Why Humility Makes Sense

Last time I wrote about genuine humility in Bible interpretation (click here to go there). We live in a time when there is an increasing pseudo-humility, and a decreasing genuine humility in biblical interpretation. Why does humility make sense?

Increasing Pseudo-Humility – As truth apparently becomes more personalized, people can sound increasingly gracious if that is the tone they choose (there is a militant version of it too, which is also dangerous). The gracious tone and pseudo-humility sound like this: “I can’t tell you what this means to you, but my personal interpretation, for me, is this…” If anyone ponders whether this is a humble approach to the Bible or not, they will end up thinking about the horizontal dimension. That is to say, I don’t insist that my truth must also be your truth. Horizontal.

Decreasing Genuine Humility – But what about the vertical dimension? After all, if the Bible is God’s Word, then humility in interpretation should be evaluated vertically. Beneath the shroud of pseudo-humility lies an incredible arrogance. It says: “I have sufficient knowledge of every relevant subject, and have no worries about being culturally conditioned, so that I can evaluate the content of the Bible and sit in judgment over what it should mean in the realm of ‘my truth.'”

So why does humility make sense? Three quick facts to anchor our hearts as preachers and as readers of the Bible:

1. I am not God. Seems obvious, but in a fallen world, it certainly bears repeating! What I actually know is an infinitesimally small fraction of all there is to know. I am so shaped by my environment and culture, and yet incredibly unaware of how much my values reflect that reality.

2. God is God. He always has been and always will be. He is very good at being God. (Included in this statement of the obvious, but worth stating nonetheless, is that God is a wonderful communicator…why do we think we should sit in judgment on his inspired Scriptures?)

3. God is humble. It is easy to think that God values humility in us because it serves the pride in him. Dictators demand subservience. But the Bible reveals a God to us who is anything but a demanding dictator. His other-centred, self-giving and self-sacrificing nature appreciates humility in the human heart for the right reason. It is not to crush us, it is to lift us up and embrace us. God values humility in us because it resonates with who he is.

Let us be and help others to be humble and gracious. Vertically, we sit under the teaching of God’s Word with humility. Horizontally, we can speak of the meaning of God’s Word with gracious attitudes but also with boldness. This is what our “subjective truth” world desperately needs.

Preaching to a Postmodern Culture

In his book, He is Not Silent, Al Mohler offers a no-holds barred chapter on postmodernity and preaching.  After listing a series of negative observations of the postmodern “mood” (and probably failing to recognize the positive opportunities now presented to us as preachers), he presents a series of principles for proper proclamation in a postmodern culture.  He earths his thoughts in Acts 17:

1. Christian proclamation in a postmodern culture begins in a provoked spirit (v16)
2. Christian proclamation in a postmodern culture is focused on Gospel proclamation (v17)
3. Christian proclamation in a postmodern culture assumes a context of spiritual confusion (vv18-21)
4. Christian proclamation in a postmodern cultureis directed to a spiritual hunger. (vv22-23)
5. Christian proclamation in a postmodern culture begins with the fundamental issue of God’s nature, character, power, and authority. (vv24-28)
6. Christian proclamation in a postmodern culture confronts error. (v29)
7. Christian proclamation in a postmodern culture affirms the totality of God’s saving purpose. (vv30-31)

Principles worth pondering.