2E. Pneumatic Epistemology

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Pneumatic epistemology is a belief that there is a non-cognitive knowing of the text where the Holy Spirit who created the knowledge shares that meaning directly. Those, who lean heavily into this view, believe that a human reader of Scripture is clueless about the meaning of a text until the Holy Spirit illuminates the reader. When a reader relies solely on pneumatic epistemology, they live in a danger zone of subjectivity where it is believed that his or her interpretation is the Spirit’s interpretation. And when the Spirit is invoked as the source of the interpretation, it makes that interpretation beyond questions and demands that it be placed on a par with the sacred text.

I. Howard Marshall, a biblical specialist, spoke to this issue when he wrote:

There are people who have claimed to be led by the Spirit who have promulgated shocking heresies … such people depended purely on what they conceived to be the Spirit’s help and so landed themselves in a subjective approach … they failed to listen to the voice of the Spirit as he spoke to other interpreters of Scripture within the fellowship of the Christian church over the centuries. In scriptural interpretation, as in any other area, it is essential that we “test the spirits” (1 John 4).[ref]Roy B. Zuck, Rightly Divided: Readings in Biblical Hermeneutics (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic & Professional, 1996), 73. From Chapter 5, “The Holy Spirit and the Interpretation of Scripture,” by I Howard Marshall.[/ref]

…a pneumatic interpretation does not give the interpreter free reign to interpret the Scriptures privately…

What is important to remember is that a pneumatic interpretation does not give the interpreter free reign to interpret the Scriptures privately without any form of accountability, which is common in the “cult of the individual.”

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Read Me First


Throughout these sessions, I have used the word ecclesia (singular) for the usual word church and ecclesiae (plural) to indicate a church in a particular geographic place, i.e., the ecclesiae at Corinth, meaning the whole of the many smaller ecclesia that met in homes in Corinth. This is to distinguish between the Institutional Church model (IC) and ecclesia that meet in cities and towns around the world. The ecclesiae written about by the authors of the Second Testament were not the same as what the “church” has become over the years of its existence. Usually, but not always, folks think of a church as a place where they go to a building and set in rows of pews and listen to music and sometimes sing and listen to sermons by a pastor or senior pastor. The ecclesiae of the Second Testament time did not invoke this model.


I have discovered over the years that if you want to try and change minds about something special, you have to venture out and reword it in order to grasp a foothold for a new refreshed understanding of the idea presented by the word. Such is the case between "church" and "ecclesia."


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Read Me Second


Referenced verses in the text of this study are not used to prove some point of view. They are merely markers where the subject matter is referenced by other books and authors. To gain a larger view of each quote, a serious student of the Holy Writ would take the time to view the reference and see what the background is. The background provides tracks on which the meaning of a text rides. So knowing the context of a referenced passage would help the reader to gain a more thorough understanding of an author than just the words quoted and marked by a verse number that was not a part of the original author's text, which as you might remember was performed on the text in a random fashion many years later.


Happy Reading!

Read Me Third


The verses that are referenced in these sessions are not meant to prove a point. They are simply pointers to where the idea being written about may have a correlation. In order to see if they accomplish the thesis presented by the original author, a student should read, at a minimum, the chapter in which the verse is found as well as trying to ascertain what the original author may have meant to say to the original audience.


Of course, this is a lot of work but it is beneficial work. If one does not understand what the author meant when it was written and the audience could not have understood by what was written, then the words on the page can mean anything that a present reader may assign as a meaning, thus distorting what God was inspiring for the original writer to write to the original audience to hear.

A great and recent book by N.T. Wright and Michael F. Bird entitled The New Testament in Its World would be a wonderful addition to your reading helps.


Happy Reading!

Jesus Followers


There are many synonyms to use for the word believer, which is the most common word for a person who has "converted" to follow Jesus. I have chosen "Jesus follower(s) or follower(s) of Jesus instead of the word believer in these presentations to allow the reader an opportunity to move away from the idea of believer which conjures up the possible thought of "ascent" to a set of doctrines that have been assembled by different groups over the centuries and show up in this day and age as a set of statements posted on web sites and other written material. These sets of beliefs are suggested by many as the ones that one should ascent to so that upon death the one who assents can go to heaven, i.e., just believe and you are good to go. Jesus followers/followers of Jesus suggest an action that one should take. Remember, Jesus told his disciples to follow him. Yes, belief is important, but one must move beyond belief to action.


(See "Discipleship" Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. 182-188.)