Tag Archives: Meaning

Dr. Walt Russell explains how to read the Bible effectively

Dr. Walt Russell’s book on the subject of interpreting the Bible is called “Playing With Fire: How the Bible Ignites Change in Your Soul“. I like that book, but I found four articles that summarize the main points of the book so people can understand how to read the Bible at a high level.

Here is part one which talks about how postmodern relativism is at odds with discovering the original intent of an author.

Excerpt:

Twenty-four year-old “Janet” (not her real name) was angry at my emphasis on seeking to discover authors’ intentions when we read their texts. She was an evangelical Christian and a second grade teacher in a public school. She prided herself in helping her 20 students learn to love literature. She would read them a story as they gathered around her, and then ask each child, “What does the story mean to you?” She prodded them to come up with their own unique meanings. With such strong encouragement, the class of 20 would eventually have 20 different meanings for the one story. Janet sensed that I was a naysayer about such “love of literature.” Pouring a little emotional gasoline on the fire, I said, “Janet, you’re certainly doing your part to insure that these 7 year-olds will never recover from a radically relativistic view of meaning!” Now I had her full attention.

Here is part two which talks about the importance of knowing the genre of a text before you try to interpret it.

Excerpt:

“INDIANS SLAY TIGERS!” — the newspaper headline virtually screams out at you. The thought of something being slain is repulsive. You’re gripped by a mental image of southern India’s Bengal tiger. You imagine its beautiful face, its stripes and piercing eyes. Then your image is shattered by the sudden blast of a high-powered rifle. You see the exquisite creature writhe in pain, fall gracelessly in its tracks and die. Having read no further than the headline, you feel sick, as if you’ve witnessed something tragic.

But should you feel this way? The slaughter of an endangered species — especially one as magnificent as the Bengal tiger — is horrifying, no doubt. But suppose you failed to notice that the headline “INDIANS SLAY TIGERS!” appeared in the sports page of the morning paper. Clearly enough, it now refers to different Indians, different Tigers and a different manner of slaying than you originally thought. And is it really that tragic that the Cleveland Indians badly beat the Detroit Tigers in a major league baseball game last night? Not unless you’re a long-suffering Detroit Tigers’ baseball fan. But how do you now know that the headline is about baseball and not tiger-slaying in India? You look at the words “INDIANS SLAY TIGERS” and you know exactly what each word means. When you combine these words, how can they not mean exactly what you first thought they did — that Indians slay tigers? Answer: because their meanings are communicated (as the meanings of all words are) through genres!

Here is part three which talks about the importance of reading the context of a verse before you try to interpret it.

Excerpt:

“Never Read a Bible Verse!” That’s the title of a little booklet my friend and Christian radio personality, Gregory Koukl, has written to help people read the Bible well. What great advice. “That’s right, never read a Bible verse. Instead, always read a paragraph — at least.” But the current is flowing the other way in our popular sound-bite culture. Not to be left out (or left behind!), the Church has its own version of sound-bite culture: verse-bite culture. In verse-bite culture we take a sentence or sentence-fragment from a biblical paragraph, memorize it out of context, write it on a little card, put it on a billboard, a plaque, a rock, etc. Somehow we think that just because this little chunk of Scripture has a verse number in front of it, it was meant to be a free-standing unit of thought. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Apart from the fact that chapter and verse divisions weren’t added to the New Testament text until 1560 — long after the New Testament’s inspired authorship — there is a more important reason for never reading just a Bible verse, and instead reading at least the paragraph that contains it.

Here is part four which talks about the importance of applying the words of the Bible to your life.

One verse that is often misinterpreted is missing from the articles, but present in the STR lecture. It’s Philippians 1:6 that says “6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”. Russell says in the lecture that this promise is specifically intended for the church in Philippi, to whom Paul is writing, not necessarily to all Christians. He is giving them a promise just after directly referring to their good work in supporting him in his ministry. Some verses are just not meant for us, and the context reveals it.

Walt Russell explains how to read the Bible effectively

Bible study that hits the spot
Bible study that hits the spot

Dr. Walt Russell’s book on the subject of interpreting the Bible is called “Playing With Fire: How the Bible Ignites Change in Your Soul“. I like that book, but I found four articles that summarize the main points of the book so people can understand how to read the Bible at a high livel.

Here is part one which talks about how postmodern relativism is at odds with discovering the original intent of an author.

Excerpt:

Twenty-four year-old “Janet” (not her real name) was angry at my emphasis on seeking to discover authors’ intentions when we read their texts. She was an evangelical Christian and a second grade teacher in a public school. She prided herself in helping her 20 students learn to love literature. She would read them a story as they gathered around her, and then ask each child, “What does the story mean to you?” She prodded them to come up with their own unique meanings. With such strong encouragement, the class of 20 would eventually have 20 different meanings for the one story. Janet sensed that I was a naysayer about such “love of literature.” Pouring a little emotional gasoline on the fire, I said, “Janet, you’re certainly doing your part to insure that these 7 year-olds will never recover from a radically relativistic view of meaning!” Now I had her full attention.

Here is part two which talks about the importance of knowing the genre of a text before you try to interpret it.

Excerpt:

“INDIANS SLAY TIGERS!” — the newspaper headline virtually screams out at you. The thought of something being slain is repulsive. You’re gripped by a mental image of southern India’s Bengal tiger. You imagine its beautiful face, its stripes and piercing eyes. Then your image is shattered by the sudden blast of a high-powered rifle. You see the exquisite creature writhe in pain, fall gracelessly in its tracks and die. Having read no further than the headline, you feel sick, as if you’ve witnessed something tragic.

But should you feel this way? The slaughter of an endangered species — especially one as magnificent as the Bengal tiger — is horrifying, no doubt. But suppose you failed to notice that the headline “INDIANS SLAY TIGERS!” appeared in the sports page of the morning paper. Clearly enough, it now refers to different Indians, different Tigers and a different manner of slaying than you originally thought. And is it really that tragic that the Cleveland Indians badly beat the Detroit Tigers in a major league baseball game last night? Not unless you’re a long-suffering Detroit Tigers’ baseball fan. But how do you now know that the headline is about baseball and not tiger-slaying in India? You look at the words “INDIANS SLAY TIGERS” and you know exactly what each word means. When you combine these words, how can they not mean exactly what you first thought they did — that Indians slay tigers? Answer: because their meanings are communicated (as the meanings of all words are) through genres!

Here is part three which talks about the importance of reading the context of a verse before you try to interpret it.

Excerpt:

“Never Read a Bible Verse!” That’s the title of a little booklet my friend and Christian radio personality, Gregory Koukl, has written to help people read the Bible well. What great advice. “That’s right, never read a Bible verse. Instead, always read a paragraph — at least.” But the current is flowing the other way in our popular sound-bite culture. Not to be left out (or left behind!), the Church has its own version of sound-bite culture: verse-bite culture. In verse-bite culture we take a sentence or sentence-fragment from a biblical paragraph, memorize it out of context, write it on a little card, put it on a billboard, a plaque, a rock, etc. Somehow we think that just because this little chunk of Scripture has a verse number in front of it, it was meant to be a free-standing unit of thought. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Apart from the fact that chapter and verse divisions weren’t added to the New Testament text until 1560 — long after the New Testament’s inspired authorship — there is a more important reason for never reading just a Bible verse, and instead reading at least the paragraph that contains it.

Here is part four which talks about the importance of applying the words of the Bible to your life.

One verse that is often misinterpreted is missing from the articles, but present in the STR lecture. It’s Philippians 1:6 that says “6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”. Russell says in the lecture that this promise is specifically intended for the church in Philippi, to whom Paul is writing, not necessarily to all Christians. He is giving them a promise just after directly referring to their good work in supporting him in his ministry. Some verses are just not meant for us, and the context reveals it.

Famous pick-up artist Roosh V urges men not to act like clowns for casual sex

Fifty Shades of Grey was very popular with women
Fifty Shades was popular with women, including “Christian” women – why?

Is it meaningful and rewarding for men to spend their time and money pursuing casual sex? I would expect that men who tried and failed to obtain casual sex to say that it’s a waste of time and money. But what about a man who was so successful at obtaining casual sex that he wrote bestselling books about it? Did he find his achievements meaningful in the end?

Roosh V is a well-known pick-up artist who is a master at seducing women. He’s traveled all over the world and seduced many women from many countries.

In a post from April 2019, he reaches a startling conclusion about his success:

I began pursuing women for mostly sexual reasons in 2001. I must’ve logged tens of thousands of hours into the task. I’ve been also traveling or living abroad near continuously since 2007. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to fornicate, fornicating, traveling to more effectively fornicate, and writing over a million words about fornication. What did I learn from all that? It’s an experience that gets more dull with repetition, like any other experience. However, it also leaves you with a massive hangover where you find yourself at a loss. What was the point of all that? Is there anything I’ve truly gained? What lasting glory have I achieved? If I wasn’t a writer, I would have nothing to “show” for my efforts besides memories that are as likely to make me cringe as give me happiness.

If society were healthy, and if women were more traditional, most of my time would have been spent writing different kinds of books, maybe concerning religion or history. I would have a family, and spend much of my time nurturing the love between them without degenerate interference from the government or cultural elites. […]While there is nothing in life that is solid, my family and community would give me a stronger feeling of continuity. Tomorrow, things that are likely to be here would still be there, compared to the easy-come-easy-go modern lifestyle where putting your penis inside a girl is not even close to a guarantee you’ll see her again, and where any job you have, or apartment you live in, is as transitory as the next bus that rolls down the street.

[…]As I approach 40 years of age, I see most of my hedonistic and travel pursuits as expensive life lessons than a source of meaning. My nature, and I believe the nature of most masculine men I meet, is one of creation, strength, and provision for family, things we’re increasingly not allowed to do, or allowed to do only at impossible cost.

Indeed. Speaking for myself, one of the main reasons that I’ve avoided casual sex (or premarital sex of any kind) is because from earliest days, I could not stomach the idea of a woman that I had sex with walking away. So, my education, career and finance decisions were oriented to winning the heart of one woman who would commit to me for life, so that we could built something nice for the Lord together.

In another post, from March 2014, Roosh explains why casual sex didn’t provide him with validation:

There is definitely not a single woman alive in the Western world who needs a man. While in the past a woman had to put forth effort to obtain a husband who would help her survive, today she is protected by a welfare state that ensures she will never go hungry or spend one night on the street.

[…]From a young age, girls are brainwashed to believe that they don’t need men and that the key to their happiness is self-empowerment by sleeping around and becoming a corporate wage slave. It’s hard to dispute the notion that a woman who believes she doesn’t need a man won’t make as good of a relationship partner as one who does. She will treat you as a distraction to her more important job, girls’ nights out, and social networking validation happy time. Men have become an utterly replaceable and expendable commodity in a girl’s life. Her interest in a man is not unlike her interest in a new television show or Apple product, and your only hope is to have sex with her as many times as possible until her attraction diminishes and she moves on to the next guy in line.

Women don’t seek out comfort or stability in men anymore—they seek entertainment. They seek distraction. They seek hedonistic pleasure. […]Once the entertainment or novelty you provide her declines—and it inevitably will—she moves on to something or someone else. In essence, the only way you can keep a girl is if you adopt the mentality of a soap opera writer, adding a cliffhanger to the end of each episode that keeps a woman interested when being a good man no longer does.

When I look at myself in the mirror, I don’t see a man who has improved himself over the years to be the best that his genes allow—I see a glittery skirt that a girl encounters in the mall. Is the skirt too expensive or is it on sale? Is there only one left of her size or is the rack full of them? Does she already have something similar or is it totally novel? Does her friends think it’s cute or just alright? After trying it on, does it flatter her body or make her look fat? Either she makes the impulsive decision to buy the skirt or not, because odds are she won’t come back for it. There are so many stores with so many skirts that she will soon forget it, forever. We are like glittery pieces of fashion to women—items that she truly doesn’t need. Not only has she already collected so many of them, but she can easily obtain more within walking distance from where she lives. She can even browse online from home while in her pajamas through a nearly unlimited selection.

We are not men in the traditional sense—we are clowns.

Well, I’m a virgin who never spent money or time pursuing casual sex, and precisely because I refuse to be any woman’s clown. It’s very easy for a man to not be a woman’s clown. All he has to do is choose a woman who will let him lead her, instead of a woman who wants him to entertain her. Women use the offer of premarital sex in order to get men to stop trying to lead them. Men who don’t mind acting like clowns in order to get sex will take this bargain. Men who expect women to rise up to the roles of wife and mother will reject the bargain. A Christian man’s goal is to lead a woman away from her self-centeredness, feelings, desires and need for peer-approval, so that she can perform the roles of wife and mother.

How to avoid becoming a clown for casual sex

So, let me give some advice for men about how to get into relationships where they can lead a woman upward, and avoid becoming her clown. It begins and ends with the woman you choose, because some women will let you lead, while others will not.

Research (here, here) shows that women who are virgins are more likely to be content in their marriages, and therefore less likely to financially ruin you with a frivolous divorce. Therefore, women who are virgins are to be preferred. Women who abstain from alcohol, drugs and tattoos should be preferred. Women who have a conservative father who they have respected should be preferred. Women who have STEM degrees should be preferred. Women who are debt-free should be preferred. Women who have challenging STEM careers in the private sector should be preferred. Women who don’t want to outsource the education of their children to daycare, public schools, etc. should be preferred. Women who want three or more children should be preferred. Women who think that a man’s earnings should not be taxed to pay for husband-substitute social programs should be preferred. Women who have demonstrated public opposition to no-fault divorce, premarital sex, abortion and same-sex marriage should be preferred. Women who blame and shame other women for choosing hot bad boys should be preferred. Women who can demonstrate knowledge of intermediate-level science apologetics (e.g. Stephen C. Meyer, Michael Behe, Hugh Ross, etc.) should be preferred. (Philosophical and historical apologetics are useful, but are not forceful enough in a debate). Women who avoid fun and thrills (beaches, FOMO travel, reading fiction, thrill-seeking, etc.) should be preferred. Women who serve others (elderly, disabled, etc.) should be preferred.

Basically, you’re looking for someone who is comfortable with responsibilities, expectations and obligations. You’re looking for someone who respects your demonstrated ability in areas like education, career and finance. (You have led other people to do well in education, career, finances, ministry, etc. right?) You’re looking for someone who lets her logical reasoning override her feelings and intuitions when she makes decisions.

The retreat from male leadership

It used to be the case that you could count on pastors to warn Christian men about wasting their time and money on women who wanted them to be clowns instead of leaders. Even the progressive fideist John Piper wrote against women rebelling against male leadership way back in 1983. Men used to be wary of this desire of women to usurp the leadership role from men. But today, it seems like men are anxious to dance to a woman’s tune – reducing themselves to spineless commodities, like a pair of shoes or a handbag. But men were not designed to be women’s accessories, men were designed to lead. When you tell a woman no to premarital sex, there is the possibility of leading her out of the pig sty of feminism and socialism. But if you say yes to her, you become her clown. If you waste all your 20s and 30s clowning for casual sex, you will have no meaningful legacy.  To any man who works for the Lord, this is unacceptable. Christian men, you were bought at a price, and you are expected to produce a return.

Therefore, focus your attention on an early marriage to a good woman, and avoid the hot bad girls who just want to pump and dump you for their own pointless entertainment. If you can’t find a decent wife, then it’s better to remain a virgin and put points on the board some other way.