So shelp my homiletics (preaching) prof, Derke Bergsma. I don’t recognize if that aphorism was original to Derke (he frequently quoted R. B. Kuiper to us in class, e.g., “Men, tbelow are 3 points to eincredibly sermon, the message, the text, the text” and “preach the text, the totality text, and nothing but the message, so aid you God.”) however it stuck to me. One means to be certain to manage the message of Scripture well and also accurately is to place it in its original context. Failure to review Scripture versus its original background will certainly have unhappy after-effects.

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Throughout my sojourn, in the late 70s, in a broadly evangelical SBC congregation (with a strong dose of Campus Life, Navigators, and a dash of Crusade), Holy bible researches were often of the type wright here the team leader would certainly open in prayer, check out a passage, and then throw it open up for discussion. Yes, I recall people saying, “To me, this passage says….” The excellent news is that we were studying Scripture earnestly and also prayerfully. The poor news is that we were often researching Scripture without any type of expertise of the original conmessage of the passage. The result of our ignorance of the original conmessage was normally that the passage was lifted out of its original historical context, out of its literary context, and re-contextualized right into our contemporary context. The objective Word of God ended up being a subjective word from God. The Word to us ended up being a word about us.

In a selection of methods I’ve been reminded aget newly of the prominence of accounting for the original context once analysis Scripture. Throughout its history the church has regularly struggled to remember the original context of Scripture and also to read Scripture in light of the original conmessage, to find herself in the Scriptures (rather than the inverse). Beginning in the patristic era the church sought methods to make the Scriptures even more automatically “relevant” (there’s nopoint new under the sun). Therefore, one father taught that our Lord did not stand in a watercraft to teach bereason of a practical problem but in order to teach us around the nature of the church (boat = church). In that way the context of text was shifted from it’s original establishing and interpreted right into our conmessage. Anvarious other influential father wrote that it actual history of the Ark narrative wasn’t virtually as essential or noticeable as the theological and ethical truths installed in the narrative. These fathers didn’t deny the historical reality of Scripture however they did marginalize it in favor of the doctrinal sense (i.e., the allegorical sense) and also the ethical or tropological sense of Scripture.

This approach to Scripture intensified over the centuries. There were reactions, in the ninth and 13th centuries seeking to rerotate the attention of the church to the biblical background, to the original conmessage, but the tendency to resituate Scripture into our time, to interpret Scripture in light of our experience, persisted till the Renaissance and also the Redevelopment. The Renaissance authors (exemplified by Erasmus) grounded Scripture aacquire in its original conmessage yet, in reactivity to the some of the exaggerated medieval interpretations, tfinished to minimize the theological ramifications and focused on the implications for piety and for principles. In this method they anticipated aspects of the later on pietist movement. The Reformers were more theological in their analysis of Scripture, though they were likewise pertained to about illustration out the implications of a passage for piety and morality. They tfinished to ground their reading of Scripture in the historical, original establishing and sense of Scripture. None of the Reformers exemplifies this more than Calvin, whose commentaries continue to be helpful bereason he review Scripture in context and also phelp attention the intent of the huguy writer and also to the intent of the magnificent writer (the Divine Spirit) of Scripture. The Protestants, but, didn’t indicate that Scripture has actually as many kind of meanings as tbelow are readers. it has ramifications and also there are excellent and also important inferences (to borrow from the Westminster Confession of Faith) yet our analysis of Scripture is always grounded in the original establishing and also in the original intent as interpreted in light of its establishing and also with the grammar of the passage.

Tright here are actual troubles via ignoring original conmessage and original intent. First, we successfully lose the Scriptures. If the Scriptures really mean what they intend to this reader, and also that reader (no matter if those readings contradict each other), then tright here is no text of Scripture. The reader becomes the text bereason the reader is determining the message. The irony below is that, in famous evangelical piety, this way of reading Scripture is rampant and yet, in those very same settings one is fairly most likely to be warned about the dangers of “postmodernism.” Well, nopoint is even more “postmodern” than denying original intent and also privileging (as they say) the reader over the author! When it concerns subjectivism and decreating messages, the French can learn from the evangelicals.

A second excellent trouble is that invariably, when the text is decontextualized from its original establishing and re-contextualized in our setting Scripture is no much longer a historical text however it is turned into a myth or a moral story. If the message can be rerelocated from background then it doesn’t really matter if it’s historically true so lengthy as it’s ethically true. Moral truth without historical truth may occupational for modern-day liberalism yet it didn’t job-related for the Apostle Paul, who created that if Jesus wasn’t historically, actually elevated from the dead then our confidence is worthmuch less. Paul didn’t know anything about the ethical fact of Christianity without its historical truth. On this view J. Gresham Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism.

A 3rd difficulty is that debuilding Scripture this way fundamentally corrupts its message. When we treat Scripture thus, when we lift passeras out of their conmessage, even under the conmessage of “applying them,” we adjust the message of the message. This is the brilliance of Dr Bergsma’s aphorism. Any (biblical) text, without a (its historic, grammatical, canonical, and literary) context, is a premessage (an possibility falsely taken) for a proof-message (a text aboffered by a preacher or Holy bible study leader to make a allude that is not actually being made by the text itself). Historically, the a lot of constant outcome of the abusage of Scripture this method is to make the text to be around “me” or “us” rather than around Christ (but revealed in the text), his objective moral legislation, his conserving acts and Word, and also his church (in whatever date of redemptive history). Scripture is not, in the first circumstances about “us” or “me.” In the initially circumstances Scripture is about God the Holy Trinity. It is around creation, redemption, and also consummation. It’s about the development of redemptive background and revelation. It’s about the salvation of his civilization in Christ. We come into the story quite late. It has actually huge implications for us. We perform have to uncover ourselves in the story that God has actually created however it is excellent misrequire to make the text about us.

For these factors I’ve frequently been nervous about whatever the latest pgetting to or Bible Study “model” is supposed to be, whether it is the “idols of the heart” or find the “purpose” of the message or also Christian experience. Each of these, in their very own means, seem to me to uncover a way, yet subtly, to move the emphasis of the story amethod from Christ and earlier to me. The message becomes around “us” or “me” or my life (and also sometimes around the preacher). As sinners we have an effective, virtually overwhelming impetus and drive to re-compose the story and if we have the right to perform that in pious sounding methods then it’s harder to detect. After all, that can item to looking our our own personal idols or to making concrete practical applications of the message to everyday life or to explaining Christian experience?

Well, not eextremely message is about the “idols of my heart.” To ask that question (or any kind of other) about eextremely text is efficiently to rerotate Protestant hermeneutics to the worst offers of Quadriga. In such a strategy, one starts through the assumption (a priori) that the passage have to say something the idols of my heart and proceeds to uncover the idols, also if the text, on its own terms, doesn’t intfinish to stop directly to that question in this passage. Yes, I have idols that have to be torn down and also replaced via Christ’s Lordship, but we mustn’t flatten out Scripture so that eextremely text is a mere variation on the very same ethical template. Yes, there is a function (a telos) to every message but, in some approaches, that “purpose” usually turns out to be what the medievals called the “tropological” feeling, i.e., the “ethical sense” of Scripture. When it’s tbelow, in the text, it hregarding be taught but approaching Scripture via a solid version like this has a tendency to flatten out the story. The same is true for that version which asks Scripture initially of all what it claims around Christian experience. The Word does soptimal to Christian suffer yet not eextremely passage is expected to do so. Yes, it’s also feasible to abuse a redemptive-historic strategy such that every passage becomes a test of the preacher’s cleverness at pulling Jesus surprisingly from the text as a magician pulls a rablittle bit from the hat. There’s no question whether it’s going to happen. It’s just a matter of once and how. The intended message of a passage have to be established in light of the original historic conmessage, grammar, genre, and canonical conmessage.

The suggest is to preach and to teach “this message.” What contribution to the canon does this particular text make? What is distinctive around this passage, read in its narrow conmessage, in its bigger canonical context, in its historic conmessage, and in its grammatical context? That is the question that the Bible Study leader or the preacher must answer. The preacher/teacher should always likewise relate this passage to others and also watch the unity of Scripture. As we learned from Van Til, we have to always account for the one (that which unifies) and the many type of (that which distinguishes) and also we have the right to only carry out that as we begin via and also pay cshed attention to the conmessage.

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UPDATE 30 Nov 2020

The most recent episode of the WHI is on this very topic, “Textual Narcissism.” Check it out.