Burning Desire

January 22, 2006

burning desire.jpgI just finished Burning Desire by S.J. Hill. I was really looking forward to reading this, because I enjoyed one of Hill’s previous books, Enjoying God. Unfortunately, I was rather disappointed with this volume. It was not a deep read, and it wasn’t that lengthy of a book. The problem I had with it is that the book assumes a bridal hermeneutic and applies it out of context to numerous Scriptures. To the average, unscholarly Christian (not to make an opposing claim of myself), it would probably make a lot of sense and would be an inspiring read. However, his argument is very poor, and he really doesn’t take the time to argue, but simply assumes.

I will concede that the Bible in places speaks of Israel as having a marital relationship with Yahweh, but I would only apply that understanding to the Scriptures in context. I would not take the bridal hermeneutic and apply it to the Ten Commandments (Hill does).

Furthermore, and on a more personal soapbox, I am not in favor of reading the New Testament with an understanding that “the church” is “the bride of Christ.” There is a very weak argument here. The theology that supports this takes 2 texts and inaccurately links them together. The first of these texts is Ephesians 5, which describes the relationship between a husband and wife with that of Christ and the church. This is not an argument that Christ’s relationship to the church is like that of a husband to a wife; but Paul wants the husband and wife to learn from Christ in His relationship to the church. This is taken in a backward understanding. Furthermore, it assumes an existing marriage relationship if anything, not a future “wedding supper” concept.

The second set of Scriptures come from Revelation and speak of the “Bride of Christ.” However, the only place in Revelation where the bride is identified is in Revelation 21:2, where John clarifies that the Bride of Christ is “the holy city Jerusalem.” I am not ready to discount the possibility of the church being associated as the bride of Christ, but I will need to study and be persuaded further for that clarity to be achieved. However, “the truth as I currently understand it” is that the bridal hermeneutic should not be applied out of contexts to passages in both the Old and New Testament.

I did not buy the book outright, it arrived in my last Relevant Network Kit (and a new one should be here any day now). There were a few notable quotes, but nothing I would likely use in the future. He even quoted John Shelby Spong in a positive light, and I would not be in favor of Spong’s teachings. If you must read Hill, read Enjoying God, but I would recommend Piper’s Don’t Waste Your Life over Hill’s book (slightly similar themes).

As one final disclaimer, I will point out that there is some insight in this book, and certainly where the bridal themes fit the context, Hill makes excellent points. It is interesting the parallels that he does infer in passages and circumstances that are not specifically bridal; however in most of those cases the text does not imply the bridal picture, nor do I think it can be supported (except by mere speculation). Really, if you are that curious, read it for yourself.


One Response to “Burning Desire”

  1. Victoria Mabry said

    When I read your “I am not in favor of reading the New Testament with an understanding that ‘the church’ is ‘the bride of Christ.’,” my mind said, “Huh?” You know my church background and this is what I’ve always been taught. My present church is no different. Must be a “Baptist” thing.

    I am afraid, to my detriment, this is one doctrine that I have never questioned and, therefore, researched for myself. You’ll have to tell me more sometime. I look forward to it. Mom.

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