In order to keep a wise command or teaching from becoming a foolish command or teaching, always follow the genius of the common law. Be guided by wisdom. (Luke 7:33-35).
When confronted with difficult decisions, I often say, “I’ll use the genius of the common law.” What do I mean?
The genius of the common law is to decide based on all the facts and circumstances. From a series of such decisions, general principles may be discerned.
This approach is the opposite of starting with general principles and imposing them on the facts and circumstances of the decision you must make.
Never say never!
If you go around saying, “I’ll never do so and so,” guess what. Some fact or circumstance will arise that you never foresaw. Such as a pandemic!
Suddenly you’ll support doing things that you sincerely believed you’d never do. Such as the government spending immense sums of money and imposing restrictions on personal liberty.
A more down-to-earth example is when a mother tells her 3-year old son, “Never cross the road, unless you’re holding mommy’s hand!” This is a wise command.
But, suppose that 27 years later, she tells her 30-year old son, “Never cross the road, unless you’re holding mommy’s hand!”. She’s ignoring the facts and circumstances that made her command wise when her son was only three years old.
She isn’t following the genius of the common law.
Her first command was based on the fact and circumstance that her son was only 3 years old. Of course, he needed to hold his mommy’s hand. The word “never” made sense as a way to emphasize that as long as he was little, he must always hold his mommy’s hand when crossing the road.
But her second command was based on a nonsensical understanding of “never”. It didn’t mean to “never” change the command even though facts and circumstances had changed.
In this example, the misapplication of a command in different facts and circumstances is obvious.
Yet, in real life, people make this mistake over and over again. Sometimes due to a good faith misunderstanding. But sometimes due to a deliberate effort to deceive and manipulate because it will make them richer or more powerful.
The Bible is full of such examples. It was written during a period stretching over 1,500 years. It incorporates oral traditions that are even older.
It reflects innumerable assumptions about many different facts and circumstances, customs and cultures. So “never” and “always” don’t literally mean never or forever.
In order to keep a wise command or teaching from becoming a foolish command or teaching, always follow the genius of the common law.
Learn as much as you can about the facts and circumstances, customs and cultures that formed the basis for a teaching or command.
With much study and practical experience, you will discern principles to guide your wisdom—principles such as the Twelve Recitals in my blog “Recitals”.
Always cross the street safely. But whether this means taking your mommy’s hand, depends on all the facts and circumstances.
Use the genius of the common law.
Be guided by wisdom. (Luke 7:33-35).
To read about my Twelve Recitals of key Biblical principles, please read my blog “Recitals”.
To read about additional wisdom for this pandemic, please read my blogs “Fear Not the Pestilence That Stalks in the Darkness” “Getting Out of Your ‘Tent’”, “Trusting The LORD Will Provide”, “Pandemic Wisdom: Praying and Waiting”, “Pandemic Wisdom: Hear and See, Understand and Perceive”, “Pandemic Wisdom: Visions of America”, and “Pandemic Wisdom: Multiple Choice Exams and No-Win-Scenarios”.