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Friday, November 07, 2008 

Isogeting Stewardship Into The Scriptures

The following Haut South district flash ended up in my inbox this morning:

"And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And they all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces." Luke 9: 16-17Good things come in small packages - or so the saying goes. In the miracle of the feeding of the 5000, a young boy's small offering of 5 little loaves and 2 fish become a banquet for more than 5,000 with leftovers! Today, we celebrate the miracle God is bringing about through Ablaze! for God's Mission."

The email goes on to talk about how important it is to support “an ablazing partnership!

I always thought that the feeding of the five thousand was about what Jesus did and not about offering up seed offerings. I also thought there was a limit on the number of verses that could be used for raising monies. I was wrong.

In the book of Luke the three most important meals are the feeding of the five thousand, the last supper and finally the meal at Emmaus. All three meals show Jesus feeding his sheep. The first meal has Jesus showing that if he says he can feed more than is thought to be possible, than he can actually do it.

The last supper has Jesus instituting the means with which he will continue, even to this day, to feed his sheep. The great high priest who offers himself up on the cross gives that same Body and Blood to feed and sustain the saints. Those saints should always look at feeding of the five thousand as something of foretaste of what was to come in the upper room. If Jesus can feed the five thousand with five loaves and two fish then with confidence we should look at the Holy Supper, believe Jesus’s words and say it must certainly be true because He said it.

And finally, during the meal at Emmaus, Jesus reveals himself through the taught and spoken Word and the holy meal. Remember it is only after Jesus breaks the bread and gives thanks that disciples recognized their Lord. It is here that the saints of all time and all places see Christ’s gifts in action as they were meant to be for the first time. If we believe that Jesus can feed the five thousand, if we believe that he meant that the bread and wine really are His Body and Blood, then it is through the eyes of faith that we recognize our Lord today in spoken Word and in the blessed Sacrament because Jesus did it, does it, and continues to do His glorious work through these “ordinary” means.

All three meals are the work of Christ. It is Christ who is running the verbs. You know who Luke does not focus on? The boy who offered up the loaves and fish. In fact, Luke is so focused on Jesus doing the doing that he doesn’t even say where loaves and fish come from. We only know of the boy because of his inclusion in John 6:5-14. The feeding of the five thousand is the culmination of Jesus’s Galilean ministry, there’s no reason to draw attention away from this finale.Leave it to my district for a lesson in isogesis, that is to say reading ourselves into the Scriptures.

The proper way to read scripture is exegetically. To read exegetically you read verse by verse, line by line, chapter by chapter to read out of the Scriptures. That’s the good way.

The bad way to read God’s Word is the isogetically. By reading ourselves into Scripture we read what we want from Scripture. Usually this is done by starting with a concern, problem, or topic and has us searching for what verse backs up our point. Sadly this is my district has done.

There are a host of texts throughout Scripture that speak of stewardship and funding missions but Luke’s account of the feeding of the five thousand isn’t one of them. Reading fundraising into every verse of God’s Word may guilt people into giving more money but that doesn’t make it right.

Additionally, it shows poor theological scholarship when even a slack jawed yokel can spot the difference between Jesus feeding the masses and reading something into the verses that simply isn’t there.



Didn't you know that a talented fundraiser and/or televangelist can turn any verse into a verse about stewardship and offerings?

I'm just waiting for someone to make Song of Solomon 4:5 into a verse about giving. heh heh

The ablazing pastor/professor that spoke for our circuit Reformation service was isogeting so badly all over the place we nearly needed to to get a shovel to clean up the mess.

It was pretty awful. Besides the isogeting of the Daniel text, there was much joking around about "Rack, Shack, and Benny."

It's hard for me to respect a pastor who's got a running Veggies Tales gag going on in the sermon. Puhhhleeze. Last I checked, I was an adult, not a 4-yr old.

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  • I'm Frank Gillespie
  • From The Haut South
  • Confessional Lutheran
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