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Absolute Truth and Its Relative Shades of Significance

Absolute Truth and Its Relative Shades of Significance March 13, 2014

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 to help you understand its point.

interactionofcolor2 (brainpickings)THE RELATIVITY OF COLOR

A color has many faces, and one color can be made to appear as two different colors. Here it is almost unbelievable that the left small and the right small squares are part of the same paper strip and therefore are the same color. And no normal human eye is able to see both squares — alike.

The point is simply this: Due to the context, our minds cannot help but think that the two brown squares have slightly different colors, even though they are exactly the same.

Now imagine what happens when we talking about different cultural contexts? How might reading Scripture from different cultural vantage points influence our understanding of the biblical text? Different perspectives on the same truth yield varying shades of significance. This is why I argued elsewhere that we can in fact use contemporary cultures as means for interpreting ancient Scripture.

We affirm the Bible as absolute truth, yet we should be humble enough to admit the fact that our perspective on biblical truth is relative to our context. Context is critical for faithful contextualization. This is because contextualization begins with interpretation (cf. Chapter 2 of Saving God’s Face). However, we all have some cultural and contextual lens through which we read and apply the Bible.

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