Shots from the canon

Craig Keener

Listening to Dr. Keener was like trying to drink from a fire hose…or a canon.

His detailed and encompassing explanation of the apostle Paul’s views of women in ministry in the New Testament was a much-welcomed canon ball for Sarah, a woman in ministry. A direct hit to the conscience was the lackadaisical way in which she often reads scripture, not always with the “fear of the Lord,” but with the fear that she might have to admit she didn’t do her devotions.

Keener is a cultural polyglot, and a sponge for language, culture and history. For Rob, he wants a canon ball to break down his cultural and historical misunderstandings and gain biblical hermeneutical clarity that his Western upbringing doesn’t always allow.

Keener has challenged us to think of Scripture as text – and we need to understand each verse in context, starting with its literary genre.

Scripture is language – and we need to dig deeper into the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek translations.

Scripture is ethnicity, time, and place. And we need all the help we can get to transport ourselves into a different time, and culture, to understand and apply the Word of God into the lives of his people in this time and culture.

Scripture is designed and written for a purpose – and we need to seek the original intention and be true to it.

Instead of proof texting and hurling misinterpreted canon balls at each other, we were challenged by one of the last things Keener said: Most of our problems with the Bible arise from what we do understand, not what we don’t.

In the “ouchiness” of this statement, because even helpful canon balls can hurt, perhaps we can embrace each other and share a holy kiss, or at least a holy handshake, or teach us whatever is most culturally appropriate for you.

Rob and Sarah Patterson
Rob is pastor at Scott Street Church, St. Catharines, Ont.
Sarah is a spiritual director

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