Monday, April 2, 2007

reflections on something said by Mark Driscoll

Mark Driscoll, for those of you who don't know, is the pastor of the evangelical mega-church Mars Hill in Seattle. He's a talented speaker but gets himself in a lot of trouble for saying offensive/controversial things (which, to his credit, he often apologizes for afterward).

Brandon's friend Joshua sent us a CD of a sermon by Rev. Driscoll. On the whole, it was a very good sermon. But at one point Driscoll condemned a particular congregation for inviting a rabbi to come and teach an Old Testament Bible study. Driscoll thought it was ridiculous to have someone who doesn't know Christ teach about a set of books that are about Christ.

I guess I can kind of see where he's coming from, but ...
A. It sure sounded disrespectful toward the rabbi. I mean, really! A rabbi has not only been studying the OT, in great depth, for many years, he's also been living it, repeating every day the heart of the Law, the Shema, and binding it to his body. The OT Law dictates what he wears, what he eats, what he does on the Sabbath--how flippant and absurd it seems to say that Christians have a clearer understanding of the Old Testament.

B. I do agree that (as it states in the PC(USA)'s guidelines for interepreting scripture) that all of the scriptures, including the OT should be interpreted in light of Christ and in the context of the whole Bible. But that has less to do with determining the intent of the author than it has to do with applying it to our own theological understanding. It mostly helps us to avoid a wrong interpretation that would be contrary to what we know of God from the New Testament.

But realistically, I think Christians can benefit immensely from getting a "Jewish" perspective on the OT. I think that because of our knowledge of Christ, we often read things into the OT texts and miss important themes or misunderstand the intention of the authors.

The other day I was reading the passage in Isaiah (often read around Christmas time) about the coming Messiah, who will be called "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." And I was thinking: it's misleading to say that his title will be "Mighty God"--which implies the divinity of the Messiah. Probably the title would be better translated "Mighty is God." Not a word for word translation, no, but I would guess closer to the intended meaning.

Anyway ... such are my rambling thoughts. Too bad I'm too lazy to clean them up.

1 comment:

Miranda said...

We usually get our wrists slapped for reading Jesus into the OT here. We can interpret it canonically (i.e. in light of the NT), but we have to deal with the meaning within its context first. Usually I respect that and find it very valuable. Sometimes its a little annoying too though.