No PhD? What Good Are Thee?

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  • No PhD? What Good Are Thee?

    Have you ever been told that you are misinterpreting the Bible, when what you did was to quote it in context? Or maybe you are not correct because you don’t have a PhD and maybe other labels after your name, as if academia is what gives you credibility and without that, your opinions or assertions don’t count for squat? Or maybe it is because you have spent most of your spiritual study time in the Bible and not so much in commentaries, such as mine? No one is an island and no matter how hard we try, it is almost impossible to avoid all the doctrines in and out of Christian circles.

    When our points don't matter because we don't have a PhD and fame, and worse yet, we lend too much credence to those with them (not that they don't deserve to be read or heard), we are in big trouble. Where did they get their spiritual knowledge? If they are true believers, from the Bible, same place I acquired mine. So what's the difference who says it as long as it is the truth? I don't hate commentaries, I just advise that we make sure we spend more time in the Bible than many believers do. Why all the concern? Too much bandying back and forth about what Scripture means based on what someone else said, rather than looking at Scripture through the eyes of God. I wouldn't know squat if it weren't for studying the Bible on my own, being churched. But, without that almighty PhD, I just don't matter. What amazes me is, the Bible says I'm right. I've repeated it so many times now, let's play a game. Find the verses that say we need not that any man teach us, (believers only) that the same who anointed us by the Holy Spirit and the same spirit who anoints us teaches us all things. It's in there. I've been getting a lot of flack about this topic, but telling me I don't like commentaries is wrong, as some are good. But we need to deliver personal experiences from Scripture as well. They are no less important, though they may not be time-tested. What makes those people so right and me so wrong? They and I use the Bible, don't we?

    Now, concerning ignorance on extra Biblical history, I see a great use for commentaries. But telling us what the Bible says from them should be no more important than what we find for ourselves. Thinking that the only thinking that is valid comes from creeds, confessions, commentaries and so forth puts us right back in the dark ages when the Bible was chained to the pulpit and only leaders could read it. So much for the Reformation, then. You don't need to read the Bible, someone else has done all that for you; just shut up and listen.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Stratcat View Post
    Now, concerning ignorance on extra Biblical history, I see a great use for commentaries. But telling us what the Bible says from them should be no more important than what we find for ourselves. Thinking that the only thinking that is valid comes from creeds, confessions, commentaries and so forth puts us right back in the dark ages when the Bible was chained to the pulpit and only leaders could read it. So much for the Reformation, then. You don't need to read the Bible, someone else has done all that for you; just shut up and listen.
    What I have encountered are a lot of historical arguments resurrected in this forum, because people do not know church history and the resulting positions through creeds and confessions. Take for example the Nicene Creed and Jehovah's Witnesses. People today struggle with defending the faith. And I feel no sympathy for them as long as they ignore such Creed which was very successful in stomping out that particular heretical position.

    God Bless,
    William
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    • #3
      I've read the creed, and if I remember right, I had no problem with it. If it helps you to use the creed or other documents, fine. I get my help from the Bible and some extra Biblical commentaries on Bible and church history. My point is that if we are to know whether spiritual doctrines being taught are sound doctrine, we must know from the Bible what the sound doctrine is, or use the Bible to verify doctrines as we hear them. There are scholars from nearly every denomination who claim to justify their positions. They can't all be right. When we get our doctrine directly from Scripture as we are commanded to do, not that we shouldn't listen to others, we know the doctrine is from God. Can we make mistakes? Sure. Can the scholars and pastors? Sure again. But time and time again, Paul would write, "I would not have you ignorant concerning..." Those letters were for new churches and for all churches to come, for leaders and laymen.

      History is very important to know because we can't know where we are going if we don't know where we've been or where we are. Commentaries can be a big help there. But having said that, the Bible is much more powerful in fending off the evil one and false doctrine. The power of God is faith in Him teaching us the Scriptures and bringing them to mind as we meditate on them. We can't do that if we don't trust our knowledge of the Bible, which we can't do unless we know it comes directly from God, which happens by the Teacher, the Holy Ghost. Jesus says we are to call Him and no one else Master, Rabbi (Teacher) or Father, since those are God's names and roles. He is the Counsellor, and we have none better. Who is He Counsellor for? Believers. So as believers, we should seek the best, and that is God, who avails Himself to us, as we are told to ask any thing in His name and we shall receive it. He is referring to spiritual knowledge, of course, and not to own a football team or something.

      People were especially gifted in the early church to be teachers, leaders, and so forth because there was no NT Bible yet, as it was still being written, so gifted people had to start and disciple new churches and spread new leaders for them by mouth and the OT. We still have a need for teachers today, but even in the early churches, the Apostles were having trouble with false teachers and warned us to watch out for wolves in sheep's clothing, and laid out the proper qualifications of church leadership, still to be followed today. Much of this is found in the Bible, with naming names of the good and the bad people and churches. Why should that be changed today? Just because someone might get offended? The Apostles offended too, but the truth must be told and the false teacher's mouths must be stopped, per Biblical instruction. This is why we must be able to rightly divide the word of truth and to reprove, rebuke, and exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. It is suitable for instruction, correction, which we all have a very hard time accepting is correction, and so forth and is not of any private interpretation. Cop-out arguments from people who disagree with each other are "that's out of context", "that's just your interpretation," or the verses get ignored altogether. The worst is when Scriptures get twisted.

      All this leads to denominations and split denominations. That is why I, speaking for myself, don't fully trust people. I have been burned over and over again, especially with regard to churches and people who claim to be Christians. The stories I could tell you... So, I know I can trust the Bible and am just as capable of understanding much of it as the next guy, but I know there are areas where help from those over me in Christ is needed. I never said "we don't need commentaries." I wrote one myself. More than one, actually, but the others are type-written. I just feel that many spiritual arguments can be approached through God's word alone. It gets abused and interpreted instead of accepting what it says and teaches, but the truth will out. Is it divisive? Sure. Jesus said He came not to bring peace but a sword, and it will divide families, friends, even churches. I don't care if SBC's Mohler did make a divisive comment. You were right to post it, William, and I agree with it. It is better to live splintered with the truth still available than to live a lie together as one. We must stick to the truth of election, as this election is not a popularity contest. There are more nonbelievers than believers and many nonbelievers are self-deceived according to Jesus. They never knew Him. We know the true Gospel and have received it by the Holy Ghost. Those who would water it down to avoid conflict are only fooling themselves. God is a spirit and must be worshipped in spirit and in truth, and He seeketh such to worship Him. Any mention of needing academics in the Bible? No. But, there are those over us in Christ, but we must be careful who we think they are.
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      • #4
        If you think you just need to read the Bible, without the help of educated men, then read the Bible in Greek, without the help of an educated translator. The church suffers for lack of well-educated pastors.
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        • #5
          Well-educated scholars already translated the Bible.
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          • #6
            I sympathize with what's being said here. One doesn't need a Ph.D. for God to reveal His Truth in His Word to them, but at the same time, a certain amount of education is beneficial to understand basic principles of grammar, how to do word study, research, etc., because if we rely mostly on a Bible translation it's helpful to know how to go back into the Bible manuscripts too. Like Apostle Paul taught about The Holy Spirit being meted out to each believer according to their ministry ("Are all apostles?"), not everyone needs all the same tools, but all should be speaking the same thing when it comes to The Gospel of Jesus Christ.

            During a certain period of history I believe God opened up His Word to the western Christian nations when the printing press came into being and the KJV Bible went out to the English speaking common man. During a certain period only those who could afford a copy had it available daily for study. But we know now how widely available it became among English speaking peoples later, along with a public education system that educated even the poor man. If we look at history prior to that, there was such a great number of believers that were illiterate, it becomes difficult to fathom that today in the West. So really, that working is a kind of miracle in of itself, because the common man prior was forced to rely on the Bible teaching of many who tried to lord it over them, especially among the Catholic Church (not to say all of what they taught was wrong).

            Today, I believe we are in another cycle going back the other direction, when speaking of the majority of peoples. I don't believe the majority of children today are getting any where near the quality of school education that was common several decades ago. I believe today's elementary schools have curriculum that purposefully are designed to dumb down.

            The oldest universities in the United States are an example of this also, as many of the oldest ones have become very liberal and follow many socialist doctrines which often go opposite to God's Holy Writ. This becomes much more of a revelation once one realizes those old universities were started by the Christian Church in order to educate Christian leaders and the leaders of the United States in government and in law.

            Should it be a surprise then, that the same kind of problem would happen in many theological seminaries also? Having done Bible study for myself, I believe our Heavenly Father showed us these kind of things would happen in the last days, and that we are supposed to be aware of them and stay focused on Him in His Word.

            ​Just my two cents.
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            • #7
              Davy, your two cents are worth a lot. A very good breakdown of American breakdown in education and the churches are also breaking down. That's my two cents. Your last paragraph is especially true.
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