Many of us are somewhat well versed in the format of Western exegesis (A fancy word for Bible study). While you might think I am referring to Western Biblical scholarship, I am not. I am referring to the typical Bible believing North American Christian. We may not all have Biblical training, but if you have been a Christian for a while, you have already started to develop your own exegetical hermeneutic. That’s right, you are brilliant.
One problem with this typical pattern is that while the scholarship is excellent in the West, and God has worked His plan through our understanding of scripture, we can miss magnificent truths, and examples of life, love and God through our cultural paradigm. Often our Western way of thinking about things can cause us to pass right over unbelievably amazing stories of God’s grace.
I remember teaching an Introduction to the Bible class for first year college students. It was an amazing class. The Bible came alive for many of the students. While I was discussing the ramifications of the time period and culture of the Bible, one student said bluntly about the people of the Bible, “They are so weird.” While I backtracked to try and bring a certain level of unity between their humanity and ours to the discussion, it dawned on me. “You are right! They are weird!”…. But I guess we are pretty weird to people from different cultures too.”.
I have been able to discuss culture with enough people that have traveled from other parts of this world to the West, to know that we Westerner’s do look weird. Maybe not to ourselves, but to others we sure do. This is part of the issue with Bible study; those people were weird, and similar all at the same time.
When you read and study the Bible, it would be an amazing thing to have people from other cultures in the room with you. The amazing truths that you may not have discovered about God may be birthed in that study. It’s time we globalize exegesis. But we must be willing to learn things that might be very uncomfortable to our traditional Western ways.