Re: Desired outcomes

From: Bill Wald (
Date: Fri Apr 11 1997 - 15:08:40 EDT

        If the purpose of reading the NT isn't theological, then what?
Literary? Historical? Cultural? Of what literary or philosophical value
are Paul's Epistles? Without theological presuppositions his logic is, at
best, tautolgical.

        It has been said, referring to the Epistles, that non-believers
shouldn't expect to understand someone else's mail. But are they our
mail? In the same sense that a letter from my great-grandfather to his
immediate family might be considered my mail.

        Consider the U.S. Constitution. It was assumed that every
American could understand it. The debate wasn't over meaning but its
value as a governing document and the projected results of its
implimentation. 200 years later, no one can determine what it means
because it means whatever the Supreme Court in its present session says
it means. Ergo, it has no intrinsic meaning. (On the other hand, the
system seems to work, sort of.)

        We Protestants have a problem. We believe the Bible but we don't
know what it means and we don't have a Magisterium or Apostolic
succession to tell us what it means. And because the canon is closed not
even God would be permitted to add to it, short of direct fiat from
Heaven. If Jesus should return to Earth without an army to support his
authority no Protestant Christian would believe him because his
appearance wouldn't be according to prophetic scripture.

        But my church tells me that I end up in Heaven or Hell depending
upon what I believe about Jesus. If what I believe about Jesus depends
upon what wrote to the Romans and to those other people, then I need to
know what Paul had in mind when he wrote that stuff. If I can't determine
correctly for myself what Paul intended to teach the Romans, I go to
Hell. Isn't that why anyone bothers with NTG? Or have I missed something?

Bill Wald

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