Friday, January 23, 2004

The Plain Reading of the Text (part 2)...

In the first part of this post I posited that, in our sloppiness or in our arrogance, we sometimes tend to think that our plain reading of Scripture to be sufficient enough to gather the meaning of the text. So as part of my argument I used the account of the 10 Plagues brought upon Pharoh and Egypt to illustrate that the story was intended to show God as Sovereign over the natural realm by showing His control over specific Egyptian deities. The conclusion of this approach is that we are tasked with the responsibility to research into the aspects of the text that will give us an indication of the author's intent. Author's intent. There's a concept we need to make sure we understand... that authors have intentions whenever they write something. It may seem obvious, but in our "post modern" age how many times have you heard the phrase: "What does this verse mean to you?" Or if you read up at all on issues before the Supreme Court you have surely run into the term "Living Constitution." This tendency to ignore author's intentions permeates our culture. Hence it is no surprise that many people are unaware of the proper way to study a book such as the Bible. And although it is not surprising, it is disheartening to see many people write off the proper study methods as ultimately unimportant. Anyway let's take a look at another event described in the book of Genesis and apply this methodology. The account of Creation in Genesis 1. If you mention it to a group of Christians you'll probably get comments about whether we should take it literally or figuratively; does it support a young-earth or an old-earth? Think though - is that our 21st century Western culture talking or not? After hearing about the meaning behind the 10 Plagues I started thinking about the Creation account. Put it into perspective. Moses is writing to the Israelites - after they've been living in Egypt for how long?, 400 years? What would their exposure have been with regards to Egyptian religious ideas regarding Creation? Yeah, you know, all those gods that God desecrated with the 10 Plagues. From that perspective, would the issue of the time it took to do the creating be as important - or important at all - when compared to the issue of who was doing the creating? Read it with that perspective and you will see the clear intent of the author to establish for the Israelites that nothing in the created order was responsible for creating the world around them. Rather it was Yahweh, who exists outside of and is in control of the created order, who did the Creating. In other words - don't worship Ra the Sun god, worship Yahweh who created the Sun. end of part 2

No comments: