Ask Dr. E – Episode 7

Ask Dr. E is back for it’s 7th episode and we have some great questions to answer today, but want to quickly be sure to share a resource before we dive in:

We’ve had a number of Logos Mobile Ed professors join us as guests on Bonus Episodes in our current series, The Big Book–Cover to Cover.

I was an early adopter of Logos software. The library is exhaustive and the software is so fast. They’ve begun to offer a Mobile Ed program. You’ll continue to hear from more of those professors, but Logos a great resource for personal Bible study and they are offering our listeners 15% off of any of their packages through December 24, 2019. Just use the code INCONTEXT2019 at checkout! Learn more Here.

Also mentioned in the show: Morris Proctor’s seminars to learn to use Logos.

Questions & Answers:

1. 7:18 Can you give us a theological point of view regarding unmarried couples living together, spending the night together, or sharing hotel rooms while on vacation?

We mentor and are friends with many young adults that say they abstain from (premarital) sex but will spend the night at each other’s homes or go on vacation together and share a hotel room.
I would love to hear a theological point of view of why you should not live with your spouse before marriage, spend the night at each other’s places, and/or share a hotel room while on vacation together if you are abstaining from sexual relations.

Dr. E:
Let’s take this in 3 chunks: 1. Wisdom, 2. Needless Temptation, 3. Testimony

1. Wisdom: 2 Corinthians 5:17, our identity in Christ needs to lead in everything we do. I’ve got a friend who is not a believer and his choice in language and topics of conversation are sometimes uncomfortable for me, but as a new creation, the way I choose to respond to him is very important.

We’re in a culture where living together unmarried is accepted. Wisdom would say: Live like a new creation. Don’t live like the world, you’ve been bought by Christ. Glorify God with your body.

2. Needless Temptation: Galatians 5:13 – Do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh. Let’s say you’ve got the most incredible self-restraint and you decide you can spend the night or sleep in the same hotel… Well, maybe, but don’t turn your freedom into an opportunity.

We have friends who are married now, but they made a rule when they started dating that they would not be in a house alone together or to be on a sofa horizontally.

I think you put yourself in a needless temptation when you choose to spend the night together.

1 Thessalonians 5:21-22. Examine everything carefully. Hold fast to what is good, abstain from what is evil. Paul goes on and says this is the will of God and your sanctification, that you abstain from sexual immorality.

We cobble these together and ask the question: Am I holding fast to what is good? Am I abstaining from what is evil? How am I setting myself up?

3. Your Testimony: We’re bought with a price, we honor God. People see this and, right or wrong, it reflects on something so we’ve got to ask:

Is it worth it?

Let’s compare this with a dicy topic, drinking alcohol. There are those who feel the freedom to do it – not to intoxication, but they’ll have a glass of wine, they’ll drink. They don’t abuse alcohol. But if you’re in public, do you have the liberty to do that? Sure. Can it affect others improperly? Yes.

I’m not trying to be the Holy Spirit in anyone else’s life, but you’ve got to make a decision about this. Are you avoiding the appearance of evil?

1 Corinthians 6:18-20 Flee immorality. That’s pretty direct.

Are we glorifying God with our body? Are we being wise? Are we avoiding needless temptation? And, are we providing a testimony to others that could cause them to stumble or to question your testimony?

Cindy and I worked with young couples for years and have found that needless temptation generally turns into sin. It’s not the end of the world, God doesn’t hate you if you’re falling into immorality before you’re married- but we’d encourage you, it’s a gift of God. It’s a beautiful, wonderful thing. Why soil it? Save it for the one unique relationship He gives it to us for: Between a husband and wife for all of their lives.

Hanna:
And, we’re talking to adults. If you’re able to go on vacation together, you’re adults. Tyler and I advise folks that, if you’re going to marry this person then you’re going to be together for a lot longer than you’re dating and engaged for.

While it seems like you’re really sacrificing by not being able to go on vacations or travel together before you’re married, it’s a really short span of time in your life in comparison to all the years you’ll be married and will be welcome to travel together.

Dr. E:
Your peers travel a lot more than we did when we were younger – but be creative! Go with another couple and the guys bunk and girls bunk. At the end of the day, you’d do well to enoucrage people – not beat up on their choices – but encourage them with wisdom, not to give into needless temptation, and that it is a testimony to those around you.

2. 15:32 Regarding demonic oppression/possession, is there a difference between the way this works in the Old and New Testaments, or old and new covenants?

I was listening back to an episode of Ask Dr. E and you were talking about oppression, or demonic or evil spirits, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit not allowing that. I was wondering if there was a differentiation between the old covenant and the new covenant. We seem to see evidence that the devil was given permission with Job and with Peter, “Satan has asked to sift you like wheat but I have prayed for you,” is what Jesus had told Peter, so I was wondering – is there that differentiation between the Testaments or the covenants, and the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit?

Psalm 51:1-19

This is a fascinating psalm where David, after his sin with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah the Hittite, where essentially he’s petitioning:

I’d offer a sacrifice but there’s none I can give, the only thing due here is that I’m killed for what I’ve done.

Psalm 51:11. This is a trend that we see. Saul is harassed by a spirit, but here David fears that the Holy Spirit will be taken from him.

We talk about the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit and how a believer, once a man or woman comes to Christ and puts his or her trust in Christ alone, is indwelled permanently by the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 1:13, having heard the message and believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.

That word “sealed” is sphragizō (σφραγίζω) it’s the idea of a promise of the view of redemption. Similarly, Ephesians 4:30 -“by whom you were sealed.”

We’re learning by the New Testament, by Acts 2 and the fulfillment of the New Covenant, the Holy Spirit indwells the believer.

The New Covenant in Jeremiah 31:31 wasn’t going to occur until a future time, so we know that Old Testament believers did not have that permanent indwelling.

Back to the question of possession or oppression: I would say we have to differentiate between those who were harassed, like job, versus those who were possessed.

“A demon resides in a person exerting direct control and influence over that person, will certainly be in derangement of mind and/or body. Demon posession is to be distinguished from demon influence or demon activity in relation to a person. The work of the demon in the latter is from outside. In demon posession, from within.”
-Charles Ryrie

A person who is internally harassed, possessed – versus one who is harassed from the outside.

“By definition, a christian cannot be demon possessed since he is indwelled by the Holy Spirit. However, a believer can be the target of demonic activity to such an extent that he may give the appearance of demon possession.”

A good reminder: differentiate between oppression and possession.

Yes, I think you can look at it from a covenant lens – New Covenant v. Old Covenant. The filling, the indwelling, of the Holy Spirit of God is one of the ways the apostles were authenticated in Acts 2 and following.

That sealing in Ephesians, think of a scroll or a letter with a signet seal – the idea is that a seal is not to be broken until it reaches the proper recipient. And we are sealed with the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption, so His indwelling in your life and mine, anyone who trusts Christ, that permanent indwelling seals us to redemption.

Of course, He is at work in our lives, sanctifying us.

But that differentiates the permanent indwelling v. temporary indwelling of the Old Testament believer.

3. 23:33 What do the terms inerrancy and infallibility really mean when it comes to specific verses in Scripture?

Battles loom large over the definitions of inerrancy and infallibility. What do these terms really mean when it comes to specific verses?
For instances, some will say it’s an error when the Bible uses round numbers for how many are in a tribe, or for the number of people killed in a battle. When the text uses specific numbers in other places, or when one gospel account has Jesus calling for a single donkey to be brought to Him and He says, “bring it to me” – versus calling for a donkey and the foal of a donkey – “bring them to me.”
Or they’ll cite the last two verses of 2 Chronicles, which duplicates the opening verses of Ezra exactly but cuts off the command of Cyrus mid-sentence, losing the gist of his command.

Obviously God didn’t inspire the writer of chronicles to do that, there was an error of transmission over the centuries, and part of Ezra was copied into Chronicles.

I’ve heard good theologians say, and I tend to agree, that scripture is accurate and dependable enough for the purpose for which its intended, but to insist that every word, every description, every story is perfect down to the molecular level leads to unnecessary controversies.

Dr. E:
A great question, one that’s never going away as long as we’re on this planet.

2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:21

Let’s use these as a framework: All scripture is God-breathed, All prophecy was made by men moved by God.

In our sanctified imagination we have the authorial style, but it’s the big “A” Author: God, the little “a” author: Paul, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Luke– so that’s our baseline.

Secondly. We do have transmission errors. The autographs, what was originally written, was without error.

There are layers of views on inerrancy. We use this cumbersome definition: Verbal plenary inspiration. Meaning, the words in their fullness.

Some inerrancy views can be complex and overwrought, but we like the term verbal inerrancy. The words were inspired by God, the fullness of the meaning was inspired by God, but we have to acknowledge there is authorial style.

Now, transmission errors did occur. From Paul Enns’ book:

  • Inerrancy does not demand verbatim reporting of events.
  • Inerrancy allows for departure from standard forms of grammar. Obviously, it is wrong to force English rules of grammar upon the scripture.

I often bring out in my teaching one of the challenges we have in reading the Bible is we’re trying to think from a western mindset. We need an outline, a thesis clause, a purpose statement – but to think the way the New Testament Koine Greek was penned, to think about Hebrew, mindset. We have to understand, some of these things don’t translate into our western mind.

  • Inerrancy allows for problem passages. Even so, this vast work of the scriptures, it’s impossible to provide solutions for all the problems.

We interviewed Mark Chavalas and he had a great observation. He says, don’t come to the Bible expecting an answer for a question you have – ask what that passage is telling us.

A simple recalibration of how we look at the Bible.

  • Inerrancy demands the account does not teach error or contradiction.

Where there’s a difference between an ending in a chapter, or numbers, let’s give the text room to breathe in the sense that – maybe that was not the critical case if it was 23,000 or 24,000.

Resource mentioned: Defending Inerrancy

The point is: don’t project our presuppositions on the text. A little homework goes a long way.

To circle back, inerrancy is so important because if the Bible is full of error, we can’t look at it authoritatively. When Jesus cites a number of passages in the Bible to talk about Sodom and Gomorrah, when the New Testament authors refer to the “Bible,” they’re talking about the Old Testament.

There was no question in the New Testament writers’ minds that the Old Testament was without error.

The problem is when we force our view of: there’s no mistakes in the Bible. Well, there are transmission errors. There are copy errors. When a human being copied the Bible, he made mistakes.

Dr. Herald Hoehner said “we have 120% of the evidence when it comes to New Testament documents.”

When the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, as an illustration, did it say:
The Kingdom of God in Christ Jesus
The Kingdom of God in Christ
The Kingdom of Christ

?

As we look at those different shards, pieces and fragments, which one was right? There’s all sorts of critical theories about this, the simplest one is called “the harder is the better” – the harder reading, the shorter reading, was more than likely the accurate transmission.

Thinking about it, if you’re copying the Bible, you might think, “it’d be really helpful if I put ‘in Christ Jesus’ here,” the scribes were making that transmission copy – maybe it was intentional? We don’t know.

But do any of those lead to a different theology? No.

We have a lot of information in the New Testament theology and we have to pare some of it back. If you have a study bible, it’ll sometimes say, “Some of the better manuscripts say,” or “some manuscripts omit-

A great example: In the end of Mark 16:20, most Bibles will have a note that says, “a few late manuscripts and versions containing this paragraph, usually after verse 8, a few have it at the end of the chapter.

This whole section from verse 9 to verse 20 is more than likely not part of scripture, but you’ll see a note in your Bible.

There are all kinds of reasons about why it’s included.

If you took all of the really problematic texts from the scriptures, they’d probably fit on about 3 pages of your Bible.

So we’re not talking about tons of transmission errors or manuscript errors. The reliability is all the more reinforced, there are more errors of copies of Plato’s Republic than there are errors of copies of the Bible when you look at the corpus of literature and how old the text is.

4. 37:04 What can you share about The Mirror Bible?

My brother’s attending a church where they are using a Bible called The Mirror Bible. I was just wondering if you had any ideas about this Bible, what you know about it. I have some concerns about it and wondered if you did, or if you’ve looked into that, I’d appreciate your help.

Dr. E:
Well, let’s start with Number 1: I’m not an expert on The Mirror Bible. I did a little homework on it because of your question.

The author calls it a paraphrase of the Greek New Testament.

I reached out to friend of mine who is kind of a go-to apologetic expert and his comment was, “I am concerned that the author’s universalist theology may taint his paraphrase.”

So I don’t want to wholesale disregard something because I don’t know, and I can’t find critical reviews, but let’s back out to a bigger question about translations.

One of the reasons I am a stickler for the NASB is because of the nature of how they translate the Hebrew, some Aramaic, and Koine Greek New Testament into English.

Literal translations v. Paraphrases, and versions.

A literal translation:
NASB, KJV, NKJV, ESV

When we got to NIV, we’re moving into an interpretation level. The NIV is very readable, but makes some interpretational leaps that are uncomfortable to me from a study aspect. If I’m reading through the Bible in a year, I have no problem with it. If I’m reading devotionally, I’ve got no problem. It is an easier Bible to read.

The Net Bible produced by a number of DTS Professors is another good offering.

The HCSB – which is now called the CSB – is a very good rendering.

We’ve got literal translations to paraphrases, The Living Bible being a paraphrased Bible and Eugene Petersen’s The Message being a sub-paraphrase, in my opinion.

Hanna:
When you say literal translation you mean it’s being translated literally, word by word, a few words at a time – phrase by phrase. And when we jump to the message-?

Dr. E:
It’s concept by concept. If we say literal translations are word by word, that’s technically pushing it because when you read Hebrew, you can’t go word to word literal because there are idioms, there are syntax problems – not problems with the Bible – problems with how we render language A into language B. So there is some license from a translation point.

I love the ESV, I love the KJV, I preached out of the HCSB for about a year – I go back to the NASB for a number of reasons.

Let’s talk about “lovingkindness” – in the Old Testament, this is one of the most important words. It’s from the Hebrew word Hesed (חֵסֵד). That word is always rendered “lovingkindness” in the NASB.

It’s a cumbersome word. It’s not one we use in the commerce of language today. ESV chose “steadfast love” and they consistently render Hesed “steadfast love.”

When you get to other translations, they might gloss that word to “love” or “kindness” or “mercy” and they do that in context to make the reading a little smoother. They go, “that might sound a little smoother the way the English mind learns.”

I’m not against that, but as a Bible student, I want to know – if this is an important term – can I see it?

If you were to look at my Bibles you’d see the word lovingkindness underlined in red pen throughout the text.

The other one that continues to grieve me is the loss of the divine pronoun being capitalized when it refers to you, your, I, me, my – if that references God, I need help as an English reader – especially in the psalms and proverbs or in narrative that gets a little deep. Is this text talking about the referent before or after, or is it talking about God, or is God speaking?

We have red-lettered Bibles where Jesus’s words are in red, and people have poked fun at this and said, “well, the whole Bible’s God’s word,”

Well, the point’s missed. It’s good when you’re reading the Gospels to know – is Jesus speaking or is someone else speaking? It’s a convenient way to see where Jesus is speaking for the purpose of study.

Coming back to The Mirror Bible: Not being a reviewer or critic of it, I would say: In the English language, we have so many English versions of the Bible it’s ridiculous. If you go to many other countries there is one approved translation. As English readers, we’re almost obsessed with the next new rendering of the Bible – but we have so many available to us.

I just encourage people that the NASB is a very good literal rendering – not dynamic, not thematic, not concept-translation – but they do their best to give a word to word, literal rendering as best we can in English.

At the end of the day, I’m glad anybody’s reading any Bible, but I personally avoid the paraphrases.

If I’m reading to my grandsons, I’m going to read a paraphrased kid’s Bible, but as soon as they’re old enough to understand more graduated grammar, I’m going to get them into a Bible that is a more literal translation because this is, after all, the Word of God. And I don’t want to water it down, diminish it, or make it too easy.

Why does it need to be easy to read? Maybe we need to be students and dig in to some of these cumbersome translations.

Hanna:
I do think you would have some concern about a church that’s saying, “we’re going to use this Bible-” You do that with the NASB, you preach from the NASB, but if they’re choosing a Bible that’s truly a paraphrase, there should be some concern there, correct?

Dr. E:
Right, I think [it’s cause for concern] anytime a church is mandating a translation. That said, you’ve got a pew Bible in some older churches and that’s the one the pastor’s going to read from. But if they’re saying, “don’t read other Bibles,” certainly that’s a red flag.

Let’s just talk about the Message:

I don’t even think The Message is the Bible, with all respect to Eugene Peterson for what he tried to do. I don’t think it’s a scripture and I think calling it a paraphrase is over the edge because he takes such grand liberties.

If it is a tool that gets people back into the Word, that’s great, but we have so many English translations available to us.

Last I checked, English is a primary language for 3% of the world. So when you look at India and China, they don’t have any of these things – so it’s a bit hubris, a bit proud to say, “this has to be the only Bible.”

This is an appeal to be kind to one another. If they’re going to read The Living Bible and that’s going to get them in the Word, praise God. If they’re going to read the NIV, praise God. I’m not out to bash these translations.

I am saying, if you’re a student of scripture, it’s good to have a number of texts.

When I prepare a message I’m going to look at ESV, KJV, NKJV, NIV, and NASB because that’s what the congregation has in their hand.

If a church is mandating one version as the only version you’re to read, I’d be looking for another church.

From a study point: KJV, NKJV, ESV, NASB – all good baseline Bibles. But even at that, you would do well to compare. Especially with complicated passages, see how a number of different translations render that passage.

The fun part, you’ll find out those translator’s leanings. Some of my friends on the ESV committee chose to put words in the Bible that aren’t there and I asked them, “why’d you put that word in there? That’s an interpretive gloss,” and we had an interesting conversation.

I’m not mad, I’m not calling them out – but that’s where I go back to NASB.

In almost 40 years of combing through the scriptures and asking hard questions, I know enough Greek and Hebrew to be a workable student of the languages – I’m never going to be as good as my professors but I can use the languages – and I can tell you at the end of the day, when I do my homework, NASB lands pretty close to a good rendering of the Old and New Testaments.

Hanna:
And a fun throwback to Logos, they have a tool where you can compare texts. I’ll pull up 3-5 versions and the software will highlight in red the differences, in yellow the similarities. You can see, for example, that NIV and ESV are 80% identical in X passage. It’s fun to look at the differences in translations, and you can also pull up the exact Greek or Hebrew and see, “oh, this word means X and it was translated in these translations in these ways.”

It’s a fun way to dig into scripture in a way that you just can’t with paper and pen.

Dr. E:
And have you used the compare feature where you can center a keyword and it will pull up the passages and align that word visually?

Another cool feature is you’ve got the Bible open, and you just hit the right or left arrow and it’ll take you to various translations and see how they render the passage you’re reading.

One more feature – lexham – for people who aren’t going to learn Greek and Hebrew, lexham is an interlinear translation with the original language right under it. Depending on the tools you own, you can click that word and it’ll take you to the lexham concordance or lexham Bible dictionary. They’re integrating a whole set of packages that are integrated with lexham, they’ve done all the homework for you and it’s a great set of resources.

That resource again:
Logos.com/incontext

Keep emailing or calling in your questions! We’ll see you next time.

Have a Biblical or theological question? Ask Dr. E! Call us at 615-281-9694 and leave a voicemail with your question. Michael will answer it on an upcoming Ask Dr. E episode!

Michael Easley

About Michael Easley

Michael is husband to one, dad to four, and host of Michael Easley inContext.



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