Does Scripture put God on the hook to heal everybody all the time? (2)

Monday Musings for March 15, 2021

Good morning, Musers,

We had this question a few weeks ago, but the one who enquired did not include the Bible verses. I complained about that, so she sent them along and asked if the answer would be any different. It wasn’t. But the passages raised another issue: we all have stands on hermeneutics — whether or not we know what those stands are! And since our stands on hermeneutics control what we think the Bible is saying, we should evaluate them regularly.

The issue is one of epistemology — specifically, the issue of warrant. You have heard me challenge people’s ideas for “lack of biblical warrant” many times, so it’s time to look more directly at that issue. What do I mean by warrant?

I live in The United States of America. My country holds as its highest ideal the dignity of the individual. It should come as no surprise then that our Constitution is designed to protect the individual’s freedom. For instance, if the police want to enter one of our houses in the course of an investigation, we can refuse them access; that’s our right... but that right can be overruled if the police have “warrant” to enter our premises.

Interestingly, to prove they have “warrant,” the police need a warrant — which is a physical legal document signed by a judge… and these are not merely rubberstamped. The investigator must convince the judge of a plausible threat to the public and the probability that the police will find incriminating evidence on the premises.

At that point, the rights of “the many” (— the police, prosecutors, courts and jails act for us collectively —) overrule the rights of the individual. But even then, the scope of the warrant is often limited to certain objects or certain areas of the home, automobile or other property. The state cannot do anything to our citizens without reasonable cause.

Compare this to life under a dictator. Despots can do what they want to whom they want and when they want. But do you know what bothers me most about that? Their decisions are arbitrary. If their countries have the rule of law, they ignore it and act “above” it.

Many of you are hermeneutical dictators — making arbitrary decisions on how to interpret various passages of Scripture. We do have a rule of law here... it’s found in The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (1978). I challenge you to review this document, and then ask yourself, am I using a reasonable hermeneutic when I test my pet doctrines?

What are the hallmarks of a reasonable hermeneutic? A reasonable hermeneutic lets language be language... and language varies in epistemological weight. Now, I don’t want you to get the wrong idea: all Bible verses are equally inspired (2 Timothy 3:16). It’s just that they do not all weigh equally on every topic. For instance, a poetic passage from Psalms does not have enough epistemological weight to overthrow a clear and direct New Testament teaching.

I think that every Christian would benefit from taking William Lane Craig’s Defenders course. It’s the best Systematic Theology course you will find — better than in the typical seminary! I require all pastors of Mainsail churches to take this course. It trains them to think purposefully and systematically rather than arbitrarily… and arbitrariness is in the crosshairs today.

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