Biblical advice for single women

Thanks to Greg D. for pointing this one out. (Link). Below is the text listed in the linked picture.

To all the girls who are in a hurry to have a boyfriend or get married, a piece of Biblical advice: “Ruth patiently waited for her mate Boaz.” While you are waiting on YOUR Boaz, don’t settle for any of his relatives; Broke-as, Po-az, Lyin-az, Cheatin-az, Dumb-az, Drunk-az, Cheap-az, Lockedup-az, Goodfornothin-az, Lazy-az, and especially his third cousin Beatinyo-az. Wait on your Boaz and make sure he respects Yoaz.

Though humorous and hopefully it was portrayed in a jovial manner, the fact remains that the theme of Ruth is much larger then just good advice about dating. Obviously I don’t know the context of the sermon or if this was just a humorous illustration for a larger point, but in isolation this is exactly what not to do with a biblical text and portray it as what it actually means. I guess I would make an observation and a question.

(1) The wordplay here off of Ruth is both humorous and memorable. I am sure that the teens at this rally chuckled, snickered, and whispered to each other, “did he really say that?” In that regard, finding ways of making biblical stories memorable, this I think is a good example. As actual exegesis, not so much.

(2) How far can a non-exegetical sermon go in order to teach moral lessons before it turns from memorable to non-biblical? The point is not that we should teach teenagers (or everyone for that manner) about biblical relationships but rather should we teach these things apart from the larger theological context. For example, there probably are some good lessons to be learned about relationships in Ruth, but why are those lessons important? In my limited understanding of Ruth and where it sits in the cannon it was important that the idea of the kinsman redeemer be fulfilled because of the linage of Christ. Ruth, the ancestor of David from whom Christ eventually came, was not a Jewish woman by birth and therefore was unqualified to be in the line of the promised seed. However, because of her relationship with Boaz, God’s promise to Abraham (even going back to Eve) was continuing to be fulfilled. By making Ruth a lesson about relationships, the faithfulness of God is being overshadowed.

Therefore, I would be of the opinion that applications such as the one linked to above can be done, but they must be done in the theological context of the book.

Bad Hermeneutics

John MacArthur has a good clip from one of his sermons dealing with bad hermeneutics (view source). I needed this reminder because it is so easy to fall prey to laziness and try to preach my mind, not God’s. What’s worse is that both myself and others can claim to have deep spiritual insight talking in platitudes but miss the point of the text. MacArthur’s three key mistakes to avoid are:

  • Making points at the expense of proper interpretation.
  • Spiritualizing the text.
  • Superficial study.

Each of these (at least from my perspective) is unfortunately the common practice within fundamentalist circles. For example, it is proper and necessary to proclaim God’s holiness and total set apart-ness from sin but it is another things to take the pet peeve of a pastor and make that the thing that God’s hates. It would seem that we would de-emphasize the seriousness of sin by claiming things as sinful which scripture does not.

The real mark of the beast

The tradition of identifying symbols in the the book of Revelation is long and interesting with a little bit of frightening thrown in for good measure. Perhaps the most well known as well as vague is the mark of the beast. The standard questions such as “what is it?”, “what does it look like?”, “can a believer receive it?” and others are the standard inquiry.

With the advent of the 20th century, various attempts have been made to identify the “stinging scorpions” as attack helicopters or other such interpretations.

However, this one is hillarious. Read about how one person figured out the mark of the beast in 2012.

So a friend of mine called me on the phone the other day, and while we chatted, he suddenly changed topics and asked me a question.  “Haber,” he started.  “You know Hebrew, right?”

“Yeah,” I hesitated.

“Is it true that the numeric value in Hebrew of a ‘w’ is 6?” he asked.

“Aleph, bet, gimmel, dalit, heh, wow… yeah, the sixth letter is what they’d write to make a ‘w’ sound.”

He looked at me with widening eyes, “As in, double-u, double-u, double-u dot…”

My eyes widened a bit.  I know it’s ridiculous exegesis on soooo many levels, but considering the pervasiveness of the world wide web and its potential as a tool for political power and economic exploitation, it does give me a bit of pause.  After all, what does God care for our exegetical theories? (original source)

There you have it, exegetical proof that the interwebs is none else then the mark of the beast!


The Center for Terrible Preaching

For a couple years now I’ve thought about creating a website dedicated examples of bad preaching. The intent was to be something of a warning for guys like me to accept criticism and thus learn from my mistakes. Out of curiosity, I typed “examples of bad preaching” in to google and it returned several websites that kind of hit on this theme, though none of them seem particularly dedicated to the topic. I did however stumble across some excellent blog posts about examples of bad preaching. Thought I would share some with you. It’s a start and perhaps I will add more to the category when I see them.

Bad preaching 101 to go along with my eisagesis 101 

Bad preaching from a Catholic perspective

An short post about how bad preaching led to financial hardship for a church