Wednesday, March 9, 2016

LEGACYouth: SOAP Troubleshooting (Part 1)

It’s often said in everyday Christianity how we’re to test all things carefully to the Word of God…to the authority of Christ.

But perhaps you’re like me and have wondered: what about the times when Scripture rubs off the wrong way?

First off, if you’ve ever arrived at such a roadblock, congratulations. Whatever the context, chances are you’re searching for something rooted to God’s heart. Keep going.

Secondly, while I subscribe to the concept of Biblical infallibility, I do believe mortal interpretations are vulnerable to the contrary.
Thus, when we place a translation like ‘The Message1 under the microscope, we find there’s a genuine probability of finding misunderstood phrases.

Now, I know different denominations have different takes on how this translation is used; I’m not here to get into a hermeneutical debate.

I’m just sayin’ reading the Word is just as much Spirit-reliance as much as it is a pursuit of Truth…a fair point considering…
  • …man’s inability to comprehend every biblical concept by his own strength and...
  • …the fact we must rely on the Spirit to gain understanding is evidence itself that the Scriptures are indeed infallibly authored by an omniscient Creator.

Case and point: as I delved into 1 Corinthians 13 (MSG) with LEGACYouth during a recent SOAP Bible study, I couldn't help but feel the breeze of multiple yellow flags going up once we arrived at verse 7 - “[love] puts up with anything”.

Granted, the verse is followed by an absolute in, “[love] trusts God always”; however, as we shared our observations, we simply couldn’t shake those four words prior that seemed to advocate love tolerates.

‘Cause truth is: while love "tolerates" difficult people and shortcomings under the covering of grace, this doesn't mean love simply tolerates anything. After all, love implies a moral demand which can only advocate for what is good.

Thus, we concluded since love is a constant communicator of truth (rather than a means to subjective relativism), love can’t possibly “put up with anything” if by “put up”, the translation suggests anything can be so conditionally trusted.

Now I know some of you may be thinking: you guys are just forming your own interpretations from a paraphrase. What good does that do?

Well, again, that's part of the point I'm making here.

Yes, interpretations are fallible, but this doesn’t mean the Spirit can't open our eyes2 to realize what a biblical text means and how to apply it in our every day life.

In our case, we were able to identify a questionable phrase and test it through Spirit-led discussion to conclude while some may misinterpret 1 Corinthians 13:7 (MSG) as “love tolerates”, a more accurate assessment proposes love hopes the best, expects the best…and never gives up on people even in the most darkest of times.

Moral of the story: If you’re ever reading a paraphrased translation of Scripture and hit a mental guardrail, stay the course, sound it out, submit your question to God…and seek outside counsel if necessary.


1. Personally, I don't have an issue with the 'The Message' long as it's stacked against an ESV/ASV blend...or something along those lines
2. Especially through the community of the saints (see  Colossians 1:27).

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