Tempocentrism

Tempocentrism (thinking our own generation is always right) causes some of the same problems as ethnocentrism (thinking our own culture is always right). It makes the mistake of assuming that Bible teachers know more about God than Bible characters. Really. There are teachers who claim that Paul just didn’t get it, but that we know better now. All this without the inconvenience of being tested in Arabia, stoned, shipwrecked, flogged, or visited by the presence of Jesus.

Even our approach to interpreting the Bible is colored by our time period. Before World War II, German-speaking theologians decided that recent advances in science and scholarship qualified them to finally decide what the Gospel really meant. (As I recall, other German-speaking people in that same time period decided their intellectual status qualified them to make a few decisions about the final fate of the Jews, Gypsies and Slavs). The flaming spiritual experiences of earlier Christians was as unreal to them as the spiritual experiences of underground Christians are to us.

Talk about naivete. To slightly paraphrase Sheldon Vanauken, these theologians’ guiding principle was “the mind of the infinite God is not unlike that of a German theologian”.

The Bible says Jesus came “in the fullness of time” (Galatians 4:4). The world didn’t need to become any more sophisticated, any more educated, to become the right place for the Messiah to be born.

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