In Luke 14:26, Jesus says, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” At first glance, that seems to be a contradiction to the Bible’s overwhelming message of love. In fact, that would be such a strong contradiction that even if someone rejects the inerrancy of the Bible, that quote alone should drive him to think that there is more to the context. So, let’s consider some context.
The most popular approach Ezekiel’s temple throughout Church history has been to spiritualize the text and make the temple represent the Church. The cause of this approach is an early influence of Origen from the Alexandrian school of thought. While the Second Council of Constantinople properly declared Origen a heretic, the Church failed to address his approach to Scriptures, such that elements of his hermeneutics would remain for centuries to come. Pavel Ivanovich Savvaitov, a 19th century professor at Vologda Spiritual Seminary, critiques Origen’s hermeneutic circle:
Lev Tolstoy is regarded as one of the best novelists ever. He was born in 1828, raised in the Russian Orthodox Church, and excommunicated in 1901. Surely there have been others who abandoned Orthodox thinking to a degree much worse than Tolstoy, but usually such people disappear into ambiguity without their thoughts being recorded. Tolstoy, on the other hand, left behind some of the world’s most epic works along with diaries and even posthumous publications that tell us where things went wrong.
Have you ever seen a conversation like this take place between two believers?
Believer 1: How is life going, Believer 2?
Believer 2: Oh, life is terrible! My dog left me and I stepped on a LEGO. Things will never get better. Blah blah blah.
Believer 1: Oh no. Be encouraged! The Bible says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Believer 2: Oh, wow! You’re right! Everything is just swell. I think I’ll ride off into the sunset now.
Believer 1 has just quoted Jer 29:11. If we look at the context of this passage, I think we’ll find that he has actually misused this particular verse (though, I’m sure his intentions were good).
Now, Jer 29:11 is a source of encouragement for many believers and I don’t want to rob anyone of encouragement. So, I have compiled a list of three reasons why we should rejoice that this passage is not about us. If Jer 29:11 was indeed about us, then:
When I was in High School, I took an architecture class that I especially enjoyed. We got to use paper, right angles, compasses, and other cool instruments that architects use along with our knowledge of geometry to solve whatever problems the teacher presented to us. Often the problems involved taking limited information and using it to extract other information. He would always say the same thing:
Use what you know to find what you don’t know.
That’s some solid advice. Once we establish that something is true, we can use it to make sense of things that we don’t know or don’t understand. The applications of this advice go far beyond High School architecture; it’s essentially how we progress in science and technology. It is also a fundamental concept to interpreting documents, whether they be laws, historical records, or even the Bible.