TNEC - The Study


The New Earth Chronicles: The Study

In order to understand the future, we must first understand our past; the beginnings of all things. Scripture clearly describes our future in the New Heaven and the New Earth as the recreation of what was originally begun in Genesis yet was corrupted by sin. So we must travel back in time to find our future!

But how do we do that? Do we need a flux capacitor?

What Do We Know Versus what we Think We Know?

Our first task is to consider what we know, or more properly, what we think we know about the Genesis story. Much of what we currently "believe" about the Genesis account is the center of a vicious culture war. That war has so skewed our view (on both sides) that few are willing to wade through it to find the truth. So our first steps is to examine our Presuppositions on the subject of the Genesis narrative and come to a new, yet ancient, understanding.


The first premise of interpretation is that Scripture is used to Interpret Scripture. This theological tool is called The Wesleyan Quadrilateral. It is made up of the three pillars of our knowledge (espistimology) of how we know what we know about the Scriptures. John Wesley provided the most cogent description of our theological framework for interpreting the Scriptures. This model of theological thinking Wesley derived from inspecting the "values" placed on each type of experience as expressed in the daily life of the faith group.

In a perfect world the Scriptures should remain as the primary focus of all, supported on the three "equal" pillars of Tradition, Experience, and Reason. However, as in all things human, one of the three becomes the primary expression in the daily praxis, leading to valuing one or the other of the three. While each does hold Scripture to be primary, none hold all three of the supporting pillars equally valid and therefore skews their doctrines accordingly.

The current American denominational assignments of the three-legged stool of the Quadrilateral came as the results of The Second Great Awakening in the early 19th Century. The follow-on effects of Progressivism, Darwinism, and the American pshyce, all have had great influence on the doctrines of the protestant denominations of all stripes.


The Premise of This Study: Scripture to Interpret Scripture

Our first task is to consider what we know, or more properly, what we think we know about the Genesis story. Much of what we currently "believe" about the Genesis account is the center of a vicious culture war. That war has so skewed our view (on both sides) that few are willing to wade through it to find the truth. So our first steps is to examine our Presuppositions on the subject of the Genesis narrative and come to a new, yet ancient, understanding.

Evangelical View of the Quadrilateral

The above diagram accurately describes the Quadrilateral in the Evangelical view. We generally hold Tradition and Experience in equal value in underpinning the Scriptures. Yet we have consistently held Reason at the lowest value even while professing we hold all three in equal regard. This was clearly evident to me (and a small group of my peers) in Seminary.

The Evangelicals, which includes the Mennonites and other likeminded pietistic groups arose to their current forms out of the Second Great Awakening. That awakening along with Progressivism, and Darwinian Evolutionary tought has fueled the cultural war being fought today.


Denominational View of the Quadrilateral

The above diagram accurately describes the expression of each of the major branches of Christianity. Without much thought we easily see these categories worked out in daily life.

As the Manager of Mile High Pines Camp in the San Bernardion National Forest in Southern California, I hosted retreats for each of these faith groups. I experienced first-hand their expressions of faith and praxis of Scripture. The validity of the above diagram was certainly evident without much theological consideration.

The Catholics have long accepted Tradition as their prime support of Scripture. As to Reason, they were handling (or rather mis-handling) it with Galileo at the time the Protestants were in their theological cribs. Their experience with Galileo and others was the beginning of the end of rebalancing that leg of their quadrilateral stool. Yet they did not attempt to rebalance Tradition and Experience until Pope John XXII forced the Vatican II reforms.

The Charismatics (or Apostolics) were born out of the fervor of Second Great Awakening Revivals. Spiritual expression and supernatural occurrences became primary to doctrine. Adventists with Mary Baker Eddy, and Jehovah's Witnesses followed likewise. Mormons could also be included though they all are generally considered outside the realm of Protestanism though they came from the same religious stock of Western New York as the others.

The Liberal or "Mainline" Churches, as progressives, have largely eschewed Scripture as prime and replaced it with both Experience and Reason. As the Protestant cousins of the Catholics their affect is more of how the Protestant's react against them. Most of the doctrines maligned by the Evangleical and Charismatics are those most esteemed by the Progressives. This is the core of the "Culture War" we are now experiencing.

The case of interpretation of the Genesis creation account is, in my opinion, the most prominent example of a lack of application of reason, followed by the doctrine of "eternal Hell" for non-believers.

I am continually amazed at the convoluted reasoning used by Evangleical theologians and laypersons alike in defending these positions from a (so called) Scriptural basis when other interpretations from within Scripture are also evident. These interpretations are reasonable and accessible through a "plain" reading, or through the application of carefully reading both Hebraic word choices and literary tropes.

What those word choices are, and what the optional doctrines are, is what the following pages are about.