The Genre of Insanity
Knowing the genre of the book you are reading in the Bible can help you dodge the fiery darts of heresy. Literary hermeneutics should never be abandoned before opening a book, much less when studying Gods word. Today, this common mistake has confused many about the gifts of the Spirit, particularly tongues and prophecy.
The first thing a hermeneutics’ teacher would have you do is decipher the genre of the book you are about to read. Knowing that we are not to take Ray Bradbury literally could save us a trip to the loony bin. However, never be intimidated to the point of discouragement when interpreting Scripture because a little common sense can go a long way. Allow me to show you how reading the Bible through the lens of genre can prevent you from adopting bad doctrine.
Let me begin with this, do Christians today not have enough faith to part the Red Sea or is it understood that this gift was given to Moses for a specific purpose in Biblical history? I believe even without a single semester of seminary we instinctively realize that the genre of Exodus is history. It was never God’s intention for us to take these books of history and live them out—this is why we have the epistles. Yet, even when this understanding makes a lunatic out of anyone trying to command a body of water to part, we still presume that the people trying to recreate Pentecost in their “prayer closets” are perfectly sane.
Therefore, let the record be set straight about the Pentecostal gifts that were only given to fulfill the prophesy in Joel 2:28. Like the Books of Moses, Acts is history in genre. We should always have in mind that this is Luke’s account of the early church, and the birth of Christianity. If we read Acts like an epistle our interpretation will be in error. The gift of tongues at Pentecost was Gods way of temporarily reversing the language curse at the Tower of Babel so that the Gospel could be spread to every nation, tribe and tongue (language). Anything added or subtracted to the meaning of Pentecost is in violation of twisting God’s word. Peter tells us not to have a private interpretation of prophecy, as he learned from Christ that Scripture interprets Scripture. With that being said Acts 2:3 interprets Joel 2:28, and vice versa.
You might even hear the arguments of 1 Corinthians chapter 14 used to justify these gifts today, but this is always presented without the understanding that Paul, while still in the context of Acts, was supervising over the gifts that had not yet ceased at Corinth. In other words, Paul never makes mention of these gifts outside the book of Acts, and to follow in his example, neither should we.
I know many today cannot let go of their leadership statues of being the spiritual patriarch to those around them, but according to Hebrews, Christ was the last prophet, priest and king. So even though you might not make any claims to one of these offices, woe to anyone who tries to recreate an event in Biblical history after Christ stated it was finished.