Sunday, July 24, 2016

Why Is It So Easy To Talk Culture, Yet So Hard To Talk About The Bible?

I received an email from a upcoming sophomore in college this morning. Lesly and I were hanging out yesterday with some friends. Lots of topics were discussed––things like whether modern Greek helps people understand the New Testament better, how we should think about politics, whether Christians should be allowed to own and carry guns, and more spiritual issues like how to study the Bible better, the significance of what Jesus did for us on the cross, evangelism, etc. I posed a question to the group last night: "Why is it so much easier for people to engage in conversations about culture and politics, yet it appears so difficult to talk about Christ and the Scriptures?" I mean seriously, sometimes (and sometimes a lot of time) you can hear a pin drop when you ask a question about the Bible in a group setting. The email I received this morning was about that question. Here's part of it:
"After the time spent discussing political issues yesterday, you asked something along the lines of, 'How come we can talk for hours on end about things like politics (anything in general), but we can't seem to do the same thing with the Bible?' I remember that after a couple of comments were offered, you said part of it has to do with our misconception of authority––people have the tendency of letting the teachers do all the talking while they just listen. . . . An obvious answer to your question, though nobody said it, is that people have no interest in talking about the Bible and can get away with it, under the pretense of your offered answer as to why people don't discuss. . . . Either way both reasons are problematic . . . . I'm so glad you asked the question because it's definitely something I have to reflect on . . . a lot!"
Great email! I wrote back this morning. Here's part of my response:
"You raise an interesting point in your answer to the question. We often assume that people read and study the Bible. But that’s a pretty baseless assumption. People tend to discuss and engage in conversations about topics in which they are interested and personally versed. That explains why people can talk for hours on end from topics like Harry Potter and Star Wars to Trump and immigration. I have an interesting twist to your answer that I thought of this morning. Think about this. You can become pretty familiar with things like Harry Potter and Star Wars and all sorts of political issues (especially during an election season) without having to exert really the slightest bit of personal effort. Society feeds this information to everyone. It’s almost impossible to avoid it. And so, whether a person tries to or not, they are cognizant of and generally interested in the culture in which they live—obviously with varying degrees of knowledge and interest. Exposure to biblical and theological matters and issues is not as passive as exposure to culture. We live in culture. The only way, I suppose, to make discussing these matters have the same freedom, openness, and engagement as we do with cultural matters—again, I suppose—is to live in the world of the Bible and theology . . . And not as a standoffish fanatic or weirdo, but rather as one who winsomely lives in both worlds, wanting to be changed by one and wanting to be used to change the other."
And which world ought to be changing us? ––The world of Scripture. And which one should we seek to change, influence, and leverage our lives to have the maximum possible impact? ––Our society and culture.

Again, great email. The truth is there are varied and many reasons as to why groups find it easier to talk culture than talk gospel. There's no one-size-fits-all answer. One thing we definitely need to remember is our capacity to influence our society in a way that honors and pleases Christ hinges really on whether or not we have a real, personal commitment to having the Scriptures in a place where they can transform the way we think and ultimately the way we live.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Have You Visited The YouTube Channel Lately?

There are lots of new videos available at my YouTube channel. If you're studying New Testament Greek or interested in how you can start digging deeper in your lexical and syntactical analyses, these videos will get you started. Check them out and do enjoy! You can get there by clicking here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Thinking About Syntax And The Greek New Testament

What is syntactical analysis and how is it different than lexical analysis? While the study of the Greek New Testament includes the study of individual words in the contexts where they appear, word studies are not the end all be all in exegesis. Analyzing syntax is an important step. This video introduces this critical step and provides an introductory framework by which we can begin to think about the syntax of the Greek New Testament. There is more to using Greek than just doing word studies. We have to think about syntax too. And believe me, when we do, our study of the New Testament will be forever changed for the better.

Celebrating Our Anniversary

Lesly and I celebrated our eighth anniversary yesterday. What a wonderful eight years it's been too! Lesly is my closest friend and the love of my life, and my life is forever changed for the better by every single second I get to spend with her. It's hard to imagine that it's been eight years, eleven if you count how long we've known each other. Yesterday we celebrated in the evening by going to one of our favorite restaurants––Mission Barbecue. Then we went for a walk and took in a movie. It was truly a perfect day!

Lesly, you're my favorite person in the world. I love you with all my heart. You have this amazing capacity to pull out the best in me and push me to do the very best and the very most with my life. You're the most caring person in the world that I know and have the most tender heart in the world. You serve others with sincerity and humility and model for me everyday what it looks like to esteem others as more important than yourself. Having you in my life, in so many ways, is like having a picture of the work God wants to do in my heart and my mind. And I can never express just how amazing you are, how beautiful you are, and how much you're loved, especially by me. Thank you for giving me your heart and spending your life with me. I love you, girl.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Identifying Lexical Issues In A Commentary

One of the steps you need to know how to do when studying a passage from the New Testament is called lexical analysis. You might be more familiar with its other name––word studies. Now lexical analysis is not the end all be all of exegesis. It's not magical and it's not the only thing we need to do in studying our New Testament. Believe me, there is so much more to using Greek in our study of the New Testament. I promise you. But how do we go about identifying a lexical issue, especially when we are reading through a commentary? And what difference does it make whether we wrestle with a lexical issue or not? Why should we invest extra time in studying the meaning of a given word if that's all it is––a word? In this video we look at Moisés Silva's Philippians commentary and think through the main verb in Phil. 1:27. Lexical analysis matters. There's no question about that. It's not everything in exegesis, but it definitely matters.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Read "Satan, Judas, And The Events Leading Up To The Cross"

I have a post over at the Energion Discussion Network you will definitely be interested in reading. It's titled "Satan, Judas, and the Events Leading Up to the Cross." You can read it here. Don't be shy. Join the discussion and post a comment.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Let's Try This Again

Yesterday I posted "The Joy of Having a New Monitor." Well the joy didn't last all that long. Today I was being driven crazy with the reverb bouncing off the external speakers and this wildly annoying clicking noise. Maybe it was the speakers, maybe it was the connection to the monitor. In any event, I decided to return it and replace it with an Asus that had built-in speakers. I couldn't have made a better decision. This new monitor really is amazing. Now I feel the joy of having a new monitor!