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Box , Phillipsburg, New Jersey It is posted on the internet by permission of the publisher. Print rights are retained by the publisher. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. Italics indicate emphasis added. On the campus of Commoner College, Libbie Liberal has invited her friends together for a Bible discussion.

The Bible is really a stimulating book for me. I hope you will experience the same thing as we look at it together. My favorite character is Jesus, and today we will be discussing a passage that talks about him.

He is such an inspiring person, because he reminds me of how God loves everyone and accepts everyone as his child. He encourages me to believe in the preciousness of humanity and the ultimate goodness underneath even the most forbidding exterior. I hope you feel the same.

The passage for today is Luke Norma, would you read it for us? Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath began to teach the people.

They were amazed at his teaching, because his message had authority. In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an evil spirit. What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God! With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out! People attributed natural phenomena like mental illness to demons and occult forces. They used God and the supernatural to allay their fears.

Then science came along and gave us the true explanation of how the world works. I would guess that Jesus had some kind of personal influence that helped those who were mentally ill, and then people exaggerated it into a stupid story about an evil spirit. Naturalist: Well, at least he tried to help them. But he was a person of his own times, and probably believed a lot of that superstitious garbage himself. Everything of significance can be found in a much more enlightened form in our own modern scientific thinking.

Carol Critical-Method: It is still illuminating to apply modern historical methods to ancient documents. We can establish that this story was once transmitted as an oral tale during the period of the early church. But as people passed on the story, they introduced changes and embellishments over time. There is probably some historical core to this story. But it is so typical of the genre that it would be impossible to be dogmatic.

Danny Demythologizer: Wait a minute. Martin Heidegger and Rudolf Bultmann, two of our outstanding modern thinkers, showed us that mythical stories like this one can still have a hidden message for us today.

The man possessed by a demon pictures every individual that is alienated from God, and therefore alienated from fellow human beings. He lives a confused, inauthentic life, in bondage to hidden psychic powers that he does not acknowledge. Then he meets Jesus. Jesus shows that authentic, free living can be achieved by communion with God. Jesus calls him out from the alienation that fears death and fears hidden powers.

He moves him into joy of loving and respecting others. Through this call of Jesus, people can still experience an existential encounter with God today. The people in the ancient world expressed these truths in mythical form, because that was part of their culture. Our culture is different, but the fundamental human struggles are still the same. Theo Therapist: I feel that Danny is onto something.

But he is still too caught up with the religion thing. Sure, the culture back there was different. But what is the same is the need for self-esteem. This guy described as demon possessed must have had a case of low self-esteem. He was kind of weird, and so everybody despised him and called him names. They began to say that he was demon possessed. This accusation only made him worse. Because of the power of suggestion, he began to believe it himself, and acted more and more in the way that other people expected a demon-possessed man to act.

Jesus broke the power of his psychic dysfunction by affirming him. Jesus distinguished between the man himself and the picture of low self-esteem that others had imposed symbolized by the demonic voice. In a sense, it all has to do with self esteem. But what is this self that we are supposed to esteem? Do most people really know?

We rush around with trivial kinds of busyness. We never stop to meditate and discover who we really are. Psychotherapy can help people part of the way.

But in my experience it does not touch the deepest recesses of the self. Those deepest recesses are spiritual. When I started exploring my spiritual self, I began to see that mysterious spiritual forces are at work in a lot of areas. I grew in self-esteem only when I really began to discover my inner divine self. I think Jesus knew something about this secret. Well, we all have that divine spark within us.

He manifested it much more fully. That gave him spiritual power. You know, if I studied the Bible some more, maybe Jesus could give me some tips about how to manifest my divine self. Roland Relativist: This discussion is a perfect illustration of the need for everyone to react to ideas in his or her own way. Everyone of us has different ideas about this text. Each person sees the text against the background of previous views and experiences.

So the ideas are inevitably different. We can all benefit from the Bible, or from any other book, by letting it stimulate our ideas. Each of you must discover what is true for you. Whatever works for you is true for you. No one can affix a meaning once-and-for-all to this passage.

Marvin Marxist: But most of it is propaganda and power plays. Luke probably wrote this piece to buttress his authority and the authority of church leaders of his day. The church offered deliverance for the disenfranchised classes, as symbolized by the demonized man. But once people were in the church, they had to submit to the authority of the leaders, as symbolized by Jesus. Libbie Liberal: Oh, my! Our time is already up. He actually believes that the Bible is what God says and is completely true.

God is who he is, in all his power and mercy and majesty. He is supremely good and desirable Pss. So why do we not see everyone eagerly seeking him and honoring him? In the West numerous people are interested in spiritual things. The Bible is available in bookstores and hotel rooms. But people are largely bent on fleeing from him.

In a sense, hostile responses are not new. Ever since sin entered the human race, people have been fleeing and hiding from God Gen. They can do so even in religious practices Judg.

They can do so even when they are studying the Bible Matt. But what is happening now in the West? Christianity has been practiced in the West for hundreds of years. In the course of that long history, Christians have committed plenty of horrendous sins and made ghastly mistakes that discredit the faith.


God Centered Biblical Interpretation

To ensure the speed and security of your experience on our website, we use the latest technology supported by the most up-to-date web browsers Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Edge. Poythress, Vern S. Theologically and pastorally profound, this study of biblical hermeneutics builds on trinitarian presuppositions, while exposing the idols that lead interpretation astray. Poythress emphasizes the interpreter's spiritual qualifications along with linguistic principles.


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Theologically and pastorally profound, this study of biblical hermeneutics builds on Trinitarian presuppositions, while exposing the idols that lead interpretation astray. Poythress emphasizes the interpreter's spiritual qualifications along with linguistic principles. Vern S. Poythress has been teaching hermeneutics for over twenty years and has developed some wonderful, fresh approaches, which are at the same time deeply biblical.



Reviewed by OP pastor John W. Understanding the Bible can seem like a formidable task. It is a complex book, not always easy to understand. Too often the Bible has been misinterpreted by those intent on fleeing from God. But even Christians can be seduced by some of the distortions of our culture.


God-Centered Biblical Interpretation


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