We compromise the gospel when we settle for truth: how “right” interpretations lead to “wrong” CONTEXTUALIZATION


  • Jackson Wu


“Why did you marry your wife?” The man confidently answered the question, “That’s easy––because she’s a woman.” It is hard to dispute the point that this man’s reply is correct. At some level, even if only a technicality, his wife’s gender is a reason why he married his wife. Though the conversation is fictional, it aptly illustrates two points. First, the question “why” can have multiple answers. Recently, I heard a small group leader ask some other Christians, “Why did you become a Christian?” One woman answered, “Because my grandmother believed in Jesus and shared with me.” However, this was not the group leader’s meaning. He was not inquiring about the circumstances on their conversion; he was asking about their heart and motives. Second, one sees that an answer may be completely true, yet it may thoroughly miss the point at hand. Among the various true words that could be said, not all are relevant to a given context. Many people have had a similar experience when studying the Bible. Someone asks about the “meaning” of a text, at which time some people immediately talk about the application of a Scripture passage, skipping over the intended message of the author in its original context.