Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Looking With New Eyes

I woke up this morning, on vacation, finding myself thinking about some things that we talked about last week while at a retreat. We had some good classes and discussions about how to interpret the Bible and I found myself coming back to the same problem that I believe most of us have as we try to understand God's written Word. The simplest way to put it is, we don't seek objectivity. Most of us approach reading the Bible with several preconceived conclusions that make getting the real meaning difficult if not impossible. I've written about this before, but it just seems to be more obvious as I hear people preach and teach things that are not contextually honest with the passage they are dealing with.
For instance, if you begin your study of the Bible with a basic belief that Christians must meet together on Sunday morning for a formal time of worship, with prescribed directions from God about what He wants done there - you will find passages that you will apply to that belief. Your "pre-taught" conclusions about what church is supposed to be and do will effect how you read the Bible. If you come from an evangelical background, you will take passages about evangelists and apostles and infer conclusions to support what you already believe. Not because you discovered those truths from an objective search of scripture, but because someone else taught you and convinced you that those passages were talking about the conclusions you expected to reach. That doesn't mean that the conclusions are ALL WRONG! I'm talking about honest interpretation of God's Word. The point may be taught in scripture, but that doesn't justify taking any verse out of context.
What are some other preconceived conclusions that effect our objectivity? The list is probably as long as any and all topics we are taught before we can read it for ourselves. Things like looking for laws, fear of the Holy Spirit, institutionalizing the church, belief in ceremonial acts, and maybe more than any other, the belief in salvation by works, which we reject intellectually, but practice religiously. Another huge attitude that impacts what you find when you study God's word is when you are reading it for ammunition to prove a point you want to argue. I was trained and educated using scripture (selected scripture) as proof-texts so I could win any debate. Talk about something that will rob you of the Spirit!
Just think about it and ask yourself what kind of preconceived conclusions you have when you read God's Word. Can you truly be objective and see what God wants you see.

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