New math


I am reminded of this formula which was proposed when I was in seminary: 1 + 1 = 3.

Forget about your math for a moment, and think about how we study something. Scientific analysis tells us to first take it apart and study the parts. Then science assumes that after putting it back together, we will understand how it works. That may work with a watch or computer source code, but it doesn’t work with people. You may know every person in a group, but as a group their behavior is totally different. You cannot predict group behavior based on individual personalities. The whole is different from the sum of the parts. It goes beyond the sum of the parts. Thus 1 + 1 = 3.

I find many bible studies use the same process. In order to understand the bible passage, we take the passage apart, verse by verse, and assume that in studying the parts, we will understand the whole. But I think we miss the beauty of the forrest by trying to study the trees. And in a bible passage we may miss the impact of the message by getting lost in the verses.

Who taught me this? The Quichua Indians did as we worked our way through the bible study book. Their confusion in answering some of the questions makes me more aware that their worldview is very different from the western worldview. This Saturday in the community of Sablog, I was consciously aware that the bible study was forcing us to dissect the Lord’s prayer into pieces. Why do we do that? Are we not missing the beauty of the prayer itself? Do we have to tear it into pieces in order for it to make sense? Who ever divided a poem into sections and put a title over each one? Is not the beauty of a poem in reading it out loud and enjoying its colors?

What would happen if we read entire bible passages in order to enjoy their beauty and absorb their messages without having to rip them apart into three point sermons? (Watch out! It could change our theology! We might begin to understand God in a new way.)