No Biblical Text Is An Island
Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting the island of Malta. What an amazing experience that was. I really enjoyed it. It was so wonderful on a whole number of levels" the people, the architecture, the climate, the geography, the language, the sea. Great all the way around.
Now, I enjoy islands. I have always been fascinated by islands. I am personally much more comfortable in Jerusalem at 2,500 feet above sea level, but I have fond memories of some trips to islands. I remember going to Maui once when I was about eight and I loved that trip. I hope to go again to visit Hana in Maui again one day.
So my recent experiences have helped me a little bit I think to put some of my own Biblical studies in perspective and it gives a good opportunity perhaps for some teaching.
Now, on my recent trip to Malta, I was very interested to learn that Malta (the country) is in fact made up of several islands. I know this because when I visited Malta, I spent most of my time in Gozo. Now, most people who have never visited Malta have never heard of Gozo because Gozo is a smaller island just to the west of the main island of Malta.
Now the people who live in Gozo are just as much Maltese as those who live on the main island of Malta, but rest assured they are very different people. They are much more conservative and more religious in fact. But, here is a point that I think we can all relate to.
The point is, if you wish to understand Malta, you would not for one minute think that arriving in the airport on Malta, getting in a taxi, driving to the ferry and crossing to Gozo, spending two weeks in Gozo travelling up and down and talking to people all over Gozo and then think after that, that you could just return to the airport and come home and tell all your friends that you now understand everything about Malta? Hardly.
One could say the exact same thing about the Hawaiian islands. Maui and Oahu are different in some cases different as daylight and dark.
Let's not stop there.
I have also visited Cyprus before. It is another beautiful island in the Mediterranean. However, were a person to only visit a certain part of Cyprus (the southern part) they might only get a certain part of the story of what life on Cyprus is like. Why is this? It is because the northern end of Cyprus is a separate republic politically linked to Turkey, so one could visit northern Cyprus and get a whole different point of view on what life on Cyprus is like.
Now, islands are beautiful and wonderful, but we can see I think that visiting an island (or a group of islands) has many issues connected to it if we wish to develop an accurate understanding of the individual island itself or a collection of islands.
Now, how does all of this relate to the Bible and to our understanding of it? Very much if we just have "eyes to see" and "ears to hear."
Using an "Island" oriented approach to Biblical understanding
So, now let's look at an example of how potentially dangerous this whole issue of this kind of limited approach of compartmentalization (like visiting an island) can be when we talk about the Bible. Unfortunately, this type of approach to the Bible is so common and widespread, but be warned of these types of practitioners of "island theology". What they may be teaching may be fine, but we need to make sure that we are getting the whole picture of life on the island and not just being directed to a small corner of the island and being told that this is all we need to know about that island.
The "Spanking" texts in Proverbs and an "island" mentality among many Biblical interpreters when it comes to them
Now, most of you reading this post will have encountered well intentioned Christian interpreters of the Bible who will home in a few Bible texts in the book of Proverbs (10:13, 13:24, 19:18, 22:15, 23:13,14 and 29:15) as their main authorities for their approaches to child rearing and for the absolute necessity to follow the face value information in these texts according to how they interpret them for you the reader.
Now, this approach really resembles someone who visits Hawaii (the subject of child rearing in the Bible), goes directly to Hana, Maui (these texts in Proverbs) and leaves and then thinks that they know everything there is to know about Hawaii (biblical child rearing).
I think we can all see how potentially dangerous, reckless and in fact ridiculous this potentially is. Let's look a little deeper into the whole subject of Hawaii (child rearing in the Bible) by taking a fuller trip around all the Hawaiian Islands (the entire Bible) to help us develop a more accurate picture of this subject.
For more information on the subject of corporal punishment/spanking/smacking in the context of the Bible, please download my free ebook here - whynottrainachild.com/2013/06/22/download-martins-book/