A Scandalous Hermeneutic

When I speak to audiences I try not to preach to the choir. If my audience is conservative, I'll say progressive things. If my audience is progressive, I'll say conservative things.

I am sort of that way on the blog as well, as I'll tweak progressives as well as conservatives. I don't know if I leave many blog readers completely comfortable.

Basically, if I'm speaking to you I try not to play to your biases. I'll try to make you uncomfortable. And if my audience is mixed, I'll work to make sure everyone leaves feeling on the hook.

Much of this, if I'm honest, is a contrarian streak in my personality. I don't like doing or saying what is expected. But the theological impulse behind what I'm doing is that I don't think you've heard the gospel--the part that involves taking up your cross--unless you've been offended to some degree.

I don't mean offended as in shocked by something you deem uncouth or distasteful. I mean offended in that you've encountered a "stone of stumbling," a call of the gospel that seems foolish or scandalous.

This is the scandalous hermeneutic I use when I speak: Where is the offense of the gospel for this particular audience?

Where does the gospel trip you up? What part of "taking up your cross" are you refusing to obey?

I don't beat my audience over the head with this scandal, but once I identify the "stone of stumbling" I do make sure it comes up at least once in the talk.

Whenever I speak, at least for a moment, I'd like for your to experience an uncomfortable pinch.

You're hearing the gospel, after all, and it's going to make you wince "Ouch."

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