In His Steps Dave, In His Steps… why can’t you hear me through this little screen…?
Thanks for your candor, and yes, interpretation is certainly a top of the list issue when we examine scripture. The first thing we have to consider is that it’s a message speaking to a ruined world – and therefore it’s seeking to reveal and communicate something about reality that’s alien to us.
I guess my biggest problem with much of the contemporary ‘filing’ approach is the manner we hive off the New Testament from the Old. Hebrews 11/12 makes it pretty clear that the criteria which marries the whole message is faith in God’s promise of redemption, which leads us to live a particular way in relation to people and creation. Making judgments and taking actions can be pretty tricky, and no doubt even unpleasant from that context, but like Shawn noted in his ‘invasion’ analogy, they may be entirely necessary (maybe that’s a tool to employ in unpacking ethical/cultural aspects of Biblical history). I think the scriptural reality of redemption needs to be affirmed far more clearly and passionately in our seeking to share life with each other and the world at large.
Keep making us think – it’s appreciated.
Yes! You brought the set decorator back! I knew complaining would get action! Hey, have you guys been secretly videotaping our small group? We, okay I, decided to take some of the difficult and troublesome passages in the Bible (I asked people to make lists of them) and wrestle with and discuss them as a group. So enlightening. The different experiences and viewpoints we bring to any text really show up in a group setting. Our blind spots are exposed, others have radical pieces of truth to feast on, and Jesus comes and shows us stuff we wouldn’t even have thought of unless we asked and listened and engaged. Also amazing is the aspect of healing that seems to accompany these exercises. Interesting. I love studying this stuff in a communal setting. Almost like that’s how it was originally intended to be done? I am sure Shane has read Rob Bell or Rob Bell has read Shane as he echoes these ideas as well. Good on ya.
Interesting. However, Shane made a statement I wonder about. He was taking about preaching Exodus to a Palestinian audience, and then he goes on to say that the text “…can’t simply mean that Israel has the divine right, here right now to set up their settlements….”
Now I don’t mean this to political in any way, but scripturally speaking, why can’t it mean that Israel DOES have the right to set up settlements? I would be really interested to know why he would say “it can’t simply mean….” Might it be because of a particular political bent? Might it be that it doesn’t seem fair in todays world?
It seems to me that for him to bring it up in the first place, and then say what he did is to simply bring emotion into his statement as opposed to, God declared.
I am not interested in starting a debate on Israel and the Palestinians, but simply want to know what Shane bases his statement on?
I really enjoy these video clips that get me thinking even more than I normally do. (I have a couple of friends who have recommended a fast from “those crazy blogs” to stop the rush of ideas, but I ignore their well-meaning advice; and we love each other anyway.)
I have lots of thoughts on this one. First off, the things you are talking about are paralleling in incredible ways with concepts we’ve been discussing in a Bible study class I’m attending. It’s weird how when you are struggling with certain ideas, suddenly you see elements and shades of them popping out of every nook and cranny.
When Shane was speaking of Psalm 139 and the “not so nice” part in the middle, I thought of my friend, M, who last week shared that one thing she doesn’t like about church is that she has to go home on Sunday and correct the things her children have been mistaught in Sunday School class. Some in the group wanted to know what things. She said, “For one, that Jesus wasn’t always nice. In fact, OFTEN Jesus wasn’t nice. And I don’t want my children growing up thinking that being a Christian means being someone who has to be ‘nice’ all the time.”
You are right on the money about all of us bringing our own interpretations to bear upon Scripture. We must–because it IS complicated. If Scripture was without paradox, was without conundrums, and was simply”black and white”, why did Paul spend so much time explaining and proving the gospel in Thessolonica? Why was the examination of Scripture by the Bereans so highly commended? (Acts 17) If Scripture was simple; we could read it once and know it forever. Yet God tells us to meditate upon it and to continually feast upon it and to explain it to our children as we walk, stand, sit, and lie down. And what seemed so simple to me at 12 or 20 or 30 is not how I see things now.
Shane referred to the idea that students are better able to learn multiplication by having it introduced through the concept of addition. A good teacher always begins with what the students know and then adds on. This is exactly what Paul did in Athens (also Acts 17) speaking of things common to the culture and then moving into the realm of the unknown God. He didn’t just sit down and recite passages from the Old Testament text and expect the people of Athens to suddenly concur. (Though there may be instances when God uses Scripture exactly that way to suddenly cut through someone’s resistance and open the heart.) But Paul spent MUCH time interpreting the scripture. New followers of Christ spent a lot of time wrestling with how to reconcile the new message with the Old Law, with how to incorporate Gentiles into the new Messianic-Jewish community, and how to “do church.”
Regarding the WWJD? thing, I think it’s a great question to ask if it leads us to a discussion of WDYTJWD? and WDITJWD? and WDWDWTI? (What do you think Jesus would do and What do I think Jesus would do and What do we do with that information?) Like you said, none of us can predict what Jesus would do, but we can (and should, I think) speculate on what we need to do in this world–now–to reflect Christ to the best of our abilities.
And, lastly, though I usually find myself on the opposite of the fence from fishon, I had the same thought about what you guys said about “that can’t simply mean Israel has the divine right.” Why not? Does God have to operate on our ideas of what is fair? I’m hoping for a little more discussion on that point…”if you feel like it!”
Thank you for putting these videos together. It’s an object lesson from Scripture–“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
I hear the appeal to complexity as a reason to continue to consider the Bible as a Divine document. What I am not clear is at what point would the Bible be considered NOT a Divine document? What would be a deal breaker?
My sense is that this is not a possibility within a continual appeal to complexity.
I enjoy these videos!
By the way, I made a quick trip over to Richard Harty’s blog and enjoyed the journey. His January 6 blog post entitled “What is our True Nature?” included a video of Evelyn Glennie, a first-rate muscian who happens to be deaf.
I found her comments about “translation and interpretation” and the diversity of personal experience when hearing the same piece of music really intriguing. Especially as I created metaphors in my mind with God as musician, the Bible as a sheet of music, and hearers of the word as an audience.
Check it out! And thanks for sharing your thoughts and the video there, Richard.
Some of my thoughts have already been reflected here in other comments, so let me just say I also enjoy the videos and the discussion provoked by them.
I got you guys on Ecumenical Pub on facebook
This episode was really good and thought provoking!
Thanks Shane and David!
Oh, man, this is good stuff. I don’t have much specific to say, because I’m just kinda taking everything in lately, but I’m in a place right now where I’m beginning to reject a lot of things in evangelical Christianity, a lot of the things I was raised on and got used to, a lot that is at the worst heretical, and at the best, “milk”.
And this is one of many of them, so it’s encouraging to see someone else talk like this, and lay things out so well. So, thank you, I’m glad that I’ve stumbled upon you right now.
I’ve thought about these and similar issues a lot lately.
It seems to me that the Bible is a book about consequences.
It’s written by various people and it describes their walk with God but also other things like law, family trees, history, prophecy, story…
The people who wrote it were imperfect but inspired.
The way the Bible came together was unusual and it happened in a world where corruption and manipulation are a daily occurrance. So the fact that it exists in this form and actually speaks the life of God into people must be some kind of miracle.
Many Christians appear to be worshiping the Bible as a Holy book, which seems blasphemous and superstitious to me really.
I’ve noticed that many Christians see the Bible as a book that’s chock full of easy to follow laws and rules that tell you what to do (Paul said this so we must… they did this so we must…) and proof texts (it says here that Jesus said that who ever is not for him is against him so I forbid you to listen to Britney Spears). Figures.
But seeing what comes from reading the Bible that way kinda proves that method’s a load of old %$#@.
We are so used to shove each other into pigeonholes. We categorize everything and everyone. Sometimes I think the choice of how to interpret the Bible is not between difficult and easy but between difficult and ignorant. Because if you allow reality (the truth) to set you free, you will find that there is no ‘easy.’
I’m sure this kind of talk will place me in the liberal theology pigeonhole.
But that’s okay. I’ve brought an axe and some explosives…
The link to the video seems to be broken. Can anyone find the video and give a new link to it?
The video itself has been removed, so the link doesn’t work. I have also removed the offensive comment that slipped past my moderation.