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Jesus Creed

Going Beyond the Bible Biblically 2

Gutenberg_Bible ds.JPGHere are our big questions in this series of posts: How do we move beyond the Bible? Should we? Better yet: Since we have to, how do we move beyond the Bible into our world but do this biblically? This is the concern of Zondervan’s new Counterpoint book edited by Gary Meadors: Four Views on Moving beyond the Bible to Theology (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology)
. As I said Tuesday, this book touches on themes I discuss in more popular form in The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible .

What do you think of Doriani’s take on gambling? I wonder if the stock market, etc, are seen as gambling?

The first model was that of Walter Kaiser and he called his approach “principlizing” which moves from particulars to timeless principles back to particulars in a Ladder of Abstraction. The second approach comes from Daniel Doriani, who wrote a nice exposition of James, in what he calls the “redemptive-historical approach.” He affirms the authority, sufficiency and clarity of Scripture.


He believes in (1) close, accurate interpretation, (2) synthesis of biblical data into doctrinal and ethical statements (propositions), (3) application of Scripture in an imitation of God manner, and (4) he believes in using narratives in Scripture (he’s responding to the didactic vs. narrative discussion).
Doriani, who is close to Kaiser in most ways except they frame things differently, sees some legitimation in going beyond the Bible: to enunciate what is latent in the text and to address issues that the Bible doesn’t address. But some go beyond the Bible by going against it — and he critiques complementarians in this regard and he pushes against arcs and the redemptive movement hermeneutic. 

He proposes going beyond through casuistry: the art of discerning particular behaviors in light of general principles. (Here he sounds like Kaiser to me.) 
But he goes at this differently than does Kaiser, who opts for the Ladder of Abstraction. Doriani says we should ask questions in four categories and these questions shape how we respond to issues not addressed in the Bible: 
Duty, Character, Goals and Vision. 
He then applies his casuistic set of questions to gambling, architecture, and then to women and ministry.
Gambling: gambling can apply to a variety of things and the Bible never addresses gambling. What it says about “lots” goes in both directions — sometimes good, sometimes not. 
1. Gambling violates our duty in the 4th Commandment. Promises wealth without toil. It promises wealth at times with false promises. etc
2. Gambling promotes flaws in character. Greed etc.
3. Gambling’s goal is to get rich at the expense of others. etc
4. The gambler’s worldview/vision is luck and not providence.
Kaiser mostly agrees; Vanhoozer pushes back for more awareness of Church history and to push more into how we futher the theodrama, and Webb pushes back for how Doriani understands the redemptive movement hermeneutic and for spending too much time criticizing other views and not enough defending his own. (I completely agree with Webb in his critique of Doriani for predicated arguments wherein Doriani assumes his own correctness. That’s for another day.)
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posted November 19, 2009 at 3:21 am

“1. Gambling violates our duty in the 4th Commandment.”
My concern with this kind of thinking is that it leads to legalism. We should be motivated by love, not by duty. We need to think relationally – ie what behaviors build rather than hinder relationships. Even the Ten Commandments need to be viewed through the prism of the Two Great Commandments (Matt 22) otherwise we risk misapplying scripture (as the Pharisees did in Matt 12).

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Scot McKnight

posted November 19, 2009 at 7:01 am

angusj, well, perhaps. But how would you approach a matter like gambling?

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posted November 19, 2009 at 8:13 am

I don’t know about this calculus of duty, character, goals and vision: My gut feeling is that this not how Jesus operated in discerning Scripture. As for gambling–or anything–His lead implies asking the question: How does this affect “the least of these?” We know from his life that the kingdom of God is built by serving and loving, not oppressing, the poor, the second class, the sick and the vulnerable. Who does gambling hurt? Talk to anybody “on the ground” in social services–and I have, many a time, as a journalist–and they will be the first to tell you how opposed they are to state gambling as a system that hurts the poor. What he can possibly have to say about architecture, I don’t know, but I can see his four pillars as justifying building a huge cathedral on the grounds of vision, whereas “how does this affect the least of these?” would probably move us in the direction of simpler church, perhaps with a low-cost housing unit attached, and women in the ministry–I’m curious as to how he spells out that argument with his system–but “least of these?” would put the emphasis on hearing the voice of the woman whose spiritual gifts are being denied.

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posted November 19, 2009 at 8:42 am

Scot and angusj, I think that the difference between duty or love is an important one. On one hand it might be a false dichotomy but it seems that if “love” or even “relationships” is the motivation the answers to questions about gambling are similar. Gambling can harm families, destroy lives, and cause addictions. Those are all both relational and dutiful reasons not to gamble.
But if motivated by love there is more wiggle room. I have a friend who regularly schedules poker nights for friends. There is a $5 buy in. His philosophy is that you can spend $5 going to a movie where there is no talking and little interaction with other people or you can spend 4-6 hours with friends playing cards for the same price. This is done in a community of people who care enough about each other to not allow things like addiction to take over. We don’t allow people to neglect their families because of a poker night. It is gambling. I lose $5 every time (I’m not very good) but I also get to spend a good deal of quality time with friends.
I think love is a much more Christ like motivation than duty.

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Dan Reid

posted November 19, 2009 at 9:11 am

The title of this book does not seem to line up with your description of it so far. From the title I get the impression that it deals with what we call the theological interpretation of Scripture. But its focus actually seems to be how we apply the Bible to (mostly ethical?) issues today. To put it another way, from the title I would think the viewpoints would generally line up with those Dan Treier discusses in Introducing Theological Interpretation of Scripture. But they don’t. I’m not questioning your description of it, just puzzled over what appears to be a disconnect between title and content.

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Scot McKnight

posted November 19, 2009 at 11:09 am

Dan, you’re right. This isn’t about theologizing outside the confines of Scripture but about how to “apply” what the Bible says to hot ethical topics … it promises a topic that it addresses only tangentially. Maybe Vanhoozer will get to this one…

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Patrick O

posted November 19, 2009 at 12:25 pm

Seems to me this is precisely where our understanding of the Holy Spirit comes into play. How do we interpret the Bible outside of the Bible’s particular issues? It seems like this was the primary issue Jesus had with the Pharisees. They were extremely devoted to the Scriptures, having learned the lesson of their history. Yet, in their interpretations and application they got details right but the ‘spirit’ of the text wrong in certain cases. And these certain cases were crucial, it seems, and even literally so in the case of not rightly applying the prophecies to their present issue of Jesus of Nazareth.
If we have an essentially binarian view of God (in practice if not in rhetoric) we are forced, it seems, to either dismiss the Bible as irrelevant in contemporary ethical discussions or try to force even tangentially related teachings into the packaging of our present day questions. Rather than being living water, the teachings of God are hardened concrete. Either crushing or shattered.
The question, I think, that a more Trinitarian perspective takes is what is the Spirit of the text, the teaching of the Spirit that relates to the issue in Scripture that informs the teaching we are to hold onto today. Are we willing to see John 14:15ff as a normative exegetical principle, or dismiss it as too vague and unwieldy for practical guidance.
The problem is there isn’t always a clear, obvious, scientifically, exegetical assured answer in seeing the Spirit as our primary teacher. But that does seem to be the way Jesus implied is the way to truth, in his era and ours. How we then discern the Spirit is the key question in this case.

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John W Frye

posted November 19, 2009 at 5:24 pm

Should we all become scribes and Pharisees? I can’t believe Doriani is actually taken seriously. I say this from a pastoral point of view. I agree with the comments above that this approach is a replacement of the Spirit. We actually tip ou hand as evangelicals that the Holy SPirit is actually unnescessary in the application of Scripture. We can apply our “duty, character, goals, vision” scheme and get to the intent of the Bible. One word: cumbersome. I cannot see the church in Acts sitting around wondering “Does this OT text speak to duty, character, goal or vision?” I’m sorry, but what a crock.

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Craig V.

posted November 19, 2009 at 9:39 pm

My suspicion with both contributors so far is that they start “beyond the Bible” and don’t seem to realize it. Is there really any doubt that Doriani does not have a high view of gambling and then reads the Scriptures accordingly.

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Jim Martin

posted November 19, 2009 at 11:01 pm

Sounds like an interesting read on a very important subject. This is incredibly relevant to the church and to believers who find themselves wrestling with questions they were not even asking a few years ago.
I would like to read this book. I do appreciate what Patrick O said in the #7 comment regarding the Trinitarian perspective as these issues are addressed.

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posted November 20, 2009 at 12:19 am

Scot #2, sorry for the late reply. I think Diane #3 and Joey #4 have answered your question well. Also, it might be fruitful to ask why people gamble – is it out of boredom, or loneliness, or an addiction or to meet some other need? I’m not convinced that ‘greed’ is an important motivation for most gamblers. Also, if we think of gamblers as ‘greedy’ people, then it doesn’t help us see their humanity.

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