Does the Easter story have authority?

This week, we’ll read narratives about Christ’s suffering and resurrection. But are we equipped to read them? This is what I mean….we easily recognize the authority of epistles since they state ideas quite directly. On the other hand, we tend to think of stories or narratives as descriptive. So, how do narratives carry authority? Here are some [Read More…]

Are you wasting time church planting?

Even Paul knew his labor in planting churches could be a waste of time. If Paul felt this way, shouldn’t we take notice and figure out how to avoid wasting our efforts? To the Galatians, Paul wrote, “I went up [to Jerusalem] because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed [Read More…]

How Empathy Helps Contextualization

At its best, contextualization requires us to intentionally interpret the Bible with empathy. (For my first post on “intentional contextualization”, click here.) When ready the Bible, we have a natural tendency to villainize people when they fail. We often identify ourselves with the “good guys” and wonder how in the world those “other people” could [Read More…]

Can We Escape the Hermeneutical Spiral?

Over at Reformed Margins, Andrew Ong has posted a generous and constructive review of my book One Gospel for All Nations. Reading reviews of your own book always leads to mixed feelings. People sometimes misrepresent your thoughts or nitpick small details. However, I truly appreciate Andrew’s thoughtful comments. His balance and breadth of understanding of [Read More…]

Absolute Truth and Its Relative Shades of Significance

Over at Brainpickings, Maria Popova has put up a nice illustration (drawing from Josef Albers). In her post, she talks about the interaction between the brain, colors, and design. I’ve included it here because that I think it is also very applicable for grasping the importance of contextualization. I attached her caption below the picture [Read More…]

Keeping a Simple Perspective on Biblical Interpretation

In a few words, I want to offer some final thoughts about biblical interpretation. A few simple ideas can help us to maintain a right perspective and avoid the common mistakes I’ve mentioned in previous posts. All Christians have the same Holy Spirit. Therefore, everyone has something to contribute when it comes to interpreting the [Read More…]

Five Ways Not to Teach Biblical Interpretation (Part 2)

In a previous post, I list three ways not to interpret the Bible. Today, I’ll mention the final two in my list. People commonly use these problematic methods of interpreting Scripture. 4. Dogmatic This is extremely common. This so-called way of interpretation is anything but genuine exegesis (i.e. discerning the meaning from the text). In [Read More…]

Five Ways Not to Teach Biblical Interpretation

In order to interpret the Bible well, we need to know both what we should do as well as what we should not do. I suggest that biblical interpretation may be the single most important yet neglected skill in the church, certainly in missions. There are a number of reasons for this. One is that [Read More…]

Why We Need Metaphors, Character, and Common Sense

God reveals himself in metaphors. So why do we tend to read past them?隐喻 (yǐn yù) –– Metaphors Sadly, I’m rather confident that this step will be ignored by most of my readers. However, metaphors are like a treasure map for biblical interpretation. A wealth of insights lies buried beneath their verbal imagery. Consider Romans [Read More…]

What to do if they don't know Greek or Hebrew

What should we do when Chinese believers don’t know Greek or Hebrew? In the last post, I explain why we should use the biblical languages when teaching the Bible to Chinese Christians. Someone sent me the question because the most common Chinese translation of the Bible (CUV, 和合本) drops a lot of key words, like [Read More…]