Monday Musings for October 17, 2016
Good morning, Musers,
Today's question is "about" the Old Testament dietary laws... but it's really about improperly conjoining the meaning of discrete biblical passages when there is no warrant to do so. You see, some “connections” are plain old invalid under a properly basic use of language — and those of you who have been with me for a while know that today’s answer will include a basic lesson on exegesis, on scriptural inerrancy... and even on reading-and-writing. These are all components of communications — and that's our focus here at Mainsail. Why that particular focus? I see God as more of a revealer than a concealer — and I'm interested in the methodologies involved with both his unveiling and his hiding.
Have you seen the movie, A Beautiful Mind? It was based on the life of mathematician and Nobel Laureate, John Nash. Nash was an important contributor to the field of Math and Economics — and he achieved all this in spite of being a paranoid schizophrenic.
In one of his delusions, Nash believed that the government had assigned him the task of scanning newspapers and magazines to find a hidden Soviet plot. So — and with his "beautiful mind" — Nash saw connections everywhere across these unconnected periodicals... even though the data was not purposely connected. Now… and note this well… these connections did indeed exist. Nash identified them and marked them out on the pages for all to see. But the connections were incidental, not authored, and they had no communicative bite beyond feeding Nash’s delusion.
There is a lesson for Christians here: we should not allow ourselves to be deluded… even when the smartest person in the world connects bible passages to argue against orthodoxy. The onus is on us to test everything (1 Thes. 5:21)… to hang with God… to be the Bereans.
The problem is that we humans see connections everywhere... I mean… we are wired for this. It’s one of those gifts that differentiate us from all other species. But let’s never confound a relationship that is merely perceived with one that is also designed, because “seeing” a connection does not mean that it was author-driven… and this includes connections within the Bible.
Serious Bible students also study hermeneutics because there is indeed a right way (and a wrong way) to read and understand language… and God certainly knew this when he inspired Scripture. Nevertheless, people often freeze-up (or something) when they read the Bible… and there is no reason for this. Sure, the Holy Spirit was key in the scriptural inspiration process and he remains key in the interpretation process, but the Bible is not otherwise “spooky.” It reads like any other book.
As to today’s question, all biblical data (words, sentences, passages) are not necessarily equal in weight nor are they necessarily connected to all the other data — except that the whole is synergistic and free of contradictions. As to communication per se, God is usually saying only one thing in a passage... although we do allow for typology, foreshadowing, allegory and stylistic variants that are normal in language. Yet — and this is a frequent theme in my answers — people continue to over-connect the data. Why? Because they under-connect its context.
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