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Matthew 6:24 (King James Version)/ 24No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

In response to a question, 'mammon' has roots in Aramaic and its exact origins are unclear in all respects. It is believed to refer to materialism and greed. Early writers often used the term to imply a god of money or acquisition.

A clearer translation might be - "No one can serve two masters; for they will hate the one or love the other; or else hold to one and despise the other. A person cannot serve God and Materialism."

It speaks to the motivations of the individual and things that are held valued as a result of the motivation. An old Native American story illustrates the concept. An elder explained to a child that each person has inside of them two natures:the human and the wolf. The human loves and works. The wolf hunts and destroys. "Which one will a person become?" asked the child. "The one that is fed."

Every person makes a decision at some time or another as to who they will value. What will motivate them. As the old song goes, "You gotta serve somebody...."



I was following a conversation thread online and was entertained by a random comment about someone taking a hermeneutics class. Immediately someone dived in to talk about how that was boring and how the process of hermeneutics got in the way of listening to a sermon and created a critical spirit. They just wanted the spirit of God to have freedom to move.... They, so they claimed, had no hermeneutic.

I was reminded of those who claim they have no 'creed but Christ' but never realize they have just defined a creed.

How disastrous is it that we 1) believe a hermeneutic interferes with a sermon; 2) believe a hermeneutic hinders the move of God; and 3) believe a hermeneutic creates a critical spirit.

1) Believe a hermeneutic interferes with a sermon
Politicians have been stereotyped for a particular style of campaigning that promised a "chicken in every pot." The constitution says Americans should be free to pursue life, liberty and happiness. Happiness is a cook pot with chicken and so therefore.... This tangled logic is akin to the nature of many sermons preached devoid of any attempt at a hermeneutic. Is that really what the text says? Who has preached without a sound application hermeneutics? Jim Jones, David Koresh, and any of a dozen other leaders of cult groups. there a connection there between a lack of a sound hermeneutic and straying into what a previous generation termed "error'"?

2) Believe a hermeneutic hinders the move of God
Is this the same God who inspired Bible writers to say all things in worship should be done decently and in order? Even with the interpretation of scripture through a pentecostal or charismatic lens there is an expectation of order and knowledge (when the Spirit fell at Pentecost, Peter was able to preach a sermon and the see many added to the newly born congregation) and never is there any indication that such a blessing is accompanied by uncontrollable, wild, or outlandish actions. Indeed, the move of God is always accompanied by a call to 'test the fruit', to 'reason together', and to 'remember the first things.'

3) Believe a hermeneutic creates a critical spirit.
The largest hazard in churches today mirrors that of the larger culture and is an inability or unwillingness to apply rationale thought or simple thinking skills. We believe whatever we are told, no matter how bizarre, illogical or evil that thing may be. People have accepted preaching that said rape your children, marry your daughters, have sex with other partners, use drugs, and even take this poison and die. Is anyone really naive enough to believe that others preaching - minus a sound hermeneutic - might lead others astray? They might not go to those extremes, but sometimes, history has shown us, those extreme examples were birthed in a free and easy approach to scripture that went unchallenged.

God gave to us a brain - for a reason - and that reason was to learn, to search, to question, to evaluate, and understand. Truth can never be destroyed by the searchlight of examination, the Spirit of God can never be quenched by evaluating the spirits present, and a sermon can never be damaged by a hearers weighing its content and message against the totality of scripture.


Noel Brooks: A Life Shining and Burning, 1914-2006



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