Recently our Vice President, Mike Pence, was demeaned by some in the media and on talk shows because he made a statement that Jesus talks to him. It was quite controversial and I think it made the news for about a week. People like Joy Behar (cohost on the TV show “The View”) went quite overboard trying to say he was demented or otherwise mentally unstable.
I don’t know exactly how Mr. Pence communicates with Jesus and it is not for me to judge anyone’s personal spiritual life. I can relate what happens in my spiritual life and hope that I’m understood (in context) to how it relates to my physical experiences. I do not remember ever having Jesus literally speak to me as one would understand actually hearing His voice and receiving a message of communication but I do not discount the fact that someone else may experience a more profound communication. If it is one thing I’ve learned in this life is each and every individual is different and their experiences are all very different. I cannot force my views on anyone for them to believe them. Quite the opposite, I find people are more receptive to my views if I admit they are not the “end all….be all.”
In my daily communication with the Lord, I am the one doing the physical talking through prayer. God and our Lord Jesus Christ speak to me through the written word known as the bible. The more I read (and more importantly study) the bible from Genesis through Revelation, the more I hear and understand what God wants me to know as it relates to my prayers.
There are as many different ways to interpret what is written as there are religions. However, it boils down to only two positions in all bible studies: 1) Philosophical and 2) Literal. To illustrate what I mean by that statement, I will use the example of the prophets of the bible. My hope is my message will be clear.
The bible presents to us several prophets. They are categorized as major prophets and minor prophets. The definition of major in this regard is the length of their writings. It is the same with the minor prophets. Their writings are simply shorter than the major prophets, not less important. However to make my point and be more concise, I’m only going to refer to the major prophets: Isaiah; Jeremiah; Ezekiel; and Daniel.
The reason I am using the prophets as examples is because anyone can claim to be a prophet. The definition of a prophet is one who speaks to people on behalf of God. Which is the opposite of a priest who speaks to God on the behalf of people. If we are going to believe a prophet we have to understand what the bible says about real and fake prophets. It is told to us in Deuteronomy 18:22:
“If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place
or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken
presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him.”
In order to read the prophets and understand them in a philosophical sense we have to take the stance that it is not possible for a prophet to predict the future. So taking Isaiah, for example, we’d have to break it down into 3 parts: Isaiah, Isaiah 2, and Isaiah 3. Isaiah would be written by Isaiah (during his time); Isaiah 2 and 3 would be written by 2 separate authors during their time and added to Isaiah.
If we take the literal stance we believe Isaiah is one work and that God spoke to Isaiah through visions which came true in his lifetime as well as into the future. This is the stance of most conservative Evangelicals.
It matters not which stance you take when you are considering the bible as a literary work. In the case of Isaiah it would still be broken down into 3 parts except we would take it to be credited to the one author, Isaiah. Whether your understanding is philosophical or literal does not have to be considered. It is still the word of God however it is revealed to you.
Part I would be chapters 1-35- which we would label as Drama with the theme of judgement.
Part II would be chapters 36-39- which we would label a Narrative and describe it as a historical framework.
Part III would be chapter 40-66 and would be labeled Poetry with the theme of Grace.
In a future post I will explain in more detail Isaiah and consecutively Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel as authors of ancient masterpieces of literature as I have been taught and understand them. I hope you’ll enjoy the series.
©Phyllis Rogers 2/28/18