Monday, September 20, 2010

Garden and Orthodox Study Bible ramblings

Woke up very early this morning full of energy. Surprised myself and got a lot of little things done multi-tasking.

Looking forward to planting seeds today. Figured out a simple way to neatly start my seed germination indoors so I get a longer season and more consistent yield despite my limited garden space.
I could of course buy "plantlings" but that would be for me costly ("Mr. Stingy" speaking .... :-)) but more importantly it is more fun and thrilling to see things grow from seeds. This season I hope to collect seeds from my own crops for next year's garden. I am getting more ambitious and more "Kiwinized".:-)

Been reading the Orthodox Study Bible and enjoying it. I think the articles in it have been every educational for me and gives me a good introduction and summary of the Orthodox perspective. Most things I have been exposed to before but it is nice to have many things systematically available in easy access.

Lots of stuff resonates with me (though not all). For example - the view that salvation is seen as NOT LIMITED to a point in time. "Salvation is not a one dimensional event, a past tense occurrence with merely philosophical or "positional" implications for the present." I do agree it's a journey! It's a life time experience. This is something I slowly became aware of /. suspicious of (?) (hard to find the right words)  during my early years of theological education (back in 1989 during my 3rd year of my B.Th) - which resulted in me exploring and decision to do my B.Th thesis on John (on the meaning of salvation) in response to then then controversial book by John Mac Arthur on the "Lordship Salvation" debate.

It was for me a difficult position to hold to especially since it meant being seen as "heretical" as the accepted position in all the circles I served in was(and I suppose for most, probably still is) "once saved always saved" (i.e. The Four Spiritual Laws version). Of course as the years passed by I have been more bold to speak up and defend my position. Enough on that ...

I also like the way the Orthodox Christians teach on how we should read the Bible. Their approach is:

1. Read the Bible in a spirit of obedience!
How we need to recapture this!!

2. Interpret Scripture through and in the Church.
This needs a little clarification. I am not comfortable with "the church" telling us what we should believe based on tradition (though again I have a high regard to tradition - as in a biblical definition of course) BUT we do desperately need to get away from reading and interpreting the Bible as "isolated individuals". I love this sentiment ...
"We read as members of a family, the family of the Orthodox Catholic Church" (I am not going to explain and qualify this statement as I will end up dying a death of a thousand qualifications :-)

3.We need to have a Christ centered approach to reading Scripture.
I think this needs to be recaptured - no offense to the good that the biblical theology approach brings.
Typology as a method of course will have its pitfalls but I have been slowly re-evaluating my neglect (due to my rejection of what I thought in the past as many examples of bad exegesis).
Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old TestamentBut Christ is indeed the heart of the Bible so I think my reading of Scripture needs a strong re-emphasis on this (especially when I read the OT). I recently bought the Commentary of the NT use of the OT to help me better see the connections.

4. The Bible as Personal

Now this I like and yet I tread with much trepidation (basic exegesis / eise-gesis concerns). This is often misunderstood and therefore misapplied. BUT I think that the approach by the Orthodox Church has helpful great safe guards / guidelines.

a. Reflect on Scripture as sacred history
- it is historical faith and this fact has always resonated with me

b. Observe the particularity, the specificity of this sacred history.
- this includes areas which I have always deemed important such as geography, history and cultural practices and I am glad that in my recent series on parables, I have a lot of good feedback as I add these to the mix to help bring clarity to the text.
"If we really love the Bible, we will love genealogies and details of dating and geography." 

c. After all this, apply it directly to ourselves
"We are to say to ourselves, 'These are not just distant places, events in the remote past. They belong to our own encounter with the Lord. The stories include me."

Ok, enough for now. And yes, I am also reading the Bible text too :-)


  1. the most difficult part for me is getting excited about "dating and geography." historical dates and geography mean so little to me!! sigh. maybe one day i will finally understand it.

  2. I always like the Orthodox perspective on various doctrines. To them, everything is a process, not an either/or. To evangelicals, everything is either/or.

  3. I agree.

    I don't like some of the formality of the Orthodox tradition, but I concur a lot with a lot of their foundation for theology.