How I have seen the Bible used…

When it comes to answering the question, “How should Christians understand and use the Bible?” thousands of answers, traditions and streams of thought exist. Many books have been written on this subject. It would be presumptuous to suggest that I could explore and evaluate the answer every Christian tribe and sect provides to this question do them justice in a post.  But this is not my goal.

In this post (as the title would suggest) I want to explain how I  have seen the Bible used.

In my time in Christianity I have seen the Bible used in many ways, in many different traditions and have been taught a variety of different competing theories as to how the Bible is to be interpreted and applied. However, while on the surface these approaches may vary greatly, I think underneath their differences there is an understanding of the Bible that is at the foundation of all of these ways.  It is this common thread that I want to explore in this post.

This foundational understanding of the Bible common to everything I have experienced is that the Bible is understood and treated as a “Truth mine.”

In this mine, that is the Bible, there are “biblical truths.” These truths were inspired by God and are eternal. This means that they carry divine authority that overrides any other type of authority and they do not decay or change over time regardless of how the world changes.

However, these “biblical truth” are hidden and buried in the text and they must be excavated through interpretation.  The different shovels and picks people use to excavate the truth from the Bible would be the different ways people interpret the Bible.

In this whole process, certain parts of the Bible are treated like the dirt around a diamond and they disregarded, thrown away, or ignored.

Once found, these “biblical truths” are suggested to be the authoritative and final word on any given issue. These “biblical truths” are almost always then turned into a law or rule concerning the way all Christians everywhere throughout space and time should think or should act. After all, it is what the Bible has to say on any given subject and because the Bible is divinely inspired, this “biblical truth” is authoritative of all Christians.

In practice, these laws and rules and then turned around and used to determine who is really a Christian.  A “real” Christian is someone who believes and acts in line with the “biblical truths” that have been found. After all, any “real” Christian would obey what God has revealed in the Bible.

From this understanding of the Bible, it is assumed that the reason (or at least a reason) God inspired the Bible and guarded its transmission through the centuries is to reveal how a Christian should think and how a Christian should act.

This foundational approach to scripture is found in the most sophisticated Western systematic theology I have encountered down to the conventional Christian wisdom that is passed around the Church pews. This approach to scripture has been around for centuries and can be commonly found in a broad spectrum of Christian churches, denominations and traditions.

Before I continue I should make something clear: I believe that there is truth to this approach to an extent.

I believe there are things that followers of Jesus should and should not do and things followers of Jesus should and should not believe.  I believe the Bible is a unique form of guidance and source of truth on many of these issues.

However, this approach to scripture is problematic due to the nature of the Bible itself and several practical reasons.  From these many issues, I see how an over-confidence in and over-reliance upon this way of understanding the Bible has been incredibly problematic, hurt millions of people, and led many away from following Jesus.

In my next two posts I want to explore the problems this approach to the Bible is faced by the nature of the Bible itself, and several practical reasons.

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About Kevin

I am figuring out life and faith and taking other people along with me on my journey. Sometimes as fellow travelers, sometimes as hostages.
This entry was posted in Faith, Personal Commentary, Why do we believe... and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to How I have seen the Bible used…

  1. Anina Human says:

    Kevin,
    1.Do not know if comments is only allowed for your fellow students and educated people, that I am not?Please tell me if you do not want me to comment on this blog,thanks.
    2.Love to read your blog, and love that you dare to ask questions(that I believe many want to ask)but do not dare question God. One of the brain wash things in church,sorry, that you are not allowed to ask or ?.It was through a ? “I wonder what God wanted me to do(in the flesh work/or study?)that I had a love encounter with Jesus.So I think God loves your ?, for you seek and dig, so please go on, cannot wait to read the rest. The world,church force us to just go with the stream, no matter what.
    3.About the Word -Bible(please note that I am a believer and love Jesus with a passion)but definitely miss use of the Word, The Gospel and grace (good,nice picture of God)and then always a but, turn or burn, be holy(who wants to sin and do not want to be holy).BUT always follows with fear of God, punishment, if you are not without spot of blemish(not in Christ but in flesh), confusing.
    Feels like it scare people of from Christ, for sinners.
    4.Big trend in my city and “christian” friends, they ask you, about how you are, your children and family(I always fall in this trap, time and time again)tells everything, good and bad, ups and downs, after I am done, they throw me with the bible, that because I have speak it, that is why I got bad or downs in my life. Feels like knifes going through me, hurt, pain. Big judgement and condemming. For me to say everything is well and wonderfull, if its not is a lie. So???????Because at church, it goes so well, holy and wonderfull with all of them. They do not speak it, I suppose, so they do not have it.?????
    EVERYTIME THEN THE WORDS OF GuNDY, COMES UP, “I WOULD HAVE BEEN A CHRISTIAN IF I HAD NOT MET ONE”(and feels like shouting it out but then I am also one.
    5. Words on my mind, or actually a ? What makes my black book different than the other black books, The Bible(please note that I love The word of God) – There must be more, something else, were do I miss it.
    6. What I also ask, when the apostles preach, teach the gospel, signs, wonders follows – What did they “click” that we do not click.
    I want this and seek it.
    7. Many people who read and know the Bible very very well, do not have any supernatural or divine power of God, so then it can’t be in reading and knowing in the word alone??????
    8.The early church, was burned, and they worship while they were burning, (without a bible), although I love Jesus so much and cannot wait to go home, I know myself, and do not think that worship, and good words, will come out of my mouth, while burning alive – what did they have????? I want it???? like that, what did they understand.
    9. The diciples and apostols did not have a bible and maybe (I do not know)knows little of the word, but operate in the fullness and divine power of God, Jesus and the precious Holy Spirit. ??????

    Thanks again, I feel so alone, and are not allowed to think, ask, or question stuff,search. (its who I am) Please do not stop and I bless you.
    Anina

  2. Robert Hagedorn says:

    Is Saint Augustine’s exegesis of the 2nd and 3rd chapters of Genesis correct? Do a search: First Scandal.

  3. Pingback: Is Homosexuality a Sin?: Intro « Speak Faithfully

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