The Real Plasticity of the Text

The Reverend Doctor Jeffery Kloha has been pilloried for asserting the plasticity of the New Testament text.  I don’t agree in general with his paper that makes the argument and I don’t agree with how he reaches the following conclusion, but he is right.  People have a “plug and play” (My illustration and words not his.) mentality in regard to the Scriptures which is I can take God’s commands and promises given to anyone in any situation and plug them into my situation without violating Scripture and while still having all of God’s power (8-9).

This error is the turning point of the following joke. A man breaks into a house, and an old woman confronts him from behind saying Acts 2:38.  He throws down his weapon and gives up. The cop latter asks him why he gave up upon hearing Acts 2:38.  “Did you know that the verse says, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins?” “What?” He responded in surprise. “I thought she said I have and ax and two .38’s.”

But it’s not only in the realm of jokes we find this sort of skewed thinking. Field & Stream, April 2014 has this quote from a professional turkey hunting guide in response to the question “What he does that others don’t?”  “’Read and heed the Bible. Acts 10:13 tells us, ‘Arise; kill and eat.’ It doesn’t say sit around and wait. I’m an aggressive turkey hunter, I try to anticipate a tom’s movements and quickly get myself right to the spot where he wants to be’” (51).

He wasn’t joking, but he is laughable, and it’s downright lamentable when we find this sort of Scripture twisting and teasing in church bodies.  The Lutheran Church Misery Synod is very “good” at doing this bad thing.  Remember “ABLAZE!”?  We took Paul’s admonition to Pastor Timothy to “rekindle the gift of God” that was in him by the laying on of Paul’s hands and founded a fund raising campaign on it.  You might say we razed Scripture to raise funds.

The text is not plastic because of its human side, Kloha’s argument, anymore than Jesus was sinful, or even able to sin, because of His human side. The Word of God is made plastic when men mold and shape it as they would Luther’s famous waxen nose by plugging any Word in anywhere and playing the tune they want to hear.


About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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