I thought it might be a good idea, before we head off into the fields of exploration and discovery, for us to get together for a little orientation. I hope that this journey will be a rewarding one for everyone, that we will find the answer to our questions related to the image of God and what it means for each of us in the here and now. I also hope that it might be useful for many of you who always wonder how we figure these things out, you know, the “regular folks” who haven’t been formally trained in exegesis; yes, that’s right, those who are thinking, “trained in what?”
Don’t worry, as far as it is possible, I plan on editing out the “academic-speak” and using regular every day English. Now that may all be well and good, but we also need to understand something before we begin the journey, which is this: When I said in the earlier post that “from now on I don’t know anything”, I meant exactly that, because everything we already know on this subject is now on the chopping table and will be put to the test of Scripture. Culture, doctrinal positions and traditional teachings will either be borne out or tossed out; there are no sacred cows coming with us into the field.
That can be uncomfortable.
For many, when the exploration becomes uncomfortable, the temptation is great to start shooting “proof texts” around to save a sacred cow. If you aren’t familiar with the term, a “proof text” is a Bible text or verse, that we quote to “prove” our preconceived opinion; it is a debate tactic. It works like this: I say something that differs from your opinion, and you open your Bible and search for verses that seem to back your opinion, and then you leave me a list of half a dozen or so verses in a comment and say something like, “you’re stupid”.
Don’t worry dear reader, if you just can’t resist that temptation, I won’t be offended, you won’t be the first one to do that, nor will you likely be the last. However, since you are being cautioned in advance, you can expect the following reply to such a comment:
“Please discuss the full and complete context of the verses in your list, and explain in detail their relevance to the current discussion”
You see, proof texts, by their very nature, are always quoted out of context, and as a result they do not prove anything whatsoever. They are not a means to the truth, they are simply a way of saying “I’m right and you’re wrong”. Oh yes, I’ve had many cheeky freshmen throw out proof texts in class discussion, but they never did it twice.
However, should you have any questions along the way, or should you think I’ve missed something, by all means PLEASE let me know; I am hoping for many comments and lively discussion in these posts, just not proof texts. Also, I must insist, and doubt that I really need to say this, that all comments will be civil, respectful of the views of others and constructive so as to enhance a safe environment in which there are no forbidden subjects or “stupid questions”. After all, this is a journey of discovery without preconceptions.
We will come across many leads as we follow the trail through the wilds of the frontier, some will lead to noting, others will lead to a great prize; we won’t know which is which until we see where it leads, so please don’t assume in advance that you know how this is all going to come out, for we might stumble across something you hadn’t seen before, and that’s what makes these adventures exciting.
OK, are there any questions? Are you ready to head off into the field?
Excellent, we meet tomorrow in the Garden of Eden, that’s where the trail begins, see you there!