Friday, July 25, 2008

Teaching Scripture...WORD of God part 3

Good Morning...before I move on to the Pauline Epistles portion of this conversation I want to share an excerpt from a newspaper in Columbus, Ohio. I received a link to this article by someone mentioned in the article who has recently moved to that area. This couple was previously associated with an emergent community with which I have many connections here in Birmingham. Here is the link to the article should you want to read the whole thing.

The portion I find particularly concerning is a statement by someone concerned with the ways in which scripture is interpreted:
"Leaders at the church are concerned that the upstarts are too loose in their biblical interpretation. "Many times the Bible becomes the meaning derived from the reader's interaction with it," Reilly said. "There is a meaning in the text that can be found, a unique meaning that's not dependent on the reader."

As I read that quote I almost swallowed my tongue. I thought, "GOOD GRACIOUS!!!" And that is a negative, disappointed "good gracious", not an excited, glorious "good gracious". That is the precise premise that has caused my recent writings and in large part lead me to the point of disillusionment with the typical "churches".

Let's look at "loose...biblical interpretation". What does that mean? I think most of us know what the guy is saying but what is the deeper intent? To me it seems that God is powerful enough to provide any sincere seeker with a meaning of a given text. It also seems plausible and even probable to me that God can, should he so choose, use the same scripture to bring about intimacy with numerous people through various revelation. To my more traditional ears that sounds a slippery slope. As soon as I start to consider that aspect I am reminded that the slope is no more dangerous than our current slope.

Current slope? Yes...the slope that presents scripture as static...less than dynamic...and holds that through tight interpretation, behavior can be modified, institutionalized faith can flourish and most importantly, through labels, definitions and creeds we can pretend to have some control. That is a horribly pretentious and deadly slope. I prefer a slope of freedom over one of shackles any day. I say that because if someone is genuinely seeking God...nothing else matters. If someone is not seeking God and is instead just seeking moral code, static rules or cognitive knowledge...nothing else matters.

It seems to me that this issue is largely summed up as an issue of trust. Do we trust God to reveal Himself to us? Do we trust ourselves to seek God's revelation? Do we trust others to do the same? If we do...then there is no problem. If we don't...there is a problem...but that problem isn't mine.

OK, on to Pauline Epistles tomorrow...or perhaps Monday.

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