Interpreting Core Principles

In my Sunday school class last past weekend, as we continued our discussion of sin, we focused on Jesus' teaching. I felt it was important to note not merely what things Jesus emphasized, but how he interpreted those core emphases.

One could well imagine someone using the same core principles Jesus articulated – love God and love neighbor – and using them to argue against his point in the parable of the good Samaritan. If love for God comes first, one could argue, then ought not the priest and Levite to have prioritized their maintenance of ritual purity, avoiding contact with what could have been a corpse, so that they could participate in and lead others in the worshiping of God in the temple?

Jesus, according to the New Testament sources, prioritized care for human beings over purity, Sabbath observance, and many other commandments.

The above consideration raises problems for the conservative focus on verbal inerrancy. One can agree to the same core affirmations – even an affirmation of inerrancy itself! – and yet interpret and apply them in very different ways. Merely having words on a page doesn't seem to lead us naturally to agreement. And perhaps that should not surprise anyone.


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  • DonaldByronJohnson

    You are asking some of the right questions.

    If you want to go deeper in the parable often called the good Samaritan, I suggest reading Doug Greenwold’s series of teachings on it at Preserving Bible Times.