Saturday, May 31, 2008

Harmonizing Metaphors?

I was recently listening to a very well-known and respected pastor preaching on the foundation of the church, harmonizing Matthew 16:18, 1 Corinthians 3:11, and Ephesians 2:20. He argued that in all three cases, Jesus was the foundation of the church.

One of the passages clearly states it (1 Cor 3:11), one could be legitimately interpreted that way (Matthew 16:18, though I would be inclined against that view), and one seems a stretch (Ephesians 2:20, since there is a mention both a foundation of the apostles and prophets and a cornerstone which is Jesus, probably both appositional ... It seems unlikely that Jesus is both the foundation and the cornerstone in the context).

I wonder if we should not let metaphors stand on their own in their context without trying to line them up and harmonize them?

Sometimes a metaphor is used because it works in that passage, not because it works in another. And while metaphors may have similarity or identity in different context, they may not.

They are not doctrine or history that needs to be reconciled to examine a truth claim. They are a picture that helps to visually conceptualize an idea.

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