Friday, September 10, 2010

The Folly of 'Just Me and My Bible'

A while back I listened to some very helpful lectures on John Owen by Carl Trueman (found here). One line that stuck out to me was about Owen's extensive reading as an aid to exegesis. Trueman said (and I paraphrase) that the Reformers would have thought you were an idiot (his word!!) if you bragged about just reading the Bible. The gospel does not need to be reinvented every generation; this is the faith once for all handed down to the Saints'. But still, Piper points out in his lecture on Owen (found here) that Owen believed that prayer and assiduous meditation to be the two most important ingredients of Biblical interpretation. These two sides of the 'exegesis coin' have really informed the way I prepare expository sermons. I spend the first bulk of my time 'in the text' with pen, paper, and sweat. I even leave my computer at home. My main goal is to think and pray and pray and think. Then, I go to commentaries. I've found this to be an awesome aid to exegesis.

With all of that in mind, I was really thankful for Justin Taylor's post on a similar topic today. It's simply a number of quotes by smart godly guys that support what I've just written. Here they are:

“It seems odd, that certain men who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what he has revealed to others.”

—Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Commenting and Commentaries (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1876), 1.

“Tradition is the fruit of the Spirit’s teaching activity from the ages as God’s people have sought understanding of Scripture. It is not infallible, but neither is it negligible, and we impoverish ourselves if we disregard it.”

—J.I. Packer, “Upholding the Unity of Scripture Today,” JETS 25 (1982): 414

“The best way to guard a true interpretation of Scripture, the Reformers insisted, was neither to naively embrace the infallibility of tradition, or the infallibility of the individual, but to recognize the communal interpretation of Scripture. The best way to ensure faithfulness to the text is to read it together, not only with the churches of our own time and place, but with the wider ‘communion of saints’ down through the age.”

—Michael Horton, “What Still Keeps Us Apart?

“There is rugged terrain ahead for those who are constitutionally incapable of referring to the paths marked out by wise and spirit-filled cartographers over the centuries.”

—Larry Woiwode, Acts (New York: HarperCollins, 1993).

(HT: Michael Haykin for the first two quotes)

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