Wednesday, January 28, 2009

MUST Bible teachers be trained in the Biblical languages?

I read a blog post over at Hebrew and Greek Reader, called Case and Point, that puts forth the thesis that
"all Bible teaching needs to be done by someone trained to read biblical languages. That means that if your pastor can’t read biblical Hebrew and Greek, he should keep his mouth shut and not preach from the Bible. This standard is even more necessary when untrained Bible teachers mistakenly try to incorporate some fun facts from the world of biblical languages, as Rob Bell has done in his Nooma videos. Art Boulet and Andrew Naselli have the skinny, no need for me to repeat their spot-on responses."
On the other hand, Bill Mounce, in a blog post called How do you use Greek in the pulpit? wrote:
"I just don’t think there are many times you need to parade your knowledge of Greek and Hebrew. As I said in the previous blog, people want to put you up on a pedestal. They want to think that you are different from them. But as I have told people many times from the pulpit, we are all gifted people in the same body, and only Christ is the head. My gift puts me up front and puts me in a position of leadership, but I am still just one gift in the midst of other gifted people."
Are these two writers at odds with one another, or are they simply elevating different nuances of the same thing?

You decide!


Anonymous said...

Tried commenting earlier. Didn't take.

Thanks for reading and posting on this issue.

The two quotes in your post (ours and Mounce's) have nothing to do with each other.

We are talking about what a Bible teacher should be able to do (read biblical Hebrew and Greek), while Mounce was talking about the appropriateness of using Greek grammar and syntax in a sermon. Two totally different issues.

Mike Aubrey has a post on that issue at: said...

I think hebrewandgreekreader is correct. One is talking about how to use what you know about Greek. So a minister who knows Greek is better qualified in one respect in reading and understanding the New Testament, but he does not have to necessarily use the Greek in his sermons.

But knowledge of language is not the most important qualification. Even people with knowledge of Greek and Hebrew do not agree on doctrinal matters, and just about every large traditional church has its share of Greek and Hebrew scholars.

To understand God's word correctly, we need God's help, as I point out in my blog, and God gives that help to those who are willing to believe what He says more than their own traditons and opinions and are willing to strive to do what God says. If someone is not submissive to what God says in the Bible, they will not understand it no matter how well they understand Greek or Hebrew.

God may show a Bible reader a point of truth in the Bible, maybe something surprising, or something different from what the reader wants to believe. Maybe it is something different than the religious traditions he was raised in. God looks to see how the reader reacts. If the reader believes God, gives up his traditional belief, and strives to put into practice what God has shown, then God can reveal a little more about the Bible, one point at a time. But if at any time the reader stops believing God and chooses his traditions and opinions over what the Bible actually says, God is not likely to help that person anymore, and the understanding stops.

I would have more trust in a preacher who was submitted to what God says in the Bible and honest in speaking about it (a rarity) than 100 preachers who were Greek or Hebrew scholars (common).

But ultimately, it is God who decides who His servants and ministers will be, not man. And He doesn't always choose Greek and Hebrew scholars.

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