On November 8-11, HeartCry hosted two separate seminars with New Testament professor David Croteau. Dr. Croteau teaches in the seminary and school of ministry at Columbia International University. In the first seminar, he taught on hermeneutics to HeartCry missionaries and friends, as well as to a group of students from a local Bible college in Jakarta.
Hermeneutics (interpreting the Bible) is vital subject. If God’s people don’t know how to interpret the Bible properly, then they won’t know what to believe or how to apply the Bible in their lives. I remember hearing a story from a missionary in India who felt that hermeneutics was one of the most important things God’s people need to know. He told a story from his home province in which a young woman was burned alive by her church because she was suspected of being a witch. The church did so because they had misinterpreted and misapplied God’s word.
The students in the seminar in Jakarta learned that interpreting the Bible is a five step process:
- Understand the biblical text in its original context (often referred to as authorial intention),
- Understand the differences between the biblical audience and today’s audience (these differences include culture, language, time, situation, and covenant),
- Understand the biblical theological principle in the text,
- Understand the text’s relationship to other passages of scripture,
- Understand the application for today’s world.
The students were also taught basic principles for approaching the Bible interpretation process, such as interpreting the Bible in an attitude of prayer, context is king, dangers of proof-texting, importance of genre, the analogy of faith (the Bible never contradicts itself, but clear passages interpret difficult and less clear passages), and the interpreters own context.
Dr. Croteau gave many example passages of scripture in which he worked through the passage using the interpretive process outlined above. This was helpful for the students, who also asked many questions (both related and not related to the teaching). Please pray for these Bible college students, as well as the HeartCry missionaries who came to the seminar. Pray that God’s servants in Indonesia would be faithful interpreters and teachers of God’s word.
In the second seminar, Dr Croteau taught through some of the “urban legends” in the New Testament from the content in his book on the topic: http://amzn.to/2AwIRV9. Most of the people at this seminar were from one of the Baptist denominations in Indonesia. Several pastors from this denomination were also in attendance, as well as some HeartCry missionaries.
Most of the New Testament urban legends discussed were connected in some way to the Gospel, except the urban legend involving the misunderstanding of the Greek words agapao and phileo, as well as the one that discusses the wrong way people have misapplied Hebrews 10:25.
Again, many questions were asked as students interacted over the content being taught. Please pray that learning about some of these “urban legends” in the New Testament would help God’s servants be more careful interpreters of God’s word.