Sunday Meditations: What to Do with Bible Knowledge

“When you already know what the Bible says, it’s incredibly difficult to hear it.  Things that fit the framework add to it, strengthen it, and flesh out the details, but things that don’t fit the framework tend to slide on by.”

“I believe that Christians today have a hard time truly hearing God speak through the Scriptures because they already know what He has to say to them.  The Scriptures are familiar.  We don’t even have to crack a Bible open to tell you the gist.”

“No One of Consequence” has brought up some valid observations concerning what I would call “doctrinal certitude.” What the church, especially on the conservative side, has done with western theology, is basically try to build a supposedly airtight framework, or box to put, not only our belief set into, but God Himself into. When questions are raised, or inconsistencies pointed out, the “true believer” resorts to referring to this framework as incontrovertible “truth” in refuting any doubts.

What is either ignored or out of ignorance, omitted, is that Western Christian theology has been filtered through the thinking of many, many men, over a long period of time, and often times quite removed from the original “sitz im leben.” Often the retort, “this is what the Bible says,” is more accurately what Augustine, or Calvin or the Princeton School of Theology said about the particular passage. We have largely lost the ability, due to many theological presumptions, errors in translation and our nature of confirmation bias, to rightly “divide the word of God.”

I found the following helpful.

Letters to the Next Creation

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how I’d been thinking about our/my overestimation of the value of knowledge about the Bible and its contents.  Knowledge about the Bible’s contents, its historical context, the languages, exegesis, hermeneutics – these things are just not the big deal we tend to make them in the West.  There are several things the Bible itself holds up as more valuable than knowledge and even has its fair share of warnings that knowledge carries a serious – nearly inevitable – danger of producing pride.  Yes, pride: a top-tier sin in its own right that gives birth to innumerable others.

This has been an uncomfortable phase of my journey because I have a lot of identity, self-worth, and ego wrapped up in knowing and teaching stuff about the Bible.  For most of my life, it’s the main asset I’ve had to offer the church. …

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