Tag Archives: Scriptures

Spiritual Stuff: Disagreeing with Dr. Michael Heiser

“The path has not been easy. It came with risk and discomfort. Friends, pastors, and colleagues at times misunderstood my questions and rebuttals of their proposed answered. Conversations didn’t always end well. That sort of things happens when you demand that creeds and traditions get in line with the Biblical text”.

Recently I had the pleasure of listening to brother Travis Finley’s podcast, Rethinking Revelation, with a guest appearance by Dr. Michael Heiser, a well known Old Testament/ Ancient Near East scholar.

You can listen to that podcast at the following link,

https://www.spreaker.com/user/rtb4tftx/episode-17-interview-w-mike-heiser

While highly esteeming his credentials, and in many regards would seemingly be a “grasshopper in his sight”, I have come to be in sharp disagreement with him. Namely, his understanding of the “Divine Heavenly Council”, also however his perspective on the “spirit realm”.

I finished reading Dr. Heiser’s book, The Unseen Realm, a couple of months ago and have been planning to write a short review. Plainly, this is a classic example of someone saying so much I find myself in agreement with, yet finding myself completely disagreeing with them in many other regards. How does that happen!?!?

In the opening introduction, Dr. Heiser explains his coming to understand his view of the “heavenly council” in such a manner:

“There it was, plain as day: The God of the Old Testament was part of an assembly – a pantheon – of other gods”.

I heard about this “heavenly council” view from Pastor David Curtis of Berean Bible Church, and then of BBC’s elders, Jeff McCormack wrote an article for FULFILLED! Magazine on the same topic. Simply put, I have found no substance for this view and see it to disturb the way the ancients would have understood things, as well as the narrative of the Bible.

Oddly enough, Dr. Heiser make the following points in his book;

He speaks about his seeking to understand the “heavenly council”, as a “…a place evangelicals fear to tread”, something I experienced by and large as I studied eschatology and came to understand Full Preterism.

“The explanations I found from evangelical scholars were disturbingly weak….”, which again would be true of my journey. Actually, some of this was shown by Dr. Heiser’s explanations of Revelation (as detailed in the above podcast I shared).

“When I looked beyond the world of evangelical scholarship, I discovered that other scholars had churned out dozens of articles and books…”, again I think of men like Dr. Don K. Preston, Dr. Ed Stevens, among many other scholarly men who influenced me as I navigated toward the truth of Full Preterism, in opposition to what other “evangelical scholars” had to say about eschatology.

“My conscience wouldn’t let me ignore my own Bible in order to retain the theology with which I was comfortable. Was my loyalty to the text or to the Christian tradition? Did I really have to choose between the two? – And there we have the ongoing reformation mindset. Glory to God!

I have to say upfront that I appreciate Dr. Michael Heiser and the mind that God has given him. He clearly has a desire to know, understand, and teach the truth. He mentioned the amount of time it took him to finally write a book on these views, 15 years. At that I feel I must be humbled and tread lightly in my critique. I’m not a know-it-all, so as I study, I’ll either have better responses or be proven wrong – so be it. In the meantime, I am disturbed that a man can have so much right, yet miss so much on the other end.

Also, I totally agree with Dr. Michael Heiser’s approach in understanding the Bible. He clearly recommends a healthy understanding of “audience relevance” as well as the points he made in the following quotes:

“Our traditions, however honorable, are not intrinsic to the Bible. They are systems we invent to organize the Bible. They are artificial. They are filters”.

“The facts of the Bible are just pieces – bits of scattered data. Our tendency is to impose order, and to do that we apply a filter. But we gain a perspective that is both broader and deeper if we allow ourselves to see the pieces in their own wider context. We need to see the mosaic created by the pieces”.

I am a big advocate of what it referred to as “Narrative Theology”. Not the quote unquote liberal theory of Narrative Theology, but rather a big “picture theology” that is shaped by an understanding of the whole story that graces the page of Scripture. However, it would seem my and Dr. Heiser’s understanding of that narrative differs.

Dr. Heiser says, “The story of the Bible is about God’s will for, and rule of, the realms He has created, visible and invisible, through the images He created, human and nonhuman. This divine agenda is played out in both realms, in deliberate tandem”.

I would summarize the Biblical narrative to be a big picture reality on how man has come to and can come to know the truth of God. If man coming to know God is redemption, then what we read through the pages of Scripture is the historical detailing of that redemption. God used Old Covenant Israel as His historical people and example through which man’s sin is highlighted and offered the gift of grace through the Messiah. God wants man to rule, reign, and rest with Him and for Him and that is found “in the Spirit”, however man naturally leans upon his own misunderstands (cf. Proverbs 3:5-6). Man leaning upon his own misunderstanding, in contrast to heeding the truth of God (Spirit) is the conceptual reality that is highlighted in the Genesis account, and than man being saved from that through the Messiah is highlighted in the last 2 chapters of the Book of Revelation.

Where I have come to sharply disagree is how Dr. Heiser is his understanding of “the intersection of our domain and the unseen world”. I remember reading through various books and articles on Hebrew mythology and the Ancient Near East and wondering how did all of this reflect upon the details I find in Scripture. How does the truth of Scripture contrast the understanding of the ancient near eastern myths and cults? It would seem that Dr. Heiser has allowed these “Hebrew myths” to develop his understanding of the “heavenly council”, which in some respects has become his “filter” (talked about above).

Honestly, I couldn’t fully read through the book. He used a host of texts (some you will find in a picture below), and used them in a very erroneous matter. I couldn’t stomach the disagreement any more, so I jumped to some chapters, and then finally just reading the last 2 chapters to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

Dr. Heiser uses Psalm chapter 82, of which he says, “has at its core the unseen realm and its interaction with the human world”.

Let’s take a look at Psalm 82:

“God takes His stand in His own congregation; He judges in the midst of the rulers. How long will you judge unjustly, and show partiality to the wicked? Vindicate the weak and the fatherless do justice to the afflicted and destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them out of the hand of the wicked. They do not know nor do they understand; they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. I said, “You are gods”, and all of you are sons of the Most High. Nevertheless you will die like men, and fall like any one of the princes”. Arise I God, judge the earth! For it is Thou who dost possess all the nations”.

I am baffled that this text could cause so much disruption in Dr. Heiser’s view. The is surely a Messianic picture. God taking His stand is God coming in judgment, and that judgement would be in the midst of His people. Thus is why Jesus Christ quotes this passage in John 10:34-37. Jesus is explaining to the Jews (who are the rulers who judged unjustly and showed partiality to the wicked), namely they did not follow the command of Deuteronomy 4:6-9. Not to see this is to miss the entire point of the Old Testament and the purpose of the Messiah coming to His own. I have no idea how this verse disturbed Dr. Heiser.

Old Covenant Israel was those who walked in darkness and did not know nor understand. Israel was suppose to have the presence of God, however due to sin, which was highlighted by the picture in the garden (which would have been a covenant story for Israel throughout all their generations) they were separated – thus “dying like men, and falling like the princes”.

Dr. Heiser’s confusion is compounded because he has said, “At no point in the Old Testament does the Scripture teach that Jews or Jewish leaders were put in authority over the other nations”. I put a big frown in the book next to this statement. How could Dr. Heiser miss this?

Israel was given the oracles of God (cf. Romans 3:2), they were to rule and reign over the nations as they lived the example of the Law (cf. Deuteronomy 4:6-9), and they came under judgment again and again for failing to live up to this, ultimately culminating in the AD 70 “coming of the Lord”.

After hearing Dr. Heiser on the Rethinking Revelation podcast and really paying attention to his thoughts on eschatology, I realized maybe he needs to return to study of the Biblical narrative past the ancient near east. The “spiritual realm” which is being conveyed through the whole of Scripture (from Genesis to Revelation) is a conceptual reality (an actual reality being made known through a picture), not a dualistic other-world.

Through covenant God chooses those who dwell in His presence, His people had been removed from His presence only to gain access through Jesus Christ at the end of the age (cf. 1 Corinthians chapter 10; Hebrews 9:26). No other gods dwell there.

I urge a study on all the verses that will be in the picture below – of course after a healthy understanding of the Biblical narrative from Genesis to Revelation. Keep an eye out for my book, Wicked, due to be published in March 2017 which will deal with some of these details as well as an examination of all things wicked – Satan, demons, hell,etc…

In Service to Him,

Pastor Michael Miano

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My Defense and Explanation of Full Preterism

In 2010, I underwent a rather intense paradigm shift. For those who do not know what a “paradigm shift” is, it is a change in the way you approach a given situation or the assumptions you may have had. Basically, a change of thought.

As a Christian, I believed that the ancient Scriptures contained in the Bible are the way to know the “gospel” – the good news that Jesus came to take away sin and death. I believe that Jesus Christ was Lord and Savior. I also took serious the teachings which Jesus taught His disciples about the “end times”. I was taught the Christian view that the end times were soon. Jesus Christ could come any day, I didn’t agree with what was called the “pretribulation rapture”, but instead believed that everyone would be caught up with the Lord at the Second Coming. I believed that we were living in the end times and should take that serious. If people were going to live in a world of “great tribulation”- what were we doing to prepare? Wouldn’t that be the most loving thing? I could not understand why people didn’t seem to take serious what the “end times” would be about. I desired to see sinners repent and put their faith in Christ so they could enjoy eternal life both here and in the afterlife as well as urge people to take the teachings of Jesus Christ very seriously.

It was in the midst of this passionate following of Jesus Christ and seeking to “study to show myself approved ()” that I underwent the “paradigm shift”. I was challenged with a historical approach to properly understanding the “literary genre”, the original audience, and the context of the story contained within the Bible. However, I resisted and argued because as Maimonides once said, “…. those opinions of a man to which he has been accustomed to from his youth, he likes them, defends them, and shuns the opposite view”.

I’ll never forget the day that Pastor Alan Bondar of New Covenant Eyes Church met with me for lunch and told me that he believed that the “coming of the Lord”, what many refer to as the ‘Second Coming’ already happened. It seemed like a joke. Who believes that?!?!?! I wanted to prove this wrong and “defend the faith”, just as I had done with atheists, Jehovah Witnesses, and others who argued against the truth of God. The more I studied, seeking to “prove all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:21), and show why I believed what I believed and that being what Scripture is about I began to realize how true the following statement by J.I. Packer really was:

We do not start our Christian lives by working out our faith for ourselves; it is mediated to us by Christian tradition. In the forms of sermons, books, and established patterns of church life and fellowship. We read our Bibles in light of what we have learned from these sources; we approach Scripture with minds already formed by the mass of accepted opinions and viewpoints with which we have come into contact, in both the Church and the world…It is easy to be unaware that it has molded us. But we are forbidden to become enslaved to human tradition, either secular or Christian, whether it be “catholic” tradition, “critical” tradition, or “ecumenical” tradition. We may never assume the complete rightness of our own established ways of thought and practice and excuse ourselves the duty of testing and reforming them by Scriptures” (quoted from Fundamentalism and the Word of God).

 Pastor Alan Bondar’s belief in “preterism” surely seemed laughable because of what I believed, but even so, I did the Biblically correct, least lazy, and ‘intellectually honest” thing to do- sought to prove it wrong by using Scripture.

It was then through actually reading the writings contained in the Bible in their context and allowing them to say what they said to who they were written (without putting myself as the primary audience) that I realized this view “Full Preterism” had some merit to it. I began looking around to see what others said about this “preterist” stuff. To my surprise, many popular teachers within Christianity believed in some parts of Preterism- what they call “Partial Preterism” but called “Full Preterism” heresy. I wanted to figure out why and prove this to Pastor Bondar.

I remember when Pastor Bondar first asked me, “Mike, what do you believe happens when you die?” I began to explain how the dead go into the grave, and then at the coming of the Lord they will be raised in the twinkling of an eye (1 Thessalonians chapter 4 & 1 Corinthians 15 seem to speak of this). Pastor Bondar explained this was called “soul sleep” and would have been foreign to the Jewish mindset and their view on Sheol/ Hades. I did my research and sure enough Pastor Bondar was right. This peaked my interest.

Reading through Matthew chapters 23-24 realizing that Jesus was giving His actual disciples answers to the questions they were asking. He was telling them about the soon coming destruction of the Temple and the “end of the age” (age does not mean world, instead it means the end to a period of time). Sure enough, reading the things Jesus spoke about in Matthew chapters 23-24 in light of the historical account that Apostles do in the New Testament (gospel being preached to the whole world- Romans 1:8, Romans 16:19, Colossians 1:6, 23 ; persecution – a read through the book of Acts will serve well, not to mention 2 Thessalonians chapter 1; false teachers – again are seen throughout the New Testament however read 1 Timothy 1:3-6, 2 John chapter 1, for some insight; and the 1st century Jewish historian Josephus’ written accounts of the Jewish-Roman War.

After hearing Pastor Bondar explain that he believed the resurrection of the dead already occurred I knew I had him pinned as a “false teacher”. I approached him with 2 Timothy, and how the early church was warned to stay away from those who were saying the resurrection had already occurred. The first point Alan made was – if the resurrection of the dead was understood to be biological corpses coming out of the graves – how in the name of reason could people convince others that this had occurred and they had missed it? I had to admit that was a rather good point. Alan also pointed out that in 2 Thessalonians chapter 1, there were some who believed the “coming of the Lord” already occurred. It forced me to face the fact that the physical sighting of Jesus Christ that I demanded must happen in the future was an error. Actually stood in direct contrast to some of the things Jesus Himself said in John chapter 14.

Pastor Bondar then explained how what we read in the New Testament is referring back to things in the Old Testament. Jesus made it very clear He came to fulfill the Law (the Old Covenant/ Testament). It was His blood that was establishing the New. The Apostle Paul was emphatic about the fact that the gospel he preached was the hope of the forefathers of Israel, “the hope of Israel”, which was detailed in the Law and the Prophets (Acts 24:13-16; Acts 26:22; Acts 28:20). It is vital that we understand what the Old Testament before trying to understand or interpret the New Testament.

A major aspect of the Old Testament is the use of “prophetic language’. The Hebrew Metaphors and idoms that are used throughout the Old Testament are foreign to our common thought. Imagine trying to explain to an ancient Hebrew the expressing “It’s raining cats and dogs”. This would be just as confusing as them trying to explain how they used language such as “hearts melting” (Isaiah 13:7) and the sun turning black (Joel 2:21; Matthew 24:29) to depict the coming war with a foreign nation. I remember as I sought to understand how the ‘original audience’ would have understood these phrases, it caused me to change the way I understood writings in the New Testament. For example, if throughout the Old Testament the prophets used phrases such as “coming of the Lord” to speak about invading armies- why would we interpret Jesus’ words any different? Why all of a sudden to Jesus’ words mean literal cosmic events and a literal Jewish man coming out of the sky? Where do we get this understanding?

After understanding the use of the language, I then was able to pay attention to what are called “time statements” in Scripture. In speaking about the “end of the age” or the “coming of the Lord”, Jesus’ seemingly gave time frames when these things would happen. Obviously, the “end of the world” had not happened yet because I was living in it and there is no historical record of a man coming out of the sky. However, when the “prophetic language” is properly understood we realize the Scriptures speak of the “end of the age”, which was the “present evil age” the 1st century Jews were living in which would change at the “coming of the Lord” (again, I point out that this was a term depicting judgment of God that would come through foreign armies. An in-depth study of the following passages proves this point: Genesis 18:21; Exodus 3:8; Isaiah 19:1; Isaiah 64:3; Matthew 24; Luke 21; 2 Thessalonians 1-2, and so many more!

I knew that embracing the truth as I was seeing it, through a view called Full Preterism, was quite controversial and stood in contrast to the ‘traditional thinking’ most Christians utilize. However, I came to a point where I had to choose from what the Bible teaches in context or the comfort of tradition. This is what men of God like John Wycliffe and Martin Luther had to deal with. If these men where not ‘intellectually honest’ and had the courage to challenge the ‘status quo’, we would hardly have the Christianity we know of today.

By understanding the historical and redemptive context of the Scriptures, as is weaved through the Bible in a beautiful way, we can truly understand the Bible as the original audiences would have understood each of the writings. The Scriptures are not dealing with world history, that is why we do not read about those people in Australia or the natives in the Americas in the Bible. Instead, the Biblical writings are dealing with the God of Israel and His relationship with His people. The Messiah of Israel comes and through His fulfilling their promises, He invites others “through Jesus Christ” to enjoy the blessings of being “in covenant” with Him. That my friends is the glorious gospel as revealed through Scripture. The ‘death’ that Israel experienced in Adam, was taken away in Christ. Those that were without God, without hope, “far off” from covenant relationship with God, “the Gentiles”, were called to the New Covenant (Ephesians chapters 2-3 explains this).

So, all of this serves as my defense of my position as a “Full Preterist”. I have been willing to debate and defend these views- firstly, because I believe my position is correct. If you would like to discuss these things in more detail, I would love to explain. Secondly, I have been wrong once and am humble enough to be wrong again. However, I seek to be faithful to understanding Scripture in an effort to truly understand God- therefore I ask to be shown if I am wrong through the use of Scripture in context and not what ‘tradition’ teaches. I see much hypocrisy alive and well in the Church when it comes to “proving all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:21) and instead of doing so, many have a “zeal without knowledge” as the first century Jews who persecuted Christ did (Romans 10:2). They believed they were right and the Christians were wrong- how do you suppose the Truth was made known? Go and read Acts 17:11- ‘SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES”. Scripture commands that we “study to show ourselves approved (2 Timothy 2:15)” and therefore I ask you, the reader of this document, to not only prove what I am saying wrong (if I am wrong) and prove your position through a historical and Biblically consistent examination.

 

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Called to Ministry (Part Two)

(Quotes and Notes from the book, The Christian Ministry by Charles Bridges)

“‘A Pastor should act with the dignity of a man, who acts by the authority of God’-remembering, that while we speak to men, we speak in God’s stead”.

 How about that as a job description? That shows the dignity of the pastoral position and the authority thereof. BUT…there is much work to be done. Sadly, many pastors settle at “pulpit preaching” and fail to further expound upon the foundation that has been laid.

“There was not only a foundation to be laid, but a building to be raised”

“Not even is the light and heat of the sun- not even is meat and drink, so necessary for the support and cherishing of our present life, as the Apostolic and Pastoral Office for the preservation of the Church on earth”- John Calvin

“The subsequent walk also of our people in the faith, hope, and love of the gospel, forms our ground of unceasing  thanksgiving to God, our chief joy, and the very life of our life. “We have no greater joy, than to hear that our children are walking in truth””.

            If that is so, we are in dire need of discipleship. In a day and age, where “backsliding” happens more often than sincere repentance, we (all of us who call ourselves Christians) must work toward better efforts in discipleship. Let’s start with the discipleship of our “leaders”.

“The Scripture justly insists- that Ministers should be “holy”- in a peculiar sense men of God- men taught of God- men consecrated to God by a daily surrender of their time and talents to His service- men of singleness of purpose- LIVING IN THEIR WORK- living altogether but for one end, “moved by none of the afflictions that wait them: neither counting their life dear to them, so that they might finish their course with joy, and the Ministry  which they have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God”. Cf. Acts 20:17-35

            Again, a sad note is that the failure of many “leaders” or “pastors” in that they have not worked toward their continual discipleship.

“The solid establishment of the people may be materially hindered by the Minister’s contracted statements, crude interpretations, or misdirected Scriptural application”.

            I personally have come into contact with “pastors” who make the “ministry” out to be an ordinary job description like a “worldly” 9-5 job. Men who claim to be “of God” yet will not challenge their presuppositions and build a “social network” rather than God’s Church. Let me add a disclaimer, I extend as much grace to those who fail in these regards as I would hope to receive myself, as has been rightly noted:

“It will not fail to be objected that if none were to be admitted into the holy orders, except those who are possessed of every necessary qualification, there could not possibly be procured a sufficient number of Pastors for the supply of our Churches”

With that said, let’s delve into the proper “discipleship” of the “pastoral ministry”.

“The duties of an evangelical preacher, before he begins his ministry, are,

1.)    To grow in piety, by feeding on the bread of prayer

2.)    To give his zeal time to wax strong by reading the Holy Scriptures and the Fathers

3.)    To continue in silence and retirement, till God is pleased to bring him out, and show him to the world; men deceive themselves when they imagine that they ought to produce and employ their talents without delay, and that they cannot hide them without violating the commandment of God.

“A season of preparation- employed in storing the mind with Christian doctrine, and in directing it to devotional and practical purposes- in habits of self-communion and converse with God, and in the exercises of godliness, will turn to the most profitable account throughout the course of a protracted ministry”.

            For the past 3 years, I have continually sought God’s advice and counsel in regards to my call in ministry. I have had opportunities, but my decisions (accepting the truth espoused in Full Preterism for one) removed those opportunities from before me. I have had nights where I cried out to God asking WHY?!?! All my labor for and in Him, yet I seem to be the one “not being blessed in regards to my calling”. I remember one day after a long prayer session, I went to my wife and said, “God is preparing me. He has told me to be ready, because when it is time, I will be responsible”. As I noted in part 1 of this series, as of March 2013, I have been called. How exciting!!!

HABIT OF GENERAL STUDY

“The object of all your studies, should be neither celebrity, advantage, nor knowledge for its own sake, but furniture to enable you to serve God in your generation”.

“…whatever is respect of knowledge supplies the materials necessary for EDIFYING, COMFORTING, AND PROTECTING FROM ALL SPIRITUAL DANGER the people that may be committed to his charge, or is of use for defending  the cause of his Master, MUST EVIDENTLY BE A PROPER STUDY FOR THE MAN WHO INTENDS TO ENTER INTO THE HOLY MATRIMONY”.

“Indeed, to restrict our reading to matters of immediate connection with our grand subject, would exclude us from much valuable collateral knowledge, and expose us to prejudice and misconception”

“…a competent acquaintance with the Evidences of the Christian religion- the Holy Scriptures- and the history of the Church, and especially of our own church”.

“PATIENT APPLICATION is literally everything. Without it you may have a number of HALF-FORMED IDEAS floating in your mind, but deep, connected, large, and consistent views of any subject you will never gain. Impatient haste is the bane of deep intellectual work. IF YOU ARE INVESTIGATING ANY IMPORTANT DOCTRINE, BE NOT READY TO LEAVE IT. COME TO IT AGAIN AND AGAIN: SEEKING LIGHT FROM EVERY QUARTER; AND PERUSING WITH ATTENTION THE BEST BOOKS, UNTIL YOU HAVE ENTERED, AS FAR AS YOU ARE CAPABLE, INTO ITS PRFOUNDEST MERITS. And, if compelled by any circumstance to leave the subject before you have reached this point, hold it in reserve for another and more satisfactory examination. In short, let your motto, and, as far as practicable, your habit be, to leave nothing until you have THROUGOUGHLY MASTERED IT”.

            To be honest, this is something I am still working hard on. I have developed quite the ‘foundational knowledge’ of many topics, yet I do find it hard to “thoroughly master” things since I “jump” a lot. I have been in a “season” of practicing this though, challenging myself in regards to ‘preterist thought’ and the consistent application of it (for example, baptism- which Larry Siegle has been an immense help).

      I have met many friends who fail to fully understand the concept of “patient application” and this leads them in many directions. I have continually challenged people with the truth of 1 Thessalonians 5:21 which clearly expresses the Christian truth, which is much neglected’ of “examining everything carefully”.

“The accuracy of study is of far greater importance than its extent. ‘A little study, well digested in a good, serious mind, will go a great way, and will lay in materials for a whole life”.

“…LOVE OF STUDY; a desire of becoming useful to our parish; a CONVICTION of the necessity of deriving from prayer that knowledge which study does not afford; of being impressed with a desire of salvation, and of applying all the means of ADVANCING IN EVANGELICAL WISDOM, to INSPIRE our flock with a love of their duty, in order that they may the more easily be induced to practice it: in a word, a sincere desire to fulfill our ministry”.

            -Authentic Missional Discipleship

“Not to read or study at all is to tempt God: to do nothing but study, is to forget the ministry: to study, only to glory in one’s knowledge, is a shameful vanity: to study, in search of the means to flatter sinners, a deplorable prevarication: but to store one’s mind with the knowledge proper to the saints by study and by prayer, and to diffuse that knowledge in solid instructions and practical exhortations- this is to be a prudent, zealous, and laborious minister”.

SCRIPTURAL STUDY

            The practice of having a well rounded Biblical understanding has allowed for my to keep Scriptural truths always revolving in my mind. When someone speaks of something regarding the Scriptures I am able to draw from my mind the story in context (sometimes I wish I was blessed with the memorization gift, not yet at least).

“I wish him to be diligent in his studies; but the Bible is the proper library for a young man entering into the Church…I read other books that I may be better able to understand the Scriptures”

“Prefer having eyes to read the Scriptures, and be blind to everything else, rather than to read everything else and neglect the Bible”.

“I find it would be very much to my advantage to be thoroughly acquainted with the Scriptures. When I am reading doctrinal books, or books of controversy, I can proceed with abundantly more confidence, and can see upon what FOUNDATION I STAND”.

Amen. When I first became a Christian I believed reading ‘Christian books’ was ridiculous. Why bother when I have the Scriptures? Obviously as I have grown, I have realized the benefit of studying science, history, sociology, and various religions to better enhance my understanding of the context of Scripture. The fact that for about 2 years I was a staunch, “Bible-Only” type of guy, I have developed a strong foundation to which I can always refer back to.

 The failure of men/women in the “leadership”, as well as all in the Church, to examine the Scriptures in context of the “whole story” prior to “religious indoctrination” has led to prejudice.

“Attachment to some particular system is a spiritual self-indulgence, which TOO OFTEN GUIDES OUR SCRIPTURAL READING, and gives an INDIVIDUAL CHARACTER to it, rather than receives a complexion from it”.

            In our day and age, there are a variety of “flavors” of Christianity which sadly read the Scriptures in different contexts. The failure to understand Audience Relevancy and other Hermeneutical practices has led to a gross error in how many understand the Scriptures. The rise of “devotional reading” without contextual understanding has led so many to read themselves into a historical story and to completely remove the original context they had. This in turn makes Christianity out to be a personal religion rather than a historical fact.

            The fact that a reformation, or as some are calling it, a “reframe-ation” is occurring in our day, is rather exciting. Many are coming to understand the historical story of the Scriptures, the truth espoused in them, how that affects us in our day, and also leading many to the faith. Semper Reformanda.

“You will apply yourselves wholly to this one thing, and draw all your cares and studies this way; continually praying to God the Father by meditation of our only Savior Jesus Christ, for the heavenly assistance of the Holy Ghost; that by daily weighing of the Scriptures, you may wax riper and stronger in your ministry”.

“Study furnishes the materials- prayer sanctifies them- exercise makes a suitable distributive application of them to several cases brought before us”.

“Abhor an hour of idleness, as you would be ashamed of one hour of drunkenness”.

“A minister must remember, that himself with all his studies is consecrated to the service of the sanctuary. Let everything be done therefore with a view to one great end; and let us pursue every part of science with a design to gain better qualifications thereby for our sacred work”.

   I endeavor to continue to walk worthy. So grateful to be alive in this generation and to be called to ministry as a reformation takes place!

    In service to Him,

             Michael Miano

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