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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Knowing nothing

I've heard it often: Anglican's justifying their evangelistic approach by referring to Paul's words in 1 Cor 2:2; that is, knowing nothing but Christ and him crucified. On this they seem to restrict themselves to only laying the words on their hearers. Forget the hearer's needs, interests, and questions (oh, and the Anglicans will pontificate on which question is genuine and which is a 'red herring'), just do 'Two Ways to Live' to them.

Paul was not saying this, however, he was separating himself from the party spirit in Corinth (read ch. 1). When he spoke to pagans, he used their culture and even started from the base of God as creator (see Acts 17, as the great example of an evangelical framework).

For all their great claim to preach nothing but Christ, they miss the point, and disable a proclamation that can make contact with people!

3 comments:

Ktisophilos said...

CMI has responded to such an anti-apologist misuse of 1 Cor. 2:2 —

This is a fallacious low-context view of this passage. However, the Bible was written in a high-context society. That is, its members ‘presume a broadly shared, well-understood, or “high” knowledge of the context of anything referred to in conversation or in writing’. The authors wrote to intended readers with a certain background and expected them to be able to ‘fill in the gap’. There was no need to explain things in depth if they all had a shared, background knowledge. Conversely, we in the modern West are a ‘low-context’ society, and expect the context to be spelt out to us: ‘The obvious problem this creates for reading the biblical writings today is that low-context readers in the United States frequently mistake the biblical writings for low-context documents. They erroneously assume that the author has provided all of the contextual information needed to understand it.’1 We must read the Bible according to the author’s intention and not impose 21st-century thought forms on this.

In this case, you are reading the passage as a modern low-context letter and failing to recognize Paul’s intentional rhetorical brevity in a high-context setting. Paul did not simply ring the doorbell at Corinth and stand there mumbling, ‘Jesus Christ and him crucified’ over and over again, like a magical Hindu mantra! Rather, he had already preached to them much earlier (1 Cor. 15) and laid down the groundwork, especially about who this Jesus Christ is. This would certainly have included the groundwork of the type he explained on Mars Hill (Acts 17), where he explained that God is creator, man is a sinner, and can be saved only through Jesus who rose from the dead. In fact, Jesus Christ and Him crucified was just an abbreviated way of saying what Paul explained in more detail in ch. 15, which explicitly talks about the first Adam and the death he brought.

Ktisophilos said...

This article cited Malina, B.J. and Rohrbaugh, R.L., Social-Science Commentary on the Gospel of John, Fortress, pp. 16 ff., 1998, for the comments about high and low context.

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