Not long ago, an old friend from seminary visited. Unlike most friends in ministry who jettisoned us after we began this Messianic journey, they have remained close, though we rarely have a Scriptural discussion of real substance. This visit was different as we enjoyed a spirited discussion that they closed with the simple statement, “Well, you’ve given me a lot to think about.”
During that discussion, we talked briefly about the Sabbath and upon reflection, I noticed something fascinating that will prove beneficial in future conversations.
I love jigsaw puzzles. There is something both compelling and satisfying in assembling the pieces of a puzzle and watching a picture slowly emerge.
A few days ago a co-worker brought a puzzle to work and many in the office helped assemble the 1000 piece seaside scene over the course of a week. While the social dynamic of passersby stopping to add a piece or two was interesting, I pondered the unspoken pattern which was naturally followed by all of the participants. First the corners and border were put in place, then major obvious parts of the image before the less clear and detailed pieces were assembled.
I’ve put puzzles together with many groups and the largely unspoken pattern is almost always followed. Start with the most obvious and work toward the less clear. Continue reading “Puzzling Theology”
This week at Sukkot, Frank Houtz taught a series that included a segment about dream interpretation in Scripture. One particular part tickled me…. (and, is a great lesson in hermeneutics.)
Generally, Christendom defends eating whatever they want, clean or unclean, by referring to Peter’s vision in Acts 10. Unfortunately, to arrive at that interpretation, one has to violate a principle of hermeneutics that says the dream or vision is not itself the interpretation, rather the interpretation given in Scripture is the literal meaning of the dream or vision. To explain, Peter’s vision is not the literal meaning, rather, Acts 10:28 is the literal interpretation of his vision. Acts 10:28 says,
Acts 10:28And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yetGod has shown methat I should not call any man common or unclean.
Scripture defines for us exactly what the vision means and we can take it no further by implying some other meaning contrary to established Scripture, both present and future.
I was pondering a little Christian theological conundrum this morning.
Every seminary student is taught sometime early in his Masters program how to interpret Scripture according to the rules of hermeneutics.
[As an aside, my son is over my shoulder asking about the origin of the word ‘hermeneutics.’ Well, I explain it comes from the Greek ‘messenger god’ Hermes to which he reminds me that Hermes was also the god of deception, thieves, the conductor of souls to the underworld, trickster, etc… Hmmmm. Seminarians ought to get a clue here, but, I digress.]
Continuing, hermeneutic rules have to do with how to interpret the text. While the list of rules can vary depending on the teacher/text and denominational/religious division, almost always, on every list, near the top is a rule that says obscure or unclear passages must be interpreted by or through the lens of clear passages. Further, all Scripture leads to harmony and therefore, a clear passage or two that contradicts an obscure or unclear interpretation should immediately override the misunderstood unclear passage.