Level playing field?

Reply:  Item #7817967 from b-greek@virginia.edu@inet#on 94/07/14 at 06:43
> Doesn't the power of the Holy Spirit level the playing field?
I doubt there is such a thing as a level playing field! Some people can't even
read, though they may have the Spirit. No, there is more that is required. Not
all of us have all the benefits of others. Most of us can read English. Some of
us can read Greek. Some of us can work with Hebrew [but we'd hesitiate to claim
to "read" it :) ]. Some can read Hebrew and Aramaic (and maybe a dozen other
Can a person know all he needs to know to stand approved before God if he only
knows one language, be that English, Spanish, French, Russian, etc.? Yes. Do
specialized skills and advanced training help? Yes. Does everyone need advanced
training? No.
An analogy. (Please don't push it too far!) I can change the oil in my car and
do basic mechanic work. Is there an advantage to having technical training in
automotive mechanics? Yes. Can I be more productive in repairing my car if I
have the right tools? Sure can. Can I change a muffler with just a hammer,
wrench, and a muffler splitter chisel? Yes. Can I do it more efficiently with a
cutting torch and a hoist? Yes. View Greek as either the advanced training or
the specialized tools.
To debate the technicalities of the grammar and syntax of John 1:1 and the fine
points of theology related to it without the benefit of knowing Greek or having
been trained in theology, is somewhat like trying to change a muffler in the
driveway with just a hammer and without a jack. You can probably get it done,
but you'll get rather dirty, frustrated, and not do nearly as good a job as the
mechanic at the corner garage.
On the other hand, can most people discuss the deity of Christ based on the
Bible in their own language? Yes. Can they come to right conclusions? Yes. ("Do
they" is, of course, another question!) To simply pontificate that one is
correct on this (or any other) question because "the Spirit has confirmed my
interpretation" proves nothing (at least in regard to the question at hand!).
Answers need evidence that can be evaluated. Otherwise the Spirit may be blamed
for contradictory interpretations. Some have no problem with multiple meanings,
even contradictory ones, for Scripture, but pluralistic hermeneutics have not
generally been looked upon with favor in orthodox Christianity.
The teaching ministry of the Spirit does not include giving facts or defining
words (Greek or English). A person without the Spirit can read the text as well
as you or I and can explain the meaning of the words/statements that he/she
reads. I would explain the Spirit's ministry as related to the _significance_
of the text. At that point, reread Larry Hurtado's (much briefer!) comments.
For those following the disc. of Jn. 1:1, I highly recommend Murray Harris's
book, "Jesus as Theos in the NT" (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993?). It may be too
technical for some, but it is an exhaustive treatment of all NT passages that
have been suggested to refer to Jesus directly as theos. It addresses a lot of
the questions that have been bantered around here lately.
Rodney J. Decker
Asst. Prof. of Greek and Theology
Calvary Theological Seminary
Kansas City, Missouri