Watching The Colbert Report awhile back, I was disappointed when a well-known and popular Christian leader was asked by Stephen to explain why Christians seem to obey some parts of the Bible and not others. Citing the Levitical laws, Colbert asked about stoning homosexuals and disobedient children, and I think he even brought up the prohibition against wearing clothing made of two types of fabric.
Rather than answering the question, the pastor made a joke which could have been perceived as an unwillingness to answer the question. (To be fair, it could be that he went on to answer the question only to have the answer edited out of the broadcast).
The simple answer: The law is the basis of the Old Covenant but it isn’t binding on Christians in the New Covenant except where specifically renewed.
In other words, God’s grace and love should be paramount. He is the Judge of all, not us. Too often, Christians wear t-shirts with two different types of fabrics which seem to shout judgment and condemnation about some things we find in Scriptures while ignoring other issues.
So many people throw out all of God’s Word because some of it doesn’t make sense at first glance. Other times, people use the Bible to push their own agenda rather than allowing the text to mean what the author intended for it to mean.
For the “Preaching and Communication” class I am teaching at Golden Gate Seminary, I have chosen How to Read the Bible For All Its Worth as one of the textbooks. I have always appreciated this book for the way it helps us understand how to interpret and apply the Scriptures to our lives.
Here are some of the principles:
Humility is essential in preaching and applying the Scriptures.
Life transformation comes through the application of the Scriptures not information about it.
Understanding the types of literary genres is essential to understanding the meaning of the text.
For the letters in the New Testament, whenever we share particulars (specific life situations) with the first-century setting, God’s Word to us is the same as his Word to them.
God is the hero of all biblical narratives. The biblical narratives are descriptive rather than prescriptive.
We need to use the Scriptures to interpret Scripture.
We need to try to determine how the original hearers would have identified the story.
Wisdom is the ability to make godly choices in life.
If you would like a complete overview of How to Read the Bible For All Its Worth by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Reading the Bible” in the subject line.