11 April, 2008

Slaves To Sin (or Men) Set Free

Retired pastor, Paul Burleson at vtmbottomline blog, shares some interesting thoughts on how culture has affected our interpretation of scripture. This is one of those subjects that few want to touch for fear of being called a liberal. But I must confess that I have been concerned about this ever since I studied the household codes of Greco-Roman culture and interpretations that contradict not only other scriptures but scripture in general. I am so glad he is tackling this subject!

Here is an excerpt:

"To teach someone what the Bible says is a serious thing. James 3:1 clearly shows that, should one undertake to do so, it should be done with seriousness and the knowledge of greater accountability. It is in that spirit that I approach my next several posts.

I want to begin by simply pointing out that culture does impact interpretation of scripture and well it should. It is a major principle of hermeneutics [principles for biblical interpretation] that you understand the culture [history] of the sacred writings. It is that culture that gives understanding, to some degree, to the words of the text. Suppose I tell someone of my culture that I rode a 'hog' to the cafe to eat supper. A later generation might argue over whether pigs should be eaten or ridden and might accuse the other side of not being fit for fellowship-- unless --they know that my culture understands a 'hog' can be a reference to a motorcycle and may not be referring to an actual animal being eaten OR ridden. So it is with understanding the culture into which the scriptures were given by inspiration. That culture impacts our seeing what the intended meaning really is."

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