Monday, March 17, 2014

SHERLOCK HOLMES - A BIBLICAL CHRISTIAN?

OK, I thought I’d write an attention grabbing title to pique the curiosity of you readers. I think it worked because here you are! Obviously Sherlock Holmes is a fictitious character, and was never portrayed as a Christian of any kind, much less a biblical one (as opposed to a religious, philosophical or social ‘Christian’ – in name only).

“So what gives?” you might ask; “Why the title?”

There are many stories that I’ve read and loved as a child; in my lack of many friends, books were my company and the characters in those stories were like dear companions. Whether you talked about Frodo Baggins from The LORD of the RINGS or Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, I felt a strong connection to them all.
Maybe because I’m getting older now and prone to nostalgia, but after watching some made for television films in the BBC series called SHERLOCK (Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman), I got my Collective Works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle off the shelf and started reading some of those old stories.

As I noticed the “method” of the renowned consulting detective, I realized something rather interesting. Let me first explain this ‘method’ to you as Holmes himself describes it:

”You see (he says to Watson) but you do not observe.” This is true of so many of us; we see things without really looking and observing them – our minds are so cluttered and busy, we don’t stop and really scrutinize and think about things we commonly see.
Proper deduction, so Holmes says, can only come about with proper observation and the only proper action can come about once the only proper deductions have been made.

It is this method that is used by the careful student of the Bible as well! Proper and insightful biblical study can only come about when such methods as the following are employed: observation, interpretation and application.

Observational – What does the Bible actually say; not what we think it says from any prejudicial perspective of our own because of the denomination we were raised in, or because of how we’ve been instructed by various teachers, but what does the text of Scripture actually say? In order to extract from Holy Writ what any particular passage says, we use these words of inquiry: who, what, where, when, how and why.
As we read Scripture we ask:
Who is speaking? Who is being addressed?
What is being said? What is the context of this passage? What are the biblical truths being expounded upon?
Where does this passage take place geographically? Where does the truth expounded upon fit in with other Scripture?
When did this declaration in Scripture take place historically? When does the truth of this passage have validity or when is its application suitable?
How does our understanding of truth benefit from this passage? How does this verse fit in with all the counsel of God? How do we conduct ourselves in light of this Scripture?
Why is this verse important? Why did the LORD see fit to include this truth for us so that we may glean its truth?

Just like the Super Sleuth Sherlock Holmes goes on a fact finding mission in order to solve the mystery at hand, we Christians are seeking truth in the pages of Scripture so that we may understand the mystery that is the LORD.

ISAIAH 55:8-9
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Just as no human can really know the thoughts of another human being, but only one’s own thoughts that emanate from one’s own mind, no one can know the thoughts of God except they know His mind (or Spirit actually) and only those who are partakers of His Spirit via the new birth can understand the mind of the LORD – as the Spirit grants us understanding (See 1 COR. 2:10-12).

So whereas Sherlock would use his keen, highly and proficiently trained mind along with his magnifying lens to ferret out clues that are stubbornly hidden from sight, we employ the Spirit of God that indwells us believers along with the wisdom of God which He imparts (and none of our own wisdom, intellect or understanding) and the Scriptures to understand the mystery of God (1 COR. 2:7; COL. 2:2; REV. 10:7).

Just as Sherlock would explore a crime scene, we explore the many biblical ‘scenes’ of various passages, carefully observing the many ‘clues’ found in key phrases, words, idioms and cross references. Both detective and disciple desire to form a coalescing picture that forms the truth of the matter, one that can be readily perceived and understood, so that the truth may be revealed. Once careful observation has been concluded, all the facts extracted that may be, one must make the proper deductions or in the case of the Christian specifically, the proper interpretations from which we derive certain deductions.


Interpretational – The largest aspect of interpretational exercise in the study of Scripture is inductive, which is to say, one must resort to the whole of Scripture in search of all places and references that deal with the subject at hand in the context of the passage of Scripture being examined.
For example, if one is studying the Gospel of John, chapter 3 and the phrase “born again” is being examined, one would seek out all other passages that relate to spiritual rebirth, such as JER 31:33; EZEKIEL 11:19; 36:26; JHN 1:12-13; 2 COR. 5:17; EPHESIANS 2:15; 4:24; COL. 3:10; TITUS 3:5; 1 PETER 1:23; 1 JHN 5:1. Once such a composite is constructed by accessing all the verses that deal with any particular subject, and careful observation has been made, one may reasonably (guided by the Spirit) begin to compose the summary understanding of all these verses. What the new birth is, how it is acquired, what is its purpose and benefits and results, etc.

Holmes would sometimes form a theory that would seem right until further information came to light that contradicted it, and thereupon dismiss said theory in favor of another in which all the facts are in harmony.
Interpretation of any single verse must be in alignment with the rest of Scripture that deals with whatever doctrinal truth you are studying; if any interpretation does violence with any of all the related truth of Scripture, it is unsound and must be re-examined on an observational level and a reassessment of interpretation is required until the understanding is in unity with the whole body of truth which is the Bible.

Just as Holmes was sometimes confronted with conflicting data that would initially mystify him, so too the Christian may find apparent contradictions in Scripture. Please note this: I said apparent contradictions because sometimes verses may appear to contradict each other*. The reality is, that it’s our own understanding that is in error; we must prayerfully seek the LORD and His wisdom (and let us not ‘cheat’ by consulting others for an answer, and by so doing deprive ourselves of the precious opportunity of being tutored by the LORD Himself!). In time, as we patiently seek the LORD, He will impart the understanding, whether it takes 2 hours, 2 days or 2 weeks or even months!
* A good example of this is the apparent contradiction between Paul’s declaration that we are saved by faith alone and what James says, which is faith without works is dead (See ROM. 4:1-5 and JAMES 2:17-26).

Application – Once the Great Detective made the proper observations and deductions, he was able to make the proper judgments based on the conclusive evidence; so too the humble disciple can approach the application of his study of God’s Word having made the correct observations and interpretation; that is, he now can properly apply the truth of God’s Word to his life once he understands what Scripture instructs him to do.
It’s been said before, but the study of doctrine alone is insufficient for the Christian. There must be a practice of what has been learned. The first two letters of doctrine are “do”.
What we must remember is that the “doing of the doctrine” is not left up to our own resolve or power; we must surrender to Christ, and allow His grace to work in us that which is pleasing to the Father as we yield our members to righteousness (ROM. 6:13, 19).

Let us remember the words of our LORD Jesus Christ:

MATTHEW 7:24-27
24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
It’s a sobering thought indeed when we consider that we can only understand the depths of Scripture by the Spirit of God, and yet in the above passage, in verse 26 we see the example of one who “heareth”, that is, understands the sayings of Jesus, i.e., the Word of God – and yet because he doesn’t obey, his house is not on the Rock, but rather on the shifting, unstable sand and it will inevitably fall.

In almost every story of Sherlock Holmes, the title begins with “The Adventure of . . .” and so it is in our study of God’s most Holy Word! It is truly an adventure of grand proportions to explore this Book, whose Author dwells in Eternity and whose knowledge and wisdom are everlasting.
You and I are privileged and honored to open these sacred pages of Scripture and with the magnifying lens of the Spirit and with the mind of Christ we venture into its territories to explore the beauty of holiness and profound truth of the One Who loves us enough to send His very best: the LORD JESUS Who died for our sins, rose again from the dead in absolute and incontestable victory and has granted us His Spirit, producing in us everlasting life!

Just as Watson accompanied Holmes who would instruct the good doctor in how he arrived at his amazing conclusions via such successful deductions he was prone to make, we have our Blessed Companion who accompanies us as we journey the length and breadth of Scripture, and Who instructs us in this grand adventure. Let us walk with Him and become the Scriptural and saintly sleuths that He may enable us to be (GALATIANS 1:12; EPHESIANS 4:21). THE GAME IS AFOOT, INDEED!

EPHESIANS 4:1-3

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace
.

See also Secrets Among Friends 

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