Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Misreading Scripture

I have been reading a lot of books lately just trying to get through a large stack that I have been staring at for way to long.  But then along comes a book that was good enough for me to write a blog post covering it.  "Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes" was an excellent read. It helped to bridge the gap between Western culture in contrast to Eastern culture.  All to often we read Scripture through our cultural lenses without even realizing how we are distorting Scripture.  We have to be constantly reminded that these writings are thousands of years old and from an entirely different culture than the one we have become a costumed to.  All to often we distort the true meaning of Scripture because we read it so easily through our own cultural lens.  For many of us we don't even realize that we are doing it.  This book helps us to understand ourselves and the context we bring with us when we read Scripture.  The authors do much to encourage the reader to take into consideration the ancient eastern culture that Scripture originated from before we filter in our own experiences and cultural context.  They also do a great job in dissecting American / Western culture and some of the traps that cause us to misinterpret Scripture such as understanding the difference between individualism and collectivism; honor/shame in contrast to right/wrong; and how different cultures view such things differently like time, rules, relationships, virtue, vice and living in to God's will.    

And now for some of my favorite quotes:

If we're not careful, our individualistic assumptions about church can lead us to think of the church as something like a health club. We're members because we believe in the mission statement and want to be a part of the action. As long as the church provides the services I want, i'll stick around. But when I no longer approve of the vision, or am no longer "being fed," I'm out the door. This is not biblical Christianity. Scripture is clear that when we become Christians, we become - permanently and spiritually - a part of the church. We become part of the family of God. p. 107
Many evangelicals describe our standing before God in terms of forensic justification. While there is nothing wrong with the doctrine, it casts our connection to God in terms of rules, not relationship. . . . grace and faith are relationship markers and not forensic decrees. Paul used these terms to define a relationship, not to explain a contact or a court ruling. Likewise, holiness is a relational and not a forensic term. p. 172-173

Western Christians, especially North American Christians, tend to read every scriptural promise, every blessing, as if it necessarily applies to us - to each of us and all of us individually. More to the point, we are confident that us always includes me specifically. . . . This misreading of Scripture arises from combining our individualism with a more subtle, deeply hidden and deeply rooted aspect of our Western worldview: we still think the universe centers around us. p. 193

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