#ReimagineSCRIPTURE... Text + Context + Pretext!
Phil Miglioratti
In order to reimagine disciple-making, evangelism, prayer, justice, Church,
we are driven back to and into Holy Scripture.
In order to reimagine disciple-making, evangelism, prayer, justice, Church,
we must read and respond rightly to the text, the context, and even our pretext.
• • •
If we are going to seriously pursue an obedient response to Romans 12​:2​ to “be transformed by the renewing of our minds,“ then we will have to do this on a corporate, not​ merely personal level.
For too long, disciple-making has focused solely on individuals learning what the Bible teaches; salvation history (older testament chronicles, new testament gospels), declaration prophecy (major and minor prophets), worshipful poetry (Psalms, Song of Songs), practical theology (epistles). Even in an all-the-church gathering, preaching and prayers target individual response to scriptural admonitions. And there is nothing wrong in that. Except what it fails to address.
The Church must begin afresh to apply the admonition of Romans 12:2 to the corporate obedience of the gathered community. Leadership must also have a disciple making strategy for the various ministries of the congregation. A reviewing and revising of every ​small group, age-focused activity, missional initiative by the renewing of our minds;  a true reset of how we think about the purpose and plan of every component of church life.

Renewing our minds does not mean reimagining from our own imaginations. It means pursuing a ​​Spirit​-led, ​Scripture​-​fed assessment of every division and department​,​ system and structure of how ​t​h​is expression of the Body of Christ is organized​ and operational​.
  • ​Worship
  • Fellowship
  • Discipleship
  • Leadership
  • Stewardship
  • Citizenship​

In order to see how God might  us to  re-shap e the church, we must  re -e xamine (for many the first time)   how to fellowship with God in praise and prayer, how to grow in discipleship with Christ as we live-out the truths and teachings of scripture together in service, how to grow in leadership and stewardship by serving through our spiritual giifting and calling, 

This  reimagine-Scripture assessment requires three  difficult disciplines.

  1. First, o​u​r foundation ​mu​st always be the​ biblical​ text​.
    • Our mind must be refreshed and renewed by the Holy Spirit's guidance through Holy Scripture
    • ​Read it. Pray it. Discuss to discern it.
    • Repeat. ​
  2. Secondly, our focus must ​discern the​ context​.​
    • ​Interpret the scripture passage (word, phrase, verse, story) with an understanding of the biblical context
      • Translation: what does it say?
    • ​Research both biblical context​ of the text and the sociological context of that time *who, what, where, when, why?)
      • Instruction:  what is the author's original purpose of this content?
      • Application: what was the author's hoped-for outcome, action-step? 
        • Remember and Return?
        •  Repent (change direction: "do not be conformed; be transformed")?
  3. Thirdly, our framework must consider​ how our current perspective acts as a pretext.​.
    • The application/implementation process must be based on the text but is always lived-out in our context.
      • Our current vantage point of both personal needs and societal issues; these trials and troubles invariably influence our thinking (and even our translating).
      • Are we safe and secure or hungry and in danger (personal, neighborhood)? Are we represented in the corridors of power? Are we majority or minority?
    • Become aware of the ideas that have influenced your worldview.
      • Everyone ​has a distinct worldview​ that shapes  how they think, perceive, react to the world and in their surroundings.
      • This impacts our understanding of truth, application of our values, and implementation of our resources and activities.
      • "A worldview is a collection of attitudes, values, stories and expectations about the world around us, which inform our every thought and action​...and is expressed in ethics, religion, philosophy, scientific beliefs and so on (Sire, 2004). A worldview is how a culture works out in individual practice." (Dictionary)
      • ​Assess how your collection of traditions, ​experiences​, preferences, presuppositions,, ​even political leanings​,​ influence (or infect) your​ operating system.​ 
        • Then assess how your worldview informs how you reimagine-Scripture; translating, interpreting, applying.
      • Doctrine is not a worldview but ​biblical ​truths and teachings must inform and influence every component of our personal perspective (ideology-framework, mind-set, value-system, culture-code)​.​
    • Re​cognize​ how your world and your worldview ​are at work ​when you chart the course of your journey of ​reading-researching-studying-​living out the Word of God.​

I have sought your face with all my heart;

    be gracious to me according to your promise.

I have considered my ways

    and have turned my steps to your statutes.

I will hasten and not delay

    to obey your commands   ​   ​   Psalm 119:58-60 

Th​e sacred writings​...​are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.​ ​
Everything in the Scriptures is God’s Word. 
All of it is useful for teaching and helping people and for correcting them and showing them how to live. 
The Scriptures train God’s servants to do all kinds of good deeds. ​​            ​          2 Timothy 3:15-17 ESV/CEV


  • ​Read this text. Review additional translations. Write your own paraphrase
  • Romans 12:2:  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.  NIV
  • Do not be shaped by this world; instead be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect.  CEV​
  • And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. NASB
  • Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.  CSB
  • Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how his ways will really satisfy you.  TLB
  • Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.​ ESV​
  • Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity. JBP

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Additional Commentary. . .Resources. . . Replies

  • A major motivation in writing this commentary is the need for the Church to make disciples who know how to "read" the Bible.

    It has been my observation many who believe it to be the the inspired, inerrant, infallible, Word of God unknowingly assume their reading of Holy Scripture is also inspired, inerrant, infallible.

    The point of the article above is to remind us that:

    • The original inspiration of scripture is confined to the original autographs. The text we read to day is VERY close but it is not the original parchment (or tablet!).
      • "God has transmitted his very substance into every Scripture, for it is God-breathed. It will empower you by its instruction and correction, giving you the strength to take the right direction and lead you deeper into the path of godliness."   2 Timothy 3:16
    • We must approach scripture interpretation and personal/corporate application with a humble reliance upon the leading of the Holy Spirit.
      • Our presuppositions-preferences-prejudices combine to give each of us a distinct perception that influences how we interpret and then how we apply what we read.

    We can trust the Holy Spirit to give us a trustworthy understanding of Holy Scripture but only as we yield and listen to the Spirit's voice, often through other voices in the Body of Christ.

    Read. Humbly.

  • Quote from Scot McKnight:

    "Everyone reads the Bible from a location, a context.

    And everyone reads that Bible for their own context.

    It’s impossible not to.

    The ones who don’t know these truths are the ones most dangerous to church and society.

    To think we are unimpacted by location and that our location does not preform our eyes to see one thing and not another weaponizes the Bible on behalf of one location."


    Originally posted >>>

    Stony the Road Remains
    Everyone reads the Bible from a location, a context. And everyone reads that Bible for their own context. It’s impossible not to. It’s just as imposs…
  • Know the difference between biblical absolutes, spiritual convictio...

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    There is a difference between a biblical absolute, a spiritual conviction, and a personal opinion. It’s important to know the difference and not misapply them. This chart defines the three terms and explains how they differ.

      Source Characteristics Proper attitude Example
    Biblical absolute The Bible God’s eternal, objective truth applicable to everyone I embrace this and I encourage you to embrace it too. Thou shalt not steal.
    Personal conviction The Holy Spirit’s conviction and leadership A personal conviction that I should follow  I embrace this personal conviction but I don’t expect you to. We send our children to private, Christian school.
    Personal opinion and preference Self A personal preference I have personal preferences, but I’m also willing, at times, to yield to your preferences. I prefer traditional worship, but I know many people prefer contemporary worship, so let’s offer both.  

    There are several ways to misapply these terms.

        1. Sometimes, we call something a biblical absolute when it is not. Ex: “Christians should not drink alcohol.” There is no biblical prohibition for drinking alcohol. It may be your spiritual conviction, but it’s not a biblical absolute. We misrepresent God and confuse people when we label something as sin that the Bible doesn’t. 
        1. Sometimes, we erroneously elevate a spiritual conviction to the level of biblical absolute. Ex: “You must have a daily quiet time.” This is certainly a good idea, but it’s a spiritual conviction, not a biblical absolute. Don’t suggest that God will be displeased at me if I don’t have a daily quiet time.
        1. While it’s good and normal to have personal preferences, at times we may need to hold them loosely and yield to the preferences of others. We should acknowledge and accept other people’s preferences. 

    Consider each of these statements. Is it a biblical absolute, spiritual conviction, or personal preference?

    1. Do not speak unwholesome words.   
    2. We should sing only hymns in church.   
    3. Forgive one another.    
    4. I like living in the country.   
    5. We should sing only praise choruses at church.    
    6. I’m going to read my Bible every morning before I go to work.    
    7. I would rather spend my extra money on nice clothes than a nice car.    
    8. It’s important for a church to have Sunday night services.    
    9. Be completely gentle.    
    10. We feel strongly that our children should attend public school.     
    11. Encourage one another.    
    12. I’m going to participate in the anti-abortion rally.
    13. On my day off, I enjoy solitude.   

    Numbers 1,3,9 and 11 are directives from the Bible, so they are nonnegotiable. Numbers 6,10 and 12 are spiritual convictions. The remaining statements are preferences. 

    Know when to hold tight to your persuasions and when to hold them loosely.

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    I TAUGHT THEOLOGY AND BIBLE COURSES for many years at the college level. In each one, I shared precepts, propositions, and conclusions with certainty and conviction. Even so, those courses would look VERY different if I were asked to teach them today.
    Question: Why?
    Answer: My presuppositions have changed.
    Major changes in belief require, first of all, a change in foundational presuppositions.
    Presuppositions are assumptions we all make, without empirical evidence or proof, upon which our beliefs and convictions depend. Any argument we make, any explanation we offer arises from and depends upon our underlying presuppositions.
    The most obvious example is what we presuppose about the existence of God. We may be convinced of our assumption in that area, but it cannot be proven by empirical means and in categorical terms. It is a presupposition.
    Our beliefs about God's relationship to the world depend on whether we think of God's nature as mainly loving or mainly judging.
    And what if we regard the Bible less as a collection of infallible theological propositions and more as a collection of writings that enable the right kind of conversations because they describe the earnest efforts of people to understand and relate to God?
    And what about the early church? Was it an archetype for successive generations to emulate? Or did it begin as an infant that has grown and changed over the centuries?
    When it comes to what we believe, where we start determines where we end up. Presuppositions matter.
    It often takes some major change in circumstances--might we say trauma--to bring us to the place where we seriously consider the validity of our underlying presuppositions.
    This explains why some people change and others, with similar backgrounds, do not. The former experience some sort of trauma--could be intellectual, emotional, or material--that reveals the flaws in their foundation. The latter never do.
    That was certainly true for me. The significant changes I have experienced and am now trying to explain to all who will listen started with a traumatic change in my circumstances that led to the transformation of my foundational presuppositions.
    As they say, we change when knowledge makes us want to and pain makes it necessary.
    Peace and all good.
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