Thursday, July 4, 2024

Between Two Worlds

I just love John Stott's book on preaching called Between Two Worlds

The central image in that book is that of a bridge. A bridge spans a gulf between two land masses. 

Stott says that the preacher is like a bridge. He brings two worlds together -- the ancient world of the Bible, and the modern world of the 21st century. He serves as a link between them.

A good preacher keeps his eye on both worlds. One world we have to enter is the ancient world. It's the world we enter through the skills of exegesis. In that ancient world, there are several things we have to understand, including the history of that world. It is there that we are to see the biblical revelation worked out. For a number of years I was fascinated with that little statement in Luke 3:23 that Jesus was about 30 when he began his public ministry. To read the Gospels well, it's helpful to know the Jewish culture of Jesus' day. The biblical writers all wrote within a culture. They could no more think without culture than they could speak without language. So to really understand the Scriptures, we have to understand the culture. There were cultural reasons why Jesus had to get some years under his belt before he became a rabbi. Today this is called the Age Thirty Transition. This is a reminder to me that life goes through developmental stages. A good read in this connection is Daniel Levinson's The Seasons of a Man's Life

The point is, we're always faced with cultural issues as followers of Jesus. What should I think of the Donald/Joe Comedy Hour? Why is life in the Bible Belt so conducive to obesity? Do we really need a Surfer's Bible? Should women today wear head coverings in church? In 1 Tim. 2:1-2, Paul commands us to pray for kings. But what if we live in nations that have no kings, like the U.S.? 

These are all questions about culture. Both spiritual discernment and careful study of the Scriptures are important in considering the impact of cultural matters on Bible interpretation.