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Transforming Texts: Review of Craig Carter, Interpreting Scripture with the Great Tradition

Transforming Texts: Review of Craig Carter, Interpreting Scripture with the Great Tradition
Transforming Texts: Review of Craig Carter, Interpreting Scripture with the Great Tradition

Carter, Craig A.  Interpreting Scripture with the Great Tradition: Recovering the Genius of Premodern Exegesis. Baker Academic 2018

What has the Academy to do with the local Church? Have you ever tried to read an “academic commentary” in preparation to teach a Sunday school class, or for your personal benefit, or for family devotions? What was that experience like? For many (including seminary graduates, or those who have done academic study of the Scriptures), there is a disconnect between what the academy (or commentary) teaches, and what the church believes and practices. Why is this so? Does the Church need to catch up to the times? Is there a problem in the academic tradition? What can, or should we do?

I have read substantially on hermeneutics,  and on interpreting Scripture, as well as on interpreting legal texts, contracts, and cases. This is a field of study I enjoy. But I have not been so stimulated, challenged, and affirmed in my faith reading a book on Interpreting Scripture before.

The 12 Basic Beliefs You Must Hold to be a Christian

The Rule of Faith: 12 Things You Must Believe to be a Christian
The Rule of Faith: 12 Things You Must Believe to be a Christian

What is a Christian? We can answer this question from a few different perspectives. But, the first part of the answer must deal with content. You must believe a certain set of beliefs. The Apostle Paul explains, “by [believing these truths] you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you” (1 Corinthians 15:2). Christians, for almost 2000 years, have universally held out at least 12 basic truths that define the necessary basis of the Faith. These 12 beliefs are found in the Bible.  But a statement called the Apostle’s Creed has helpfully summarized them. There may be more to being a Christian than merely believing the 12 basic beliefs of the Christianity, but there can never be less. 

Does the Old Testament Matter, or Should Christians Unhitch Their Faith from the Old Testament?

The Word and Greek Philosophy
The Word and Greek Philosophy

Does the Old Testament Matter? Is the Old Testament relevant to the lived-out faith of today’s Christian, or is it just a book of backgrounds for the New Testament? Opening up a Bible for the first time can be pretty daunting. It is a thick book, printed on thin paper, usually in columns. This book is filled with unfamiliar lingo and even its structure is odd. It is a collection of 66 books, 39 under the sub-title of Old Testament and 27 under the sub-title of New Testament.

What is the difference between these two sub-categories? Is the New better than the Old? The very name, Old Testament contrasts with the New Testament. What is the relationship of the Old Testament to the New Testament? What is the relationship of the Old Testament to Jesus? How do we understand the Christian’s relationship to the Old Testament? These are important questions. But they are certainly not new. Christian’s have been asking these kinds of questions for centuries.

Perspective: There are Three Sides to Every Issue and Why We Tend to Ignore Two of Them

Perspective: There are Three Sides to Every Issue
There are Three Sides to Every Issue

Disagreements often boil down to perspective. There are two sides to every story. I think this is something everyone instinctively knows. Parents share the common experience of having a child come up to them, upset, crying, indignantly complaining that “so and so did such and such!” So and so, however, has a significantly different account, blaming the first child. This alerts us that there might even be more than two sides to a story. I once heard it said there are three: (1) your side, (2) my side, and (3) the truth!

Listening Well, or What a Weird Way to Start a Conversation

A Reasonable Doubt? Justice must be blind, and deaf to public pressure.
Justice must be blind, and deaf to public pressure.

Listening well is essential to civil society and for all relationships. You may have seen the meme, which goes, “My girlfriend yelled at me today saying, “You weren’t even listening to me were you?” I thought, “Man, what a weird way to start a conversation.” Listening well is a skill we all need to develop. We all know that men and women communicate in different ways. Unless a couple in a relationship is aware of this, it leads to inevitable conflicts.

A recent Harvard Business School article asks “Has Listening Become a Lost Art?” (source). I think that many in relationships, and those who observe political and religious discourse today would agree that it is indeed a lost art. But it is a lost hart that need to be resurrected. There is a piece of biblical wisdom that says, “let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19). Is seems that flashes of anger are often born of a failure to really listen to a conversation partner.

Listening Well in Conflict Resolution/Avoidance

Do you wish you had less conflict in your relationships? How about in politics? or religion? Have you ever been involved in a divorce, business lawsuit, or other legal conflict? Listening well may help you avoid, or lessen the challenge of any of these conflicts. One business website argues:

Listening is key to all effective communication. Without the ability to listen effectively, messages are easily misunderstood. As a result, communication breaks down and the sender of the message can easily become frustrated or irritated (Source).


Listening Well in Relationships

Psychologist Susan Heitler writes that “listeners is loving”:

When people talk about having a “great relationship,” they in large part are referring to how openly they listen to each other, plus how much positive feedback they give each other.

As a parent, this is one of the best things I learned about interacting with my children. They can easily get frustrated and upset when they don’t feel like they have been understood. Simply listening has de-escalated many parenting conflicts in our family.

Listening Well in Political Dialogue and Religious Discussions

Anyone browsing social media, perhaps (un)social media knows that many commentators talk past one another. As Trevin Wax concludes: “If it seems like too often we are talking past one another, the truth is, we usually are.” (the gospel coalition)

Listen Well in Law

One of the greatest benefits of a law school education, is its insistence that there are two sides to nearly every conflict. The courts are one place in which this conflict is played out. But mediation is also a popular way of resolving conflicts.

Mediation is basically just listening to one another with a mediator who facilitating effective communication. On research journal reports: “A study of 449 cases administered by four major providers of ADR services showed that mediation was capable of settling 78 percent of cases.” (source)

Listening Well

So, how can you listen well? I would suggest the first thing to do is shift your attitude in any conversation. What are you doing when you talk to someone? You are not lecturing, you are not debating–usually. To converse, both parties must listen, otherwise they will find themselves simply talking over one another.

GoodFaith Blog, an Introduction

Discerning the True Church Leaders from the False
Five Ways to Spot a True Church Leader?

The GoodFaith blog is my attempt to think through issues of faith, family, books, and culture in a way that stimulates deeper thought, important conversation, and spiritual growth. After a decade of pastoral experience, I returned to school. I did this, in part, to help myself and the church better understand and engage with our culture. What’s in a name? For me, the name of the blog communicates a desire to engage honestly with significant issues. I hope to do so with integrity, or a just regard for the viewpoints of others (those whose ideas I engage with, my readers, and the church). It is my hope that people will join me in thinking deeply about things that matter without ever compromising the good faith.

Good faith is a term used to summarize an organizing principle of contract and commercial law. A duty of good faith is a duty to act honestly and with just regard for the commits made to another party. I see a parallel in the Christian faith.

What did Jesus Believe About Marriage?


What do Christians believe about marriage? Too often the church has been known by what she is against. This is a shame because Christianity is more about the positive than the negative. Aristotle talks about the good life. He explains that there are many ways to live and many ways to live, but there is a ‘best way to live.’ Jesus knows what the best way to live, and his gospel calls us to enter into this good life.

Today people might find themselves single, considering marriage, married, divorced, or remarried. Christianity is not so much concerned about a person’s relationship status. Christianity is concerned with the gospel, the good news of the good life in Jesus (John 10:10). Christianity preaches a positive message. No matter what your relationship status, or preference, Jesus has a message for you. Scripture meets us where we are at and shows us what is the best life for us.

What Did Jesus Beleive about Marriage?

Gain Wisdom: A Matter of Life and Death

Gain Wisdom: A Matter of Life and Death
Gain Wisdom: A Matter of Life and Death

Gain wisdom because it is vitally important. “[T]hrough wisdom your days will be many,  and years will be added to your life.” (Proverbs 6:9).  It is “literally, a matter of life and death” (Durant, p. x).  But what is wisdom? Merriam Webster describes wisdom as the “ability to discern inner qualities and relationships” (source). Dictionary (dot) com provides a more complete definition, calling wisdom “the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or rightcoupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight” (source).

Gain Wisdom in History

Philosophy is a transliteration carried over from Greek, meaning, “lover of wisdom.” But we use it today to speak of a body of wisdom. Usually we use philosophy to speak of the ideas of a lover of wisdom. So when Will Durant writes The Story of Philosophy: The lives and opinions of the world’s greatest philosophers from Plato to John Dewey (Amazon; .ca; .co.uk), he is writing on, “literally, a matter of life and death” (p x). 

How the Trinity Explains Love, Life, the Universe, and Everything

The Trinity Explains Love, Life, the Universe, and Everything.

What do we mean when we call God a Trinity, and why does it matter? For the Christian tradition, the Trinity explains love, life, the universe, and pretty much everything. The word describes God, as a Tri-Unity, a Three and One. The Trinity focuses on the relationship of three divine Persons, in the one divine Being (Learn more: A Crash Course). It sounds pretty conceptual and impractical. However, in the Christian tradition the Trinity is the most practical and essential of Christian Doctrines.

The Trinity is the Framework of the most basic affirmation of faith, the Baptismal formula: “I believe in one God, the Father Almighty… and in Jesus Christ His only Son, our Lord [and] in the Holy Spirit” (The Apostles Creed). Without understanding the Trinity rightly, we will have a wrong understanding of our origins, of our destiny, and of our purpose. We would not understand love and life would be meaningless. This is very practical knowledge. But what is this belief? How can we understand the Trinity, and how can this be practical? We need the help of a genius! Fortunately, church history provides several geniuses who have explained the Trinity very clearly and practically.

What is Easter and Why Does it Matter?


The Message of Easter is about hope. It is good news. Easter is an undeniable, essential and critical message of the church. But what is this celebration all about? What does it mean?

A recent poll revealed a disturbingly high number of people that could not explain what Easter celebrates. I spoke about who and what Easter is about from Matthew 27:55-28:20. (Audio)

The Message of Easter

I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you … [W]hat I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas,[b]and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep … 10 this is what we preach, and this is what you believed (1 Corinthians 15:1-6, 10).

Read more about the resurrection here.