So we all think we’re biblical when we preach. But how good are we at handling the Bible. Yesterday I suggested five questions to ask in pursuing feedback on this matter – questions on observing the text closely, interpreting in context, awareness of historical background issues, grasping the flow of thought in a passage, and accurate interpretation of the details. Having asked about context issues, let’s continue with questions relating to content, before returning to broader biblical context questions:
6. How sensitive am I to the tone of the author? Do I treat the text as an ancient data dump, or have I tapped into the actual tone of the author? Am I sensitive to his mood, his intent, his heart beating in the words that he wrote?
7. How appropriately do I point to the weightier details of the passage? Every passage consists of details, and some are weightier than others. Do I spend my time where it matters, or do I get bogged down with subsidiary details?
8. How aware am I of the earlier texts that feed into this passage? If a passage is quoted, am I aware of that passage? If a passage is alluded to or influential on the writer, do I seem aware of that?
9. How well do I place this passage in the full panorama of Scripture? This differs from question 8 because that was only looking at what had come before. This question is asking about the whole canon, all of it. Am I alert to where this passage fits in the progress of revelation? Do I make sure that this passage is preached appropriately for today?
10. How good is my summary of the passage, really? I suppose we should ask if there was a summary statement of the passage . . . but assuming there is, how is it? Does it reflect the nuances and uniquenesses of the passage, or is it too generic? Does it capture the heart of the passage? Would it get a knowing nod from the author as an accurate summary of his intended meaning?
Finding people who could give you feedback on these ten questions could make the difference between you being self-aware and being self-deceived. Don’t be naive. Try to find out how well you are handling the Bible, honestly. Then let’s all grow more and more as preachers of the Word!