Loosing Your Donkey for Jesus

Once in a discussion on the Bible with a friend, I made the comment that not every verse in the Bible applies to us today. In my attempt to assuage my friend’s shock, I then made an appeal to what I thought would be a rather uncontroversial example, to wit, Matt. 21:2 where Jesus told the disciples to loose the donkey (actually two donkeys) and bring it (them) to Him. I reasoned with my friend that surely Jesus is not telling me to loose a donkey somewhere and bring it to Him. But over the years, after having been subjected to many sermons in various churches, I began to suspect that somewhere in a number of pulpits there have been sermons preached with the title “Have You Loosed Your Donkey for Jesus?” In it, the preachers moralize the text (in violation of sound principles of hermeneutics), doing violence to what the text means, and, invariably, misapplying the text to the hearers. You can just imagine what the donkey might represent in making the passage allegorical and what “loosing” it might mean for the Christian. Given that, I began to think that over time, inevitably, there has developed a “donkey” theology. The Calvinists believe that one cannot loose his own donkey. God has to sovereignly loose your donkey for you. Predictably, the Arminians insist that one can loose his own donkey, quickly adding that it is possible for one to lose his donkey on his way to taking it to Jesus. The Baptists hold tenaciously to “once-loosed-always-loosed.” The liberals argue that it doesn’t literally have to be a donkey that you loose and take to Jesus. It can be any animal.  The New Agers believe that it doesn’t have to be Jesus to whom you take your donkey. You can loose your donkey and take it to Krishna. I am sad and discouraged that I have heard and read such nonsense just as bad as this in sermons and Christian books. There is a dearth of sound hermeneutics in the evangelical world today. I don’t say this because I find a lot of theology with which I disagree. I’m not saying that pastor so-and-so disagrees with me, therefore his hermeneutics are wrong. I have a Bible study that I teach titled “What Does This Verse Mean to You? Thirty of the Most Commonly Taken Out of Context Verses.” In dealing with some of the verses, I have discovered that on occasion people use a verse incorrectly (e.g., out of context) to defend what may in fact be a truth. But even if a truth is being taught, if the teacher is grounding that truth in a particular way of rendering a verse, these things ought not be. Of course, on other occasions, verses can be used to defend false doctrines. In addition, (and more in line with what this entry began with), verses are too often violated in an attempt to try to make the Bible relevant to us today. While I applaud wanting and trying to show how the Bible applies to us today, we must be careful not to apply illicit principles of interpretation in doing so. I think this mean that, for the most part, it is incorrect to try to moralize a text in trying to make it relevant. There is no “donkey” that we have to loose.

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4 comments on “Loosing Your Donkey for Jesus

  1. Jared says:

    The Word of Faith say that you must name and claim your donkey! Loose your faith and God will give you a donkey.

  2. andrew says:

    yes, eisegesis over exgesis… not good!

  3. Jeff says:

    Uh, I loosed my donkey the other day, but I’m afraid it wasn’t for Jesus….

  4. I heard another one: if you’re a Zen Buddhist, you become one with your donkey.

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