Doctrine and Treasure

April 15, 2010

“Gospel doctrine matters because the good news is so full and rich and wonderful that it must be opened like a treasure chest, and all its treasures brought out for the enjoyment of the world. Doctrine is the description of these treasures. Doctrine describes their true value and why they are so valuable. Doctrine guards the diamonds of the gospel from being discarded as mere crystals. Doctrine protects the treasures of the gospel from the pirates who don’t like the diamonds but who make their living trading them for other stones. Doctrine polishes the old gems buried at the bottom of the chest. It puts the jewels of gospel truth in order on the scarlet tapestry of history so each is seen in its most beautiful place. And all the while, doctrine does this with its head bowed in wonder that it should be allowed to touch the things of God.”

God is the Gospel, p. 22 (free download)

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Obama, Piper, and Allegorical Interpretation

April 17, 2009

John Piper highlights how President Obama exegetes and applies the Sermon on the Mount:

We cannot rebuild this economy on the same pile of sand. We must build our house upon a rock. We must lay a new foundation for growth and prosperity — a foundation that will move us from an era of borrow and spend to one where we save and invest; where we consume less at home and send more exports abroad.

It’s clear how this interpretation misses the point Jesus makes of the parable: the rock is Jesus’ words.

What’s not so clear is that the same error is made by conservative pastors who use allegorical interpretation. The classic example is Origen saying that every detail in the parable of the Good Samaritan refers to something in Christian theology. No: as Jesus interprets it, the point of the parable is to love others in need.

Common allegorical errors today: the Song of Songs refers to Jesus (not, as it would seem, romantic love), many OT prophecies refer to Jesus (not, as it would seem, the land of Israel).