Print Friendly, PDF & Email

What about God?
What about Jesus?
What about the Holy Spirit?
What about the Bible?
What about Biblical Interpretation?
What about Doctrine?

 
 
What about God?
Ancient Sage/Rabbinic tradition taught that God’s Name Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey (referred to as the TetragrammatonW) is ineffable (incapable of being pronounced). The Sages/Rabbis also taught the Israelites to avoid pronouncing God’s name in order to never accidentally misuse God’s name. As such, it is common to hear the TetragrammatonW referred to as HaShem or Adonai, but most English speaking Christians are familiar with the LORD.

The English phrase “The LORD” has roots dating all the way back to the first Bible translation, The Septuagint (LXX), when Jews, began taking the Hebrew Bible into the Greek language about 200 years before the birth of Jesus.

When doing that Hebrew-to-Greek translation, the Jewish translators represented the Hebrew TetragrammatonW with the Greek word kurios (Strong’s number G2962), which gives the English word LORD, which seems to indicate that the Name tradition goes back to, at least, the time of The Septuagint, circa 200 BC/BCE.

However, the purpose of this Naming convention (referring to God as HaShem or kurios or the LORD) is to provide a fence of protection so that the Name (Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey) is not accidentally used in vain. As such, it is no surprise that many English Bible readers think that God’s name is “The LORD”.

Importantly, in English God’s Name is either YHWH or YHVH. These two spellings are the English transliterated equivalent of the TetragrammatonW, the Four Hebrew Letters: Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey.

Intriguingly, in the Hebrew Bible Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey (Strong’s number H3068) is found over 6500 times. Understanding this, it seems proper to conclude that the Hebrew Bible wants us to know that God’s Name is YHWH.

Some pronounce Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey as Yahweh, Yahveh, or Jehovah, yet others pronounce God’s Name as Yahovah.

In the King James, Jehovah transliterates the TetragrammatonW in Exodus 6.3 KJV. But, when rendering God’s Name, most English Bible translations continue the practice of substituting “the LORD”.

The American Standard Version 1901 renders YHWH into English as Jehovah.

The English Bible translation entitled The Scriptures does not translate YHWH, but places the Hebrew letters directly inside the English text, in essence leaving the Hebrew TetragrammatonW inside an English translation.

Interestingly, because the words God and LORD have become synonymous with Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey, some have taken fence building to another level, believing it necessary to render God as G-d, and LORD as L-RD. These words (God, G-d, LORD, L-ORD) simply are not the TetragrammatonW. Those words hide the TetragrammatonW.

While G-d and L-RD show a measure of reverence, one simply cannot use God’s Name in vain when referring to the TetragrammatonW as HaShem, Adonai, LORD, L-RD, God, or G-d. HaShem means “The Name”. Adonai, LORD, Lord, lord mean “master”.

Additionally, God is the type of being that YHWH is, just as every human has a name, every god has a name, the God of all god’s is Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey, which means that the words Hashem, Adonai, God, G-d, LORD, L-ORD serve, at best, as honorary titles, using titles to represent a name.

Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey does not require human fences as additional protection. Yet, each Believer is at liberty to refer, and should refer, to Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey in the appropriate manner suitable to their conscience. As such, the words HaShem, Adonai, LORD, L-RD, God, or G-d are acceptable, but are not functionally equivalent to the TetragrammatonW: Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey.

YHWH’s name should not be taken in vain (Exodus 20.7, Deuteronomy 5.11).

YHWH is one (Deuteronomy 6.4, Mark 12.29).

YHWH is the one true living God, without whom nothing exists.

YHWH does not dwell in a temple made with hands (Acts 7.48; Hebrews 9.11-12).

YHWH cannot be represented by images carved by human hands (Exodus 20.4; Acts 17.29).

YHWH is described in anthropomorphic terms (e.g. Face – Deuteronomy 31.16-17; Arm – Isaiah 53.1).

YHWH is described with anthropomorphic gender traits (e.g. masculine – Genesis 2.22, Deuteronomy 32.6, Matthew 6.9; feminine – Deuteronomy 32.18, Isaiah 42.14; 49.15).

YHWH is described with an unspecified gender yet specifically in parental role (Hosea 11.1-4).

YHWH is spirit (John 4.24).

 
 
What about Jesus?
Jesus, as attested to by the Gospels, is fulfillment of Hebrew Bible’s Messianic prophecy.

While there is argument about the phrase “born of a virgin” or “born of a maiden” both maiden and virgin can refer to a woman who has not had a sexual relationship with a man. Some prefer the word virgin because the word virgin indicates not only marriage status, but also sexual status, whereas maiden is not always identifying both martial and sexual status.

It seems that Mary, Joseph’s betrothed and wife, did not have sexual union with anyone (Luke 1.34 KJV) or with Joseph until after Jesus was born (Matthew 1.24-25). Mary remained committed and faithful in her relationship with Joseph (Matthew 12.46-47).

Jesus was conceived by Holy Spirit impregnation (Matthew 1.18; Luke 1.35), born of a woman (Matthew 1.25; Luke 2.5-7), lived as a human (Luke 2.52, Romans 1.3; 1 Peter 4.1; 1 John 4.2), manifested the perfectness of God (Colossians 1.19), being both fully human and divine.

Culturally, Jesus was born into a Jewish family, a family who followed the Law of Moses (Luke 2.22-24, 2.39, 2.41) and as such was he given the Hebrew name Yeshua which means “YHWH is Salvation,” the same meaning for the name Joshua (Brown-Driver-Briggs [BDB]; Strong’s Number H3091).

Since he was a Jew, he was circumcised on his eighth day of life (Luke 2.21), he was presented at the Temple (Luke 2.22-24, 2.27), he attended synagogue (Luke 4.16), and worshiped at the Temple.

Deuteronomy 13.1-5 prohibits anyone, even the Messiah, from teaching against the Law. Jesus (Yeshua) did not fight against the Law of Moses, otherwise he could not be the promised Messiah. As Messiah, Yeshua learned and upheld the Law of Moses. Instead, he fought against the religious traditions (the traditions of men) that bound religious actions and activities on the people as if they were found in the Law of Moses.

Similar in concept to God’s Name, every Believer is at liberty to refer, and should refer, to the Messiah in a manner appropriate to their conscience. As such, the words Yeshua (Hebrew), Iesous (Greek), and/or Jesus (English) are acceptable.

Jesus fulfilled the Scriptures as Messiah, as the suffering servant (Acts 3.18).

Jesus will return as the conquering Messiah (Revelation 19.11-16).

Jesus knew his roll in God’s plan (Matthew 17.22-23, 20.17-19).

Jesus stated that his only goal was to do God’s will (Matthew 26.39, 26.42, 26.44).

Jesus stated that He was one with God (John 10.30), and prayed for that union for his disciples (John 17.11, 17.21).

Jesus works in harmonious union with God, doing God’s will (John 4.34, 15.26, 16.13).

Jesus knew he was to be betrayed, executed; his physical body died; three days later his physical body arose from the dead, resurrected into new life (1 Corinthians 15.3-4).

After his resurrection, Jesus was seen for forty days (Acts 1.3), then ascended to heaven (Luke 24.50-51, Acts 1.1-2).

 
 
What about the Holy Spirit?
Jesus reasoned that God is living (Matthew 22.31-32). Building from that reasoning, since Jesus is at the right hand of God (Luke 22.67-69, Acts 2.32-36), and since Jesus promised the Spirit (John 14.17, 15.26, 16.13), and since the Spirit is from God and Jesus (John 15.26), and knowing that Jesus said God is living; then, like God and Jesus, the Spirit must also be living; as such, Believers should not quench the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5.19).

The Holy Spirit seems to be the most mysterious element, which seems to indicate that each Believer has the liberty to believe in the power and functionality of the Holy Spirit in the manner suitable to their conscience.

The Holy Spirit works in harmonious union with God, doing God’s will (John 4.34, 15.26, 16.13).

The Holy Spirit was promised by Jesus (John 7.39, 15.26).

The Holy Spirit helped guide the early Believers into all truth (John 16.13), some believe the Spirit still does this.

 
 
What about the Bible?
Some refer to the statement “All Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3.16 ESV) to support the belief that all parts of the Scripture (both OT and NT) are spirited out from God, believing that each and every part of the Bible is from God.

But which “all scripture” is the Bible?

The Hebrew Bible, which only has 24 books?

The Samaritan Bible, which is only the Five Books of Moses?

The Alexandrian Canon (the Greek, Septuagint, LXX) which has more books than the Hebrew Bible?

The Latin Bible?

The English Protestant Bible, with Apocrypha?

The English Protestant Bible, without Apocrypha?

The English Catholic Bible?

The above does not represent the lengthy and varied historical discussions about Scripture. Yet from those few examples, it becomes clear there is no universal consensus about what constitutes “all scripture”, which means that “all scripture” is largely defined by one’s religious background.

Since that is true, then: What about the Bible?

It is too simplistic of an answer to make all of the Bible from God.

It is too simplistic of an answer to make all of the Bible from humanity.

When one studies the literary nature of the Bible, that study reveals that the Scriptures contain multiple authors.

For example, the manner in which Genesis is authored is not the same manner in which Deuteronomy is authored, which reveals that the books are not authored the same.

How does one account for that?

That is where additional grammatical studies affect one’s thought-structure about the Scriptures, and where one’s belief structure about the Bible is found.

The literary nature of the Scripture reveals a diverse process and a diverse approach to God, and God’s role in humanity and God’s role in Israel.

Therefore, which Bible canon is “the” Bible canon?

The answer to that question greatly depends upon one’s belief structure about the Bible.

For example, for many Jews there is only one canon – the Hebrew Canon. Yet, it seems the Jewish perspective does not readily reference the Alexandrian Canon (the Greek).

For example, for many Protestants there is only one Canon – the one without the Apocrypha. Yet, it seems the Protestant perspective does not readily reference the Catholic Canon.

The Bible Canon is a topic of tremendous controversy, whether Marcion, whether Dead Sea Scrolls, whether Apocrypha, whether Pseudepigrapha.

Faith and Conviction places a high value on the Scripture, yet because there are various Biblical Canons, Faith and Conviction recognizes that the Biblical Canon is obviously disputed, because there is controversy as to what is considered “canon”.

Faith and Conviction esteems the Bible as worthy literature, worthy to be studied, studied vigorously, studied for human conduct before the Divine. Yet, somehow the Bible is more than literature, because the Scriptures have an ethereal and otherworldly tone, yet at the same time have an earthly and humanly tone.

Faith and Conviction recognizes that the Bible contains multiple authors. In the Bible, literarily, the Biblical authors quote Jehovah, quote individuals, quote the nation of Israel, refer to other sources, and/or the author can even speak from their own authority as an author.

Those things provide complexity to the Bible – multiple authors, multiple aspects, multiple levels of existence, multiple levels of Divine, human, historical and personal discoveries.

 
 
What about Biblical Interpretation?
The materials found on Faith and Conviction are primarily authored by the Administrator. Therefore, most of the Biblical Interpretation is from the Administrator’s approach, which means that contributing authors may vary in their Biblical Interpretation.

Raymond Harris serves as the Administrator, admittedly his Biblical Interpretation methods have changed over the course of many years. Currently he subscribes to the following aspects of Bible Interpretation:

 
One, study the Scriptures within their historical, social, and cultural context.

For instance, while Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and the nation of Israel are all found in the Five Books of Moses (Pentateuch), and those men are often referred to as the Patriarchs, each man lives in a unique historic moment, and that moment cannot be interpreted unilaterally as if it applied to each of those men. This means that while Moses delivered the Law of Moses to Israel that does not mean that Noah or Abraham knew about the Law of Moses.

For instance, Noah’s social circumstance is not equivalent to Abraham’s social circumstance, and Abraham’s social circumstance is not Moses’ social circumstance.

For instance, the culture of the Ur of Chaldees, which influenced Abram’s early life, is not the culture of the Israelites during the Exodus, and that cultural moment is not the same Israelite culture at the time of King David.

 
Two, study the Scriptures with a contextual awareness of their literary nature.

For instance, poetry does not convey the same authoritative weight as historic prose. That means things like Ecclesiastes 3.1-8 does not hold the same kind of authority as 2 Samuel 2.1-4.

For instance, metaphors and literary symbolism do not have the same interpretative weight as statements of command. That means that allegories (e.g. Galatians 3.22-31), or analogies (e.g. Matthew 17.20), or parables (e.g. Luke 15.3-7), or similes (e.g. Ephesians 5.25) do not hold the same kind of authority as statements of command (e.g. John 15.12).

 
Three, study the Scriptures without Replacement Theology.

For instance, in order for Jesus to be Messiah of Israel, Jesus has to be faithful to the Five Books of Moses and faithful to the Law of Moses. Replacement Theology does not require either of those from Jesus.

For instance, Jesus is also a Rabbi. As a Rabbi, he taught from the Five Books of Moses, the Prophets, and the Writings, but he specifically expounded upon the meaning of the Law of Moses.

With those two examples then, Jesus did NOT replace the Law of Moses as is commonly taught. Therefore, as the anointed one of God, the Promised one to Israel, descended from the Davidic Line, being upon the Davidic thrown as King of Israel, then for Jesus to be faithful, Jesus is required to be governed by the Law of Moses.

 
Four, study based upon the arrangement of the Hebrew Canon (The Five Books of Moses, The Prophets, The Writings).

This study approach presents the Scriptures with graduated doctrinal weight. That means the following: the Five Books of Moses have the most weight; the Five Books of Moses have more weight than the Prophets; the Prophets have more weight than the Writings.

For Biblical Interpretation that means each book (Joshua through the end of the Canon, whether Chronicles or Revelation) is measured against the Five Books of Moses (Genesis through Deuteronomy), which means Jesus and his teachings are also measured against the Five Books of Moses.

For Biblical Interpretation, while Jesus is the King of Israel, Jesus is also a Prophet. That means Jesus and his teachings are on the level of the Prophets, which conveys that the Prophets have to be faithful to the Five Books of Moses.

For Biblical Interpretation, study the NT Epistles on the level of the Writings, with perhaps the exception of Revelation which could be studied on the level of the Prophets. That means in some instances, NT Epistles have no more authoritative weight than the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, which conveys that in some instances the NT Epistle applies, but in other instances the NT Epistle does not apply.

 
Five, study the Torah (the Five Books of Moses, the Pentateuch) having a linear historic perspective.

For instance, Genesis 1.1-11.9 has general information that influences and governs all of humanity. That means God’s covenant with Noah and its accompanying rules apply to all people (cf. Genesis 9.1-19).

For instance, Genesis 11.10-25.18 reveals the general lineage of the Shemites (Semites), but specific development for Abram (Abraham). That means God’s covenant with Abram and its accompanying rules apply only to those descended from Abraham (e.g. Ishmaelites, Edomites, Israelites, Medianites).

As such, while Abraham is a Shemite, and a Hebrew, the rules God gave to Abraham and Abraham’s descendants do not apply to other Hebrews or Shemite (Semites). The rules given to Abraham do not apply to Abraham’s father – Terah, nor do those rules apply to Abraham’s brothers – Nahor and Haran (Genesis 11.27), nor do those rules apply to anyone else within the lineage of Shem (Genesis 10.21-31, 11.10-26), nor do those rules apply to anyone within the lineage of Japheth (Genesis 10.2-5), nor do those rules apply to anyone within the lineage of Ham (Genesis 10.6-20).

With that in mind, the pre-exodus children of Israel, specifically the 70 that went down to Egypt but not those who came out of Egypt (Genesis 26.1-50.26) had knowledge of the rules that God gave Abraham, but those specific children of Israel did not have the Law of Moses.

For instance, the Law of Moses is given only to those who gathered at Sinai and to their descendants. Those people were both Israelites and non-Israelites who traveled out of Egypt following Moses’ leadership.

For instance, the Law of Moses governs a specific land area, the area given to the twelve tribes of Israel as an inheritance.

As such, those previous two things about the Law of Moses means that the Law of Moses governs those within that land area, whether Israelite or non-Israelite, which conveys that the Law of Moses did not govern the pre-exodus Israelites, or the Ishmaelites, or the Edomites, or the Medianites, or any other people whether Assyria, Babylon, Gaul, or any people anywhere else.

For instance, for Israel, the Law of Moses is not from Moses, the Law is sourced in Jehovah delivered through Moses to Israel at Israel’s request (Deuteronomy 5.23-31).

For instance, the Law of Moses is not found in Genesis nor the early chapters of Exodus, because that is primarily historic narrative. But, the Law of Moses is found in the remainder of Exodus, in Leviticus, and in Numbers, along with some narrative about historic moments. But, Deuteronomy is Moses preaching to Israel about their history, and Moses giving Israel an exposition about the Law, along with Moses giving some prophetic pronouncements about Israel’s future.

For instance, prophecy delivered to Israel was/is intended for Israel (e.g. Isaiah 3.1-5). Yet a prophecy given to some specific nation was for that nation (e.g. against the Ammonites Ezekiel 25.1-7).

That means that the “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots” and other commandments found within the Law of Moses govern the Israelites and those non-Israelites who dwell in the land area given to the twelve tribes of Israel as an inheritance, which means nations (Gentiles) outside of Israel were not governed by edicts found within the Law of Moses.

 
Six, study the New Covenant with a holistic perspective, being inclusive of the needs of both Jew and Gentile.

For instance, the New Covenant prophecy (Jeremiah 31.31-34) speaks about Jehovah putting the law on the hearts of Judah and Israel. Therefore the New Covenant does not require Jews to forsake the Law of Moses or the customs of Israel (Acts 21.18-26).

For instance, the New Covenant does not require Gentiles, those non-Israelites living outside the land area given to the twelve tribes of Israel as an inheritance, to be circumcised or keep the Law of Moses (Acts 15.5-32), which is in harmony with God’s covenant with Noah (Genesis 9.1-19).

For instance, while Jesus was a Rabbi and taught application of the Law of Moses, his teachings were almost entirely applicable to the law as delivered by Jehovah through Moses to Israel. That means that much of the teachings of Jesus apply directly to Israel (e.g. Matthew 19.16-19), but many times his teachings can have universal application (e.g. John 15.12).

For instance, while Gentiles are included in the New Covenant, the Gentiles living outside the land given to the twelve tribes of Israel as an inheritance, those Gentiles are not governed by the Law of Moses, therefore when the lives of those Gentiles and their ethics align with that which is in the law given by Jehovah through Moses to Israel, then those Gentiles are a law unto themselves (c.f. Romans 2.14), yet those Gentiles are governed by the covenant God gave to Noah (Genesis 9.1-19) and/or are governed by the four items bound on the Gentiles through the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15.20. 15.29). That means the Jerusalem Council encouraged Gentiles to learn from Moses (Acts 15.21), but believing Gentiles were taught to accept that the things in the Scriptures are for learning and study (Romans 15.4a), because those writings are examples (1 Corinthians 10.1-11). Yet, since the law from Jehovah through Moses to Israel is not bound on Gentiles living outside the land given to Israel as an inheritance, then the nations are permitted to establish ethics, morals, and feasts days of their own and give honor to God through and during those things.

 
 
What about Doctrine?
Faith and Conviction published an eight-part series looking at Theology, showing that Theology drives Bible Interpretation and Bible Interpretation drives Doctrine. Because of that, what each Bible student considers “doctrine” can and does vary.

That simply means that each Bible student has their own method of interpreting the Scriptures. One traditional interpretation is Pardes.

Another interpretation is one that the Administrator was given during his early years: Command, Example, Necessary Inference, conjoined with Silence of the Scriptures and that the Old Testament has no authority for Christianity.

Those are only two examples, the Administrator and Faith and Conviction use neither method.

Through extensive dialogue and discussions, the Administrator and Faith and Conviction have determined each group of individuals and believers seem to have their own specific way of determining doctrine, which gives rise to many dogmas.

The Administrator and Faith and Conviction feel that the common reader of the Scriptures has to relate to the common God-fearing person inside or outside of Israel, which means the common Bible reader is usually unaware of the complexities presented in the above section: What about the Bible?

Knowing that, how does the common reader of the Bible derive doctrine?

Jump through logic hoops?

Follow extensive rationale?

Follow historic religious examples?

Any number of other things?

The Administrator and Faith and Conviction feel that if the common reader of the Bible spends time examining the “thou shalts” and the “thou shalt nots” of the Scriptures, those items provide the framework for determining what is and what is not permitted before God.

Therefore in the broadest application, when there is not a “thou shalt not” it means that the absence of the “thou shalt not” deems the act either acceptable or the act has gone unaddressed by the Most High. In the words of an Apostle, “where there is no law, there is no transgression.”

That can quickly devolve into a debate about doctrine, dogma, wisdom, and folly. But the reality stands. There are things the Scriptures do not address, but many make all kinds of connective points in an attempt to either condemn or condone where Scripture is silent.

Therefore, for the Administrator and Faith and Conviction, if/when the Scriptures are silent about an issue, the best the Administrator and Faith and Conviction can do is offer a wise approach, and provide godly counsel, providing assent to the silence and allow the person to use their discretion.

Yet, there is another possibility regarding doctrine, which involves a moment from Jesus life (Luke 10.25-26).

Some might argue that the context negates the application that is being presented, but the moment has Jesus answering with: What’s written in the Law and how do you read it?

There is a profound reality in that moment. No matter the motive behind the one who asked Jesus the question, Jesus’ response places doctrine on a personal level.

That reality can be adapted to any person, doctrinally asking them: What is in the Bible and how do you understand it?

From there, one’s doctrinal understanding begins.

 
 
Updated November 30, 2017

Share