Why don’t we kiss each other when we enter through the church doors? Doesn’t the Bible say, “greet one another with a holy kiss?” Not just once, but five times we are given the command. And it wasn’t just by one author, but rather by both Paul and Peter. Consider: Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26; and 1 Peter 5:14.
Are we engaging in a selective reading of the text, applying those commands we like and dismissing those which we do not? Are we simply being disobedient to the Scriptures? Are we allowing cultural insecurities or fears to lead us to ignore clear Scriptural exhortation?
Or consider head coverings? Why aren’t the women who attend our weekly services asked to cover themselves before participating in the worship service? Doesn’t 1 Corinthians 11:4-16 clearly spell out the necessity of head coverings in the corporate setting?
There are two erroneous approaches we can take when considering these and similar texts which are saturated with cultural convention:
- We can apply a really strict and literal hermeneutic that absolutely applies the text as is without much or any consideration of the context and principle embedded in the cultural convention. This is typical of some forms of historic fundamentalism.
- We can interpret the cultural convention as to effectively negate the principle which it is intended to express. This mistake is typical of many forms of liberal theology.
How can we wisely avoid either extreme in pursuing informed obedience to what God has commanded?
- Here is a helpful article by D.A. Carson dealing with this question.
- In addition, you may be interested in watching a quick video with some of Piper’s thoughts on which Scriptural commands have universal mandate.
(Thanks to Justin Taylor for alerting me to the Carson article.)