and within the context of what has been said around it. We are then to take it and apply it to today. Though there is only one true interpretation of every scripture, nevertheless there may be many applications to that scripture. In other words we may be able to apply that scripture to many of today’s problems and so forth, but we should only do that after we have understood that scripture within the author’s original meaning.

So I am calling on both of you to study the science of hermeneutics. We may misinterpret a scripture from time to time, but your methods of approaching scripture are unacceptable and lead to distortion.

I will close for now and come back later and finish some more on this article.

 

Hershel Lee Harvell Jr.

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