Sunday, August 31, 2008

Tri-Perspectival Preachers

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If you didn't go look at the introduction to Tim Keller and his sermon notes over at Josh  Harris' page, you missed a terrific observation by Tullian Tchividjian (pictured at right), the pastor at New City Presbyterian Church.  He is introducing the preaching of Tim Keller, but the observations he makes about the three ways that preachers must apply every text is extremely helpful. 

To be a great preacher, one needs to be tri-perspectival in their exegesis. That is, they need to be committed to the exegesis of the Bible, the exegesis of our culture, and the exegesis of the human heart. Some preachers claim that if you exegete the Bible properly, you don't need to bother yourself with the exegesis of our culture or the human heart. The problem with this view, however, is that the Bible itself exhorts us to apply Biblical norms to both our lives and to our world.

As a preacher myself, I benefit greatly from listening to a wide variety of preachers. In some cases I learn what to do, and in other cases I learn what not to do. But in every case, I learn something. Some preachers teach me how to be a better exegete of the Bible. Others teach me how to be a better exegete of our culture. And still others teach me how to be a better exegete of the human heart.

I had never heard of exegeting the human heart, but I think that it is an extremely helpful term.  Oh, I have DONE it, but I have never seen in that tri-perspective before. 

5 comments:

Nicholas Z. Cardot said...

Same here. I have never before heard of that term but it really is sound advice. Thanks for sharing this.

Cal Habig said...

And thank YOU Nicholas for commenting!!

Nigel R said...

Someone help me...how are the last two different? In exegeting the culture am I not exegeting the human heart as culture comes from a collection of human hearts operating a certain way? Perhaps an example?...Thanks

Nigel R said...

OK I've just seen that the post is nearly 2 years old... This is how far behind everything I usually am!

Cal Habig said...

Nigel-I think your answer is in your questions. You state "In exegeting the culture am I not exegeting the human heart as culture comes from a collection of human hearts operating a certain way?"

In one sense, yes, but not every human heart or every element of an individual's heart is reflected in the culture. I need to do it both with the live, real person in front of me and in the broad streams of culture.

Understanding, what is behind what this person is saying or doing, what words are they using, what experiences do they bring to the table can be significantly different from what is behind the movements and thought patterns prevalent in our culture. What forces have shaped the way our culture thinks and behaves today? What terms are important and why?

There is also an element of group think. I see over and over how a group can function as almost an independent entity from the individual members. A group can be made up predominantly of nice, generally moral people but as a group make decisions that are horrific. As an extreme example, my understanding is that the leaders of the Third Reich were family men who were good neighbors and personally very moral. But when they got in the group the decisions they made (partly because of Hitler and partly because of the unstated pressure of group expectations) were horrific on a personal level, a cultural level, a national level and a world level. You would need to exegete them personally as well as the group of which they were a part.

That is probably a lousy example since it is so removed from the world in which most of us live, but when I have used examples in other discussions recently (such as health care executives) people can't see the point for the emotional discussions currently going on.

Further thoughts?

(Thanks for checking in, whether it is the latest post or not!!)

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