presuppositions

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Sam West | Forum Activity | Posted: Wed, Apr 4 2012 8:19 AM

I can not find a dictionary in my resources that will give me a good enough example or definition  to help me to know how to use the concept in my bible study. Will some of you explain to me in detail just how "presuppositions" can be used in studying the bible?

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JT (alabama24) | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 4 2012 8:33 AM

Sam, "presuppositions" are ideas or thoughts you have about something before you approach a topic. For example: if you have a humanistic world view which has no room for miracles, you will read the scriptures very differently than someone who believes miracles can actually happen. Another example: If you believe that the bible is one big poem, symbolic about the human struggle, then you might view the Bible as a good story, but not as history.

It is important to understand your own presuppositions (as much as is possible) when approaching a text. You may let your political, historic, emotional, cultural biases interpret the text in a way that was not intended. Presuppositions are not all bad… but you must try to be aware of them. Otherwise the text can't speak to you.

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Sam West | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 4 2012 8:56 AM

alabama24:
if you have a humanistic world view which has no room for miracles,

First of all i love you brother for taking your time to reply and and offering your good example. it helps . in other words in the above quote anyone with that view is not a Christian and read it for a different reason than a christian would. in approaching the bible to read and study it all Christians will have same presuppositions. is this true? why wouldn't this be called a doctrine or a belief? I am Pentecostal so my natural "presuppositions" would reflect my belief in reading the bible. i have been pentecostal all my life so does tradition or  belief have anything to do with it? Sorry Alabama for the dumb questions but this word has poped up several times in commentaries and i have never garbed hold of it to know just how to use it

thanks again

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Graham Criddle | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 4 2012 9:05 AM

Hi Sam

Sam West:
in approaching the bible to read and study it all Christians will have same presuppositions. is this true?

No, this is not true.

Christians have many different ideas and (pre) understandings when they approach the Bible.

These can be based on our upbringing, our understanding of the world, the church tradition we have been brought up in and so on.

Many of these may be so deeply ingrained in us that we might not be aware of them.

Graham

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Sam West | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 4 2012 9:13 AM

Thanks Graham that helps i am getting there

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JT (alabama24) | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 4 2012 9:28 AM

I agree with Graham... Not all Christians will have the same presuppositions when approaching the scriptures. You mentioned that you are Pentecostal. Someone who is Pentecostal may read about speaking in tongues and automatically think of a "heavenly prayer language." A non-Pentecostal may read the same passage and think of someone miraculously speaking in a human language they have not learned. The difference in how one reads the text is determined by his or her presuppositions. You mentioned doctrine. That is certainly a large part of presuppositions. For example, a Calvinist will read passages about God's sovereignty and man's will much differently than an a Wesleyan. The important thing to know is that EVERYTHING you read, you bring presuppositions to. This is true beyond the bible. It is true about how you view a politicians speech. If you voted for him or her, you might be more inclined to see the best intentions. Otherwise, you are screaming at the TV Smile

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Room4more | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 4 2012 9:28 AM

Here:

Sam West:

[...] I am Pentecostal so my natural "presuppositions" would reflect my belief in reading the bible. [...]

You wrote from a presuppositional position regarding the Bible. Primetime example of how presuppositions work.

Sam West:

[...] i have been pentecostal all my life so does tradition or  belief have anything to do with it?[...]

Here. Again, you demonstrate on your own behalf that you will read the Bible from a presuppostional position that will reflect your belief and theology based in what you have been taught. So to some degree you will read and interpret the Bible based on a [any] presuppositional[preconceived] theological idea.

Hope this helps.

 

pre·sup·pose

[pree-suh-pohz] Show IPA verb (used with object), -posed, -pos·ing. 1. to suppose or assume beforehand; take for granted in advance.

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james e snow | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 4 2012 9:45 AM

Some excellent responses...  One of the ways I think about this is the old cliche "rose colored glasses".  Every person who picks up the bible has their "unique" color of glasses.  Not only one's theological presuppositions, but many other factors (education, family, peers, economic, nationality, etc.) influence the "color".  Nothing wrong with this, in my opinion, I would say it's impossible to view anything without those glasses on.  All one can do is try to examine and determine what those factors are and keep them in mind as you read the bible.

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Sam West | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 4 2012 10:05 AM

Gentlemen this a book I have begun to read and the very first chapter deals with presuppositions which makes me think that this concept or doctorin if you can call it a doctorin in very important in not only reading this book but the Bible

 

 

The way you guys explained this to me helps me to understand what hit this author is saying.

Thanks a bunch

 

 

 

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Room4more | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 4 2012 10:07 AM

james e snow:

Some excellent responses...  One of the ways I think about this is the old cliche "rose colored glasses".  Every person who picks up the bible has their "unique" color of glasses.  Not only one's theological presuppositions, but many other factors (education, family, peers, economic, nationality, etc.) influence the "color".  Nothing wrong with this, in my opinion, I would say it's impossible to view anything without those glasses on.  All one can do is try to examine and determine what those factors are and keep them in mind as you read the bible.

True, I would agree. Yet as we garnish our respective spectacles we must be eversomindful to read the Scriptures from the position wherein which they were written and to whom they were originally written to.

Yes, we can find the application for our century and for those to come, BUT we must let the Scriptures dictate our theological beliefs and not the other way around. Influences in what we read can be confusing, but, again we must be cautious and let the Scriptures be a witness to the Scriptures.......

We can easily 'presupppose" what is not there and call it theology or a systemic belief.....I think this is called "reading into the text" as well.....

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Ken McGuire | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 4 2012 11:10 AM

Sam West:

alabama24:
if you have a humanistic world view which has no room for miracles,

First of all i love you brother for taking your time to reply and and offering your good example. it helps . in other words in the above quote anyone with that view is not a Christian and read it for a different reason than a christian would. in approaching the bible to read and study it all Christians will have same presuppositions. is this true? why wouldn't this be called a doctrine or a belief? I am Pentecostal so my natural "presuppositions" would reflect my belief in reading the bible. i have been pentecostal all my life so does tradition or  belief have anything to do with it?

The thing is that there are still great theological debates going around between different "denominations" and movements.  As a Lutheran, I have different presuppositions about Matthew 16:18 than most Roman Catholics.  I also probably have a quite different presuppositions about Acts 2 than do you.

But it is even worse than that.  As the great Theologian Pugo once said, "We have met the enemy and he is us."  Or as Solzhenitsyn said, "...the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"  While as a Christian I do want to condemn the "humanistic world view" mentioned above, I also have to admit that it keeps on popping up inside me - often when I least expect it, like when I am trying to condemn that very world view.  We come to the biblical text shaped by our often naturalistic world view, as well as by what we have been taught before what it means.  How we try to get a handle on this is what is meant by the big word "hermeneutics".  Theologically, it has a great deal to do with what we mean by "sin" too.

Since you are a Pentecostal Christian, I would recommend you taking a look at Gordon Fee's book _How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth_.  Dr. Fee is both a Pentecostal as well as a top notch scholar at explaining this stuff.  This book is now on sale through Logos March Madness.  Please see http://www.logosmarchmadness.com/2012/score-40-off-sweet-sixteen/#fee for the coupon for the sale price.

SDG

Ken McGuire

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Sam West | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 4 2012 11:32 AM

Kenneth McGuire:
Gordon Fee's book _How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth_.

thanks for your reply. very informative. i have this book and have read it and still refer to it at different times

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james e snow | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 4 2012 11:36 AM

And I agree with you.  My point was simply the spectacles are always there to some degree, even when you attempt to set them aside.  If one doesn't recognize it is much harder to accomplish the true task which you state very well.

I'm always amused when someone asks me if I interpret the Bible literally.  Which usually means, depending on the person asking, "do you interpret the Bible like me?" or "are you one of those dumb Christians who actually believes the Bible?"  My response is always the same, my goal is to interprete it biblically.  

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Rich DeRuiter | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 4 2012 12:13 PM

Sam West:

I can not find a dictionary in my resources that will give me a good enough example or definition  to help me to know how to use the concept in my bible study. Will some of you explain to me in detail just how "presuppositions" can be used in studying the bible?

In addition to the fine responses already on this thread, I'd like to add that the culture we live in also greatly influences the way we read the Bible. In the scientific world view, what is real is what can be examined objectively. It's an applied logical positivism (a particular philosophical position that cannot measure up to its own stated assumptions), yet it is accepted in the scientific world as the only reliable way to discover what is 'real.' Yet in the Bible the invisible is just as real as the invisible (Col 1:16), and the invisible things of God are more real than what is visible (Heb 11:27, e.g.). For example, in the west, demons or evil spirits are often mythologized (they are merely an ancient explanation of evil) or psychologized (they are a projection of evil or fear in the subconscious), since many (even conservative Christians) don't believe they are 'real' (they can't be seen, tested in a laboratory, etc.). But in the Biblical world, they were seen as real entities--as real as trees and stones.

Another problem for us is the high value we place on personal freedoms. For many this value easily supercedes the restrictions the Bible places upon them. I don't think I need to go into detail here, but just try talking to a cohabitating, church-going couple about what the Bible says about cohabitation sometime.

The concept of democracy has a huge, and often disastrous effect on church life, when theology is determined by popular vote, shifting authority away from the Bible and onto public opinion (after all, in a democracy authority has it's origin in the people).

The consumer culture we live in has us treating Christianity as a consumer good, so that people go "church shopping." They choose a church based on the services it has available to them, rather than on a sense of calling, or opportunities to serve Jesus or His people.

The list goes on and on. The influence of culture is often greater than theological tradition in how we act, and in our unexamined presuppositions about how the world works, what is most important, and (sadly) what the Bible 'really' means to say.

To study the Bible without a good Bible background commentary is to fall prey to one's unexamined assumptions and presuppositions. But just as helpful is living in a different culture for a while. Doing so exposes one to one's own assumptions, since many times the culture in which one lives, doesn't look at the world quite the same way. This exposes those assumptions and helps us examine them and recognize them as we read the Bible, which often comes at things from a different world-view than we do.

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Fred Chapman | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 4 2012 12:39 PM

Sam West:

I can not find a dictionary in my resources that will give me a good enough example or definition  to help me to know how to use the concept in my bible study. Will some of you explain to me in detail just how "presuppositions" can be used in studying the bible?

An good example of presuppositions and how they impact our study can be found in Bob Utley's work.

http://www.logos.com/product/7861/bible-lessons-international-collection

http://www.freebiblecommentary.org/

On the website link you will find many written, audio, and video resources. The first and second sessions of his video seminar deal a great deal with presuppositions.

As others have already said...everyone has them and not every Christian shares the same ones. That does not necessarily make them bad folks (just wrongWink) if their position disagrees with mine...just kiddingBig Smile

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