Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Shocker: Presuppositions lead to Different Interpretations

It is no surprise that the biases, baggage, and presuppositions (those are close to being synonyms) have a huge effect on our interpretations. My favorite example is from Daniel:
And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate. (Dan. 9:27)
Premillennialists interpret the "he (who) will put a stop to sacrifice" as the antichrist. Other millennial views interpret the "he" as Christ. The antichrist in some views, Christ in others, and in all cases reasonable given their presuppositions. Splendiferous!

The other day I listened as a brother used this verse to support his position that the Ten Commandments are still the definitive representation of God's moral law:
8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Rom 13:8-9) 
Simply stated his argument, which is more than reasonable, is that the dealing-with-people commandments are explicitly listed, therefore it supports his believe that the Decalogue is the representation.

I read that same passage, but with the bias, baggage, and presupposition that the Ten Commandments have been superseded by the Sermon on the Mount 1. So I see these commandments grouped with "any other commandment" and to me it sends a message (probably I am sending the message, round-trip) of their importance, yes, but also of their lack of supremacy. The supreme laws should not, I would think, be grouped with "any other commandment." And at the end of the quoted passage I see the supremacy of “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” which is not one of the Ten. It is from Jesus, not from Moses.

Same passage. Two people with a love for God and his Word. Two different people who would affirm the inerrancy of scripture. Two different conclusions. Biases, baggage, and presuppositions. We are right back to Daniel 9:27.

1 The debate over whether the Ten Commandments are (is?) the unchanging moral Law of God or a covenantal agreement through Moses and a foreshadowing of a new and better revelation is not a debate as to whether one is now free to, say, commit adultery. It is not a debate between moral living and antinomianism. The debate should not be couched that way--that is an entirely false dilemma and something of a slander. To express the debate fairly but crudely, if God told you to make poster of his most fully and completely revealed moral law, would you use Ex. 20:1-17 or Matt. 22:37-39 ?  I'd choose the latter, but given that I am viewed something of a left-wing lunatic that wanders at best dangerously close to the outer edge of the circle of Reformed orthodoxy, you better not take my word for it. Not that anyone would.

In my mind this debate has only one practical consequence. It is the fourth commandment. If you believe the Decalogue is the unchanging moral law of God (and you are consistent) then you have to treat the seventh first day in some unspecified but special manner. If you do not believe the Decalogue is the unchanging moral law of God, then you might, as I do, interpret a good portion of Hebrews as teaching that we are living in the eternal Sabbath day foreshadowed by the creation account (and the 4th Commandment) with a never ending rest possible because Christ finished his work. While some might argue that this degrades the seventh first day, I'd argue that it actually elevates the other six. Ha! However, remember again the penultimate sentence of the previous paragraph.

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