Sunday, March 26, 2006

I'm alive! Praise God for carrying me through this busy season (it's my first really bad one) and I'm happy there is some end in sight (albeit likely just a temporary one.) I'm also happy I got to finish my assignment for Old Testament Theology, although only slightly late. It's been a rough week for many of my co-workers and I am truly blessed to share our burdens with a number of sisters in Christ at work. Through the struggles, it's been a very reflective week and I hope to post some of those thoughts later...

For now, I leave you with a "reading response" from class. It's a personal response of an article.. and I realize you have not read the article! But, I just see this response as an expression of how I see similarities between Accounting and Theology (or basically, the application of Christian principles) [sorry, it's long, but I *do* find it interesting =p]. I'll supplement if people don't understand...


After having taken Biblical Interpretation (BIBL0501) at Tyndale last term, the majority of the discussions presented by Silva were not new for me. I thought his article very thoroughly and systematically presented the issues surrounding the development of biblical interpretation from the historical-critical method, to the autonomy of the text, and finally to the role of the reader.

I am going to continue my response by drawing parallels from Silva’s discussion to my area of expertise and vocation: the field of Accounting. I enjoy the study of accounting very much because I see a similar process to that of Theology; in Accounting, there is a pool of technical guidance akin to the “Bible” – generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). In Canada, GAAP is mainly governed by the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accounts (CICA) Handbook. When businesses perform transactions, accountants look to GAAP for guidance and interpret it to apply the principles in order to ultimately conclude on a numerical analysis. However, as technical and objective accounting may seem, I realize how subjective it can really be.

All advanced accounting students in University will take courses called “accounting theory” whereby the general framework of GAAP is laid out. There are two fundamental extremes: reliability – where a financial number is determined based on objective evidence, or relevance – the information value portrayed by that financial number. For example, when a company purchases or builds a building, they will pay an original cost, say, $1 million – this is a reliable figure, based on objective evidence (say, cash payment). After 10 years, the value of the building will decrease due to age or required repairs. What is the relevance of this figure? The building is hardly worth $1 million after 10 years of age. How should the company present this value on their financial statements? It would even be misleading to present the then-reliable figure of $1 million; this number is now not relevant. To get into some technical detail, the accounting industry has developed methods to approximate the decrease in value over time, for example, decreasing the value every year on a straight-line basis over the useful life (say, 20 years) of the building. After 10 years, we say the building is worth $500,000. Clearly, this is only an estimate – not very reliable – but it is more relevant.

The accounting industry, in conjunction with the world markets, has found a methodical medium between the two extremes by developing such methods to approximate relevant figures. Still, there are many areas of contention. Similar to the world of biblical interpretation, it is interesting to see how accounting principles have progressed over the past five years. Understandably, the world markets see the difficulties in producing purely relevant financial statements – there would be too much subjectivity and the result would be companies issuing financial statements that may be outrageously optimistic without basis. Unfortunately, the world of accounting does not have a Holy Spirit to keep the tension in check! But, an estimated “reliability” is not necessarily a better solution.

To go back to Silva’s article, he expresses my sentiments exactly on page 112 in discussing the progression towards reader-response theories, “To a practitioner of the historical method, it is simply shocking to hear that eisegesis may be a permissible – let alone the preferable! – way to approach the text.” To all Bible students, we must have heard countless times of the dangers of eisegesis. However, as I better understand the current environment, coupled with my understanding of relevance for readers of financial statements (would you invest in a company that only has their original costs on their financial statements?), it is clear that the purpose of a text is to effectively communicate an intelligible message that requires a response (pg. 121).

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