Types, Shadows and Degrees of Authority
(original article, 8. Supporting Arguments, Israel in Egypt, Noah, etc.)
You state: "It is not good practice to build our theology on types and shadows, but they can lend support to what is taught elsewhere."
Regarding the above statement from your web site. If it is not good practice to build theology on types and shadows, how am I supposed to interpret the Lamb used numerous times in Revelation? Is it Jesus or a natural lamb? What about the 7 headed beast in Revelation? Is it literal or figurative? How am I supposed to interpret parables? How am I supposed to interpret the vine that Jesus says He is? Is it a natural vine or is He referencing the fact that all of the life giving supply flows from the vine to the fruit or is it something else?
It seems to me that the New Testament has as many types and shadows as the Old. Perhaps more. To me it looks as if you are building a theology on literal interpretation rather than from a context that utilizes both literal and figurative. I am not sending this to initiate an argument but I would ask that you take a consistent look at the writings of the Bible and consider the elements of their writing such as time, circumstance, and purpose. The book of Revelation is exactly what is says it is a Revelation of Jesus Christ not just a book of prophecy to proclaim gloom and doom to the earth and its inhabitants. Psalms 24:1- "The earth is the LORD'S, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein." There is no supporting scripture that says any part of the earth belongs to or has ever belonged to the devil.
All in the world I meant by that statement is that I am not using these types and shadows to build my case. I have done that in the rest of the book and this is merely added support to my position. I only do this so that those who would attack my argument would not go here to my weakest points first. In some cases, where all we have are types, shadows, parables, etc., then that is all we have to go by. But when there are clear statements in scripture then they must have priority. To sum it up, I am simply saying, interpret the unclear passages in light of the clear ones. Virtually all scholars agree with this principle.
Millard Erickson, in his widely-used and respected Christian Theology gives these "Degrees of Authority of Theological Statements":
- Direct statements of Scripture are to be accorded the greatest weight. To the degree that they accurately represent what the Bible teaches, they have the status of a direct word from God. Great care must of course be excercised to make certain that we are dealing here with the teaching of Scripture, and not an interpretation imposed upon it.
- Direct implications of Scripture must also be given high priority. They are to be regarded as slightly less authoritative than direct statements, however, because the introduction of an additional step (logical inference) carries with it the possibility of interpretational error.
- Probable implications of Scripture, that is, inferences that are drawn in cases where one of the assumptions or premises is only probable, are somewhat less authoritative than direct statements. While deserving respect, such statements should be held with a certain amount of tentativeness.
- Inductive conclustions from Scripture vary in their degree of authority. Inductive investigation, of course, gives only probabilities. The certainty of its conclusions increases as the proportion between the number of references actually considered and the total number of pertinent references that could conceivably be considered increases.
- Conclusions inferred from the general revelation, which is less particularized and less explicit than the special revelation, must, accordingly, always be subject to the clearer and more explicit statements of the Bible.
- Outright speculations, which frequently include hypotheses based on a single statement or hint in Scripture, or derived from somewhat obscure or unclear parts of the Bible, may also be stated and utilized by the theologians. There is no harm in this as long as the theologian is aware and warns the reader or hearer of what is being done. A serious problem enters if these speculations are presented with the same degree of authoritativeness attributed to statements of the first category listed above.
The theologian will want to employ all of the legitimate material available, giving it in each case neither more or less credence than is appropriate in view of the nature of its source. (Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998), 83-84.
Pre-Trib is completely bankrupt in at least categories one and two. Nowhere does the Bible state or imply that Jesus will return before the Tribulation. On the other hand, Post-Trib has the explicit statement (category 1) of Jesus Christ himself telling his apostles that he will come back "after the tribulation" (Matt. 24:29-31; Mark 13:24-27).