Following Up on the Morning’s Message

In talking about the scribes’ greatest error in Mark 12:35-40, I suggested that they allowed cultural expectations concerning the “Son of David” to direct their study of messianic passages, allowing them to miss the meaning of Ps. 110:1 and other passages.  I made a point that the church has a history of conforming to cultural norms and then finding what that culture is looking for in the Scriptures–such as Christians in America finding biblical justifications for enslaving Africans in th 18th and 19th centuries, or segregation in the 20th.  As I’ve thought about it, I continue to wonder about the question I asked near the end.  If the Lord doesn’t come, what areas of teaching or practice that we justify from Scripture will future generations look back at and say, “How could they possibly believe the Bible teaches that?” 

Do you have any thoughts about that?  Can you think of areas where our culture has driven our exegesis (that means examining the text to discover their meaning) If you do, send them in, and if they are printable, I’ll include them as comments below.

Published in: on March 22, 2009 at 4:27 pm  Comments (4)  

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  1. Compared to slavery, segregation, the holocaust, and interracial marriage this is perhaps minor in terms of significance or consequence, but I’ll offer it anyway. In our “Christian culture” we are sometimes very concerned with the question “Do you go to church?” or “Where do you go to church?” as if this determines whether one is “spiritual” or not. In good old “Baptist culture” it is sometimes thought that one is “spiritual” or “not spiritual” based on how many church services he or she attends each week and some may point to Hebrews 10:25 “…not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, …” for biblical support. This comes to mind because I almost neglected a “good deed” and opportunity to encourage another that I believe God is asking of me because, after all, there’s church tonight. Not that I’m encouraging church skipping, but it seems to me that the point of continuing to assemble is “stimulating one another to love and good deeds” and “encouraging one another” (vs. 24 & 25)rather than adding “spiritual points” by being at every service or “Christian event” the church can seem to crowd into the week. This is not a criticism of the church, nor do I think many services/Christian events are necessarily bad. But I think we need to more frequently seek this “assembling” beyond formal services (and in some cases in place of a formal service) to meet the true spirit of the command to love, encourage, and practice good deeds on a more personal level in our homes and community. I think it’s possible that future generations will look at us and wonder why we spent so much time “learning” in so many, many church services and maybe ultimately decreasing the time, engery, and effort we spend “doing” – living out the love of Christ the way He intends for us to.

    • This is a really good, thought-provoking comment. Until the 19th century, there was only one public gathering where everyone participated–a worship service. Other gatherings took place among smaller groups, men, women, prayer circles, etc., but life did not allow for frequent gatherings. Evening services came into being in the 19th century, as did Sunday schools. Midweek prayer meetings were a hold over from the 2nd Great Awakening when they were focused on the conversion of the lost and a restoration of a sense of God’s holiness and the church’s need of repentance. We have in some ways carried on an “attendance” = “spirituality” mentality. And just so you know, any time there is a need to forego a service in order to minister to someone in need or show the love of Jesus to a hurting person, I would hope you would take that opportunity!

  2. I think that future generations will look back at our tendency to categorize things as “secular” and “sacred.” So often, we “run away” from what we call the secular and justify our flight with verses that speak to sanctification or separation. While it’s great to separate ourselves from sin, it is amazing to me how many people refuse to enjoy all of the beauty and truth to be found in great music, great art, great literature, etc. So what we have ended up with is a whole generation of Christians who have settled for the safe stuff (Christian music, Christian movies, Christian books) and have missed out the opportunity to live life to its fullest and glorify God in all we do.

    I also found it interesting that you got very hearty “amens” when you noted that the Bible is God’s inerrant, infallible word but a much more muted response when you said that we should never think that we have a perfect understanding of it (“reformed but always reforming”). I don’t know how you break through that mentality of “we have arrived and are certain of everything” but it is a spiritual arrogance that is quite frightening and I think future generations will see that arrogance as well.

  3. Just spent some time with the family in the USA and when visiting Washington’s farm in Virginia, read about the 300 slaves he had and the arguments for and against this (noting his Will relinquished them). I was trying to explain to my kids how slaves came about and struggled, and i bascially finished the convo by saying that good people, many of them Christian, arranged that to be stopped. At the time of the slave economy, i guess it was just the way things were and this made me wonder about an issue that is now hotly debated – but never truly discussed. Abortion. It made me think – one day, will my kids be trying to explain to their kids why we kill in Australia 100,000 kids each year – silently and violently? I can only imagine America’s number. It is socially accepted, or at least socially swept under the carpet of “free-choice” (at least for the adults) that all this is OK – just as with slavery. Some of the same rationalisation is given: “Economically can’t afford to have the kid” (as with the cost of abolition) and another ripper – “this is my choice” – not yours (i own this slave). Hope i am not digressing from the point. Whilst Christians may not agree with it, have we slipped into the social agenda and just accepted it? We certainly would not say the Bible condones it, but have we conformed to the world’s view? Have we decided to live and let live (the Beatles, not the Bible)? I am hoping, God-willing, that it will be me explaining to my kids why it happened and is now stopped, instead of my kids explaining to their kids (and millions lost whilst it happen).

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