A Pirate’s Guide to Lutheran Bible Interpretation
1. The LAW makes ye feel keelhauled. The GOSPEL makes ye feel like LAND-HO!
- Lutheran pirates read the Bible with awareness of law and gospel.
- The law is the part of Scripture that makes us aware of our need for grace. The law makes us aware of our tendency to MUTINY (our brokenness).
- Grace is the part of Scripture that shows us how God heals and forgives our mutinous tendencies and works to heal us from them.
- The law is not “bad” and grace is not “good”. They go together.
- The wise Lutheran pirate knows that law can be found in calm waters (in the gospels and in other places) and gospel can be found in stormy seas (in hard passages to read and understand).
2. marks the spot.
- The pirate’s Bible is a Jesus book. It’s not for recipes or instructions for swabbing the deck. It doesn’t show how to use the stars for navigation or which kind of fish are okay to eat.
- The Lutheran pirate looks at the whole Bible with a Jesus lens. The parts of the Bible that precede the Gospels reveal God’s character and what pirates (people) are like. These writings help the faithful pirate understand God’s history and navigation plan for God’s crew. Jesus is the eternal First Mate who was sent to set the crew and any would-be pirates back on the right course.
3. Use yer Bible to understand yer Bible.
- Non-pirates refer to this as “Scripture interprets Scripture.”
- This means that when a pirate is confused, she uses the whole Bible to figure out what to do, not just one verse all by itself.
- For example, the Bible says, “Slaves, obey your human masters with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ.” Eph. 6:5
If the Bible says this, be it lawful for the pirate ship to keep some swabbies around with no pay, even with pretty good hardtack? Can the cap’n own them?
- Other parts of the Bible discuss loving mercy (Micah 6:8), doing unto others as you would have them do to you (Matthew 7:12), and following the law of love (Romans 13:8-9). The Lutheran pirate sees that the larger view of the Bible does not favor holding captives and enslaving them.
4. Thar be NO secret treasures in them thar stories.
- The Lutheran pirate looks for the plain meaning of the text.
- He might need some context for a story or a cultural frame of reference to help.
- However, there are not secret treasure maps hidden in Jesus’ parables. The story of the prodigal son is about a landlubber with 2 ungrateful crew members and their actions. You don’t have to be a Lutheran pirate to understand the story at its plainest meaning. You don’t even have to be a pirate.
- The pirate uses common sense when reading her Bible. A miracle is a miracle. A parable is a story. An event is a memory or a retelling from people who knew people who were there. Pirates might disagree, but that’s no reason to divide the crew. There are metaphors AND literal actions.
5. Avast! Ye need a crew!
- Lutheran pirates don’t keep their Bibles in their bunks and never talk about them.
- A good captain encourages pirates to read their Bibles at home AND during crew meetings. No pirates should read the Bible alone and expect to come to an (a)vastly personal revelation of the Big Captain (God) speaking only to them through a Scripture.
- A personal reading of Scripture can move a pirate! However, yer Bible is the same words that have been given to all pirates. There’s no special messages for just ye!
- That’s why a crew (a group or congregation) matters for public interpretation. Pirates weigh their experience and learning of Scripture within and against the community experience where Jesus, First Mate and Pirate Pioneer, has promised to join them!
Now yer ready to read that Bible! Swab the poop deck first, pirate!