Insistence on awareness of contemporary culture begs a crucial question. How can we apply the Bible to current cultures if we are ignorant of the ancient cultures from which the Bible originates? The text doesn’t mean today what it never meant then. As the publishers of BIBBC put it, We are far removed from the time and culture of the biblical world, and this distance easily leads to misunderstanding and misinterpretation. Our understanding and appreciation of God’s Word increase exponentially when we know the historical and cultural context in which the biblical books were written.
Wisdom For Ministry
Giovanni Diodati (1576-1649) may be the most important reformer you’ve never heard of. At least that was the case with me until several weeks ago when I was preparing for a Zoom seminar with believers in Italy on how to study the Bible. I soon learned of the importance of Diodati’s translation of the Bible into Italian. In fact, Diodati’s entire life and ministry exemplified Sola Scrittura, the basic protestant thesis that the Bible is our sole authority for faith and practice.
In my experience we Christians tend to be pretty hard on Peter. When we read of his brief walk on water in Matthew 14, and remember how he sank when he realized how hard the wind was blowing, we shake our heads and say “There he goes again.” Easy for us to say when we’ve never ventured out of the boat.
Doing Church during COVID-19 is a challenge. I recently had the opportunity to reflect on Matthew 14 at Genesis Church in Coralville Iowa. Jesus’ feeding the multitude teaches us not only about his power but also about our responsibilities during these difficult days.
The brutal killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and other recent racially-centered incidents have raised tensions in the USA to the boiling point. Racial animus is a sad part of American history—the “melting pot” can get very ugly. The story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman in John 4 shows that we can overcome racial prejudice if we focus on God’s plan to unite people from all the branches of the human family in true worship through the Spirit sent by Jesus. All humans were originally made in the image of God, and God is at work today through the good news about Jesus to create a new humanity that worships God together in Spirit and truth, not in isolated ethnic enclaves.
Nicodemus is not just another leader of Israel who ganged up on Jesus. He’s a complicated guy whose story leaves us with questions. His kin are still to be found in churches today, leaving pastors with difficult soul-care questions.