Without The Text Nothing Means Anything
A vague title, I know but it captures my thoughts at the moment as I am finishing up reading material on my text I am preaching on from Ephesians 4:7-16. The issue centers around Paul’s apparent use of Psalm 68 to speak of Jesus giving gifts to us. I have read the six most popular views by commentators and scholars for the fifth time. I have looked at the arguments pro and con from every perspective I can imagine and I step back just shaking my head. Remember, these are the serious interactions:
One view is that Paul simply is choosing to use the Psalm wrongly and doesn’t care. He will use the bible as he wishes for his theological interpretations. A second view make the “argument” that Paul is simply quoting from memory and got bit of it wrong. Oopsie! A third tries to say that Paul is taking his quote from the Aramaic Targum. Unfortunately that was written around the fifth century A. D. Which reveals that the advocate for this view doesn’t think Paul really wrote it and that it was done much later than any conservative scholar would allow. Then there is my favorite, a fourth view that says that Jesus ascended into heaven as Jesus and then descended not as Jesus but as the Spirit (read the passage if you are confused, it is 4:9-10).
All of this leads me to my point. Each of the above views comes because the scholar rejects in one way or another the biblical text as true, trustworthy. The result is that now the text can mean anything when it is a difficult passage. Just say that the writer made a mistake or some such drivel. Once a scholar steps away from the text as being true and right anything can go, it is really only limited to his mind and will.
This is all great for the scholarly world because every time a new view is postulated it gives everyone a lot of new material to work with. Meanwhile the guy working for Snap-on Tools or the single mother with two children are ignored. These people for whom Christ died are not fed. Frankly they are not even in view.
As a pastor who seeks to teach deeply and yet with the purpose of building my church up in truth this sort of stuff is just wearying. You wade through endless words that are written not out of faith but unfaith, not with trust but in distrust of the bible.
The church does not need another commentary that will fill up the pages with endless arguments that flow from unbelieving minds before the commentator works out his conclusion. The church needs men who will sift through those who are the doubters and double-talkers and bring to the pastors and students the food from the text, presented as their faithful efforts in presenting the truth as truth.