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Envision that life is like a large, flat plain. At its edge is laughter, where life giggles and belly laughs without much effort. This is called the “Edge of Laughter.”

A lot of people build their lives too far from the Edge of Laughter. So it takes someone to do the best comedy act in Vegas to get them to crack a smile.

Live on the Edge of Laughter. Congregations that never laugh find that forgiveness comes hard. In a church that laughs easily, forgiveness also comes easily. Allow your spirit to be lifted by laughter. It will do more than just improve your communication, it will change your church.

Humor of Jesus

Jesus laughed. Where you might ask? Plenty of places in the Gospels if you have any kind of funny bone left in your body. Listen to these words of Jesus:

“It’s easier for a camel to go through an eye of a needle than rich man to get into heaven” (Matthew 19:24).

How do you get a camel through the eye of a needle? Do you start with the tail and start pulling him through? Of course people laughed. Jesus wanted them to, so they would not take themselves too seriously. As ambassadors of the King, you and I must also utilize humor to awaken people’s minds and hearts.

When people laugh, it reboots their computer and gets them thinking again. Have you ever experienced a computer crash? You wiggle the mouse, tap at the keys, maybe even kick it, but it doesn’t react. Well, that can happen during speeches too! You must jiggle your audience awake with joy.

When people laugh it opens their receptivity. As their mouths hang open, the preacher can drop in truth for them to chew on. What a preacher says immediately after the laughter is the most important message he can speak. Laughter makes hearts vulnerable and the words he will speak will sink deeply and be reflected upon.

How can a preacher develop his humor?

1. Watch Life

Watch life for unique experiences. Develop eyes to see humor every day. How much life goes by and we are oblivious to it. I went to a collegiate game where the University of Oregon played UCLA. The people were wonderfully alive and sparkling with joy. They had painted their faces and their bodies! They wore clown wigs and just went nuts. It was such a joy to watch them!

2. Watch Comedy

One of the best tactics for developing humor is from some of the most funny people in the world, stage comedians. A comedian will plan his routine, crafting his lines and adjusting his timing. These are the professionals of laughter. If their humor is clean, watch it and take notes! Watch every gesture, tone and technique they use to draw laughter out of people around them.

3. Practice Laughing

Right where you are, wherever you are, laugh! That’s right, laugh. Yes I do mean you! Don’t hide behind your screen. Just laugh.

You may need some practice. We need to practice joy so that it becomes a natural reflex in life, not just in the pulpit but every day we live.

If we don’t laugh we’ll be more painful to live with. Those who don’t laugh are often the first critics. If you don’t laugh very much, it does not mean that you are holier than others. It might make you a Pharisee but it will not make you holier. Somewhere along the line, church people began to look like they had been baptized in lemon juice. We have become known for our deep-furrowed frowns. Holiness is not best advertised with seriousness but with joy.

One of the first Sundays after we planted New Hope a somber man sporting a scowl and crossed arms glared through me during the service. So I went over to him and gave him a big hug and said, “Good morning!” He was as rigid as a phone pole. He scalded me with a look that could blister skin. In a low growl he said, “If you would stop being such a funny guy, and just preach the Word, then maybe I’d come more often!” He left that Sunday and we haven’t seen him since.

In those early days we only had a handful of people attending. But since then 34,000 people have made first-time decisions for Christ through New Hope . We’re going to keep laughing! As Nehemiah said, “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh. 8:10)A church that understands the joy of the Lord is a strong church.



Wayne Cordeiro is the founding pastor of New Hope Christian Fellowship in Honolulu, Hawaii with   over 14,500 in weekend attendance. New Hope is also listed as one of the top ten most innovative churches in America with Outreach magazine, listing them as one of the “top five churches to learn    from.” New Hope is known for redeeming the arts and technology. Over 3000 attend services each    week via the Internet, and New Hope has seen over 73,000 first-time decisions in Hawaii since its inception 26 years ago.

He has authored ten books, including such classics as Doing Church as a Team, Dream Releasers, Seven Rules of Success, Attitudes That Attract Success, Divine Mentor, Leading on Empty and The Encore Church. Wayne is also the author of the Life Journal, which is being used by thousands of churches worldwide, is bringing people back to the Word of God.

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Talk about it...

Dr. Luke Kauffman

commented on Jul 19, 2011

"Love covers a multitude of sins." Laughter is not one of the fruit of Spirit. One can laugh their whole journey to Hell. We love Him because He first loved us is much different than He laughted first and we laughted next. One has never heard in the Scriptues of laughs of repentance; instead there must be tears of repentance.

Michael Buckingham

commented on Jul 19, 2011

This is a very interesting article! I have always thought as jokes being told in church as wrong, but this article gives a compelling argument for the opposite... There is a lot to think about here. Thanks so much!

Fred Jacoby

commented on Jul 19, 2011

I'm not inclined to believe that Jesus laughed when stated in the article...that being said...I think there is room for laughter to engage the congregation; however I think we need to be aware of our hearts as we preach. We must recognize that this is not about us or about making people laugh, it is about Christ and communicating Christ. Are we using laughter to lift ourselves higher, or using jokes and stories to emphasize points that make Jesus higher? If the former, then our hearts must change. If the latter, then laugh out loud, but lift Him high!

Tim Sitterley

commented on Jul 19, 2011

Yes, "Jesus wept." But I have to believe those tears were replaced by laughter and joy as Lazarus stumbled from the tomb. And yes, I've cried the tears of repentance. But if I cry them every day, perhaps I've failed to comprehend the true meaning of metanoia. If we truly have the joy of the Lord in our hearts, shouldn't it show on our face from time to time?

Dr. Luke Kauffman

commented on Jul 19, 2011

As a Homiltetics professsor, I am amazed as to the number of presuppositions are presented, and no propositions. To presuppose is not to believe, for belief is based on clear Biblical data.

Elver Mendenhall

commented on Jul 19, 2011

Pastor Wayne, Thanks so much for a wonderful article. It is a great reminder that our lives, words and facial expressions should be full of joy. Maybe (I'm sure this will sound heretical to some) joy should be a fruit of the Spirit. I believe it more reflects the heart of God than a scowl. Psa 128 speaks of the laughter which God put in the heart of the returning captives. Maybe they should have never taken off the robes of mourning, but there is a time, where after true repentance, we let the joy and laughter of the Lord fill us. Thanks again.

Dr. Luke Kauffman

commented on Jul 19, 2011

As a Homiltetics professsor, I am amazed as to the number of presuppositions are presented, and no propositions. To presuppose is not to believe, for belief is based on clear Biblical data.

Pastor Grace Wallis

commented on Jul 19, 2011

Gentlemen, have you forgotten that JOY is a fruit of the Spirit? Galatians 5 is pretty clear that love JOY peace, etc are fruits of the spirit, and that we should not "bite nor devour one another" lest we consume each other. At our home it is pretty easy to be in joy when accompanied by laughter. After a church outing at the park where even the adults participated in whacking at a pinata after being spun around, it was pretty easy to share the lesson of how life's troubles, apporached with a big stick while being "spun up" don't get solved. But how joyous it is to solve the problem and how minor it looks when approached with joy.

Pastor Grace Wallis

commented on Jul 19, 2011

Gentlemen, have you forgotten that JOY is a fruit of the Spirit? Galatians 5 is pretty clear that love JOY peace, etc are fruits of the spirit, and that we should not "bite nor devour one another" lest we consume each other. At our home it is pretty easy to be in joy when accompanied by laughter. After a church outing at the park where even the adults participated in whacking at a pinata after being spun around, it was pretty easy to share the lesson of how life's troubles, apporached with a big stick while being "spun up" don't get solved. But how joyous it is to solve the problem and how minor it looks when approached with joy.

Dr. Luke Kauffman

commented on Jul 19, 2011

Are sure we want to equate laughing due to Christians only as proof of the fruit of the Spirit? Do not all human beings laugh at some point? Is laughter the message that one is a Christian?

Dr. Luke Kauffman

commented on Jul 19, 2011

Are sure we want to equate laughing due to Christians only as proof of the fruit of the Spirit? Do not all human beings laugh at some point? Is laughter the message that one is a Christian?

John E Miller

commented on Jul 19, 2011

We cannot presume to say that Jesus never laughed, indeed it would be most unlikely to suggest this, but scripture does not record it. What it does tell us prophetically in Isaiah 53 is that He was a Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief. In Lamentations the Spirit of God asks, "Is it nothing to you all you that pass by? Behold and see if there is any sorrow like unto my sorrow..?" Some passing remark that raises a smile, if done with genuinely natural humour, may well illustrate a point in a sermon, but the spectacle of a preacher trying to be funny is neither reverent nor spiritually appropriate. Should I joke about Hell? Should I make some smart comment about the Cross? Can you show me anything remotely amusing about the forsaking? Paul preached Christ crucified. The religious man found it offensive and the educated man found it foolish. What would the funny man make of it?

Elver Mendenhall

commented on Jul 19, 2011

Pastor Wayne, Thanks so much for a wonderful article. It is a great reminder that our lives, words and facial expressions should be full of joy. Maybe (I'm sure this will sound heretical to some) joy should be a fruit of the Spirit. I believe it more reflects the heart of God than a scowl. Psa 128 speaks of the laughter which God put in the heart of the returning captives. Maybe they should have never taken off the robes of mourning, but there is a time, where after true repentance, we let the joy and laughter of the Lord fill us. Thanks again.

Herb Goetz

commented on Jul 19, 2011

Some churches are known as the "frozen chosen". What it really comes down to is that if Christians can not laugh, who can?

Dr. Luke Kauffman

commented on Jul 19, 2011

The question is not "Who can laugh?" It is rather, is laughter proof of the fruit of the Spirit, since all of humanity can laugh from growing babys to senile adults (No offense given).

Mel Dianga

commented on Jul 20, 2011

I like this article. I must learn to laugh more. When people who do not know God know the value of laughter, how much more believers in Christ since the joy of the Lord is our strength.

Km Chia

commented on Jul 20, 2011

The bible never records Jesus laughed, but it recorded his sadness and anger. But does that mean he never laughed? I believe that Jesus with such sensitivity to the emotions of others and himself, he definitely laughed. In fact, he has such humor because of language and culture we could not read it directly from the scripture.

John E Miller

commented on Jul 21, 2011

If your objective is to be popular, to build up a big regular audience, even a big membership, laughter is obviously a smart tool. If you want to be an entertainer or a comedian, go on the stage. The work of an evangelist is not to entertain. It is to bring to men and women the glorious message that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him will not perish but have eternal life. In the three hours of darkness God suspended His love for Jesus to make His love for guilty sinners known. The Christ-rejector will laugh, but the child of God will bow in reverent worship.

Doug Pierce

commented on Jul 23, 2011

We are to become like the little children. Have you never heard a child laugh? Passion and laughter can make a great sermon. The problem with some pastors is they make the Bible hard. Lighten up and smile your face won't break

Dr. Luke Kauffman

commented on Jul 23, 2011

Doug, are you sure that you want child-like ministers in our pulpits? Or do want men of study who are Biblical scholars? Did the crowds in America come to hear Whitefield, and Wesley because they were child-like in America when crowds would weep in repentance of sin? Revival never comes on the heels of laughter from child-like ministers in the pulpits of our world. Be sure that you know the history of how God moved through the prophets in the Old Testament and the Apostles in the New Testament before you pontificate. No offence with all due respect.

Tim Ahlgren

commented on Jul 23, 2011

It seems to me after reading the discussion comments made by many- That some missed the point of the article. God gave us laughter, if it can be used to preach the good news- USE IT! Obviously you don't use it all the time... There's a time to be serious... Yes, many will laugh all the way to hell... Part of our job is to (as Paul put it) "To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. " seriously... shouldn't we use every tool available to preach? If you can use humor to create an inroad as you're sharing the Gospel and it's not dishonoring to God, then humor them, and preach to them... Thanks to the author for a discussion provoking article, and to everyone with different viewpoints that have been willing to share, and get my mind to thinking about whether Jesus ever laughed... Or said something humorous. Since we're made in God's image (Elohim) and He created laughter, I have to assume that Jesus has a great sense of humor... after all, He did create me! A humorous thing indeed.

Dr. Luke Kauffman

commented on Jul 23, 2011

Tim . . . Are you sure you are using proper hermenutics when applying the Apostle Paul's words, "All things to all men?" Is not the subject on how to win Jews to Christ and not at all on laughter. Be careful that you do not abuse hermenutics when you preach the Gospel of Christ, my dear brother.

Doug Pierce

commented on Jul 24, 2011

we are to become like the little children. have you never heard a child laugh? passion and laughter can make a great sermon. the problem with some pastors is they make the bible hard. lighten up and smile your face won't break

Doug Pierce

commented on Jul 24, 2011

A-MEN Tim. Some people will never change.They will use big words that not everyone will understand!!!!!!!

Dr. Luke Kauffman

commented on Jul 24, 2011

Doug, if you are referring to my vocabulary, this discussion is for educated pastors, who have had preaching classes as I teach. My vocabulary is common to all students who consistantly preach the Word of God. You are now putting a premium on ignorance. Be careful, for the misinformed are to willing to inform the uniformed.

Guy Grand

commented on Jul 24, 2011

Luke - You describe yourself as a ?Homiltetics? professor who uses proper ?hermenutics.? Please tell us more about yourself. Would a professor misspell Homiletics? Would a professor misspell hermeneutics? Are you jesting?

Dr. Luke Kauffman

commented on Jul 25, 2011

Thanks, Guy for catching my typo when I type rapidly. Have always had this tendency without a spell checker. So sorry to you. Go to Google and type Dr. Luke E. Kauffman, and among other sitings see "Rate my Professor." Next go to the 1993-1994 edition of "Who's Who in the World," Marquis, p. 589. I chaired the department of Homiletics and Pastoral Ministry at Liberty Theological Seminary, as you will see in Google. I pastored a mega church with national and international media, and founded a $ 200,000,000 retirement center. I still grade papers and Skype with former and volunteer current students. Enough? Or more?

Fernando Villegas

commented on Jul 25, 2011

Dr. Luke Kauffman, you have impressive credentials. The apostle Paul also had some impressive credentials, and yet he counted them all as rubbish in order to gain Christ. You are obviously entitled to your opinion, and I respect it. But your overall attitude in this discussion, and in another discussion I read previously, has been very condescending and judgmental. When you have to use phrases like "No offense" and "With all due respect", something is wrong! Earlier, when Doug reminded us of Christ's own words that we must become like children to enter the kingdom of God, you asked whether we needed child-like ministers in our pulpits, or men of study who were Biblical scholars. It is clear who you believed was most suited for the pulpit. But it was the men of study, the Biblical scholars, to whom Jesus reserved his harshest rebukes. And it was the children he welcomed with opened arms. I am not putting ignorance over education. I believe in education. I've spent a significant part of my life in schools. But I also know that the danger of education is the temptation to take ones self too seriously! Interestingly, laughter is a good medicine for that.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Jul 25, 2011

Dr. Luke Kauffman, you wrote the following: "Are sure we want to equate laughing due to Christians only as proof of the fruit of the Spirit? Do not all human beings laugh at some point? Is laughter the message that one is a Christian?" You also wrote the following: "One has never heard in the Scriptues (sic) of laughs of repentance; instead there must be tears of repentance." Allow me to use the same logic to this latter quote. Do not all human beings shed tears at some point? Is shedding tears the message that one is a Christian? Is shedding tears proof of repentance, since all humanity can shed tears, from growing babies to senile adults? One can shed tears their whole journey to Hell. Do you see the point I'm trying to make? Your arguments are not consistent with themselves. Why are you so approving of tears, and yet at the same time so disapproving of laughter. I sincerely want to know! I agree that laughter is probably not the most appropriate response when experiencing repentance. And the article did not mention anything about laughs of repentance, so that statement you wrote in your first comment is completely irrelevant. But true repentance should lead to the joy of salvation. The Bible talks often about that. And although laughter is no proof of the joy that God gives us, just as tears are no proof of the repentance God gives us, you cannot possibly divorce laughter from joy completely! I sincerely hope to hear a response from you.

Dr. Luke Kauffman

commented on Jul 25, 2011

Fernando . . . I forgive you for your gift of reading my heart. I was asked to show my identity, no more, no less. This I humbly did with no attitute at all. If you respect education, do not call a man of God down who studies seriously the Bible! Please, you owe me an apology, for no student has ever accused me of what you have implied. May God have mercy on your preacher's heart. I do! Please pray much before you stand behind the scared desk to instruct God's flock!

Dr. Luke Kauffman

commented on Jul 25, 2011

Fernando # 29. I have read your challenge and your request for an answer. I will try to do so, but please do not climb inside my heart as you did in #28. Ok? I do laugh, at home, with students, and behind the pulpit. Laughter should never be a minister's calling card; holiness, integrity, friendliness, accountability, etc. Your position on tears being a part of human nature as opposed to signs of repentance has merit. My point is that the Scriptures call for tears of repentance as opposed laughter of repentance, unless one practices "holy laughter." You may, if you wish say that for me to refer to "laughs of repentance" is irrelevant to the article, but I was using metaphor only. I think that some of the comments made by other brothers on this blog may have baited me to appear in the extreme of which I am not. Let me be clear . . When I preach, I use laughter, but it is only to clarify with one of the preaching tools God has given us. I am not against laughter, but I am opposed to evangelists who are primarily known for their laughter as their M.O. Billy Graham, Adrian Rogers, Jerry Vines have all used laughter as appropriate. However, D.Martyn Lloyd-Jones seems to takes a much more serious approach to preaching than do the three men named above. I respect his right to hold to his opinion. Where I hold to is that laughter should not be held to high esteem as quality preaching. Fair enough? Oh, I forget on #28 that to say with all due respect is Southern lingo and is not seen as nothing more than saying "allow me to differ with you with all due respect." Feel free to ask me to clarify, for I give you my promise.

Guy Grand

commented on Jul 25, 2011

Fernando - on speaking of the need to become like children ? is this to suggest that a sermon should include extempore effusions of the heart? Could homiletics treat the composition and delivery of sermons or homilies in a way consistent with Mark 10:13-16?

Fernando Villegas

commented on Jul 26, 2011

Dr. Kauffman, I was by no means reading your heart; I was simply commenting on what I observed from what you wrote. My point was simply this: A person who does not offend does not need to say, "No offense given." A person who is taken seriously does not need to recite his resume, and then ask if that's enough, or if we want more, as if he had held himself back out of humility. This is what I was referring to when I wrote that a danger of education is the temptation to take oneself too seriously. You are taking my comments too personally, when this is not personal at all. How can it be? I don't know you personally! I'm sure in person you are a great human being. So, if what I wrote gave you the impression that I was trying to read your heart, I do apologize for that, as that was not my intent. However, I stand by my observations. You wrote the following: "This I humbly did with no attitute at all." But you have displayed attitude in every one of your posts, and it has not been a humble one. You have shown an attitude of defensiveness whenever you are challenged by anyone. You accused me of calling a man of God down who studies the Bible seriously, but that's not what I did. I challenged the logic of your arguments. I'm sure you do study the Bible seriously. But in this conversation, some of your arguments were not logical because they were not consistent with themselves. And that's what I pointed out. You have also shown an attitude of condescencion and superiority. You wrote the following to doug pierce: "Be sure that you know the history of how God moved through the prophets in the Old Testament and the Apostles in the New Testament before you pontificate. No offence (sic) with all due respect." Do you honestly not see how that comes across as condescending? You don't know anything at all about Doug! For all you know, he could be much more eductated than you but simply chooses not to put the phrase "Dr." in front of his name! To paraphrase what you wrote in comment number 5, I'm amazed at how much you presupposed about Doug from a simple, 42-word comment he made! So, no, I have not been trying to read your heart. But I have read your comments, several of which I have quoted and attempted to explain how they demonstrate a very negative attitude. And I'm very sorry if you don't see that!

Fernando Villegas

commented on Jul 26, 2011

Dr. Kauffman, re: Comment #31. First of all, you wrote what you wrote; so take ownership of what you wrote instead of blaming "some of the comments made by other brothers on this blog" for baiting you "to appear in the extreme." I seriously doubt there is anyone on here who is trying to play "gotcha" with you. No one here has anything to gain by making you look extreme. More importantly, however, you wrote the following: "When I preach, I use laughter, but it is only to clarify with one of the preaching tools God has given us." The thing is, I'm quite sure that was the main point the article was trying to get across! Sure, you can disagree on some of the details. There were some details I disagreed with, as well. But to me it looks like what happened is you read into the article more than what Mr. Cordeiro was trying to say. It seems to me that you were responding to abuses that the article was not in fact condoning. You wrote the following: "I am opposed to evangelists who are primarily known for their laughter as their M.O." Well, of course! So am I! But this article is not talking about being primarily known for laughter as our M. O. It is talking about the use of laughter as an expression of the Joy that God gives us, as well as its use as a "preaching tool" to help people receive God's Word. You also wrote the following: "Laughter should never be a minister's calling card." Fine, but again, that's not what the article is saying. Are there people who take laughter to an extreme? Yes. Is it appropriate to point out examples of those extremes and warn against them? Yes. Let's leave it at that. One more point. You wrote the following: "Where I hold to is that laughter should not be held to high esteem as quality preaching. Fair enough?" Sure, I'll agree, it is fair enough, as long as you recognize that the term "quality preaching" is subjective. What does "quality preaching" mean? What elements constitute "quality preaching," and how do those elements need to interact with each other for "quality preaching" to take place. There's no real cut-and-dry answer to that question. It is an issue that we must wrestle with in every sermon. Surely faithfulness to the biblical text must always be held to the highest esteem in quality preaching. But there are other elements as well, elements such as communicating the tone of the biblical text. And surely a sermon on, say, Psalm 126 or Balaam's Donkey in Numbers 22 will suggest that laughter can be a stronger element in quality preaching than in a sermon on Galations 1.

Dr. Luke Kauffman

commented on Jul 26, 2011

Well, Fernando . . . I have read your assesments as a self appointed judge, while seeing that you disregard, "judge not least you be judged." I pray God's mercy on your wife, children, congregation, if you use the rod of correction on them as you love to do to me. I am not being defensive! Yes, I was sincere in asking "more," or "enough." That is the question I am known to employ when I teach. I will not renounce my style of responding to a good question. I told one of my colleagues, yesterday, that a stranger, who will not identify himself, likened me to a man whom Jesus would rebuke if I were in His New Testament croud. He said, "Did I just hear what I think I heard you say?"

Fernando Villegas

commented on Jul 26, 2011

Guy Grand, the big answer to your question is that homiletics should treat the composition and delivery of sermons or homilies in a way consistent with all of Scripture, including Mark 10:13-16. The Scriptures not only determines WHAT we are to preach, it also determines the WAY we are to preach. In the particular context of Mark 10, we see several stories where the theme seems to be, who can see or enter the kingdom of God? The rich young man cannot enter because he values his treasures more than the kingdom. The disciples cannot see the kingdom because they are too busy trying to figure who will get the top positions. But with these two stories in the middle, we see in the bookends the answer to who can see and enter the kingdom of God. It is the vulnerable, the disenfranchised. It is children and blind beggars, those who are considered a nuisance. So what does all this have to do with preaching? Well, preaching is an expression of the Christian life, and part of the Christian life is the recognition that we cannot see or enter the kingdom of God until we are first broken down and humbled. Now, this does not mean that education is not important. It does not mean we shouldn't prepare our sermons to the best of our abilities. Instead, education and preparation are put in their proper context. They are gifts of God's grace; but if we put our trust in these things, we will in fact be blinded to the reality of God's Kingdom around us, and thus we will ultimately be unable to preach. Let me end with a question I've asked on this blog before, which no one has ever been able to answer. Why is it that we have specialized preaching to where the the average church member feels they are not qualified to preach? Where in the Bible does it say that only pastors can preach? Should not Mark 10 teach us that there are many in our congregations without a seminary degree, but who nonetheless are fully qualified and gifted by God to give witness to the reality of the Kingdom of God, as revealed in Scriptures, in the world around us?

Dr. Luke Kauffman

commented on Jul 26, 2011

Fernando . . . The "average" church member is not qualified to preach. Timothy was first schooled by the Apostle Paul, and then, and only then, was he commanded to "Preach the Word."

Fernando Villegas

commented on Jul 26, 2011

Dr. Kauffman, first of all, I am not "a stranger, who will not identify himself." I write under my legal name. If there is anything else you would like to know about me, you can find that out by engaging me in conversation, just like people normally do. Second, I am not a self-appointed judge and I am not judging you. I already told you that! I apologized if what I wrote gave the impression that I was trying to read your heart, and I explained that that was not my intent. I acknowledged that if I knew you in person, I'm sure I would recognize that you are a wonderful human being and a careful student of the Bible. I honestly don't know what else I can do to prove that this isn't personal, and that I am not judging you. I cannot stop you if you want to continue to believe that lie. Third, I'm not going to respond to your very insulting remarks about my wife, children, and congregations, except to say that if my comments to you the last couple of days--what you refer to as my "rod of correction"--has been the worst thing that has happened to you recently, then, wow, you've had a really good couple of days. Fourth, if you have to write "I am not being defensive" with an exclamation point at the end, you're being defensive. Fifth, you wrote the following in response to my observation of you asking, "Enough? Or more?": "That is the question I am known to employ when I teach. I will not renounce my style of responding to a good question." Fair enough. I apologize because I read more into that question than you intended. And I'm not asking you to renounce your style. But what I would like for you to understand is that you are not teaching here. This is not a classroom. You are not our professor, and we are not your students. This is a conversation among collegues. We don't have a relationship with you like your students do. We aren't there with you to see your facial expressions and hear the tone of your voice and receive all those other bodily clues that will put your words into context. And what I've been trying to tell you is that absent all that context, your words are coming across as very harsh. So you don't have to renounce your style of communicating if you don't want to. But be aware that in THIS context, your style of communication is going to keep getting you misinterpreted if you don't change, and you're going to have to keep defending yourself. It's your call. Finally, the comment I made that you shared with your collegue, you did so out of context. So, let me remind you of that context. When doug brought up the point of becoming like children to enter the kingdom of God, you asked whether we preferred child-like ministers in the pulpit or men who were serious Bible scholars. I am assuming you would prefer the scholars. If I am wrong in that assumption, please let me know. The point I was trying to make is that Jesus, in contrast, often welcomed children and rebuked scholars. Being a scholar does not inherently qualify one to preach more than a child. I'm sorry that the comment came across as a personal attack against you. It was not intended to be so.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Jul 26, 2011

Dr. Kauffman, so are you saying that the "average" church member is not capable of studying the Bible for themselves and receiving a word from the Lord and sharing that word in encouragement and exhortation to other believers who have gathered to worship God? Do we not believe in the priesthood of all believers?

Dr. Luke Kauffman

commented on Jul 26, 2011

My dear Fernando . . . How soon we forget the words of the Apostle Paul to his son in the Faith: "The things that you have heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others, also." The priesthood of believers, my friend, is our glorious honor to intercede on our own behalf without human assistance. Nothing at all to do with gifting the "average" christian to handle the Word of God. For some reason, you have a great fixation with and on me. Turn your eyes upon Jesus, and the things of this earth will grow faintly dim in the light of His Glorious Grace. Remember, too, "The lady doeth protest too much." (Referring to #'s 38

Fernando Villegas

commented on Jul 27, 2011

Dr. Kauffman, I don't have any fixation on you. This is called a conversation. I say something, you respond, then I respond back, and so forth. The reason I keep talking to you is because you keep talking back! It takes two to have a conversation, and if you really wanted to, you could have ended it a long time ago. So really, I have no more of a fixation on you than you have on me! And the quote from Shakespeare could very easily apply to you as much as to me. Let me just clarify one issue, though. The reason I keep the conversation going from my end is because I'm honestly wanting to understand your positions on some of these issues. I've already commented on how I perceive the tone of your posts, so I won't rehash that issue. But I believe that beyond what I have observed, you really are a good person and a fellow brother in Christ. Whatever differences in opinions we have, whatever misunderstandings may arise from the limitations inherent in this type of communication, we are both members of the family of God, with our faith in Jesus as the only identifying mark that unites us. So I'm willing to continue to engage in this conversation as deeply and for as long as you allow me to, in the hope that on the other side we will both emerge with a deeper understanding of each other views, even if we don't agree with each other. And I have to believe that on some level, you feel the same towards me. I have to believe that if you really believed that I was the judgmental, rod bearing monster whose wife, children, and congregations need protection from that you have portrayed me as being, you would've stopped responding to me a long time ago. Somehow we are misunderstanding each other. But through honest and sincere conversation, we can get past those misunderstanding; and I hope that will be the case. So, I have laid all my cards on the table. These are my intentions. There is no hidden agenda, no fixations, no desire to judge you. I have done everything I can possibly think of to make my motivations clear to you; and if you choose not believe me, that is up to you. But I'm done responding to your personal comments. My next post, and all subsequent posts, will focus on the issues we are discussing. Any remarks along the lines of, "Why are you judging me, why are you fixating on me, I pity your family," will be ignored.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Jul 27, 2011

Dr. Kauffman, there are a couple of issues I would like to address: First, as to the priesthood of all believers, the concept is not simply about "our glorious honor to intercede on our own behalf without human assistance." It includes that, but it is so much more. In its fullness, it is about the Church continuing the vocation to which Israel had originally been called. The theology of the priesthood of all believers has its roots at Mt. Sinai, where God told Israel, "You shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Ex 19:6). God had called Israel so that through them he might reveal his glory to all the nations in such a way that they would choose to worship him as well. The Old Testament is the story of how Israel failed constantly in their vocation. But then in the New Testament, beginning with the Gospels, we see God, in faithfulness to his covenant with Abraham, fulfilling that vocation through Jesus. Jesus was what Israel should have been. Now, as the body of Christ on earth, we continue to do "all that Jesus began to do and teach" (Acts 1:1). So, the priesthood of all believers means that everyone of us has been commissioned by God to reveal his glory to the people around us and call them to worship him. It is in that context that my thought on the ministry of preaching are to be interpreted. That will be the issue of my next post.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Jul 27, 2011

Dr. Kauffman, second, I agree with you that Timothy was instructed by Paul before he was able to preach, just as the disciples first spent time with Jesus before they were sent out to preach. And that is why we as pastors must instruct our church members so that they can be able to share in the preaching ministry. That is our job. That is our calling. Ephesians 4 clearly states that God gave us to the church "to equip the saints for the work of ministry." Or, to paraphrase in our present discussion, "to train the 'average' church members how to preach." Because that is what Jesus did! Who did he choose to send out to preach? Fishermen and tax collectors. He did not choose the scholars. Now, don't get me wrong. This is not a judgment against scholars. But we cannot pass over this highly significant and intentional action by Jesus to choose the foolish things of the world in order to display his wisdom. At the very least, it humbles me to be reminded that when Jesus chose his discipes, he bypassed those with my level of education! So, Jesus chose these twelve ordinary, "average" men. He poured his life into them. He instructed them in the ways of the kingdom of God. And then he sent them out to preach the reality of that kingdom. That is what we as pastors are supposed to do. Yes, we instruct them, just as Paul instructed Timothy and just as Jesus instructed his disciples. If the average church member is not capable of handling the Word of God, is not capable of sharing that Word with the people of God who have gathered for worship, then that is a failure on our part as pastors. It is a result of us pastors being too concerned about trying to impress people with how much we know about the Bible instead of actually doing what the Bible tells us to do. And that is not a judgment on you, it is a judgment on myself, because God knows the pride that is constantly fighting for control of my heart. Now, I will agree, not everyone will be able to deliver a full-length sermon, although I suspect that more are able to than we recognize. But everyone can study the Bible for themselves and share what they've learned in worship, and that is what true Biblical preaching is. The Word of God is much too immense to be limited to the voice of any one person in a single congregation, however gifted that person may be.

Guy Grand

commented on Jul 27, 2011

Fernando - "Who did he choose to send out to preach? Fishermen and tax collectors. He did not choose the scholars. Now, don't get me wrong. This is not a judgment against scholars. But we cannot pass over this highly significant and intentional action by Jesus to choose the foolish things of the world in order to display his wisdom." What is being described as "foolish things of the world?" Thanks for your last reply.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Jul 27, 2011

Guy, what I mean by "the foolish things of the world" is that God has a tendency of choosing people that would not impress the world. When Peter and John were arrested after healing a lame beggar at the Beautiful Gate and then proceeded to preach Jesus to the crowds, Acts tells us that the religious leaders "perceived that they were uneducated, common men" (4:13). They were foolish in the eyes of the world, but what made the difference is "that they had been with Jesus." As a result, God was able to use them powerfully. What I'm trying to discuss with Dr. Kauffman, who I hope is still engaging in this conversation, and I'm assuming he's simply been too busy to respond today, is his assertion that the "average" church member is not qualified to preach. The Bible tells me differently. If any church member, regardless of how uneducated or common or "average" they appear to be to us, has been indwelt with the Holy Spirit and is abiding daily in Christ; and if we as pastors have been faithful to our calling to train our church members how to study the Bible for themselves and not to depend on us or our sermons for spiritual nourishment; then, yes, it is my conviction from Scriptures that ANY CHURCH MEMBER can preach. Like I said some may not be able to preach a full-length sermon. But all can preach in the sense of proclaiming what they have learned from the Word of God to their fellow believers who have gathered together in worship.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Jul 27, 2011

By the way, to Guy and Dr. Kauffman: I'd like to let you know that I will be away starting tomorrow and will be unable to log onto the internet for the rest of the week. However, please feel free to continue responding to my comments, as I am quite interested in hearing both of your points of view. I will log on again either Sunday evening or Monday at the latest, and we can continue the conversation if you'd like. I simply didn't want either of you to respond in the next couple of days and then think I'd stopped paying attention. Blessing on both of you as this week comes to a close!

Dr. Luke Kauffman

commented on Jul 28, 2011

Fernando #46 Yes, I will respond. If you wish to go private, messenger2@msn.com. Ok!

Doug Pierce

commented on Jul 28, 2011

We are to become like the little children. Have you never heard a child laugh? Passion and laughter can make a great sermon. The problem with some pastors is they make the Bible hard. Lighten up and smile your face won't break

Dr. Luke Kauffman

commented on Jul 28, 2011

Paul said, "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I understood like a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things." We do not children in the pulpit with childlike faith, we need mature adults, as John calls for fathers, and young men.

Guy Grand

commented on Jul 29, 2011

With 2 Timothy 4:2-4, and 2 Timothy 2:15 in mind - Is Paul advocating systematic training? Without the language tools, academic methodology, and core information provided by systematic training, how can one preach above a superficial level? Do the language tools, academic methodology, and core information provided by systematic training help to prevent heretical preaching?

Doug Pierce

commented on Aug 1, 2011

we are to become like the little children. have you never heard a child laugh? passion and laughter can make a great sermon. the problem with some pastors is they make the bible hard. lighten up and smile your face won't break

Fernando Villegas

commented on Aug 1, 2011

Guy, yes, I would agree that Paul would probably be in favor of systematic training. The question is, what does that training look like, and are we in danger of reading our own presuppositions of what that training should look like into 2 Timothy 2 and 4? You asked, "Do the language tools, academic methodology, and core information provided by systematic training help to prevent heretical preaching?" I would answer, yes I'm sure it can help, with the following stipulation: they do not GUARANTEE the prevention of heretical preaching. The tools you listed will ALWAYS be subservient to the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit. I'm sure that's assumed by all of us, but I feel it is important to articulate that assumption clearly at this point. What I'm trying to say is this: God has given to the Christian Church teachers and scholars with the tools you have listed, NOT so that we can hoard the preaching ministry for ourselves, but in order to TRAIN our church members how to understand the Bible for themselves, and how to share in the preaching ministry. That is how I understand Ephesians 4; which is why I said that if the average church member is unable to rightly handle the word of truth, if the average church member is not qualified to preach, then that situation is a failure on our part as Pastors and Teachers. We have created a class of "Christians" who are perpetually dependant on us as pastors and teachers for their spiritual nourishment. The Roman Catholic Church did the same thing long ago, and we as Protestants (I'm assuming I'm talking with other Protestants) have failed to reform that aspect of the Christian life. This dependence is not healthy. Dr. Kauffman is, rightly so, very concerned that those behind the pulpit be mature Christians. But I wonder if he is equally concerned that those in his congregation reach that same level of maturity so that they can also share in the pulpit ministry. The congregation will never aspire to that level of maturity as long as they depend on the qualified, seminary-trained pastor with language tools, academic methodology and core information to teach them what the Bible says; and they will certainly never aspire to that level of maturity if they never know that God has also called them to share in the preaching ministry of the Church. Like I said earlier, the Word of God is way too immense to be limited to the voice of any one person in any local congregation.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Aug 1, 2011

To expand a little further on what Biblical training should look like for those in our congregation who aspire to teach, we can teach them some basic skills of Bible study. We can teach them the principles of observation, interpretation, and application. We can teach them how to use tools like concordances, Bible dictionaries, commentaries, etc. We can teach them how to evaluate different translations. There are many books out there on how to study the Bible. We can read some of these books with a small group of interested church members and discuss them together. We can have them practice using those skills and share with us what they're learning. We can then teach them some basic skills of communication to learn how to organize their thoughts. Above all, we can teach them how to abide daily in Christ and depend on HIM alone to teach them and guide them into all truth. And once we get a small group of maybe 2 or 3 church members who have gotten a good handle on these skills, we get another 2 or 3 and repeat that process. So, you see, I'm not advocating picking someone at random to preach a sermon next weekend. I agree that training is necessary. All I'm saying is let's not read into 2 Timothy something that may not be there. Let's not import our own ideas of what training looks like into the text. Let's let the Bible itself define what our teaching and training ministry should look like.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Aug 1, 2011

Dr. Kauffman, I appreciate your willingness to continue the conversation. For now I would prefer to keep the discussion on this board, seeing as how it appears that there are at least a couple of others who are also still paying attention. I would love to hear your response to my comments #42, 43 and 45, especially the latter two.

Dr. Luke Kauffman

commented on Aug 1, 2011

Fernando . . . Yes, I believe in more than one voice sharing the Word of God in the local church, for that is why we have 25 lay adult Bible teachers in Adult Bible Fellowship (ABF).

Dr. Luke Kauffman

commented on Aug 1, 2011

Regarding # 43 Jesus brought up the non-scholarly men that he choose by teaching them so much that Peter could quote Scripture from memory, and John said there is so much of Jesus that we learned in three years that no set of books could contain all of our intellect. Remember, He made them into Apostles which gave them super theology called Divine Inspiration.

Dr. Luke Kauffman

commented on Aug 1, 2011

Fernando . . . Yes, I believe in more than one voice sharing the Word of God in the local church, for that is why we have 25 lay adult Bible teachers in Adult Bible Fellowship (ABF).

Fernando Villegas

commented on Aug 1, 2011

Dr. Kauffman, it's wonderful to hear about the lay teachers at your church. I would like to ask if they would be considered qualified to preach at a worship service? As to Jesus teaching his disciples, yes, I agree with you. One of the things that I am constantly reminding my church members of is that the same God of the Bible is the same God we serve today. Just as Jesus taught his disciples while he was on earth, he continues to teach all of us who are disciples of Christ. And just as the Twelve had no formal education that the religious leaders recognized, so too, we who are disciples of Christ do not have to have the formal education that the world recognizes in order to be qualified to preach. But we DO have to be taught by Jesus, and that is something that is available to every disciple of Christ. Formal education, in the context of being taught by Jesus, can be a tremendous help and blessing; so I'm not negating its value. But certainly Jesus can teach those who do not have the opportunities or mental capacities for formal education.

Guy Grand

commented on Aug 3, 2011

Have you been watching news about the Warren Jeffs trial? There were perhaps 5,000 people at the FLDS compound in Eldorado before it was raided. When the FLDS compound was raided, I was one of the people who worked to care for the children of the FLDS compound. We could talk to each other. Our perceptions of Jesus were different. What are some teaching methods that might help prevent situations similar to the FLDS? Fernando writes that systematic teaching might not prevent heretical teaching. What are some tools that might help prevent teachings similar to the FLDS?

Dr. Luke Kauffman

commented on Aug 4, 2011

Guy # 59, One of the best inductive thoughts I have heard recently, and thanks.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Aug 4, 2011

Guy, I didn't write what you said I wrote. In fact, I wrote the opposite, and I apologize if that wasn't clear. Assuming that what you refer to as "systematic teaching" is the same thing as what you referred to earlier as "academic methodology", what I said was that, YES, these things do help to prevent heretical teachings. But what I also said is that these things do not GUARANTEE the prevention of heretical teaching. You can have systematic teaching and still end up with heresy, if your system is flawed. This is not a knock against systematic teaching, which I believe is very helpful. It is simply a caution not to depend on it over the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit, which is available to every disciple of Christ. Let me put it this way: eating healthy and exercising can HELP me to live a long life, but it does not GUARANTEE that I will live a long life. There are other factors in play; I could be hit by a bus! As to the question of what tools could help prevent heretical teachings such as those of the FLDS, one of my professors at seminary taught us what he called "Safeguards for Bible Study" which have been very helpful for me. Because of space, I'll simply name them, and if you'd like elaboration on any of them, I would be glad to do so upon request: 1. Begin with authentic prayer and self-distrust; 2. Use a variety of translations (especially for those who do not know Greek and Hebrew); 3. Favor the clear texts; 4. Favor general reading (in order to place our study into its proper biblical context); 5. Give attention to criticism of peers. I think following these principles would be a tremendous help in preventing heretical teaching. And the wonderful thing is that these principles can be applied by ANYONE, regardless of their level of education. In fact, I believe that it is our responsibility as Pastors and Teachers to train our church members in these principles, and to train them how to study the Bible systematically for themselves so that they are not dependent on their pastor for spiritual nourishment. I'm convinced that if any of those people in that compound had been taught how to study and interpret the Bible for themselves, they would not have fallen into that heresy. By the way, I'm glad you had the oportunity to minister to those children, and I pray that the influence you had on them will be a blessing to them as God leads them back to the truth of his Word.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Aug 4, 2011

Guy, one other thing. I apologize in advance if I have misunderstood or misread you, but since you haven't really engaged much in any of my arguments, I'm not quite sure where you're coming from. It seems to me that your latest comments were suggesting that the philosophy of preaching and teaching that I have been suggesting would allow for heretical teachings like those of the FLDS to flourish. Am I reading this correctly, or am I mistaken? Please spell it out a little more clearly for me.

Dr. Luke Kauffman

commented on Aug 4, 2011

Fernando #58, You have not recognized that the disciples had the most formal education one could attain from the Master Teacher. I would gladly turn away from degrees, if I could have been educated at the feet of Jesus. Would you, too?

Fernando Villegas

commented on Aug 4, 2011

Dr. Kauffman, I agree with you that the disciples had the physical presence of Jesus with them for three and a half years. But I do not believe that that gave them an advantage over us in learning truth. In fact, the Gospel of John tells me otherwise. One of the differences between this Gospel and the Synoptic Gospels is that in the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus' miracles are often associated with his physical touch. In John, it is the exact opposite. Jesus' miracles are performed through his word, not through his physical presence. It is as though to emphasize that the lack of Jesus' physical presence did not put one at a disadvantage from receiving ministry from him. This was a very important message for a generation of Christians who were about to loose the last living apostle who had physically sat at Jesus feet. Furthermore, consider Jesus' farewell discourse in chapters 14-16, where Jesus tells the disciples that it was actually an ADVANTAGE that he go away, because then he could send the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whose ministry includes leading them into all truth. You wrote the following: "I would gladly turn away from degrees, if I could have been educated at the feet of Jesus. Would you, too?" My answer to you is that I AM educated at the feet of Jesus every day as I submit myself to the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit, just as surely as the disciples were. And it IS a joyous experience, and one that is available not only to me, but to you as well, and to EVERY disciple of Christ!! And I don't even have to turn away from any degrees to do so; they are simply a help for me as the Spirit teaches me. That is why I am so passionate about telling people that we as disciples of Christ living in 21st century North America can have the same experience with God and with Christ as the people in the Bible. It may look differently, but the essence of the experience is the same. We are not at a disadvantage from the people in the Bible; if anything, we are the ones who actually have the advantage because we have the Holy Spirit with us. And until we really believe that truth in the core of our being, the Bible will never be more than a collection of old stories, letters, laws, and songs that have nothing to do with our lives. And Christianity will never be anything more than a set of beliefs that does nothing to transform our lives into the new creation that we are promised in 2 Cor 5:17.

Dr. Luke Kauffman

commented on Aug 4, 2011

Fernando . . . You cannot have it both ways: Jesus' presence was both with the physical touch and the spoken Word. I know you rebuke me for correcting you, but you are speaking in convoluted syntax.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Aug 4, 2011

Dr. Kauffman, I understand what you mean by saying that Jesus' spoken word was part of his physical presence. But consider the case of the nobleman's son in John 4. Jesus simply spoke the word, and his son was healed, even though he was in a different town! This is what I'm tyring to say: even though the nobleman's son neither saw Jesus NOR heard him, even though he did not have access to Jesus' physical presence either in body or in voice, he was still able to receive Jesus' healing ministry. I hope that clarifies things a bit for you. Furthermore, how do you respond to Jesus' claims in his farewell discourse that it was to the disciple's advantage that he was going away? But the primary question I would like to hear you answer is: do you believe, then, that we Christians are unable to experience God today in the same way as the people in the Bible?

Dr. Luke Kauffman

commented on Aug 4, 2011

Fernando . . . what "people of the Bible" do you have in mind, and what activities about them are you wanting 21st century examples?

Guy Grand

commented on Aug 4, 2011

Fernando ? The comment related to your statement in #52 ?You asked, ?Do the language tools, academic methodology, and core information provided by systematic training help to prevent heretical preaching?? I would answer, yes I'm sure it can help, with the following stipulation: they do not GUARANTEE the prevention of heretical preaching.? I agree that language tools, academic methodology, and core information provided by systematic training do not guarantee the prevention of heretical preaching. The question relates to my understanding of the teachings of Warren Jeffs who I feel developed his teachings by reading the Bible individually without language tools, academic methodology such as the Wesleyan quadrilateral, and core information provided by systematic training: Can it be counterproductive for a person ? a tabula rasa ? to read and interpret the Bible individually? Can a person ? a tabula rasa - who reads and interprets the Bible individually more readily produce concepts that might seem inspired to that one person but heretical to a group who use language tools, academic methodology such as the Wesleyan quadrilateral, and core information such as provided by systematic training to produce their Christology?

Guy Grand

commented on Aug 4, 2011

Why do question marks and dashes represent themselves as question marks in my posts?

Fernando Villegas

commented on Aug 5, 2011

Dr. Kauffman, I don't have anyone specific in mind when I refer to "people of the Bible." I mean, simply, people who are mentioned in the Bible. Abraham, David, Moses, Joshua, the disciples, Paul, Ruth, Esther, Deborah, Jonah....every single one of these people, and many more, experienced God in some way in their lives. And they were sure of it. They didn't simply believe they had experienced God--they KNEW it. What I'm saying is that we in 21st century North America can have as real of an experience with God, and be as confident about that experience, as the people I mentioned had. Again, the experience may not look the same, but the essence of the experience will be. Let me give you an example: I may not hear God speaking to me through a burning bush like Moses. But I do know that he spoke to me when he called me to be a pastor. This is what I mean: the experience looks different--no burning bush; but the essence of the experience is the same--God communicating his will to me. Or let's return to the disciples being taught by Jesus. The experience of being taught by Jesus looks different for us than it looked like for the disciples: they had Jesus' physical presence with them, and we don't. But the essence of that experience is the same: Jesus still teaches his disciples today, but now he does it through the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit working inside us. So, what I'm asking you is this: do you believe that God no longer speaks to his people? That he no longer teaches his people? That he no longer heals? That he no longer interacts with us?

Fernando Villegas

commented on Aug 5, 2011

Guy, yeah, I've noticed the thing about the questions marks and dashes, too, so don't worry about it. I understood what you're trying to say! I don't think we are as far apart as you might think we are. We have come to understand each other and agree that language tools, academic methodology, and core information are a help in the prevention of heretical teaching, but not a guarantee that heretical teaching will be prevented. Now let me clarify my position a little more, and hopefully we can come to a greater understanding of each other. It has been my argument that Christians are capable of reading and understanding the Bible for themselves, without having to depend on their pastor for spiritual nourishment. In fact, that claim was a cornerstone of the Reformation, and provided the rationale for translating the Bible into the languages of the people. However, let me balance this argument, because you are absolutely correct--if we take this argument to an extreme, it will lead to heretical teachings. So here is the balance: the Bible was NEVER meant to be read and interpreted individually! It was always given to community. If you remember, this was the fifth safeguard for Bible study (and a very vital one!) that my seminary professor taught us: give attention to criticism of peers. What this means is that once we have studied the Bible for ourselves, we then enter into conversation with those in the community of faith who have also studied the passage using sound principles of exegesis. These conversation partners may be pastors and teachers in our congregations, other lay members, and even scholars through their books and commentaries. And as we discuss the passage together, we will discover blind spots in our study that others will help us to overcome; we will also discover blind spots in the study of others that we will help them to overcome. Now some of us will be more capable of using language tools, academic methodology, and core information than others in the conversation; but that is not so that we will hold dominion over those who are not as capable, rather it is so that we can use these tools to serve those who are also studying God's word. And if, as I have argued from Scripture, the Holy Spirit has been given to the Church in order to lead us to all truth, then as we wrestle with the Bible together, that promise will be fulfilled for us. So let me try to summarize my position: the Bible is meant to be read and interpreted in conversation with the community of the people of God, using sound principles of exegesis to the best of our abilities, and submitting ourselves to the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit; and for that reason, God has given to his Church Pastors and Teachers who will train the people of God (i.e. "average church members") how to study the Bible for themselves so that they can be part of that conversation. I realize that summary was rather dense. But I hope it's clear, and I look forward to hearing your response!

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