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Wordwise Insight, Issue #057
July 14, 2009

WORDWISE INSIGHT is the free monthly newsletter of


BIBLE INSIGHTS (and Reader Q & A): Is Bible interpretation to be culturally based or adjusted?

WORDWISE HYMNS: My Blog called Wordwise Hymns for you to check out!

MORE ARTICLES: Seven Steps in Service; Church Leadership (and the role of women)

DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION? See below for how to send it to us.


Are you finding Wordwise helpful? And do you have your own website? We would be delighted if you would provide a link on your site to ours. This will enable your friends to find us too! Check the page on the Wordwise website called "Link to Us," and follow the simple instructions. Click on Link to Us.

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LIKE TO ASK A QUESTION? On a Bible topic or passage of Scripture? Or one about a hymn or gospel song? Click on Questions from You.



Is Bible Interpretation Culturally Based?

Some time ago I received a question about how we should deal with the Bible's teaching in light of the fact that our culture is so different from that of ancient times. It's not an easy one to answer. There are dangers in trying either to impose our own culture on Bible times, or in interpreting the commands of God as being merely culturally based.

I would not say the latter is never necessary, but it must be done with great caution. The danger is that we will do as the Pharisees did. The Lord Jesus accused them, saying, "You...transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition....You have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition [or could we say "by your culture"?]" (Matt. 15:3, 6). That we must avoid!

Properly interpreting Scripture requires that we research the historical setting and cultural context of what happened. Then, as we move to a current application, we are able to identify the biblical principles behind what we find there. Sometimes, the principles will be applied differently today.

Some things we find in Scripture show clearly that they are not applicable now, because one or more of the following pertains to them.

1) They were cancelled at a later time, or succeeding events have rendered them inoperative.

2) Only one Scripture passage supports them. Of course God only has to say something once. But most of the key commands are found in the Bible a number of times, or we have a record of people obeying them later on.

3) The reason behind the command is limited by culture or customs peculiar to ancient times.

4) The message or impression sent today by following the behaviour would not be the same as back then?

Now, a few examples.

1. Animal Sacrifices and Sabbath Keeping...

To see the full article, click on Cultural Interpretation.


Come and Pay Us a Visit!

In the spring I developed a blog that is called Wordwise Hymns. As the title suggests, it is about hymns, and church music in general.

But as many of you will know, a blog is especially designed to facilitate a conversation on its particular subject. Readers can easily post comments about what they see, and I'm able to reply. I hope you will do that!

A Special Feature
There is something unique about this blog that I don't believe has ever been done before. It contains what we could call a Hymn Almanac. If you want to know what happened in the history of hymn writing on any particular day, just click on the blog and you'll see!

My hope is that the blog will add to the value of the website and this newsletter, and promote some profitable exchanges on the subject of sacred music.

What happened on this day in hymnology? To find out, click Wordwise Hymns.


Here are two articles on serving the Lord. The second, relating to church leadership, deals particularly with the place of women in the church.

Seven Steps in Service

Church Leadership

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