Exegesis, Ecclesiology, and Exploration.
These three words express my vision for this website.
Exegesis, because it isn’t always easy to listen well to God’s word. Ecclesiology, because we’re still learning to live as one flock under one Shepherd. And exploration, because–whether we are reading the Bible, living as Christ’s Church, or doing a dozen other things like making music or climbing trees–I believe there are still fresh landscapes awaiting our discovery!
Put those three goals together, and a central goal of this website is this: “To explore exegesis for the sake of ecclesiology”–to consider how we can interpret the Bible better for the sake of the Church. Or, perhaps this: “To explore ecclesiology through exegesis”–to consider how we can improve the health of our churches by becoming better interpreters of the Bible.
I am well aware that many Christians today are skeptical of such a goal. On the one hand, there are many Christians who are doubtful that the Bible requires much interpretation at all. If there are one or two unclear portions somewhere in Ecclesiastes or Revelation, they involve matters of no real consequence and it won’t help anyone to spend time puzzling over them. Most of the Bible is very clear to those who are willing to read it simply.
On the other hand there are many Christians who think the Bible is such a vague and pliable and perhaps even inconsistent book that it is quite impossible to arrive at correct understandings. To attempt diligent exegesis (especially with the goal of drawing out guidance for today) will probably result in reading your own agenda into Scripture and twisting it to suit your own purposes. Diligent study will only reveal–or introduce–more layers of confusing complexity.
Both groups are unlikely to see much point in a website like this. Both are likely to say, “Why waste time studying Scripture when you could be obeying its clear teachings?” One group thinks those “clear teachings” involve almost all of Scripture and the other group thinks the “clear teachings” are basically limited to the two great commandments (Matt. 22:36-40), but the result is the same: little time spent in Bible study. Why study the Bible when you can follow Jesus?
I can sympathize with both these positions, yet my understanding is different from either of them. I believe the basic gospel call–what one needs to understand to inherit eternal life–will soon be quite clear to most 1 earnest, humble Bible readers. But that is different from claiming that the whole Bible is clear. So I also believe that growth in maturity, both individually and collectively, will be immensely aided by careful, prolonged investigation of Scripture, from its tiniest atomic particles to its vast cosmic patterns. Growth in knowledge can enable growth in holiness and wholeness. Studying the Bible can help us follow Jesus.
Exegesis alone will certainly never lead to good ecclesiology. All the gifts of the Spirit are needed for the health of Christ’s church. By the grace of God I have been given some portion of the gift of being a teacher. The Church would be a sorry place if we all were only teachers! But teachers do have a role. They have been given to help “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God” (Eph. 4:12-13 ESV). This website is one way that I hope to share with the Church the gifts that God has given to me.
- But consider the Ethiopian eunuch, who needed Philip’s explanation to understand the good news about Jesus (Acts 8:30-36). ↩