of the Holy Spirit
Starting my sermon critique by quoting my own source material:
Language is a necessary condition for the existence of societies. A society is not merely a collection of discrete individuals but involves relations between individuals; it is necessary that there be communication: some kind of language must exist. Rules of the kind we call logical must also exist: It must be possible to follow through arguments, however primitive. Some things have to be done by agreement, and there cannot be agreement without a shared understanding of what is to be achieved and how it can best be achieved. Some kind of reasoning is needed. That is to say, language and logic are needed.
I checked my sources on rules regarding pronouns, and in a nutshell:
Within a sentence, the sentence structure limits the choice of pronoun. ... In a discourse, context plays a primary role in pronoun interpretation.
The "they all" being gathered together (Acts 2) and receiving the
baptism of the Holy Spirit would have one significance if they were
the apostles in their specialized ministry (radiator repair shop),
and another if they were the followers in general gathered together
(at a campsite). Since "they all" is at the beginning of a
new sentence--new paragraph, new chapter, new thought--we have to
look at the whole context rather than simply a rule of
grammar. We are, after all, reading a discourse (ref. Luke 1, Acts 1). If
the context shows Luke developing a well defined group of which the
apostles are but a subgroup, the narrative alternating between the
two, the "they all" would be taken to mean the larger group.
If however, Luke's narrative dealt exclusively with the group of
apostles, the others being vaguely on the periphery, then "they
all" would be the apostles only. To use only a straightforward rule
of grammar is to treat Acts 2:1 as if it were part of a sentence
ending Acts 1, which it isn't. If it were, we certainly would
have proved "they" are the apostles.
ignoratio elenchi (Log.) ; 'ignoring of the (required) disproof'. A fallacy consisting in disproving or proving something different from what is strictly in question ; called in English the fallacy of irrelevant conclusion. If the question is whether the law allows me to pollute water passing through my garden, & I show instead that it ought to allow me, since the loss to me by abstaining is a hundred times greater than my neighbor's from the pollution, I am guilty of i. e.
If we have to follow the law according to how it is written, not
how we think it should have been written, how much more so the
Bible. Proving a point from a rule of grammar that would work
for a single sentence is substandard exegesis, in my opinion, when
the words in question are not in a single sentence but part of a
larger discourse, and in which case the larger context is the
primary consideration instead of that rule of grammar.
I think what's relevant goes back to, "language must exist. Rules of the kind we call logical must also exist: It must be possible to follow through arguments, however primitive. Some things have to be done by agreement, and there cannot be agreement without a shared understanding of what is to be achieved and how it can best be achieved," where as a result of the apostles' baptism of the Holy Spirit, they as a group could speak with authority of inspiration, (Acts 2:14) "But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, ...," and by agreement certain of the writings by recognized inspired men were gathered into our New Testament which forms our highest leadership here on earth. There remain, however, issues connected to whether or not the rest of the 120 received the descent of the Holy Spirit too, as per: "Social psychologists have generally concluded by now that there are no leadership traits, that leadership is a function of the situation, including the kind of people, the kind of problem, the kind of group, etc."--Victor Thompson, Modern Organization114 I think that if the rest of the 120 just sat around while the 12 received the charismatic gift of the Holy Spirit and then preached, we non-apostles would feel that any spiritual experience we'd have would be almost exclusively from reading the Bible, their inspired words, but if instead, all 120 received the baptism of the Holy Spirit at the same time, and then Peter with the 11 preached, I'd be more inclined to believe that believers could have more spiritual experiences apart from reading their Bibles (which they should still do.) Of course, that's all too feeble to base a position on, one way or another, and in fact I agree with the preacher's main point that we get more mileage from a slow burn than from a big bang, but I don't think he needs the pronoun argument to reinforce that position, and it could harm his credibility, especially if he preaches or talks to someone who actually understands pronouns.
Even the most earthly things are subject to the slow-burn principle:
I learned about women in sports from a woman, a skin diver named Marie Prenderghast. Marie told the papers the other day that more and more women are going to take up this delightful subaqueous sport. "It'll be just like when women took up bowling," she said. "They'll wise up to where the men are."
A little bit of Bible goes a long way, but if God wants to bop someone on the head to learn him something, far be it from me to argue.
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Copyright © 2002, Earl S. Gosnell III
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.
Permission is hereby granted to use the portions original to this paper--with credit given, of course--in intellectually honest non-profit educational material. The material I myself have quoted has its own copyright in most cases, which I cannot speak for but have used here under the fair use doctrine.
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