Friday, August 11, 2006

Profound Spiritual Insights

I don't know how many people today are familiar with Charles H. Spurgeon. Basically, he was a fairly well-known preacher of the late 1800's, whose writings and sermons are still popular among some Christians today (generally those who lean right of center, although I hasten to add that this is not in and of itself a reason to distrust him. It's just that conservatives are more likely to appreciate scholars from earlier eras than more liberal Christians.) Although his writings and sermons are generally praised for their level of devotion and inspiration, Spurgeon himself suffered from depression, and many of his writings deal with his struggles to allow God to work through him despite his own human weakness.

I was given a copy of Spurgeon's work Morning and Evening as a gift upon my graduation from college in 1996. Every once in a while I still pull it down to look at it. Here's a quote from the dust jacket: "Each of the 732 devotions [in the book] - one for every morning and evening of the year - provides inspiring meditations on portions of Scripture drawn from every book in the Bible."

Here's the Scripture reference for this evening: "Everlasting consolation" - 2 Thess. 2:16

(rant)

That's not a Scripture reference! I can't even call that a "portion." That's two words lifted out of a verse that might just as well be chosen by a blind chimpanzee!

And THIS guy has been legendary for over 150 years!??!?!?!

(end rant)

I suppose it must be true that God works through us and in spite of us. Spurgeon's devotional on those two words are indeed profound, and I certainly cannot find any theological errors or heresies in it.

But such practice violates the most basic teachings I was given on how to interpret Scripture. One needs context, first and foremost. One can't (or, at least, is generally told not to) take just a couple of words at random from the Scripture and write a devotional on them! Yet that seems to be exactly what happens here.

God works in mysterious ways....

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