Wednesday, November 09, 2005

First Things First

The Bible is an amazing book and is filled with all kinds of great principles. But it's possible to read the Bible and come away from it less like Jesus than before you started. In fact, most of the meanest people I've ever met have known the most Bible. They even use the Bible to justify their meanness.

What's their problem? How can they read the Bible and still be like that?

Their problem is that they read the Bible (big word alert) anthropocentrically. That means they read the Bible as if humans are the center of the universe. Of course, they would never say that. But they read the Bible and immediately begin asking the wrong questions -- questions that reveal their false assumptions -- questions like, "What does this mean to me? Is there a command I should obey? Is there a promise I can claim? What is this text telling me to do?"

That's anthropocentric hermeneutics.

But the Bible's not about us. We're in there, but we're not the main character. The Bible is about God. It was written primarly to reveal his character and nature. That means the first question we should ask is, "What does this text reveal about the character and nature of God?"

That's theocentric hermeneutics.

So, let's go back to the story of Naaman and read it properly, asking the proper questions in their proper order. If we think of first things first, does that change anyone's answer regarding what the story is really about?