Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bible Interpretation, Part 2

So I've been finding it's been a lot harder than I had expected to continue this blog while on internship. I get home, and I'm just too tired to write out my thoughts... :) But I'm going to attempt to write a few posts right now and schedule them to post over the next few days.

The first post is a follow-up to the Bible Interpretation post from a couple of weeks ago. Some of the reason that I think a new way of approaching the Bible than by using it as a manual of principles and a manual for life is because anyone can use the Bible as a proof text for just about anything. Do I think they are all valid uses and interpretations? No. But approaching the Bible from a proof text perspective will pretty much never lead to a consensus. There are just too many ways to argue about and interpret the texts.

Martin Luther discussed the "plain meaning" of the Bible, stating that a believer need just read the Bible, and it is obvious what the text means. Frankly, I just don't agree. It is a complicated text with a complicated history. The people who tend to use it as a proof text haven't really examined the Bible well in most of my experience. That goes for me, too. Once I started examining the Bible, I saw the futility of proof texting. We are often left with no clear absolute, unless we impose our own existing perspectives and ideologies onto the text rather than allowing God to shape our perspectives and ideologies from the text. That is why the principles/proof-texting approach to the Bible is rather ineffective.

That does NOT mean it is any less valid or useful. But perhaps we are just approaching the Bible in the wrong way. Seeing the Bible as a God-inspired text of stories of people walking with God to guide us in our quests from a journey perspective fits much more of the style and heart of the Bible. I also think it fits a more accurate theology. As John Eldredge says, we need to have the Holy Spirit in our hearts to know what to do. We need to know these stories well in order to internalize the heart and spirit of the Bible. Otherwise, we'll turn out like the Pharisees, who are more concerned with law than with life with God.

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