1 Aug 2011

"Sound Doctrine," "Pattern," "Timothy:" Reflections on Restoration Hermeneutics

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Bible, Exegesis, Hermeneutics, Patternism
From time to time I write a blog post in response to a request, that is the origin of this post. Sometime back a friend, a brother in Christ, and fellow preacher asked me to write about “sound doctrine” and “the pattern.” I have thought long and hard about this and have written various other pieces and I encourage the curious to check them out:

Quest for THE Pattern

Wal-Mart, Dresses and Patterns

So knowing full well that many will totally disagree with what I am about to write I offer these thoughts on “Sound Doctrine,” “Patternism,” and Timothy. I ask that you read carefully and prayerfully … and if you disagree let me know … after you have read it AGAIN to make sure I am really wrong.

Introductory Matters: Conundrums and Ironies

One of the great strengths of the Churches of Christ has been our commitment to be a “people of the book.” It is a commitment that I am personally at peace with and give my life and heart too without reservation. We, “our people,” have held tightly onto the belief in the inspiration and authority of the Scriptures as the Word of God. This quality has become a trademark of “our” identity. We have consistently called upon others to come and join us “on Bible ground” and I am happy to continue to do so. Sometimes we even use lingo that says “The Bible is our Creed” or more likely “the New Testament is our creed.” While I do not like that language I understand the sentiment. Christ is our Creed … but more on that as we reflect …

Yet by being a “Back to the Bible” movement that focuses so intensely on the Scriptures (even if uneveningly in practice) it is possible that the Bible has displaced the true object of our faith. Although our motives have been pure, and holy, we may have forgotten the biblical truth(!!) that the Bible is NOT an end to itself. The Bible is a MEANS of grace (i.e. can I say “sacrament”) to THE end … the end being Jesus the Christ (Jn 5.39f). This does not diminish the importance of the Bible. It enhances it. We really need to think through these challenging words of N. T. Wright as he reminds us that all authority is actually quite personal and en-fleshed in Jesus …

“The risen Jesus, at the end of Matthew’s gospel, does not say ‘All authority in heaven and on earth is given to the books you are all going to write,’ but ‘All authority in heaven and on earth is given to me.” This ought to t

5 Responses to “"Sound Doctrine," "Pattern," "Timothy:" Reflections on Restoration Hermeneutics”

  1. Lee Freeman Says:

    A very “sound” piece, brother! I heartily agree that the Bible is a *means* to the end, not the end itself.

    If, as NT Wright argues, the Bible is primarily a story, then patternism misses the point entirely, because patternism, at least our brand of it, looks only for “commands, examples, and necessary inferences,” but doesn’t know what to do, for example, with historical narratives, or poetry such as the Psalms, because historical narratives and poems don’t contain commands we’re to follow, which is really what CENI is all about. It focuses much less on what God has *done* through Christ to set the world to rights, and much more on what man must *do.* As such, it is out of balance. Commands are surely important, but not at the expense of the gospel of God’s grace.

    The great Campbell himself taught that the literary and historical context of a particular text was crucial to rightly understanding it. He was right.

  2. Burnt Ribs Says:


    I think I need to read this a couple more times (I’m pretty slow) but I enjoy and I’m educated by the way you explain the Bible. I’ve been listening to your sermons on Exodus and things are really starting to click for me. In the past I’ve heard sermons on the 10 Commandments and the golden calf and as a kid I memorized the plagues and made dioramas of baby Moses in the basket and that has been my exposure to Exodus. Sadly, I’ve read through the book a few times and I’d never even connected Pharaoh’s killing of newborn boys with the death of the firstborn Egyptians much less Exodus 24 with the Garden of Eden.

    Anyway, I don’t like to be critical of the congregation I attend, but we’ve been having a class on 2cnd Timothy and nothing like this has come out of it. We spent the last class discussing 3:14-17 and all I remember is the meaning of profitable and who all was able to write scripture.

    I’d like to thank you for all the effort you’ve put into your posts and sermons. You’ve opened my eyes to a whole new world.


  3. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Josh thank you for your kind and encouraging words. I am humbled that you are listening to my Exodus series. I hope and pray that I have been able to somehow communicate the glory of God’s message in this book. Stay in touch.

    Bobby V

  4. mattdabbs Says:

    So why not just make all this the pattern? 🙂

    Now seriously…I will read this again.

  5. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Thank you Matt. Make sure you read part two posted on August 7, 2011.

    Bobby V