Four Year Old Theology

I should be back to a normal routine of blogging this week. I had hoped to put up a pastor's perspective on Halloween, but did not have the time or energy to put it all together in a brief form. Perhaps next year. Today I want to share the best part of my day so far. I was in my study reading a chapter from The Suffering Savior, and after finishing it I fell asleep in my very old, very ugly, very comfortable brown chair. My daughter came in, woke me up and asked what I was reading - the dark blue book in my lap. I told her, and she asked what chapter. I said, "It's called the Sword and The Cup." Man, that sounds like a part of the LoTR trilogy. Anyway, she asked me to tell her about it. And I was once again telling my four year old part of the redemption story; this time about Jesus' arrest, Peter's violent response, and Jesus' gracious, healing act toward Malchus and his submission to ungodly men.

I am finding that telling the redemption story to my four year old not only forces me to focus on the details that matter, but also to think devotionally. Not just what happened, but why did these things happen, and how should we respond to them. Telling the story I had been reading/contemplating brought out the fullness of the discipline of study. In fact putting together theology for my for year old itself is a great spiritual discipline.

This all reminded me of what Grant Osborne wrote in his book, The Hermeneutical Spiral. He explains that interpretation has three interdependent levels: Exegesis - the meaning of the text, Devotion - the application of the text to self, and Sermon - telling the meaning/application of the text to others. As evangelicals we tend to focus on the first level. We do this with good reason - without it all is a subjective mess. Yet it alone is not enough. Of course to jump from the first to the third level (without application to self) makes us hypocrites. But I think we most often hit the exegesis and the devotion and conclude that we have done the work God expects of us. Here Osborne points out, "to ignore the third [level] is to remove the other biblical imperative that the divine revelation must be shared as the good news, not kept to oneself for personal gratification."

We are not done in the task of hermeneutics, our study of God, or in our devotional life until we have allowed the truth to both permeate our hearts and spring from our mouths.