Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Book Review

"Drawing Near" (John Bevere). I liked this book, I feel it made a lot of good points. I have two issues, one smaller and one bigger.

The first is that in the preface he talks about how God inspired him to write this book, "thoughts came rapidly together as I typed, which I had never contemplated or heard before. I quickly realized these weren't my messages -- they were His." That's right! Open your D-ring Bibles and insert this book right after the Revelation to John. Revelation to Second John!

On a more serious note, I take issue with chapter eleven. Here he makes the case that you can be "Blessed or Ignorant" (pg. 181). "Blessed" if you speak in tongues, or "Ignorant" if you do not. Here I feel his hermeneutic breaks down. I am going to stick with 1 Corinthians 14:39b "forbid not to speak with tongues". I'm not forbidding John, but I ask him not to call me ignorant if I disagree with him.

The question is, "What does the Bible mean by speaking in tongues?" On page 171, John claims there are actually "four different categories of tongues". He claims that two are for public use (tongues for a sign to unbelievers, and tongues for interpretation as prophecy). The other two are for personal development (tongues for personal prayer, and tongues for intercession).

I checked my Greek dictionary, but the same word is used for nearly every case of "tongues" (glossa) in the New Testament. The one exception is 1 Corinthians 14:21, where Paul is siting an OT passage. Here he uses heteroglossos, which is clearly the same root word. That whole chapter is about speaking in tongues.

John claims the context makes clear the four applications of tongues, and that this shows there are human tongues (foreign languages the speaker has not learned) and heavenly tongues (which no one would be able to understand).

I don't believe the context is so clear. If I am speaking a foreign language which no one is familiar with, that is the same effect as an uninterpretable language.

A more excellent treatment of cessationism than I can provide from Warfield.

The best point he makes is the distinction between people who see God for what He can do for them, versus people who wish to draw near to God. He gives powerful accounts from Exodus where God calls for the Israelites (led by Moses) to draw near to Him. Moses responds, but the people are only interested in the results of God's favor. This resonates very strongly with me, and reminds me that God has given us the greatest gift: salvation and the promise of being one with Him. Everything else is minor in comparison and extra blessing. Not needed or promised.

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