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Neologisms for Neoevangelicals

METAPHORA SCRIPTURA ([met-uh-fawr’ uh] [skriptər’ uh])

[metaphor:1530s, from M.Fr. metaphore, from L. metaphora, from Gk. metaphora “a transfer,” especially of the sense of one word to a different word, lit. “a carrying over,” from metapherein “transfer, carry over,” from meta- “over, across” (see meta-) + pherein “to carry, bear.” (Related: Metaphoric; metaphorical; metaphorically.)] [Scriptura: 1250–1300; Middle English and Latin scrīptūra writing. See script, -ure]

  1. The Word of God as allegory, metaphor and narrative with abstract, potential, subjective, esoteric and variable meanings.
  2. The teaching that in Scripture all things are not plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all, nor the fixed absolute truths of God, but that Scripture is a record of people’s experiences or encounters with God.
  3. The Bible as a story about God and man, the creation and the cosmos, that provides a master narrative one may employ to contextualize and shape one’s own spiritual experiences.
  4. The doctrine that superior spiritual insight may be found by viewing Scripture as a complex mixture of individual narratives that build upon the semantic variability of a larger linguistic framework.
  5. The Word of God as a semantic abstraction with no one meaning; the language of the Bible as a symbolical narrative based on metaphor, chronicle, tale, recital, history of an event or events, dialogue or imagery.
  6. The Bible as a story of God’s missional purpose for mankind to restore the fallen creation, bringing redemptive blessing to the nations by recovering culture and discovering a new worldview, thus serving as a new imaginative framing story by which the planet may be pristinely restored.
  7. The Word of God divorced from the literal written text and deconstructed into audio, visual, oral, poetic and/or theatrical images.
  8. The transference or shifting from the Word of God to a different world and worldview.

Examples from Eugene Peterson’s Eat This Book:

“The raw stuff of the world is not matter but energy. How do we express this interconnected vitality? We use metaphor.”[1]

“The place to begin with, though, is not, as is often supposed, with a grammar and a dictionary. The fixity of the words on paper, removed from the nuances and ambiguities of the living voice, gives an illusion of preciseness and seems to invite a matching preciseness in the reader. We do better to begin with a consideration of metaphor…. If we don’t understand how metaphor works we will misunderstand most of what we read in the Bible. No matter how carefully we parse our Hebrew and Greek sentences, no matter how precisely we use our dictionaries and trace our etymologies, no matter how exactly we define the words on the page, if we do not appreciate the way a metaphor works we will never comprehend the meaning of the text.”[2]

“I sometimes marvel that God chose to risk his revelation in the ambiguities of language.”[3]

“A metaphor states as true something that is not true.”[4]

1. Eugene H. Peterson, Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2006): 96.
2. Eat, 93.
3. Eat, 93.
4. Eat, 94.

“For the word of the LORD is right;…”
(Psalm 33:4a)
“…Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”
(2 Peter 3:15b-16)

Adapted from www.dictionary.com

NOTE: This post is authored by several members of the Discernment Research Group, including Pastor Larry DeBruyn and Sarah Leslie, along with Pastor Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries. This is part of a joint project to develop a descriptive vocabulary for the new doctrines, practices and heresies of the emerging evangelical church.