Cultural Exegesis

I often tell my students to exegete the Bible, themselves, and their culture. Otherwise, we become worldly and ineffective for ministry. See 1 John 2:15-17; Romans 12:1-2. However, I have never spelled out specifically what exegeting culture involves. I will try.

1. You look for the worldview behind films, songs, art works, and more. This does not exhaust their meaning, but it is vital, since cultural forms often speak subtly, but powerfully.
2. Continue to read and study and meditate on the Bible, since it gives you an eternal perspective on the temporal. See Psalm 119; 2 Timothyy 3:15.
3. Observe how technologies effect relationships.
4. Abstain from some popular technology for ten days. Then reflect on how this has affected you and those around you.
5. Learn the history of various cultural objects and systems, especially those pertaining to communication. Consider books like, “The Victorian Internet” and “The Shadows” treatment of Nietzsche’s use of the newly created typewriter.
6. Talk to those from cultures outside your own about their culture and how they perceive and evaluate your culture.
7. Make time and place for silence in order to set in order the experiences. of your life. See Psalm 90:12.
8. Consult your elders on matters of cultural exegesis, both inside and outside of your family. They may much more than you think.
9. Pray all the time, depending on Christ, and asking the Spirit for wisdom.

Now, do you have more ideas? Or would you like to challenge any?

Author: Douglas Groothuis

Author of Christian Apologetics, Truth Decay, On Jesus, On Pascal, and others. Professor of Philosophy, Denver Seminary since 1993. Head of The Apologetics and Ethics Masters Degree Program and Co-Director of The Gordon Lewis Center for Christian Thought and Culture. Senior Fellow for

One thought

  1. Good post, Douglas. Each of the nine ideas for cultural exegesis is important. Number one is critical. Sadly, the worldview behind much of contemporary film, music, news commentary, art, personal belief, etc. is vacuous and self-centered. This is becoming such a problem that many people have imbibed a worldview (without thinking it through) which precludes them from being able to engage in idea one at all.

    I’d add a tenth idea: one needs to understand that truth is a relationship of correspondence between thought/belief and the reality to which the thought/belief points. Without an adequate understanding of truth, a person can relativize or subjectivize the nine ways of exegesis, which turns them into mere eisegesis.

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