PROLEGOMENA: HOW THEOLOGIANS "DO IN" THEOLOGY
By Gordon Olson
In a doctoral course in Liberation Theology some years ago my mind was diverted to the cover of one of the textbooks: Doing Theology in a Revolutionary Situation by Jose Miguez Bonino.(1) I circled the words "Doing theology in" as an expression of irony since that is exactly what the Liberation Theology people do. Under a veneer of Bible passages they hide a core of raw Marxist doctrine--all to the undoing of any legitimate theology.
It is all well and good to use the liberation theology people as whipping boys, but how many evangelical theologians as well have contributed to the undoing of theology? Theology used to be called the 'queen of the sciences.' It has long since been dethroned. Evangelical theology is in a sorry state, and we have only ourselves to blame. Walter Kaiser once said that the proof that evangelical theology is in a crisis is that Dallas Seminary had to hire a noted theologian away from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.(2) Further indications are seen in the paucity of theology articles (about 20%) in the "Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society." What is the cause of this decline? I would suggest that the faulty theological methodology used by Evangelicals is to blame! Evangelical theologians of great scholarly credentials have come to radically different conclusions and developed radically contradicting systems of theology. Insomuch the whole theological process is discredited. Let us consider how we undo theology by our distorted perspectives, defective attitudes, and unsound methodologies.
APPROACHING THEOLOGY FROM A DISTORTED PERSPECTIVE
We all approach our theological study from certain preconceived perspectives. It is the point from which we are approaching the data. In reading scientific instruments, we may get a wrong reading through lack of attention to parallax error (not 90). Approaching the data from a skewed angle may be even more harmful in theology.
Denial of the inspiration or sufficiency of Scripture
The most serious and fundamental problem comes when we enter into theological discussion with those who have a weak view of Scripture. It will inevitably color the results. Many will insist that their difference from us Evangelicals is hermeneutical or interpretive, when in reality the difference is more basic. Their view of the Bible's inspiration gives them a distorted perspective. They have the liberty to focus on certain passages at the expense of others since they do not believe that "all Scripture is God-breathed." As Evangelicals we must give weight to all of God's revelation in Scripture. A score of years ago I debated a pastor on capital punishment over the radio. As the debate progressed, I began to sense that we were not on the same page, his view of Scripture was different from mine. After we went off the air, I asked him more directly and got confirmation of my suspicion. There was no basis for coming to agreement since his perspective was skewed.
Another perspective problem arises from denial of the sufficiency of biblical revelation. This takes two forms. One is a reliance upon the historical development of the church as being not only providential but also authoritative. This is not only the Roman Catholic view but has a substantial overhang among Protestants and even Evangelicals as well. I remember a dialog I once had in print with a British Anglican bishop in Pakistan, who was professedly evangelical in theology. He admitted that hierarchy in church structure was not found in Scripture but was justified because of its historical development in the early church. But of course it could be noted that the development continued on to the full-blown Roman Catholic system, including the papacy. Why stop with the Anglican episcopate? Carry it to its logical conclusion. But in reality the problem is the denial of the sufficiency of Scripture. This kind of thinking keeps cropping up among non-Anglican Evangelicals as well in their undue deference to the decisions of church councils, synods, creeds, and the general historical development of churches.
A second form of this practical denial of sufficiency is seen in the tendency of theologians to defer to the views of the church fathers. Again this is the special emphasis of Roman Catholicism, but common also among Evangelicals today. I recently came across a work by Jean Daillé, a 17th century Huguenot pastor in Paris, entitled, A Treatise on the Right Use of the Fathers, in which he gave seventeen reasons why we cannot develop our theology from the fathers.(3) Although he was especially responding to heavy Romanist dependance upon the fathers, his arguments are just a relevant today. Many contemporary examples of such dependance could be given. I will cite Heth and Wenham's Jesus and Divorce as a case in point.(4) They devote the first three chapter to the historical development before giving the biblical discussion, which thus skews the perspective. Even then they do not simply give an exposition of the biblical data, but rather a setting of the various views in contradistinction to each other (an erroneous methodology with which I will deal subsequently).
I see a number of problems with this tendency and will expand upon them in chapter 15. The most serious is that the record of the history of Christianity is very fragmentary. The writings of many early Christian leaders have most likely been lost or in many cases intentionally destroyed. Not only were Christians persecuted until AD 313 in the Roman empire, but as the politically dominant hierarchical church gained power, nonconforming Christians were in turn persecuted and their writings destroyed. If that weren't enough, after the fall of Rome during the medieval period the barbarians destroyed much of the literary heritage of Christendom. So our historical record is so fragmentary that sound theology cannot be derived from what remains. I doubt that we have a good sampling of the viewpoints of early Christians in the surviving writings.
Add to this the 'cult of the personality.' This expression has been used in reference to communist leaders, but it may be relevant here also. Origen was a great scholar who had a tremendous impact upon Christian theology. In many regards, however, he was the source of many heresies. Even more significant was the incredible impact of Augustine of Hippo. Much of Roman Catholicism goes back to him, including justification for the inquisition. Luther was an Augustinian monk and never got all of Augustine out of his system. We hardly need to mention Calvin's debt to Augustine. Some have suggested that Calvin's system really should be called Augustinianism. Forster and Marston have focused on some of the serious problems which spring from Augustine's interpretations of Scripture. He was ignorant of Hebrew and even wrote to Jerome to discourage him from translating the Old Testament into Latin. In his Confessions he admits his early dislike for Greek and seems to have had little concern for the accuracy of the translations he used.(5) Not only do I see a danger of over-deference to Augustine, but also to the reformers, which at times can be described as a manifestation of the cult of the personality.
A distorted concept of God
Our concept of God and His attributes should rightly color our whole theology. It is a fascinating observation that Calvinists tend to identify holiness as the foremost attribute of God. Arminians (and liberals) tend to focus upon the love of God as primary. Even though I taught one of those positions for many years, I now wonder why we must emphasize any attribute of God as more important than another. Do we not believe that the Lord Jesus was the most perfectly balanced and integrated personality ever? Do we not believe that God's love and holiness are perfectly met in the cross? George W. Peters has given a diagram which represents all the attributes of God in relation to each other by a triangle within a circle: in other words they are all perfectly balanced.(6) Paul Enns stated this explicitly: "In the study of God's attributes it is important not to exalt one attribute over another; when that is done it presents a caricature of God."(7) I would suggest that this is a better starting point for our study of soteriology than the others.
Substituting personal experience for Scripture
A century ago it could be said that there were three sources of authority usually appealed to in Christendom: Scripture, traditions of the church, and reason. But with the development of existential theology by Karl Barth earlier in the 20th century, an existential experience was added as a fourth. Additionally the pentecostal and charismatic movements also gave greater weight to personal experience in the determination of truth. The question is essentially whether we interpret Scripture through our experience or our experience by the plumbline of Scripture. The problem lies in the increased subjectivity of the process if varying human experiences become our criteria. With the relativism of our contemporary culture this subjectivity does not seem objectionable to people today.
Curiously, experience seems to be a major factor in the decision-making process of some of a vastly different tradition. Iain Murray tells the story of his conversion from premillennialism to postmillennialism in an account which involves only a passing reference to a few Scripture passages.(8) One would think that such a major theological pilgrimage would be based upon some serious biblical studies rather than just his own flow of experience.
Losing sight of the central themes of the Bible
The great scandal of the Protestant Reformation lay in the fact that Protestants did not send out missionaries for almost two centuries after the reformation. Even then the first missionaries represented the radical fringe of the reformation rather than its 'mainstream'. This was despite the fact that the greatest theologian of the apostolic church was also its greatest missionary--the Apostle Paul. Somehow the Reformers and especially their successors lost sight of a central theme of God's word: world evangelization. Indeed many learned theologians of the post-reformation period were most ingenious in rationalizing away the force of the missionary mandate.(9) It might be argued whether their theology was the cause or the consequence of this great omission. In any case it did bleed through to the fabric of their theology. In the same way today we construct our theologies oblivious of missions and other central biblical themes. We come with our own theological agenda and only perceive a small part of God's agenda.
As a missiologist I would also suspect that much of our Western theological agenda and structure arises from our Greek-philosophy-derived culture and cognitive process. The theological agenda tends to be set by the demands of the various cultures in which we live. David Hesselgrave has put it so well:
But in the process of rigorous, biblical theologizing there are incipient dangers also. We can mistake the theology for the revelation. We can go beyond the revelation and insist upon our conclusions even where the Bible does not speak plainly. And--most important for our present consideration--we can communicate our theological systems and communicate in the manner of our theologizing rather than communicate the message of the Bible itself and in the manner of biblical revelation.(10)
Thus we must also admit that our Western theological systems are substantially incomplete because they do not face the agenda demanded of Christians in the Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Confucianist, or Animistic worlds. Indeed, have our theologies adequately confronted supernaturalistic cultures, where we confront overt demonic forces (Eph. 6:12)?
Perhaps even more important is to appreciate how much our cultural cognitive process differs from that of the Hebrew way of thinking and expressing ideas, which we find in the words of Christ Jesus and of some of the apostles. This is vital in the interpretation of Scripture. So not only must we be aware of the cultural context issue in our interpretation, but also of the cultural shift within the New Testament itself.
APPROACHING THEOLOGY WITH A DEFECTIVE ATTITUDE
There are a number of ways in which defective attitudes surface in our theological enterprise. Let us isolate a few.
A denominational or traditional bias
Frequently Christians' understanding of theology is seriously colored by their own denominational traditional background. We would expect this to be a problem for poorly taught laymen, who may not have the linguistic and hermeneutical background to decide theological issues without referring back to their own background. We might even expect it from pastors who, although trained in these disciplines, have let the use of them lapse because of the pressures of pastoral ministry. But we would not expect it to be so rife among teachers and writers of theology. I suspect that the reality is otherwise. It would seem that an emotional bonding to the denominational or theological tradition of our background is far more pervasive than most of us would like to admit.
We must remember that the Lord Jesus explicitly warned about putting the traditions of men before the word of God. He said to the Pharisees that "you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition" (Mt. 15:6). The Apostle Paul warned the Colossian Christians about the danger of being taken "captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, . . ." (Col. 2:8). We must be sensitive to this danger.
One egregious example from a noted scholar comes to mind: "He has commanded in the Old Testament the teaching of the 'whole counsel' of God, which is indeed the Reformed system of theology."(11) Quite apart from whether one be Reformed, Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostal, or whatever, it smacks of intellectual and spiritual arrogance to claim that any human system of doctrine can be considered "the whole counsel of God." We humans can only claim, at the most, to have perceived a small part of the whole plan of God. I suspect that few adherents of any of the diverse evangelical theological systems would be willing to claim their own system as being "the whole counsel of God." We have much to learn from Christians of other viewpoints, whether we agree with their systems or not.
The emotional attachment to a tradition also showed up in the flack I have received about statements in my missions textbook, What in the World Is God Doing?, about the lack of missionary interest on the part of the reformers--more emotional reaction than to anything else in my book. One reviewer suggests that instead of dispelling missionary myths, I have perpetuated the myth that the reformers were not missionary minded. None of his documentation is at all convincing to me since the reality is that for two centuries after the Reformation Protestants did precious little to send out missionaries. Upon my discussing this with a missiological statesman of Reformed persuasion, he explained, "Well, that reviewer is T.R., "True Reformed." That spoke volumes!
A missionary friend of mine in Scandinavia once told me that in biblical discussions in Scandinavia, whether among Baptists, Pentecostals, Mission Covenanters, or whatever, the question usually is raised, "What did Luther say?" I believe there is a serious danger of our giving undue reverence to the Reformers, or for that matter any other human leaders, living or dead, as great as they might be! As towering figures as the Reformers were, we must remember that they were grievously in error in some areas of their beliefs and practices, even though they brought a great return to biblical religion. But Luther's intemperate words against the Jews are being used currently by antisemitic groups. And Calvin's recommendation for the execution of Servetus is still a blot on the reformation. The widespread persecution of the Anabaptists by the majority Protestants cannot be excused as a normal part of the times in which they lived. Even Luther himself became very disillusioned with the lack of genuineness of his followers. He stated:
If one considers rightly how the people now act who wish to be Protestant [by profession], and who know how to talk much about Christ, there is nothing behind it. Thus the more part deceive themselves. Ten-fold more were they who made a beginning with us, and who had serious pleasure in our teaching, but now not a tenth part of them remain steadfast. They learn indeed to say the words, as a parrot or popinjay repeats human words, but their hearts do not experience it; they remain as they are; they do not taste and feel how faithful and true God is. They merely speak much in praise of the gospel, and seek it at first with great earnestness; but afterwards there is nothing behind it; for they do what they like, follow their own lust, become more wicked than formerly, are much more unchaste and confident, wilder, more avaricious, thieving, robbing than other people, than peasants, citizens nobles, more avaricious and unchaste than they were under the Papacy. (emphasis mine)(12)
It hardly sounds from Luther's own testimony that we should think of the Protestant Reformation as a great revival which would justify making the Reformers' teachings the touchstone of truth. But this is what many evangelical Protestants today have done! It would seem to me that as Evangelicals our spiritual heritage may be more closely found in the persecuted evangelical prereformation groups and some of the sounder anabaptists of reformation days rather than in the mainstream. Indeed American evangelicalism owes far more to the radical fringe of the reformation than to its mainstream.(13)
Emotional reaction to opposing views.
As human beings we are emotional creatures and tend to react emotionally to views diverse from our own. This is one of the major obstacles to complete rationality since we find so much of mankind caught up in irrational behavior. Christians are not exempt from this. G. C. Berkouwer has put it so well:
Reaction is a phenomenon in Christian thought that has played a large role in the history of the Church and its theology. Reaction from some unbiblically one-sided proposition has often landed theology in another unbiblically one-sided proposition. Theologians attacking a caricatured theology have often created their own caricature of Christian thought. Observing that a given aspect of faith was neglected, Christians have often proceeded to accentuate that aspect so much that it became the be-all of the faith, with a resulting neglect of other aspects.(14)
Many examples could be given. The Roman Catholic Church reacted to the Protestant reformation by the extremes of the Council of Trent. We could also mention the reaction against Arianism which led to the majority church's reference to Mary as the Mother of God, which in turn brought about the reaction toward Nestorianism. All were overreactions. It probably could be said that the Remonstrants took Arminius's reaction to the scholastic Calvinism of his day and carried it to an extreme. In turn the scholastic Calvinists reacted in hardening the system to supralapsarianism.(15) Perhaps we could bring it closer to home by saying that some branches of fundamentalism overreacted to liberalism by developing a rigid legalism and unbiblical militancy (with some reticence I still call myself a fundamentalist, hopefully in the best sense of the word). Although the charge of obscurantism has long been unfairly leveled against Evangelicals and Fundamentalists, aberrations such as the King-James-only movement are clearly obscurantist over-reactions. It also shows up in a number of ethical areas. But then the Neoevangelicals overreacted to extreme fundamentalism, throwing out the baby with the bathwater in the denial of verbal plenary inspiration and in indulgence in teleological ethics (the end justifies the means). In another area we see Lewis Sperry Chafer reacting to the errors of covenant theology with at times an overstated dispensationalism, to which now there is the opposite reaction of progressive dispensationalism. And on it goes!
Ad hominum attacks
Another attitudinal problem that keeps cropping up is the tendency to lapse into personal attacks on the character of the person holding an opposite view. Church history is not only replete with example of verbal ad hominum attacks, but physical violence as well. At least one Arminian was executed after the Synod of Dordt. But today we still struggle with verbal ad hominum attacks. Clarence Bass's Backgrounds to Dispensationalism furnishes a striking example. Bass was a professor of theology, so we would be expecting him to focus on dispensational theology. Appropriately he started out with the distinguishing features of dispensationalism. But then most of the remaining two-thirds of the book is an evaluation of John Nelson Darby and his part in the 'Plymouth Brethren' movement. Although he claims to be fair to Darby, he makes numerous pejorative allusions to Darby's character with little specific documentation. He concludes that "unprejudiced testimony about his later years reveals a nature warped, caustic, and even at times vicious."(16) His statement may or may not be accurate. I have little basis to judge. But it is almost totally irrelevant to the truth or falsity of dispensationalism for a number of reasons. Darby was not the originator of dispensational teaching, and contemporary dispensationalism probably owes little to his writings, although he was a major advocate and popularizer of it in his day. I have personally found essential dispensational concepts in writers of the 17th century, and Ryrie and Ehlert have shown its history before Darby in considerable detail.(17) More importantly the ultimate question is what the Scriptures teach about dispensationalism. But this theology professor did not give any theological or exegetical discussion of the issue. This is a serious lapse into ad hominum.
Someone my say, "Olson, haven't you just launched into an ad hominum attack on Augustine?" Please note that I have not attacked his character. I have tried to show that he did not have a proper attitude toward the original languages which would qualify him to be the touchstone of theological truth. This is quite a different issue!
Scholarship and motivation
Let's face it--most theological writers would like to earn the respect of their peers for their scholarship. Even more praiseworthy for an evangelical scholar would be to gain the respect of liberals. Sometimes these natural desires distort the methodology and color the results. Out of this motivation we end up bowing the knee to the Baal of intellectualism (or should we say, an affected intellectualism). I think of one standard work by a late evangelical scholar of great reputation who rarely quoted his evangelical brethren, but who quoted non-evangelical writers many times as often. One wonders if he felt that non-evangelicals were far more enlightened theologically and exegetically than evangelical theologians? The one evangelical work in that discipline which I have found the most helpful over the years of teaching in that area, he quoted not once! I refer to Erich Sauer's two books which F. F. Bruce commended as the best in the field.(18) In God's sight motivation is of primary importance. To give this great scholar the benefit of the doubt, let us hope that his motivation was to influence liberals toward a more conservative position. Howbeit it is imperative that we check our motivation before we write theology. Who are we trying to impress?
Failure to honestly understand opposing views
Basic to intelligent and spiritually minded theological discussion of any debated issue is an honest attempt to understand what those who hold the opposing viewpoint are really saying. We must be extremely careful to try to understand their whole viewpoint and not misrepresent them. This means that we should not quote them out of context or draw false inferences from their statements. Not only is this basic scholarly integrity, but especially for us as Christians it is imperative not to so sin against our fellow believers. And yet this is a continuing problem in theological discussion.
One of the most disturbing things to me over many years has been the continued insistence of some scholars that dispensationalism teaches more than one way of salvation and is therefore doubtfully evangelical. John Gerstner made this charge in his Primer on Dispensationalism back in 1982 and reiterated it again in his full-length book in 1991. In the first he did not even allude to Charles Ryrie's 1965 definitive work in which he had already responded to that charge. Although by 1991 he documents Ryrie and admits that all the dispensationalists he has heard or read deny teaching more than one way of salvation, he insists that this is still a valid criticism and nevertheless reaffirms it with this statement: "The sheer persistence of this line of criticism by competent and well-meaning Christian theologians says a great deal about the dispensational lack of success at rebuttal."(19) I would suggest it says more about some theologians' failure to understand what dispensationalists are saying. The significant point that Gerstner had not grasped is that although dispensations are not different ways of salvation, they are distinct 'rules of life' for believers in each distinct age. This is a phrase that Chafer used over and over again and is most helpful in understanding what dispensationalism is all about. In neither book does Gerstner explain the logical connection he sees between different dispensations and different ways of salvation. There is no such connection despite Gerstner's (and others') insistence that there must be. Perhaps if he had sat down with Charles Ryrie or some other creditable dispensational spokeman, much of this misrepresentation could have been avoided.
To his great credit J. O. Buswell, Jr., although not a dispensationalist, was very fair in treating the issue of dispensationalists' statements implying that people under the law were saved on a meritorious basis. He pointed out that similar statements can be found in Charles Hodge and John Calvin, so to be fair we would have to acknowledge this same lapse in the writings of people of both schools in past generations and not just blame the dispensationalists.(20)
As in everyday life, the method we use to get a job done is exceedingly important to its successful completion. In chemistry lab as a student I used a wrong method of putting a stopper on a glass condenser and ended up reaming the shard of broken glass into my finger. It seemed like a minor methodological error but the results were catastrophic. Even worse was my experience in jogging, to which I have been addicted for a score of years. According to Dr. Kenneth Cooper, failure to wind down properly can have catastrophic consequences. Unfortunately I had not read his book before that one and only time I have ever failed to wind down. An hour later I had a massive heart attack which came close to killing me. As you can imagine, I am now very meticulous about my methodology when I jog. Methodology is exceedingly important in theology as well. Defective methodology will get us erroneous theology. Let us examine a number of current defective methodologies.
Substituting survey of theologies for real theology
Of great importance in our theological methodology is the survey of the development of doctrine in the history of Christianity and of the contemporary views in a particular area. This is important background for our theological study. But it is just that--background. The history of Christian doctrine is not theology, nor is a survey of contemporary theology. Yet some of our greatest evangelical theologians have been satisfied to publish works which never quite make it into the field of theology, per se. I hope all of my readers have already gotten a solid foundation for their soteriology in the doctrine of verbal plenary inspiration of Scripture. In that regard I was helped immeasurably by the writings of B. B. Warfield. Yet Dr. Warfield published a helpful little book entitled The Plan of Salvation(21) in which he does exactly that. It is a perceptive survey of the distinct views of salvation, but it gives little Scripture (only 2 references in 132 pages), exegesis or theology. Presumably it was not intended as a theological work. But it is indicative of a strong tendency among theologians to give overweight to such survey.
The great Princeton theologian, Charles Hodge, devoted 55 pages to a discussion of efficacious grace, with extensive survey of the literature. Of this only seven pages are a discussion of the determinative Scripture passages. Strictly, we would have to call this the "history of Christian thought" rather than theology.
More recently, we have R. C. Sproul's Willing to Believe, which surveys nine historical positions on the free will/total inability debate, without any real direct exegesis of Scripture.(22) Of the forty-some Bible references found in this book virtually all arise only in the quotations or allusions from his nine historical personalities. There is no direct exegesis of Scripture. But I will return to this in chapter 4 and Appendix D.
When I was a young Christian, my pastor, James Rehnberg, complained about some of the professors under whom he had studied in seminary. He said that they would survey several views on a particular point and say, "May the Holy Spirit show you the best view." He felt that the Holy Spirit should have helped those professors to point the students to the right view based upon solid Scriptural reasons. Survey is not theology. We must make sure that our main emphasis is on scriptural exegesis as the inductive basis for our theology and not upon the closely related disciplines, valuable as they may be.
Neglecting the primacy of inductive methodology
I am part of a generation which began to be influenced by inductive Bible study methodology, as set forth by Robert Traina and his disciples. We were taught to observe, observe, and observe again what the Scripture actually says. Bible studies in groups like InterVarsity and the Navigators have emphasized asking the right questions of the text and drawing the answers directly out of the text itself. The last century has evidenced an escalation of the science of hermeneutics and the development of the exegetical tools for arriving at the true meaning of the biblical text. Our problem has been to utilize these insights in developing our theologies. Unfortunately theologians have yet to catch up by giving priority to inductive methodology in our theologies.
The proper place of induction and deduction. It should be axiomatic both in science and theology that inductive, empirical evidence is far more dependable than deductive reasoning. Before proceeding any farther, let us get our definitions clearly understood. Induction is defined as "a bringing forward of separate facts or instances, esp. so as to prove a general statement." In logic it is "reasoning from particular facts or individual cases to a general conclusion." Deduction is "reasoning from a known principle to an unknown, from the general to the specific, or from a premise to a logical conclusion."(23)
Let me illustrate the difference from medical science. For years the medical consensus was that eggs and nuts in our diet contribute to high blood cholesterol and therefore to heart disease since they are high in fat and cholesterol. Five years ago I became aware of a contrarian approach to diet which caught my attention because the Lord Jesus confirmed in Luke 11:11-13 that fish and eggs are good things to give to children. Assuming that the Lord Jesus, the Creator, knew more about diet than doctors today, I adopted this contrarian approach with dramatic results in correcting my blood cholesterol. We just received a copy of the Nurses' Health Study Newsletter about a radical reversal of medical advice on eggs and nuts which resulted from the many years of the Nurses' Health Study. Dr. Willett explains that the previous advice was based upon "hypothesis and indirect evidence rather than direct data."(24) In other words, it was deductive rather than inductive; it was a priori rather than a posteriori. And it was dead wrong!
Exegesis of the determining Scripture passages gives us the particular facts from which we seek to draw our conclusions. This must be the starting point of all theology. Only after we have exhausted the inductive process may we turn to deduction. Deductive reasoning is valid only in confirming and testing the results of our induction or in filling in the gaps where the inductive data is missing or incomplete. It must never be given priority over induction.
A good example of this would be the discussion on the impeccability of Christ. There is no strong inductive data to prove that Christ could not have sinned. Exegesis of Hebrews 4:15 and other relevant passages allows for this viewpoint and perhaps leans toward it. But in the absence of strong inductive evidence, the deductive process comes into play. The implications of Christ's deity and the union of Christ's human and divine natures lead to the doctrine of impeccability. However, we must always go first to induction and recognize the limitations of the deductive process.
An example of putting deduction before induction is found in Robert H. Stein's discussion of Hebrews 6:4-6 in an otherwise good book.(25) He argues that this difficult passage must be interpreted in the light of the analogy of Scripture. Since many other passages teach the eternal security of the believer, and since the doctrines of predestination and unconditional election confirm eternal security, therefore this passage cannot contradict this truth and must be interpreted in harmony with it. He admits, however, "As one who has always believed in the doctrine of eternal security, I must confess that this passage does indeed conflict with such a view."(26) Unfortunately he does not come up with a cogent interpretation which is harmonious with such a view and thus leaves the problem unresolved. Although his principle is sound, he should have explored all of the inductive data more carefully before resorting to deduction. This I have sought to do in my discussion of this passage in chapter 14.
Philosophical presuppositions. Another way in which deduction has intruded too early in the theological process is in the area of our philosophical presuppositions. By beginning our theological process with certain philosophical presuppositions we in effect give them priority over the inductive, exegetical data. I remember a discussion in a seminary theology class which was greatly colored by the professor's statement that "God cannot know that which He has not willed." This was an unexamined philosophical statement which affected the outcome of the discussion. I, as a philosophically naive engineering graduate, bought the premise and the conclusions until years later in teaching theology came across a discussion of that presupposition by another theologian just as well qualified philosophically as my professor, who argued cogently against it. Perhaps my philosophical naivete is an advantage. It has made me very suspicious of philosophical presuppositions (as the Apostle Paul seems to be in Colossians 2:8). I suppose we all have our philosophical presuppositions. But whatever the reality of the case, of this I am sure: we must not give priority to them. Inductive exegesis must be the starting point.
The place of the Biblical Theology discipline. Most theological writers seem to see the Biblical Theology discipline as inferior and preliminary to systematic theology. Having taught both disciplines for over a quarter century, I have concluded that this is not the case. Biblical Theology is fully an equal and parallel discipline to systematics.(27) It is only our Greek- influenced, western-cultural way of thinking which has prejudiced us to favor systematics over Biblical Theology. Since the Biblical discipline is tied in more closely to exegesis and predisposes toward a more inductive methodology, it should be given a larger place in evangelical scholarship. But the neglect of Biblical Theology by Evangelicals has worked against a proper emphasis upon inductive exegesis. I am especially impressed with the value of diachronic Biblical Theology over the other methodologies in use since it brings out the progressive, historical dimension of biblical revelation. I have found a far greater openness to Biblical Theology in non-western cultures.(28) One good recent effort to integrate Biblical and systematic theology is rightly titled, Integrative Theology, by Lewis and Demarest.(29)
Failure to carry out exegesis properly
Once we are committed to the primacy of an inductive methodology, the next problem is the development of a sound exegetical methodology for inductive study of the relevant Scripture texts. One of the best efforts exegetically is that of James Oliver Buswell, Jr.(30) Although we might not always agree with the results of Buswell's exegesis, his work is commendable as a serious attempt to do the exegesis. It is sad to say that this has not been true of theologies historically or even on the contemporary scene. Let us focus on some especially troublesome areas.
Prooftexting. We frequently accuse the cultists of the practice of prooftexting, by which we mean using a barrage of Scripture texts, many of which may be taken out of context or otherwise misinterpreted. Indeed the Jehovah's Witnesses have a book of prooftexts for their doctrines, which is available only to their workers. Not only is it selective in leaving out references which contradict their position, but it assumes that a superficial reading of these verses out of context will lead to the truth. This approach implies that careful exegesis is not necessary. But even some of the best evangelical theologians fall into doing the same thing.
I remember on one occasion checking out a whole paragraph of references in a theology which purported to prove that God is equally present everywhere. After hours of investigating all of the references, I concluded that they only supported the omnipresence of God. None of them supported the equal presence of God everywhere, which is a dubious notion.
On one occasion I checked out several lines of prooftexts listed by a prominent missiologist to prove that Israel did have an explicit commission to go out into the Gentile world with the message of the true God, which would go farther than the "come and see" emphasis of other missiologists. On checking the references listed, I found none of them proved the point he was making. All they proved was that God revealed a plan in the Old Testament for the salvation of Gentiles, without specifying how it was to be accomplished.
Prooftexting is a violation of the old saying that "a text out of context is pretext." Basically it is failure to do the necessary work of exegesis. Most of all it violates the first law of interpretation which is the law of context. "Context is king" is a helpful aphorism, which needs to be engraved on the hand of every Bible student. But when theologians fail to discuss the context of each passage referred to, they violate this rule, even if the verse is quoted in full. It is not just the adjacent verses we are referring to, but also the whole chapter and indeed the flow of thought of the whole book. For example, study of election in Romans 9 must consider the broader context of chapters nine through eleven, where Paul discusses the question of God's fairness in setting national Israel aside dispensationally. We may not even stop there, because the historical and cultural contexts are also of vital importance. To use language from missiology, we must consider the differing cognitive process of the Hebrew and Graeco-Roman cultures into which God's revelation came. For example, Christ's avoidance of the first person in his speech is very different from our cultural way of speaking. Each statement of Scripture must first be exegeted in its own integrity before any theological work can be done. But many have failed to exegete the Scriptures adduced and thus are guilty of prooftexting.
Failure to check the original. Frequently we do not do our homework in the original languages and build, not only sermons, but also our theology on an erroneous English translation, especially when most available translations are imprecise or defective. Over the years I have noted the tendency of translators to get in the rut of following a translational tradition rather than to courageously represent the original in a fresh way.
One very vivid example of this comes to mind. I had invited an amillennial pastor to present his case in a theology course of mine. He gave a tightly reasoned case for 1½ hours based upon the premise that Christ inaugurated the "last days" at His first coming, arguing from the English text of Hebrews 1:1-2. After class some students gathered in my office for discussion and we checked the Greek text. We were surprised to find the words, ep' eschatou ton hmern toutn, which rendered literally becomes, "at the end of these days." Since the Apostle had just referred to the ancient revelation as coming "in many portions and in many ways", it seems clear that he was now referring to the many ages which preceded the first coming of Christ. This is confirmed by his statement in 9:26: ". . . but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (NAS). Thus the whole premise of this gentlemen's laborious argument proved to be unsupported and insupportable.(31) Another passage misused by our amillennial friends in a similar way is John 18:36, where the traditional English renderings are misleading.
Word studies. The value of word studies is under serious discussion today. No doubt word studies were overworked and abused by past generations of scholars. We now recognize that word studies in themselves cannot uncover the meaning of the text. Words are always to be understood in their contexts. However, we must not throw out the baby with the bathwater. Word studies do give us the range of meanings to which a word is susceptible so that we may select the correct meaning by considering the context. But in so doing we must be careful to avoid the abuses of this tool. Donald Carson has suggested sixteen word-study fallacies we must avoid.(32)
Ironically a major hindrance to doing primary word-study research is the availability of excellent lexicons and theological dictionaries. But for serious theological study we cannot trust secondary sources, even Kittel's Theological Dictionary. Bromiley in the Translator's Preface warns, "When this is understood, Kittel is safeguarded against the indiscriminate enthusiasm which would make it a sole and absolute authority in lexical and exegetical matters."(33) In my own research on the meaning of metanoia (repentance), I found that the articles in both Kittel and Colin Brown's Dictionary of New Testament Theology were not only guilty of bias and faulty judgment, but most heinously misstated the basic linguistic data upon which the reader is to make a judgment. This is in reference to the translation of the corresponding Old Testament Hebrew words in the Septuagint and the New Testament (cf. ch. 8 for fuller discussion). How is it that such highly reputed works could err in the most elementary data, which can be (and should be) checked by any Greek novice who knows how to use a Greek concordance? The point is that we must not depend upon secondary sources.
Walter Kaiser has made a significant point which I believe was ignored in the above Kittel articles. He speaks of the "Analogy of Antecedent Scripture", by which he means that we must view each context only in the light of antecedent contexts. It seems logical that the same should apply to word studies. We should primarily focus upon the usage of a word before the context in question, since later usage may show semantic shift in a different direction.(34)
Another warning is imperative at this point. Even when we have carefully done our grammatical and syntactical study and considered the results of our word studies, we must not forget the primacy of context in drawing our conclusions. The reason for this is as Buswell says somewhere that language is not mathematics. Carson has emphasized this in his discussion of the flexibility of New Testament Greek grammar.(35)
An example of a too rigid or pedantic concept of grammar and word usage is seen in the accusation made against the Apostle John regarding his Greek usage in the book of Revelation. It is claimed that John's grammar is defective in the oft repeated phrase, ho n kai ho n kai ho erchomenos. Have these critics ever considered the possibility that John intentionally violated normal usage to make a point? How frequently preachers today intentionally use colloquial speech to make a point, such as, "It ain't necessarily so!" John was emphasizing the return of the Lord Jesus, and to emphasize his point intentionally used erchomai in an abnormal way. Many other examples could be given from contemporary languages of ungrammatical colloquial expressions used for a variety of reasons. Indeed, language is not mathematics!
Another important principle in word studies is to be careful not to confuse the meanings of distinct Greek words derived from the same root. I will have many occasions to allude to this most important statement in Chamberlain's Exegetical Grammar: "The student should learn once and for all that every single letter added to a Greek root adds something to the idea expressed by the root."(36)
Years after graduating from seminary I felt the need as a missionary to restudy baptism. It was quite disillusioning to me to find upon investigation that one of my professors had made serious misstatements about the usage of baptizein, disillusioning until I realized that he had confused baptein and baptizein. Chamberlain's statement helped me to realize that these are two distinct words with two distinct ranges of meaning.
Old Testament quotations in the New. In recent years I have been especially sensitized about the absolute necessity of carefully studying the Old Testament context of quotations in the New. It frequently casts a totally different light upon our understanding of the flow of thought of the author. One of the most significant examples would be the many quotations in Romans 9, as Forster and Marston highlighted.(37) For example, when we examine Paul's use of the potter's wheel symbolism drawn from Jeremiah 18:1ff, we get a radically different impression of Paul's point from that which many commentators and theologians read into it. Jeremiah's picture is of the nation Israel as a marred vessel on the potter's wheel, which God can remake as He sovereignly pleases before it is fired. Paul's point is the same. The corporate nation was set aside dispensationally for rejecting the Messiah. God has the sovereign right to restore Israel, as Paul confirms in chapter eleven that He will do.
Old Testament background. A related error is failure to examine the Old Testament background of New Testament concepts. A significant example would be the Old Testament background of the usage of rock in Matthew 16:18. Over thirty times in the Old Testament 'rock' is a symbol used for God. It is unthinkable that we should interpret Christ's words to Peter apart from the Old Testament usage. Therefore, neither Peter himself, nor Peter's confession qualify as good interpretive options. I concur with Augustine's final opinion that Christ Himself is the rock (for fuller discussion see chapter 14).
Not considering all the options. Interpreters (and translators) frequently do not consider all the exegetical options in their interpretation. Sometimes it is a failure to not only consult the original language, but also to consider the grammatical, syntactical, or linguistic options which might solve a problem. This assumes, of course, that the interpreter has even recognized the problem (which is not always true). One astounding example to me as a missiologist is the case of the problem of Colossians 1:23. It seems as if Paul is saying that the gospel has been preached to all of creation before AD 63. We know that this was not historically true. If we survey the commentaries we find that neither Peake nor Eadie seem aware of the problem. Moule, Maclaren, Lightfoot, Robertson, and Geisler call it hyperbole or rhetorical coloring. Earle Ellis goes so far as to call it "hyperbole inevitable to a 'born' evangelist."(38) However, what none of these distinguished commentators have observed is that the verb keruxthentos is an aorist participle which frequently has an ingressive force and as a participle reflects continuing action. Thus it makes perfect sense to translate, "the gospel, which is beginning to be preached in all creation under the heavens." Thus the difficulty is so simply resolved without putting Paul (and God's word) in a bad light. So we go back to a basic inductive principle: observe, observe, observe!
Related to this would be a cavalier a priori dismissal of certain options because they are not thought to be respectable in the academic community because of certain prejudices and biases. I recall reading a response to a reader's question about the meaning of Matthew 24:34 by a faculty member in the Westminster Seminary Bulletin. He gave a number of possible interpretations, but did not even mention the possibility that genea might be mistranslated here and elsewhere. Perhaps a suggestion from the Scofield Reference Bible notes is not to be take seriously because C. I Scofield was not a part of the evangelical academic establishment. The Scofield note here is totally supportable: "Gr. genea, the primary definition of which is 'race, kind, family, stock, breed.' (So all lexicons.)"(39) Years ago I wrote a paper on The Impact of Mistranslation on the Millennial Issue, in which I surveyed the major lexicons and found that none of them list 'generation' as the primary meaning of the word, and noted that Kittel rules out this meaning at all: "The sense of the totality of those living as contemporaries is not found in Greek, though it must be presupposed in explanation of d."(40) After surveying the usage in Matthew's Gospel as confirmatory, I quoted Bishop Ryle:
These verses teach us . . . that until Christ returns to this earth, the Jews will always remain a separate people. . . . I see no other interpretation of these controverted words, 'this generation', which is the least satisfactory, and is not open to very serious objections. . . . The view that I have propounded is not new. It is adopted by Bede, Paroeus, Facius Illyricus, Calovius, Jansenius, Due Veil, Adam Clarke, and Stier.(41)
So we see that Scofield had some illustrious antecedent support for his suggestion, which should not have been ignored.
Getting into an interpretive rut. One of my teaching colleagues used to drill into his students the question, "What is God doing here?" for their inductive Bible study. Frequently we fail to ask the right questions of the text and thus fail to get the right answers. There is an impressive amount of literature and discussion about the nature of 'tongues' on the day of Pentecost and subsequently. Some years ago I was very impressed when one of my brighter students pointed up the missionary significance of the gift of 'languages' (as it ought to be translated) on that day. Here were Jews speaking of God's glorious salvation plan in Gentile languages as a foreglimpse of the ultimate missionary outreach of the church to people of every tongue, tribe, and language. How many commentators have missed this key dimension of the Pentecost event?
Another example of how we frequently fail to ask the right questions of the text is seen in the book of Jonah. I am convinced by the events of chapter four that Jonah did not tell the whole message God sent him to tell--he left out repentance and the possibility of deliverance. It was inconceivable that God should send him to proclaim only doom. Yet none of the commentators I have been able to consult even raise the question as to whether Jonah should have or did preach repentance. It seems clear that Jonah's ethnocentrism caused him to drop from his message the possibility of God's withholding judgment. He wanted Ninevah destroyed. Otherwise why did he sit outside of the city waiting for its destruction? It seems that most commentators have missed a major issue in the book.
It is beyond the scope of this book to discuss hermeneutics (the science of interpretation) in any detail. There are a host of books available today on this. I believe a word is in order about the imperative of literal hermeneutics. Scholars many debate endlessly about the meaning or non-meaning of this term, but I believe it is more perspicuous and clear than they will admit. There is obviously a crass literalism to be avoided, that is, failure to recognize the many common figures of speech such as metaphor, simile, hyperbole, etc. Roman Catholicism has lapsed into such crass literalism in failing to see the obvious metaphor in Christ's words, "This is my body." But beyond such readily recognizable figures of speech and poetic language, I am convinced that there is no justification for spiritualizing any part of the Bible. This practice injects a subjectivism which makes God's word a nose of wax to be bent in any direction one's presuppositions lead. I believe this does a disservice to the integrity of God's objective word.
TESTING OUR THEOLOGY
Although we must never fall into pragmatism in developing our theology, I believe it is important to test our theology in the real world of human beings. There is a serious tendency to develop an ivory tower theology which has no relevance to real life, or worse yet contradicts today's realities. If our theology fails these tests, we should go back to the drawing board and reexamine our theology and see where we might have erred.
As a missionary in Pakistan 40 years ago I found it hard to reconcile the Pope's edicts on birth control with the gross overpopulation of the Indian subcontinent. I lived among wall-to-wall people in the Punjab when there were less than 50 million people in West Pakistan. Now the population there is over 140 million. Deafforestation of the foothills of the Himalayas mountains caused by overpopulation was causing devastating annual floods even then. Most Evangelicals would agree that the Pope's view of birth control is based on natural theology, not Scripture. He should test his theology in the real world of suffering humans.
Another way to test our theology is to see its ramifications in related disciplines like ethics. When I began to teach Christian ethics years ago, I found that some of the extreme statements made by the early dispensationalists had serious ethical ramifications. They seemed to put us in ethical antinomianism (not soteriological antinomianism, as has been wrongly charged). The ethical test forced me to modify my dispensationalism somewhat.
Years ago I had numerous opportunities to hear one of the greatest expositors of this century from time to time. I'll never forget him making an absurd statement on one occasion: "The children of all true believers will ultimately come to faith in Christ and be saved, even if it is on their deathbed." That statement should have been subjected to the historical test. If it were true, then Christianity would have to show numerical growth in every geographical area, except where most Christians are martyred. This certainly was not the case when the Muslims conquered North Africa. They did not martyr most of the Christians. As they usually do, they put social, cultural, and financial pressure upon the Christians. The population there now is Muslim and they were not immigrants; they are the descendants of true believers! So that theological statement needed to be re-examined.
Speaking of the Muslims, we have a missiological problem with developed Calvinism. If God decreed in eternity past who would be saved and who would be reprobated, then it seems that God loves Americans more than Turks, Libyans, Algerians, Afghans, etc. But that would go counter to the admission of all Calvinists that Christ died for all without distinction, as Peter stated in Acts 10:34-35. So that concept of election needs to be re-examined. One pastor wrote me that such statements seem like pragmatism. But we do believe in the law of non-contradiction, don't we?
Lastly, there is the apologetic test. There is tremendous apologetic value in the chronological prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27. The 69 heptads of years (483 years) from the decree of Artaxerxes Longimanus (444 BC) bring us wonderfully to the crucifixion of Christ about AD 33, as Sir Robert Anderson showed over a century ago in The Coming Prince (p. 128). This apologetic is only valuable for those of us who take prophecy in an essentially literal framework. Those who spiritualize this prophecy to fit their system lose its apologetic efficacy. I think that is a bad trade-off.
Theology did not get a good start after the Reformation, considering that Lutherans and Calvinists put much energy into vitriolic debate about Christ's presence in the elements of the Lord's Supper. However, Paul stressed the Lord's absence: . . . until He comes" (1 Cor. 11:26). This was little better than the pointless discussion of the filioque clause centuries earlier. We need a continuing reformation in the church and in theology, especially in theological methodology. We must start by confessing our past failures as sin, and repent of our carnal biases, or worse yet our failure to do serious exegesis, if we are to restore evangelical theology back into its rightful place as the queen of sciences.
Jose Miguez Bonino. Doing Theology in a Revolutionary Situation (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1975).
Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. in a lecture at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, July 18, 1979.
Jean Daille, A Treatise on the Right Use of the Fathers (1631), trans. T. Smith, (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board, 1842).
William A. Heth and Gordon J. Wenham, Jesus and Divorce: The Problem with the Evangelical Consensus (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1985).
Forster and Marston, God's Strategy pp. 257-95.
George W. Peters, A Biblical Theology of Missions (Chicago: Moody Press, 1972), p. 56.
Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago: Moody Press, 1972), p. 188.
Iain Murray, The Puritan Hope (London: Banner of Truth).
C. Gordon Olson, What in the World Is God Doing? The Essentials of Global Missions, 4th ed. (Cedar Knolls, NJ: Global Gospel Publishers, 1998), pp. 113-20.
David J. Hesselgrave, Communicating Christ Cross-Culturally (GR: Zondervan, 1978), p. 212.
John H. Gerstner, A Primer on Dispensationalism (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1982), p. 15. I have not had opportunity to find any similar statement in his subsequent full-length 1991 critique.
Martin Luther, as quoted by Johannes Warnes in Baptism: Studies in the Original Christian Baptism (London: Paternoster Press, 1957), pp. 248-9. Unfortunately the translator, G. H. Lang, did not include the German documentation.
Earl D. Radmacher, What the Church Is All About: A Biblical and Historical Study (Chicago: Moody Press, 1978), pp.79-85.
G. C. Berkouwer, "Election and Doctrinal Reaction," Christianity Today 5:586.
W. Robert Godfrey, "Reformed Thought on the Extent of the Atonement to 1618," Westminster Theological Journal, ??pp. 155-67.
Clarence B. Bass, Backgrounds to Dispensationalism: Its Historical Genesis and Ecclesiastical Implications (GR: Baker, 1960), p. 62.
Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today (Chicago: Moody Press, 1965), pp. 65-85. Granted that Bass did not have access to Ryrie's book but he should have been aware of Arnold H. Ehlert's series of articles, "A Bibliography of Dispensationalism," in Bibliotheca Sacra from 1944-46.
Erich Sauer, The Dawn of World Redemption and The Triumph of the Crucified (GR: Eerdmans, 1951). George Eldon Ladd in A Theology of the New Testament (Eerdmans, 1974) documents Rudolph Bultmann 69 times, similar numbers for Cullman, Dodd, Jeremias, and John A. T. Robinson while he never refers to Sauer, only 15 referemces to Geerhardus Vos; Oswald Allis, 1; F. F. Bruce, 27; Lewis Sperry Chafer, 1; Lightfoot, 4; R. N. Longnecker, 16; L. Morris, 28; Alva McClain, 4; John Murray, 5; Charles Ryrie, 2; etc.
John H. Gerstner, Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth: A Critique of Dispensationalism (Brentwood, TN:Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1991), p. 152.
Buswell, II, p. 314-9.
Benjamin B. Warfield, The Plan of Salvation (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1935).
R. C. Sproul, Willing to Believe: The Controversy over Free Will (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1997).
David B. Guralnick, Webster's New World Dictionary. (New York: Prentice Hall, 1986).
Walter C. Willett, "Old Beliefs Challenged by New Data" in Nurses' Health Study Newsletter, vol. 6, p. 5.
Robert H. Stein, Difficult Passages in the New Testament. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990), pp. 348-55.
Ibid., p. 353.
I have capitalized Biblical Theology to distinguish it as a distinct discipline, not just a biblically oriented theology. It may be defined as the study of theology in a historical, progressive framework, that is, studying God's revelation in the same way God gave it, that is, progressively and in human historical contexts. In my view, the best form is the diachronic methodology as exemplified by Erich Sauer and Geerhardus Vos since its agenda intrinsically forces us to stay closer to exegesis in its historical, chronological, and dispensational context.
In 1979 I wrote a paper for David J. Hesselgrave setting forth this proposition entitled. "The Utilization of Biblical Theology in the Third World," about which he was very enthusiastic and wanted me to develop into a doctoral project. However, I did not succeed in pulling together the diverse disciplines necessary to complete this project.
Gordon R. Lewis and Bruce A. Demarest, Integrative Theology. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990)
James Oliver Buswell, Jr., A Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1962.)
He had stated that the argument was derived from Geerhardus Vos, but I have been unable to document it. I have written a paper entitled, "The Impact of Mistranslation on the Millennial Issue," which is available from the author.
D. A. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984).
Gerhard Kittel ed., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964), vol. I, p. ix.
Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Toward an Old Testament Theology (GR: Zondervan, 1978), pp. 18-9.
D. A. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984), p. 67ff.
William Douglas Chamberlain, An Exegetical Grammar of the Greek New Testament (New York: Macmillan, 1952), p. 11. He gives a list of twenty distinct words derived from the root dik, which is most instructive in illustrating the Greek word-building process. Probably something similar has been done or could be done in the Hebrew.
Roger T. Forster and V. Paul Marston, God's Strategy in Human History (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1973), pp. 69-99.
E. Earle Ellis, "Colossians". Wycliffe Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody, 1962), p. 1139.
C. I. Scofield, The Scofield Reference Bible (NY: Oxford University Press, 1909), en loc.
Friedreich Buchsel in Gerhard Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, vol. I:662-3.
J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (NY: Robert Carter, 1875), pp. 323-4.