D. A. Carson
A text without a context is a pretext for a proof text.
No truth which human beings may articulate can ever be articulated in a culture-transcending way-but that does not mean that the truth thus articulated does not transcend culture.
“Maintaining Scientific and Christian Truths in a Postmodern World,” Science & Christian Belief H, no. 2 (2002): 107-22.
Christian leaders tend to use the Bible as their exclusive source for framing Christian speaking and living. Yet only through a kind of “thick description” of our present circumstances, being attentive to both the world and the church, can we deeply understand the hope of the gospel in redefining and reforming the self within our complex times.
Divine Sex: A Compelling Vision for Christian Relationships in a Hypersexualized Age, 2015, Brazos Press.
We can’t locate ourselves, much less find ourselves, apart from the places we inhabit.
No Home Like Place
Skill in contextualization is one of the keys to effective ministry today. In particular, churches in urban and cultural centers must be exceptionally sensitive to issues of contextualization, because it is largely there that a society’s culture is being forged and is taking new directions. It is also a place where multiple human cultures live together in uneasy tension, so cultural compounds are more complex and blended there.
G. Campbell Morgan
No one statement wrested from its context is a sufficient warrant for actions that plainly controvert other commands. How excellent a thing it would be if the whole Church of Christ had learned that no law of life may be based upon an isolated text. Every false teacher who has divided the Church, has had, “it is written” on which to hang his doctrine.
No text can be understood out of its entire context. The most “entire” context is Jesus. Every biblical text must be read in the living presence of Jesus. Every word of the scriptural text is a window or door leading us out of the tarpaper shacks of self into this great outdoors of God’s revelation.
The way in which the photograph records experience is also different from the way of language. Language makes sense only when it is presented as a sequence of propositions. Meaning is distorted when a word or sentence is, as we say, taken out of context; when a reader or listener is deprived of what was said before, and after. But there is no such thing as a photograph taken out of context, for a photograph does not require one. In fact, the point of photography is to isolate images from context, so as to make them visible in a different way.
I am told that when SAS soldiers parachute into unknown territory they are trained to pause before moving. They must first get their bearings and only then set out for their destination. That is wise advice for us too as we read the Bible.
If we want to understand any part of the Bible properly, we must consider where it fits in that great plan and how it contributes to it.
Mark E. Van Houten
No matter how adept an exegete a theologian is, . . . it is all for naught if he does not understand his contemporary audience.
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