Me with my lovely wife, Kathy:

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Continued, Courageous Bible Interpretation:

The "How do I want it to turn out?" question:
Let me start right in with an example.  I came of age in the church in the early 70s.  It was a time when Fundamentalism, of which I was (maybe am) a part, was spelled with a capital "F."  One of the tenents of the brand of Fundamentalism of which I was a part was a total, or almost total condemnation of divorce and remarriage.  When I began examining scripture on this subject one of the objections that was raised against any liberalization of the view on marriage, was basically, If you say this, then they will do that."  In other words let's decide the outcome that we want, and then say that's what the Bible teaches.  It was never blatantly stated, but that was the clear implication.
I've heard the same rational put forth concerning the Bible's teaching about drinking alcohol, and concerning teaching about upholding Christian liberty.
It is legitimate to follow a scriptural interpretation through to its application and ask whether that application is consistent with what we know about scripture and God, but there is a difference between using this "Where does it lead?" question as one of the tests that apply to an interpretation and making it the controlling concern.  We distort the scripture when we ask what interpretation do I need to adopt in order to lead to the ethical teaching I want?"  Instead we need to fearlessly ask, "What does the Bible say?"  Having answered that, then I need to seek to responsibly put that into a consistent Biblical ethic.
There needs to be a certain fearlessness in proper Bible interpretation.
Have the courage to ask, "What does it say?"  not, "What do I want it to say, so it will lead to the behavior I want?"

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