I have been a Christian for a long time. I couldn’t count how many sermons or seminars I have sat through, some with eagerness and many with barely disguisable boredom. I am sure I have heard more than one deal with the subject of “loosing and binding”. Usually to do with spiritual warfare. For those of you who read my blog who may be unfamiliar with these terms (and a few more that follow), a quick play on Google or visit to the wiki will catch you up. I have always been taught that loosing and binding was to do with managing supernatural nasties. Enter Velvet Elvis. I am part way through this thoroughly enjoyable book by Rob Bell, who has managed in a few short pages to challenge more than a few assumptions. Loosing and binding has precious little to do with demons and such like, according to Rob. Rabbis used to (and probably still do) sit around and rip through the Torah, arguing the finer points, challenging traditional interpretations, and master rabbis would make their mark by defining how something was to be understood and applied. This may mean that some past understandings were discarded, and new applications put into force. This process was referred to as “loosing” and “binding”. A rule that no longer applied was “loosed”, and the fresh interpretation was considered “bound”. This is the process that Jesus was referring to. Jesus certainly did his share of “loosing” and “binding”.
Probably not as exciting for sermon material as loosing and binding spiritual powers, but I for one am rather glad to be set straight on the matter. Or rather my old understanding has been “loosed”. And there is something rather exciting about the process. The Scriptures are to be engaged in, tossed around, teased out, debated hotly, always searching for life-giving meaning, with a bit of “loosing” and “binding” thrown in there – a dynamic process that is continually revisited. The bible is never “done and dusted”. When I get time, I plan to do a bit of research of my own into the phenomenon of “loosing” and “binding”, to see if I reckon Rob has “loosed” and “bound” rightly.
Hmmm. This has to be the most times I have used quotation marks in a post in all my blogging years.