Summary: Fire fills us with fear and yet Jesus came to baptised us also in fire. There must be then something about God’s fire that we need to find.
Baptized in fire
There is a new term under theologians – historical criticism. According to this theory it means that we can not take the Bible just as it is but we have to be very critical about the Bible. The Bible, according to them, is just a lot of books decided by mere men to put together to be the Bible. They do acknowledge the working of the Holy Spirit in this process but it is still just the work of men. And because the Bible, to them, is just the work of men, it means that the specific culture group the reader is in, and not God anymore, gives authority to the Bible. So it is not God who gives authority to His word but a lot of different culture groups. If you are within the culture group of the Roman Catholic Church, then all the books they believe in are then the Word of God. If you are in the cultural group of the Islam, then the Koran is the Word of God.
That is why different people can read the Bible and read the same verse, but for each of them that verse can have totally different meanings depending of your culture.
According to these theologians in order to understand the Bible correctly there are 3 things to take in consideration:
• that which is behind the text,
• that which is on the text, and
• that which is in front of the text.
With the behind the text they say that one must take in consideration the background wherein the text was written, to whom it was written to, for what culture group it was written.
On the text = must look at the literature = is it a poem or is it a prophesy.
In front of the text = you as reader’s background, training, culture.
This means that for every person and every culture group the Bible will have different meanings because we as people differ from each other. Even in the same culture group people will see the Bible different because we are different. For this reason we cannot read the Bible anymore alone. We must, according to them, read the Bible with a lot af other books in order to receive a true picture that will fit into what I would like to see. That’s why the Bible can no longer have a direct influence om our lives, but can only influence us indirectly.
Because of these statements we cannot see the miracles in the Bible anymore as miracles but only as the rich imagination of the writers of the Bible. Miracles like Jonah in the belly of a whale, Daniël in the lions den, the virgin birth of Jesus, and many more are then only a figment of someone’s imagination and cannot be the truth.
The Bible is thus no more the Word of God but only the work of men.
That is why people will see the same verse different from others and one such verse is Matthew 3:11.
There is one of two ways to interpret this verse depending, according to the theologians, of your background. (It does not matter what Jesus meant when He spoke these words – it only matters what you want it to be.)
Because there are a lot of people that do not believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit, they believe that John is referring here to 2 totally different happenings. According to them the baptism of the Holy Spirit happened on the day of Pentecost and it was a once off thing. It will never happen again. The baptism in fire has nothing to do with the day of Pentecost.