Because life is a series of edits

Living with the Messiness of the Bible

In Seminary Tychicus on July 26, 2005 at 10:36 am

You’ll pardon me for yet another entry concerning Learner’s Greek class, but it is, after all, what has consumed his summer thus far. Last night was his grammar final exam and, he says, it was a doozy. He thinks he may have passed it, but that’s as far as he’ll hope.

As has been typical all summer, after the exam and a drink break (not the kind Learner could have used at the time, but it was liquid at least), there was still an hour of lecture left of the three-hour class period. Learner’s professor – a gracious man whose stated grading goal is to give Learner and his classmates points whenever possible rather than take them away – began a discussion on more complicated Greek syntax with a brief historical analysis of 1 John.

Concepts. Ideas. History. Controversy. Perspective. Truth. Finally.

The highlight for Learner (and, it seemed, for the rest of the class), was a brief discussion on the translation of 1 John 2:2, which says (according to Learner’s own translation):

“And he (Christ) is the propitiation for our own sins, and not only for our sins, but also for the whole world.”

“For the Calvinists in the room,” the professor said, “you need to wrestle with this.” There was a slight murmur among the Calvinists which, at this seminary, is just about everybody. Then the professor, disclosing his own Calvinist alignment, gave this passionate admonition: “You must learn to live with the messiness of the Bible. Our theological systems are maps; the Bible is the actual ground.”

The room was silent, that is until Learner, feeling a desire to respond out of gratitude for the professor’s words, simply said, “Thank you.”

Last night, Learner dreamt about living with the messiness of the Bible. He says it was good but fitful sleep, which seems about right.

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