Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cursory Cultural Comment

The recent brouhaha created by Newsweek's cover article has me breaking my typical rule for this blog (sort of) and commenting on a contemporary issue.

Some initial thoughts:

    1. It's Newsweek. Did we really expect quality exegesis from Newsweek magazine? (Perhaps from her sister publication, The Snohomish County Daily Herald, but not from Newsweek.)
    2. When many prominent leaders who profess to be evangelical can't decide what Scripture says about homosexuality, why should we act shocked when the secular media follows suit?
However, my agenda is not merely to ask a couple of questions. Undoubtably, many pastors will feel obligated to address this issue from their pulpits, which caused me to notice something else:
    Just this week, when I mentioned to another pastor that our church would be studying Leviticus next, his response was simply, "Why?"
To many, Leviticus appears to be one of the least relevant Books of the Bible. However, when Lisa Miller chose to do some sloppy exegesis from Leviticus to buttress her unbiblical claims, some would see that as a stroke of fortune. Leviticus just became relevant!

However, this misses the point entirely. Incidents like this do not make Leviticus relevant, Leviticus always has been and is relevant! Articles like this should remind pastors that their people need to know how to handle the Book of Leviticus properly for it is the very Word of God. After all, the book literally begins, "And the Lord called... To neglect Biblical text is to neglect God's own revelation about Himself.

Therefore, we'll be walking through Leviticus this winter, not because I'm looking for the latest trend to make our pulpit hip. We won't even be looking at Leviticus as a reaction to the Newsweek article. We'll be walking through Leviticus because as we study the text, God will be revealing Himself to us and pointing to the sacrifice of His Son for my sins on the cross. Nothing is more relevant than that.

But that's not why I chose to write this article.

The real issue here that makes this article germane is:
    Without employing a "Jesus Hermeneutic" the church can offer absolutely no solution.
Many will respond to Miller's article with Biblical texts. Some will point to the wrath of God being poured out in Romans 1 against such sin. Others will target people toward the created order. (Can't tell you how many times I've already heard the glib "God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve" comment.) Still others will point to the command to be "fruitful and multiply" and ask how homosexual conduct can accomplish this task.

But all of these tactics will prove inadequate and empty. Unbelievers can easily remind the church that God isn't pleased by high divorce rates. Issues of created order and procreation fall on deaf ears to a world advocating evolution, feminism and overpopulation. Sermon series about marriage or tips for people to learn how to peaceably live around one another will not meet the task. Simply declaring that a Christian marriage is a permanent marriage does not call the world to defend the institution of marriage.

No, the Christian must see that marriage is less about a husband and wife and more about Christ and the Church.
FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.--Ephesians 5:31-32
Pastors need to call their people beyond rules and policies. Practical advice and tips will not allow people to see the true glory of marriage. More importantly, simply calling for people to support legislative action is not the same as calling people to repentance and faith. Without preaching Christ, and marriage's purpose of displaying the love of Christ for His church and the church's submission to her Groom, we will simply scratch the surface instead of digging to the root.

Strangely, some will claim a "Jesus Hermeneutic" neglects the whole counsel of Scripture. Yet, the preacher who takes John 5 seriously will find himself preaching from any of the 66 books of the Bible, not just the one that seems most trendy for the moment.

Others claim preaching with a "Jesus Hermeneutic" will neglect application. But for the preacher who sees the glory of preaching Christ from every text, he knows this application goes beyond petitions and picketing, and applies straight to the heart.


kati said...

Don't you know that's why we like our church? A trendy pulpit is a must! (where's my sarcasm font when I need it?)

danny2 said...

you know, this will probably be an entire post down the road some day...

but my dad had a nickname for me that pretty much reminded me that coolness would always evade me. that reminder was a real grace, though. for even when my motives and goals for preaching were off, being cool just never was one of them.

Darby Livingston said...

Leviticus. Now is that in the Apocrypha?

brother_barabbas said...

I always knew the SBC was off, but now I know how far! Nevertheless, Leviticus happens to be one of my favorite books (as though one shines beyond the rest) in the Scripture.

Keith said...

If you do not already have and plan to use the commentary on Leviticus by Allen P. Ross entitled "Holiness to the Lord" (Baker, 2002), I would highly recommend it. Of course, the Keil-Delitzsch commentary on "The Penateuch" (Eerdmans) is a staple, and I would also add the JPS Torah Commentary, "Leviticus" by Baruch A. Levine.

Anonymous said...

forgive me for looking forward to seeing what you can do with Leviticus.....and i say that with absolutely no sarcasm. intense curiosity, but no sarcasm. i've read it several times in the past, but, i must admit, always quickly.

ps - will we get to hear the nickname soon?

danny2 said...


now that they attend the church, i assume it's just a matter of time!

Margaret said...

personally...i cannot WAIT until we get started in Leviticus (and not because of some dumb newsweek article), but because I am so excited to see Christ come alive in that book!

danny2 said...

Leviticus doesn't bring Christ to life, but wow...He sure does bring Leviticus to life! ;-)

kati said...

I believe I've heard one of your parents affectionately refer to you as "Nerdman". Sorry, secret's out.

Jessi said...

Danny...sorry (for laughing)

We are also very excited to be walking (walking, right? couple chapters at a time?) through the book of Leviticus! thank you!