Hermeneutics - Lesson 12

Cultural Context

From this lesson, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of the importance of cultural context in interpreting biblical texts. You will learn that cultural conditioning influences both the biblical authors and modern readers. God accommodates His revelation to the cultural and historical context of the people, using figures of speech like anthropomorphism and zoomorphism. Emotions attributed to God are not merely anthropomorphisms but genuine experiences consistent with His unchanging character. The lesson also provides guidelines for interpreting scripture, encouraging you to seek a balanced understanding and examine the biblical rationale for various statements and commands.

Todd Miles
Lesson 12
Watching Now
Cultural Context

I. Cultural Context

A. Definition

B. Cultural conditioning

II. Accommodation

A. First sense of accommodation

B. Second sense of accommodation

III. Guidelines for Dealing with Historical and Cultural Context

A. Every statement of the Bible is both absolute and relative

B. Biblical rationale

C. Determine how metaphors and models function in the Bible

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  • Understanding the Bible through biblical theology is crucial, as it reveals the overarching narrative of God's redemptive plan, centered on His glory and the role of Jesus Christ, enabling a more profound comprehension of individual Bible passages and their relevance to our lives.
  • Dr. Todd Miles underscores the vital role of historical and cultural context in interpreting the Bible. Understanding the era when a passage was penned is crucial for grasping its genuine significance. Using examples like the virgins' parable and Revelation 3:14-22, it demonstrates how historical context aids in discerning interpretations and adds depth to the message. The text emphasizes that, while the Bible offers some historical context, external sources can also enhance comprehension. In conclusion, historical and cultural context is essential for accurate biblical interpretation.
  • In this lesson on Hermeneutics by Dr. Todd Miles, the focus is on understanding the cultural context when interpreting biblical texts. Dr. Miles emphasizes that culture plays a significant role in both the biblical author's writing and the reader's interpretation. He discusses the concept of cultural conditioning, highlighting that everyone, including the biblical authors, the original audience, and modern readers, is influenced by their respective cultures.
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  • In this lesson, Dr. Todd Miles discusses various types of psalms found in the Psalter and delves into their unique characteristics and theological significance. He begins by providing a list of different kinds of psalms, emphasizing that this list is not exhaustive but illustrative, highlighting the diversity of poetry within the Psalms.
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  • In this lesson, Dr. Todd Miles discusses the interpretation of parables. Parables are a specific literary genre with their own rules of interpretation. Parables are designed to teach a single point, although there might be exceptions. Historical context remains essential in understanding parables, as they are shaped by the situations of the day. 
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  • This lesson provides practical guidelines for applying biblical principles. Dr. Miles emphasizes the role of the Holy Spirit, examining the original context, and identifying parallel situations in the present. He encourages applications to be personal, specific, measurable, and time-bound, ensuring they lead to tangible actions in your life.
  • In this lesson, you'll grasp the Holy Spirit's vital role in biblical interpretation, going beyond changing hearts to enabling comprehension and acceptance of the text. Dr. Todd Miles stresses the Spirit's role in illuminating the Bible, making it relevant to believers, challenging the idea that unbelievers interpret it as effectively, and emphasizing the importance of understanding the text's intent. The ultimate aim is not mastery but being mastered by the text, with the Holy Spirit as a key player.
Hermeneutics is the science and art of the interpretation of the Bible. It's a science because it is an orderly process based on rules you can apply. It is an art because of the nuances in communication and translation.



Dr. Todd Miles


Cultural Context

Lesson Transcript


Well, we've been talking about the different kinds of contexts that there are. We just finished thinking about historical context. I mentioned historical cultural context. Let's let's think specifically about culture for a moment. Webster defines culture as the concepts, habits, skills, arts, instruments, institutions, etc., of a given people at a given time. And what we need to recognize is that everybody, including ourselves, is a product at some level of his or her culture. Or I should say, cultures. And before we can interpret the Bible with any degree of accuracy, I think we need to understand that. We need to recognize it. And there's three parties, especially that we need to consider here. There's the biblical author. The biblical author was a product of his times. And remember our doctrine of inspiration, which was that concurrent act where a Holy God, Holy Spirit so moves the human author that God gets exactly what He wants without destroying the personality or the intellect or that sort of thing of the biblical author. So the cultural conditioning of the author is going to be represented in the biblical text. We see that in that the different biblical authors have different writing styles. They have different vocabularies. Think of the Apostle Paul, for example. He was a cosmopolitan Jew who was very much at home in the Greco Roman Empire, going from major city to major city. Peter was a fisherman from the region of Galilee, not sure how cosmopolitan he actually was. And most of what we see Peter doing for the most part, at least in the Book of Acts, is hanging out in in Israel. They have very different experiences and that affected what they wrote and how they wrote. Again, the Holy Spirit is so moving them and so everything that they write is the Word of God. But they are still culturally conditioned. The people to whom they wrote were culturally conditioned as well, the original audience. They had concepts and habits and skills and arts and instruments and institutions, all those things that make up a culture. And and that's going to be manifest in the message that was written to them. Remember, most of the Bible is occasional. There is something that occasioned the writing of the text. Biblical authors typically didn't just sit down to write because they had nothing better to do. And then but the third party that is culturally conditioned and we need to recognize this is the reader us. We need to recognize that we bring our own cultural conditioning to the text every single time that we read it. Now, there's no avoiding that. I think that's the way that it's supposed to be. God created a time and space continuum, and so we are supposed to be culturally conditioned. That's not to say that every aspect of culture is good. It's not to say that every culture is equal in every single way. I don't think that's the case. I think culture is created by people and people are fallen and some cultures are better than other cultures, and some parts of culture are better and worse than other parts of other parts of that same culture. Nevertheless, we need to recognize that we bring baggage to the text, that we are not wearing a white lab coat where we are evaluating without bias the Word of God. We read through a cultural lens. There's no avoiding that, but we at least have to be cognizant of it. So the extent of cultural conditioning, it is universal. Everyone biblical author, biblical recipient and us conditioned by our culture. And so we have to recognize those three areas. If we were to go back and think again about the cultural conditioning of the author and the audience from that first Corinthians 11 passage, there's something going on with head coverings there. There's something going on. I don't think this is like an abstract law that's given to all places in all times necessarily, where head coverings are required in the worship service. We need to recognize, though, that when we read it, we don't have any aspect of our culture. I'm thinking of a Pacific Northwest white culture where wearing a head covering communicates anything at all. And so just as the recipients and writers were culturally conditioned, so are we. And so it might have meant something very specific to us, to a to the people to whom the scriptures were written originally. That might be lost on us. We have to think about what it meant to them. Also, we need to recognize that we have a tendency to make our personal preferences absolutes. We we like to baptize our own impulses that the way we do things is the way that Christians are supposed to do things. The way that our church does something is the way that every church ought to do. Thanks. It's more difficult to see and understand that we believe that our cultural sensibilities are absolutes. So we really need to read the Bible as it is more so than as I am. Here's another example. Yeah. For for people in America, Pacific Northwest, we live in a very egalitarian culture. And I'm not talking just men and women. I'm talking about just all people everywhere. It's very egalitarian. Everything is very, very horizontal. There's no one who is more important than anyone else. And it doesn't matter what your station in life is, it doesn't matter about anything. Hardly. Some people make more money, some people have more notoriety. But in essence, everybody is equal, very egalitarian culture. We see our relationships as horizontal. Every relationship is a relationship between equals, even if it's actually not. There are employer employee relationships. Well, those are not equal relationships, but we still like to think of them as though they are. Well, that's very unique in world history. Even in America. In biblical times, even in America, 300 years ago, relationships were far more vertical. There was a strong chain of authority that defined every relationship. I remember reading a biography of Jonathan Edwards by Marston, where in the preface he warns us of this. He says, Remember that you're reading this through 21st century eyes where we're very egalitarian. But in Jonathan Edwards world, relationships made sense only in a vertical sense that everybody knew where they were by where they stood. On this vertical level, who is above me and who is below me. There was a chain of authority that made sense. Not everyone might have liked where they were on the chain, but no one bucked against the chain itself. He says that's going to. He warned his readers. That's going to seem really offensive and weird to modern eyes, but it made perfect sense to people back then. We cannot assume that our ambient cultural ethos is best. And given what we know about culture, especially what we know about sinful people, we should be very suspicious of any claim that, well, our culture has finally arrived. Our culture is better than all of those who went before. Okay. What what is the relationship of revelation to culture? Well, God is the initiator of all revelation, and he progressively unfolds his revelation. We've talked about that. In order for this to happen, God has to accommodate his revelation to the people where they are at at that particular time. I'm going to talk about what accommodation actually is, but the key to correct interpretation is to compare and contrast the biblical text and the data from the contemporary cultures. And notice the similarities between the Bible in the ancient Near East, but also the differences that the Bible doesn't necessarily just mimic the culture. Oftentimes it critiques the culture as well. These differences show significant meaning revealed by God. Now, let's look. Let's think about what I meant by accommodation, where I say God accommodates his his word to us. There's there's a couple of different senses of accommodation here. One sense would be that God just dumbs things down. He compromises his truth so that he can communicate something to us. And I'm going to resist that. That's not the sense of accommodation I'm talking about. Remember the scandal of historical particularity? The Bible was written in a human social environment, very particular, and its analogies are drawn from that environment. That's that's true. But that doesn't mean that the Bible is tainted. That doesn't mean that it's dumbed down to the point of being wrong. Like you're talking to a three year old and you say something that's mostly true, but not totally true because you want to communicate something to that that child. What it means, though, is that in his desire to communicate, God chose one way and not another to speak. For example, when Jesus taught, he often used parables. We talked about the parable of the Virgin's earlier. Why did Jesus do that? Why did he draw on the culture of the time? I suspect because he wanted to actually communicate to them. What kind of images or analogies did Jesus make when he was teaching about the kingdom in his parables? He drew on the culture at large things that were relevant and made sense to people. So he he gave the parable of the sower and he gave the parable of the lost coin, and he gave the parable of the wheat and the tares. These are things that people would have understood. You know, maybe we don't we maybe we don't understand them because we don't understand that wheat and tares and sabotaging people's crops or that sort of thing. But that was part of the culture of the day, and it would have made sense to them. Notice that Jesus doesn't give the parable of the dropped cell phone call, right? He doesn't give the parable of the microchip. He doesn't give that. Now, if he were here today, maybe he would give the parable of the drop cell phone call. The Kingdom of God is like a man making an important call. And, you know, and then. Then things fall apart. Now he doesn't. He doesn't do that. That would have made no sense to them. It would make sense to us. But he wasn't speaking to us directly. He was speaking to them. This culture way back then. So this is this is the second sense of accommodation. It's not a dumbing down. It is. It is using. The culture at large, the culture at the time, in order to communicate real truth to people. That's accommodation. There's there's another sense of accommodation here, which is God doing his best to communicate with us. And he is the creator and we are the creatures. Listen to Isaiah's words. Isaiah 55, verses eight through 13. For My thoughts are not your thoughts. Neither are your ways. My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the Earth, so are my ways. Higher than your ways and my thoughts and your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven to do not return there, but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater. So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth. It shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it for. You shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace. The mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing. And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands instead of the thorns shall come up. The Cyprus instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle, and it shall make a name for the Lord, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off. I've talked about the creator creature distinction before. God is God, and we are not while we are image bearers and there is much continuity between us and God, we are created in God's image. There is a lot of discontinuity as well. There is something radically different about God. His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. So in a real sense, we cannot process the divine mind. And so what does God have to do? He has to accommodate his speech to us so that communication of truth can take place. And there's a variety of ways that God does this. He uses figures of speech. One one manner in which this kind of accommodation takes place is through anthropomorphism, anthropomorphism. This is where the forms of a human are attributed to God, even though he doesn't actually have those forms. We know that until the incarnation, God did not have a body. Now in non corporeal He is spirit. God is spirit. And so. What do we make of Psalm 31? Verse two, Incline your ear to me. Rescue me speedily. Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me. In this passage, the psalmist is asking God to incline his ear. But in point of fact, reality. God doesn't have an ear. What is the Psalmist doing? He's attributing to God an ear for the purpose of community of asking. Please listen to me. Listen to me. Rescue me, he says. Hear my plea. Hear my plea. This text should not be used as a proof text that God has a body like in Mormon theology. Say. Rather this is an accommodation, it is anthropomorphism where something is attributed to God. For the sake of making a greater point. I have a couple other passages that I would like for you to consider here. Isaiah chapter 41, verse ten, and Genesis chapter two, verse seven. Read those and then think. Jot down some ideas. What? Anthropomorphism is being used here. What's being attributed to God and for what purpose is it being attributed? Isaiah chapter 41, verse ten. You got a chance to look at that. It reads this way. Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. The anthropomorphism there, of course, is God having a hand. A hand is being attributed to God and where the Lord is saying here through the Prophet Isaiah, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. This is not a claim that God actually has a body or has a hand itself that's attributed to Him for the purpose of of making the earlier point. God will strengthen. God will help God will uphold. Be not dismayed. I am your God. I will help you. I am strong and able to do this. But it's not actually saying God has a hand. The reason we know that is because there's others biblical texts that deny that God, in point of fact, has a body. So when we come to this, we need to say, Whoa, there's a contradiction. Or we can say, Hmm. There are other texts that are very clearly say God is spirit. This text is attributing a hand to God. Is it a contradiction? Maybe this is anthropomorphism, a figure of speech to make a more important point, which is that God is able to help. Genesis Chapter two, verse seven. I ask you to look at that. It reads. Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. I suppose it's possible that God took a form and then did some sort of mouth to mouth. I guess we wouldn't call it resuscitation. Suscitation, is that, is that a thing? At this point where God breathes with his lungs into the mouth of of the man, Adam and Adam comes to life? I don't think that's necessary because, again, we have plenty of Bible that says God doesn't have a body. God definitely doesn't need to breathe. He doesn't have lungs. He created air and created us to need it and created us to have lungs. But he himself does not have those. And so this is probably an anthropomorphism where a form of a human is attributed to God for making the point that God gave life to the first man. Adam. There are other kinds of of figures of speech that are accommodations of sort. Another one would be zoom or fazem zoom morph ism. And this is where the forms of animals, the forms of animals are attributed to God. So I'll ask you to look up Psalm 17 versus eight. Look at Psalm 91 verse four. Jot down what you think is being attributed to God, as  zoomorphism, and then what is the point that's being made with that zoomorphic use? All right, Sum 17, verse eight, It reads, Keep me as the apple of your eye. Hide me in the shadow of your wings. This was interesting. Hopefully you notice there's some anthropomorphism there as well as zoomorphism. The anthropomorphism is the eye where we are asked that we are the apple of gods. I can't. God doesn't have a God, doesn't have literal eyes. This is communicating. We're uniquely special to the Lord. But hide me in the shadow of your wings is Does God have feathers? Is he like this giant chicken? Or maybe something more noble than that? Like an eagle, I suppose. No, I don't think so. God. God doesn't have a human body. He doesn't have a bird body either. Here, this is zoomorphism where wings are attributed to God for the point of of of communicating that that God cares and covers his people. Like. Like a mother hen covers her chicks. Psalm 91 verse four, he will cover you with his pinions under his wings, you will find refuge, his faithfulness as a shield and buckler. Again, the same idea here. God doesn't actually have wings or opinions, but it communicates something of of of the care and the refuge that that baby birds find in the wings of of Mother Bird. God is not a mother bird, but God is like a mother bird. And that he cares for his people. Another form of accommodation that is often discussed is anthropomorphism, anthropomorphism and so on. Anthropomorphize man and then pathos, passions or emotions. And when people talk about anthropomorphism, what they're suggesting is that the passions of humans, the emotions of humans are attributed to God. And so you have passages like in this chapter 20 verse five, where we're in the midst of the Ten Commandments, God says, You shall not bow down to them. That is idols or serve them for I the Lord, Your God am a jealous God visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me. There are other passages that speak of God repenting or relenting. There's God being angry, God being joyful and happy. And there is a school of thought that says God doesn't actually experience emotions because to experience an emotion would be to experience something that is changing and God doesn't change. We know that God doesn't change because any change. This is how the argument goes. Any change would be a change from either not very good or not as good to great or from great to something less than that. And either one of those are unacceptable when it comes to God. And so the idea that God changes is is is denied. And therefore God can't have emotions because emotions constitute change. I'm going to push back against the idea that God doesn't experience emotions. I'm going to suggest, rather, that emotions are "imago dei." That is, we have emotions because God does. Now, of course, we don't experience emotions the way God does. Or maybe a better way to say it is God doesn't experience emotions the way that we do. Because when we experience emotions, yeah, it does constitute oftentimes radical change. Our emotions drive our will in a way that is oftentimes unrestrained. No, I believe that God is unchanging in his essence and in his character. God is holy. He is never less than holy. God is righteous. He is never less than righteous. Because of that, God is able to respond to us in our time space continuum that he created, that he's Lord over. He is able to respond appropriately in a manner that is consistent with his unchanging character to whatever it is that we are doing. So when we repent, God experiences joy, when we sin. God is angry. If God didn't get angry at our sin. What would that say about his unchanging holy character? So I think that in in some way and I know there's some mystery here, I'm not trying to paint God as this emotional waif who just goes all over you willy nilly, but in some mysterious way. God does get angry at our sin in a in a manner that does not compromise his unchanging character. So so you may hear of anthropomorphism, that is, the emotions of God are accommodations or they're figures of speech. God doesn't actually do that. I acknowledge that categories out there. I just don't think that that the emotions of God are our accommodations. I think He actually does experience them in in a significant though different way than than we do as people. All right. We've been talking a lot about historical and cultural context. Let's let's think about some guidelines for dealing with the context with that kind of context. First off, there is a sense in which every statement of Scripture is both absolute and relative. So it's it's absolute transcultural, but also culturally relative. Every every versus the Bible is this way. Now, each verse is different in that balance, but it every verses absolute in that every verse belongs to the corpus of the Word of God. And it is a product of divine omniscience, and we have to respond appropriately to it. I'm not I'm not trying to establish some sort of canon within a canon. And I'm not saying that. What I am saying is that every single verse is the word of God, and it is absolutely the word of God and it as a product of divine speech. We have to respond to it. We can never say, Oh, that's just culturally irrelevant to us and then dismiss it. No. All of the Word of God is given to us for our good. At the same time, all statements in Scripture are relative to some degree because they are all culturally linked. Now, let's think of of a verse that we would say it's just absolute. There's no cultural relativity to it at all. How about first John for God is Love. There's a pretty strong absolutes in verse. That's absolutely true. And it has it's strongly transcultural. It's true in all cultures, in all times. However, the the verse has the words God is Love were written in Koine Greek in a particular language that is a cultural construct. Language is a construct of culture, and culture also constructs language. There's that symbiotic relationship between the two and so, so, so even the manner in which it was written, the language in which it was written is is culturally relative. So, so all that to say that every verse in the Bible is absolute in some sense, in every verse of the Bible is, is culturally relative in in some sense as well. Second, it's necessary to seek the balance of Scripture rather than succumb to historical or theological disjunction that is, seek the balance of Scripture rather than saying, Well, this is just contradictory. Seek the balance of Scripture and oftentimes cultural context will help us to do that. Here's here's an example. Galatians chapter three, verse 28 There's neither Jew or Greek. There's neither slave nor free. There's neither male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. That's Paul's words to the church in Galatia. Paul also wrote in First Timothy chapter two. He said, I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man. Rather, she is to remain quiet. I thought you wrote to the Galatians that there's no male or female, and yet here there's a significant distinction made between men and women. What's going on there? Rather than just throwing up our hands and say, hey, there's some sort of of contradiction going on here, maybe we could say, I wonder what's going on in the historical or cultural context that might make us that might allow us to bring these two passages together. I mean, let's let's give the biblical authors some credit. They weren't morons. Paul's not going to write one thing to one church and then write the exact opposite to some other church. Right now, we'll talk more about that passage. I'm not sure all the all the difficulties and all the discomfort that we experience can be alleviated through appeal to cultural context. But there's probably something going on there in Galatia and something going on in Ephesus that that that would be helpful for us to understand. Examine carefully the biblical rationale for anything your command to say at what level it's tied to the biblical corpus of truth. In other words, is there a biblical theology that we can establish for that saying or that command? So here's an example. Matthew 11, verse 21 Jesus says, Repent in sackcloth and ashes. How many of you have ever done that before? Repented in sackcloth and ashes. I wouldn't have any idea how to do that. I wouldn't know where to get sackcloth. I suppose at some sort of feed store. Remember I live in downtown hipster Portland, right at some feed store somewhere. I would get some burlap or some sackcloth. I'm assuming those are the same thing. And then I can probably manage to find some ashes somewhere. But. But what do I do? Do I sprinkle them on myself? Do I. Do I make a cross on my forehead? I think I've seen that sort of thing before. What do I do? And then why would I do that to. Why would I do that? And I think this is the critical question. Why would I put ashes on myself from a biblical perspective? Now, certainly when Jesus said to his audience, Repent in sackcloth and ashes, that must have meant something to them. That is, they knew how to do it. They had like sackcloth and ashes stories that you could go to when you were feeling repentant. But we don't have that. We don't have that. And I'm not even sure that we need to do that for this reason. There. I can't find a theology of ashes in the Bible. I can't develop a biblical theology of sackcloth. And so I'm going to say, if I can't develop a biblical theology of the part of this particularity, I'm going to think to myself, that's probably culturally relative. If I can't develop a biblical theology of the thing that's in question, I'm going to say that's probably culturally relative. But what is the broader principle? And then I have to think of a culturally relevant way to do that. And I'm not sure exactly what that would be for repentance. You know, maybe you fall down and maybe you cry, or maybe you get on social media and, you know, blast out to everyone that you're repentant or something. I don't know what that looks like exactly. But I think we recognize what true repentance is. So repentance, sackcloth and ashes. Do I have to do that? Yes. Do I have to do it literally with sackcloth and literally with ashes? Well, if I lived in the ancient near East, that would be a really good way to do it. But for me now, I don't think I need to do sackcloth and ashes, but I definitely have to repent in a culturally relevant way. Here's another example. Romans 16, verse 16 greet one another with a holy kiss. How many of you have ever done that before? How many of you have at the outside of your church on Sunday morning, a greeting team that is just running up and giving everybody they see a big smooch. Now, maybe if you're a part of a certain culture, yes, you do have that. But again, for me, white hipster Portland culture, not so much. Not so much. I suspect that greet one another with a holy kiss was a very culturally relevant way for Paul to say greet one another warmly, make people feel welcome. If we followed it, literally greet one another with a holy kiss, we would actually be denying or doing the opposite of the big thing Paul wants done, which is to make people feel welcome, greet them warmly. It would freak people out. It would freak me out. And I'm an elder at our church if our greeters started coming up and giving me a kiss. I don't really want that. I don't even want a hug, for that matter. Right. So. So. So what do we now? Now? Why do I think this? Why do I think so? Why not just do exactly what the Bible says? Because I can't develop a biblical theology of kissing. But I can develop a biblical theology of hospitality. I can develop a biblical theology of kindness. I can even develop a biblical theology of welcoming people. But not of kissing. Not of kissing. There's a theology of hospitality and brotherly love. And we already talked about head coverings in first Corinthians 11. Can I develop a biblical theology of head covering of hats? Not so much can I develop a biblical theology of submission and having a submissive spirit when I walk into a worship service? Oh, yes. There's a lot in the Bible about that. So how do I know if something is culturally relative or if it's absolute? Can I develop a biblical theology of it? Now, here's an example of something that is very particular, but we in the church have held on to the the particularities of it, even though it doesn't make any sense in our current culture. And that is the Lord's Supper. The Lord's Supper where you take wine or the cup fruit of the vine and you take bread. Usually unleavened bread. Maybe not so much. Gluten free. But I know that's an option today, too. But we hang on to those. And I don't know if you've ever wondered, but what would it be like for, like, a visitor who has no idea about Christianity? And they walk in and there's this very solemn ceremony and everybody passes around like a little lot smaller than a Dixie cup full of full of wine and this little wafer of bread. And it seems so significant that unleavened bread doesn't communicate anything in our culture. Wine communicates something, but not probably not the same thing that it did back then. Yet we hang on to that. We hang on to that. Why do we do that? Well, Jesus told us to. Why don't we substitute culturally relevant things? Why don't we replace the bread with, like, I don't know, Hostess Twinkies and drink like Mountain Dew or something like that? Which. Which, in my estimation, would be better. Right. Who would be better? Why do we not do that? Twinkies and Mountain Dew. Especially in my cannabis ridden culture, is far more relevant and at least in my neighborhoods. Why? Why not do that? Because we can develop a biblical theology of wine and a biblical theology of unleavened bread. And every time a Christian takes the cup and every time we take the the bread, that that biblical theology of wine and biblical theology of bread is supposed to be weighing on us. There's there's wine and bread mentioned all through the scriptures. Jesus, Jesus is not in the Last Supper, just kind of desperate to do something relevant and say, Man, I've only got a few more hours with these guys. What can I do? I got to give them something to remember me by. Well, what do I got? I got bread and wine. That's it. Well, I'll make do. I'll make do. I mean, if that's what was going on, then maybe we could substitute Twinkies and Mountain Dew for it. But Jesus wasn't just making do. Jesus was drawing on the Passover feast where wine and bread have significant meaning. And then there's other biblical passages that speak of the significance of wine and speak of the significance of bread. And so we hang on to the literalness of the elements, what Jesus commanded because of the biblical theology of those things. Interestingly enough, in the same passage in John, where he directs the church or directs his followers to practice the Lord's Supper, he also says, Hey, I wash your feet. You guys should do likewise. We typically don't do foot washing in the church. Why not? Well, the text itself alludes to the fact that this is like an example of how to be a servant. But foot washing in our culture is not the same as it was in the in the Greco-Roman world. Foot washing in our culture is culturally irrelevant and kind of gross. It was probably gross back then, but it was necessary back then and it was. You would assume the posture of a servant by doing that to wash someone's feet now would not communicate anything about service. It would just communicate kind of cringeworthy weirdness, mostly that my opinion, you can define that. So and again, I can't really develop a biblical theology of foot washing. I can't really develop a biblical theology of feet for that matter. But I can develop a biblical theology of service. And that's what Jesus is drawing on. Humble service permeates the Scriptures. Foot washing not so much. It was a culturally relevant example that Jesus used to communicate. What kind of humble service He wanted from his? From his followers? Any any comments, Any questions.


Speaker 2 I was thinking back to your illustration of God is love and whether it's absolute or relative or both at the same time. And I was thinking on the relative side, you got to define love. You do, because love means so many different things in our culture that to say God is love and assume that it's. What I think love means or what Ed thinks love is, or Kevin, are you? I mean, you get really. So this is is an interesting example when you said that, like, yes, something as simple as God is love is actually a relative statement as well as an absolute statement, because you have to define the words.


Speaker 1 Yeah, I think you're absolutely right. I think that's very helpful.