Thursday, October 21, 2010

“How Lutherans Interpret Scripture – Part II”

Let me begin this second part of this discussion by repeating my introduction from last week. “If we want to be honest, Lutherans interpret scripture almost any way that they want to . . . . . there really is no clear cut definition of how Lutherans interpret scripture.” Continuing from last week, there are the following additional considerations:

· Context There are two fundamental considerations to think about. The first is the literary form. Is it a historical story, poetry, or some other literary form? Second, what is the historical context of the situation?

· Analogy When we consider the historical context, we ask ourselves if there are situations similar in our own context of the modern world.

· “Scripture in light of Scripture” This means that we try to reconcile what is said in one part of scripture with what is said in other parts of scripture, sometimes recognizing tensions between texts that seem to say different things. We try to be faithful to the entire Bible rather than just picking some parts and leaving others alone.

· Priority There are some books of the Bible and some texts that are more important than others. For example, Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthians, “For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures.” Jesus made the comment that we are to do unto others as we wish them to do unto us for this is all of the law and the prophets.” (When Jesus said “the law and the prophets,” he meant all of the Hebrew scripture at the time of his ministry.)

· Responsibility for Interpretation We believe the Church has the responsibility for interpretation. For example, although the Bible says otherwise, we believe slavery is a sin. On the other side of the coin, the Church believes it is appropriate to save for retirement, although scripture says otherwise.

· Binding and Loosing Jesus has given the Church the responsibility for “binding or loosing” the law. For example, Jesus bound the law when he said that to be angry with someone is the same thing as murder. Yet, Jesus loosed the law when he said that one could do work on the Sabbath to heal or satisfy one’s hunger.

We need to have principles in using the approach of binding and loosing. To begin with, Jesus gave us the Golden Rule, which is cited above. Jesus also said, “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous, but sinners.”

We need to apply another principle, one that has been said throughout scripture, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

And, finally, in all our deliberations we need to consider, justice, mercy and faith.

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