Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Try these spectacles

Following my previous post, I also reflect how my own understanding of Malachi has changed as I have studied it.

This is a good example of how much your system affects your reading of a particular text.

As I have appreciated more postmillenialism, paedofaith, the Reformed view of the Law, so I see things in Malachi that I didn't see before:
  • the hope of 1:5, 1:11, 1:14 etc.
  • the expectation of godly offspring in marriage, 2:15
  • the contemporary relevance of the tithing challenge in 3:8-10
  • the possibility of material blessing in 3:10-12, without falling into a prosperity gospel.

The point of this post is not to argue for those things, but to emphasise how important it is to be aware of your own system. My current view of Malachi is the result of an interplay between my closer study of the text itself and my evolving systematic outlook. I must be cautious not to read my system into everything I see, in order that particular texts can still challenge my inconsistencies and errors.

The answer is not some supposed zone of neutrality or coming to the texts without preconceptions: that is dishonest and impossible. The more clearly I can articulate my system to myself and others, the more aware I will be of the danger points where system overrides text.

There's an argument for spending time on systematic theology.

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