Tag Archives: interpretation

94: Do Your Own Work

In this episode John and Greg to discuss a recent discussion John had with his parents around NT Wright’s book Surprised by Hope. While discussing the first chapters, John referred to some ideas Gregg has put forth.

John was surprised when his father suggested that, “It’s great that Gregg has those ideas, but you have to figure out your own ideas here.” The idea being that John needs to do his own study of the Bible. As the discussion continued, John realized that his father’s knowledge and proficiency regarding the Bible was quite pronounced. From this, John wondered: Can one become this proficient if the impetus for doing so is simply duty and obligation?

In other words, John speculates that his father’s reason for becoming so familiar with the Bible is because he wanted to and questions whether someone could become so proficient driven only by obligation or duty.

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5: When Your One Star Experience is Five Stars for Someone Else

Returning to part of our discussion in Episode #3, we delve deeper into John’s question about why people’s experiences differ.  Specifically, while John and Gregg have been mostly negative about Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman, the vast majority of Amazon reviewers have given it 5 stars (the highest review possible). How can so many people consider the book to be so good, yet we don’t?

In response we explore how our interpretation of our experiences of the world and God affect the conclusions we come to.  John wonders if religious communities allow us to have our own experience of God or if instead they try tell us how we to should feel or react to God.

Gregg explains how some painful past experiences contributed to his conclusions about God (and particularly, God’s justice).  He also notes how new experiences can expand these conclusions, but only when our goal is an honest attachment to truth (and not a need to preserve a certain self-identity).

Likewise, we discuss how to assess the difference between positive and negative responses to Not a Fan.  First, by vetting Kyle Idleman’s use of the Bible (his exegesis).  Second, by questioning readers about how their relationship with God is better after having read the book, and doing so in part by asking what truth value they have attributed to the Bible’s truth claims, and why.  We’ll be discussing what truth values and truth claims are in a future episode.

We conclude with a discussion of the value of testimony and the distinction between knowing about God (factual knowledge) versus knowing God through relationships (relational knowledge), and how these last two are reciprocal.

3: Ways We Read the Bible

In this podcast John and I discuss how the Bible can be read from a devotional perspective and from an academic perspective, and that both have advantages and disadvantages.  This led into a discussion of how he and I should reconcile the fact that we have taken a dimmer view of Kyle Idleman’s Not a Fan than other readers.

How can so many people have found the book transformative yet we found it problematic on many levels?

My view was that, while our experiences are valuable and informative, we need to examine how we interpret those experiences and the conclusions that we draw from them.  Further, where this transformation is based on biblical understandings we need to gauge the validity of these understandings against the biblical text.