Two boys asked a baseball coach the same question, “When can I play ball?” Yet each received a different answer. The first boy was told, “You’ll need to sign up and try out.” The second heard, “Just wait. You’ll be called.” Context enables us to understand why the answers differed. One boy was not yet on the team.
Since scripture provides different answers regarding salvation, Zacchaeus’ story reminds us to interpret messages within their context if we seek an author-centered understanding. Such a reminder promotes an accurate handling of two distinct New Testament messages. Simplistically latching on to either message tempts us to disregard the other. Continue reading “Zacchaeus’ story provides insight into salvation”
“Danger Will Robinson” is more intriguing than, “The influence of hermeneutical goals.” How dry!
What follows is a true story. For me, it is a sad narrative illustrating several principles, such as the powerful influence desire and fear can wield over our understanding of scripture. It also underscores how institutions, like individuals, can seem to get caught between serving Christ and pursuing either legacies or self-preservation. Continue reading “Danger Will Robinson”
Have you ever heard something that you did not want to be true? We all have.
I remember a visiting professor from Oberlin College and Conservatory telling our class that when it comes to church history, practice has often preceded theology. Everything within me screamed this was wrong. Our understanding of God’s word should shape what we do and how we think. What we want or what we are doing should not determine how we read God’s word!
Walking with him across the parking lot after class, I discussed this with him further. He graciously pointed out that “what is” does not always align with “what should be.” My naivety was crushed. I had not considered that some might want to take a path other than the original message. Continue reading “The hermeneutics of desire and fear”
Claiming to know the inspirational motivation provides a powerful interpretive tool. I recently heard a professor state that he relishes explaining the background and reasons lying behind the biblical text.
In fact, based upon what I’ve heard and read, it is quite easy to paraphrase an assemblage of such claims. Unfortunately, contradictions also occur. Continue reading The Reason Why
by Barry Newton
Imagine going to an art museum where, upon entering a gallery featuring oil paintings by classic masters, you are confronted with a most unusual display. Each work of art remains shrouded beneath a woven cloth. Small geometric shapes cut into the cloth enable you to gaze upon a mere tiny portion of the painting.
Even though examining that small exposed tidbit of the masterpiece could reveal insights regarding technique, possible stylistic tendencies, temperature of color and so forth, yet the interrelationship of the whole to that part would be completely lost. Continue reading “The author-centered meaning”
by Barry Newton
What commonality exists between your spouse staring at you for an unusual duration and a newspaper cartoon featuring a president interacting with a dragon? Perhaps not much.
However, one common element is certain: you will try to understand what was meant and you will probably arrive at some conclusion. But will our spouse or the cartoonist agree that we have really understood? Continue reading “Proper Goal, Proper Tools”
What do you make of a cartoon where a dragon is playing chess against the president of a country with the dragon saying, “You make the first move”? Most of the time we will discover some interpretation for everything around us. But, just how accurate is our understanding? Continue reading The Lord’s Coming