The Pastor, Hermeneutics and the Clarity of Scripture

What is the point of even having a preacher/teacher?

– To lead people to Christ?
– To teach necessary spiritual truths for growth in Christ?
– To equip the saints for every good work?
– ‘Cause that’s what we do?

Well, no matter which of these we give most importance, it is done primarily through teaching out of the Bible. Whether exegetical or topical, it all comes from an interpretation of scripture. So whether a preacher/teacher is using twelve different versions of the Bible to teach her mega-church about prayer, or whether he is explaining what the verse “really means” in Greek to his small circle of home school co-op’ers (or anything in between) they are both consciously and subconsciously developing the hermeneutical skills of their listeners.

Say what?

Take the example of the pastor who loves to explain what the passage “really means” in Greek, but more importantly is trying to set the context so his audience can understand what the author was trying to communicate to their readers.

– Consciously he is explaining that interpretation can best occur when we understand the context of the author, the reader and most importantly (to him) how the language was used. In doing this he is giving his listeners many great hermeneutical tools to help them interpret their Bible with.

– Subconsciously he is inferring that these tools are the only way to “really” or correctly interpret the text. In doing this he is handicapping his listeners in that the clarity of Scripture is now unavailable apart from a Seminary education (not to mention how many people that now try to understand Greek without any background education).

Now let’s look at the example of the Purpose Driven pastor who uses texts as obscure as the New Guinea Technological Convention Paraphrase of a second hand reading of Jude.

– Consciously she is showing that no translation has a monopoly of contextualizes the ancient language and exposing ourselves to different texts will open up our understanding of the scripture.

– Sub-consciously she is teaching her readers that instead of standing under the text and letting it interpret us, we are to stand over the text and interpret it and use it for what we want.

It is important for those of us who teach to realize that, although it never seems to make it’s way to the list of reasons we have a preacher/teacher, both consciously and subconsciously we develop the hermeneutic of our listeners every time we preach. May this put the fear of God into us as we prepare, pray and preach to both Christians and non-Christians.



Snow Patrol and the Shelf

I have been utterly enthralled with Snow Patrol lately. Most of you are familiar with their smash hit, Chasing Cars, but might I introduce you to my favorite two songs. Set Fire to the Third Bar is just so hauntingly beautiful, and Shut Your Eyes is also wonderful.

Set Fire to the Third Bar

Shut Your Eyes


An Old Testament Theology – Bruce Waltke
– Just outstanding. A flow of narrative, exegesis, commentary and teaching. A must have for both reference and personal enrichment. Bravo Mr. Waltke. Bravo.

The Irresistible Revolution – Shane Claiborne
– Arguably the most challenging book I have ever read. I find myself cheering on my brother, being deeply convicted by his faith in action, refreshed by his perspective of Jesus, and wincing at his lack of sound doctrine. Read carefully, but please read.

James – James brother of Jesus
– Ryan and I had a pretty good discussion about James the other night. For the second straight time, I have felt God clearly speaking directly to me through the book of the Bible I am studying. I say this in contrast to simply learning. This is a good book, it is teaching me to care less about teaching the right thing, and more about loving and doing the right thing. Also curious is the absence of penal-substitutionary atonement (note: I expect Ryan to rebut this in the comment section, but that doesn’t put it in the text. Example:if he or I were to preach James as a sermon, the other would call the other one out for missing the atonement as the central point to our teaching). I have spent many nights wrestling with this, desiring to let the word of God determine my theology.

Also, I am preaching The Parable of the Sower to High School students this weekend. I am filling in for a friend last-minute, please pray that I would be filled with the Holy Spirit.


Confessions: Silence

In typical “Matt” fashion I said I would do
something, and have delayed in following through. I actually wrote a lengthy
“Confessions” blog roughly ten days ago that was lost in this
contraption George W. Bush affectionately refers to as “The
Internets”. That was incredibly depressing, and I could not recapture what
I had written. That threw me off. I would, however, like to give a few excuses
as to why I haven’t been writing lately.

Excuse #1
: I have been busy.

I have a ton going on right now and when I have free time, more than anything,
I have just wanted to hang out with my wife, or watch T.V. To keep with the
“Confessions” theme I will confess such: T.V. is an escape mechanism
for me. Tim Keller talks about functional idols (those things we seek to save
us other than Jesus) and Mark Driscoll speaks of functional gods (those things
we seek for our joy instead of Jesus). Well T.V. for me is more of a Functional
Scapegoat. When I feel overwhelmed by sin and the weight of responsibility I
run to T.V. instead of Jesus. So while this is an excuse, it does not retain an
ounce of validity.

Excuse #2
: I have been reading more and desiring to talk (blog less)

James 1 says, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick
to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;”
– I will say that I believe James is talking about hearing from God when he
says “be quick to hear”.  Which is
one of the major themes of James, to talk less, listen to God more, and simple
be a Christian as a result. I would, and have wanted to write more about what I
am learning from James, but that would contradict what I am learning in James.
So I’ll obey God and move on.

Excuse #3
: I preached to 160 High School students last week

And when you work full-time, are trying to get a side gig going, and are out of
town for 12 out of 15 days for a stretch, you barely even have time to prepare
for a sermon. Alas, last Sunday I preached a narrative of the story of the Old Testament
regarding the Triune God’s desire to bring His Kingdom into the world as a
basis for understanding the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6 (the text I was given to
preach on). In order to make High School students understand this I talked
about sex, naked hot chicks, and The Hills. I thought it went well.

Funny Note
: When you haven’t preached on stage for over a year, it is funny how
the rust manifests itself. In my case I had a mike that wraps around my ear and
comes close to my mouth (what we used to call “Britney Spears Mikes”
when they first came out). All was fine, but apparently for the last few
minutes I talked with my head tilting to the right a bit. The only explanation
myself and the tech team could come up with: it was most likely and instinct
from talking on the phone more, and preaching with the mike less. So when I was
bringing it back to Jesus and telling people to meet him I looked slightly
retarded. Great!

Jesus Note
: For the first time in my ministry life, I had an audience big
enough, and had confidence in the gospel enough to say the following line:
“Some of you are going to become a Christian today, and take communion for
the first time.”

Uncertain Note
: You can never know when high school students if  they are crying because of you or because they
got a text message half-way through from their best friend telling them they
hooked up with the person’s boyfriend the night before.

So those are my excuses for not blogging much. Over the next few weeks my
priority will be to finish my “Confessions” series. Other than that
you can expect only UNLV and NBA related posts from me.



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