• Shooting a Holy Cow ~ liberating the Bible

    27 February, 2013

    Shooting a Holy Cow 

    Introduction

    Imagine Christianity as an overcrowded farm. There are various animals grazing upon this farm, some are held in higher esteem than others. The time is upon each Christian to cull the herd and clear the fields for what really is valuable. It is time to shoot a holy-cow. The culling season is open to all believers to question as Martin Luther did and to be bold as Martin Luther was, in deciding what needs to remain on the farm and what doesn’t.

    To mix metaphors, the farmers are the modern Pharisees; they have cluttered the Christian farm with too much intellectual stock. These pedantic Pharisees believe knowledge is as imperative as sacrifice to the Jews or the sale of indulgences to the Roman Catholic Church.

    John Newton penned, a man may have the heart of a Pharisee, while his head is stored with orthodox notions of the unworthiness of the creature, and the riches of free grace.  Yea, I would add, the best of men are not wholly free from this leaven.#

    Be on your guard against the teaching of the Pharisees - (Matt 16:11)

    This leaven of the Pharisees continues as an unrecognised Goliath within contemporary evangelicalism. Jesus warns, and His teachings are as pertinent today as two millennia ago.

     

    Burying a Holy Cow and Theological Optometrists

    Historically the Bible has had a church driven approach to interpretation and more recently an academic approach to interpretation. (This was developed at point 3 in Stoning Adam & Eve.) Both these methods are seeded in eating from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil and are also consequently rooted in pride.

    Here is an axiom (a holy-cow) of the modern Pharisees - you need the context of scripture to correctly interpret the content of scripture.

    NO - you don't! 

    Since the Middle Ages the theological academics and the hallowed halls of learning have enjoyed significant and successful endeavour reading the Bible without first seeking the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. They have constructed their own Biblical scaffolds to interpret the Bible and donned their own spectacles through which the Bible is to be read.

    The scholars and academies of Christian education have honored themselves as theological optometrists - any Bible reader needed their glasses first to read the Bible well or correctly. (Part of the problem of theological optometry is that each school offers a different lense prescription from fundamentalism though to liberalism.)

    There is a hollow axiom too often repeated - a text without a context is a pretext. Yet to make any contextual analysis the arbiter of Biblical interpretation is to place the Bible under the witness/authority of context. The Bible becomes no longer a stand-alone document. To place scripture under the demands of context (or any other interpretative necessity/scaffold) is to demand each reader become a student of history prior to becoming a student of the Word - this is wrong!

    The Bible is all sufficient and no more needs man's input than man can save himself. (See also 1 Tim 3:16)

    As the dark/middle ages dissipated into the enlightenment man had finally begun to grasp the menu breadth that the Tree of Knowledge offered. Man’s knowledge certainly grew exponentially; in fact as rapidly as rationalism replaced God. It was from the same rational thinking (not spiritual/spirit-led thinking) that a rationalist view to Scripture arose. By 1496 English scholar John Colet was teaching the necessity of reading scripture in its historical setting with further models developed by such mighty luminaries as Erasmus, Luther and Calvin. The Bible is all sufficient and no more needs man's input than man can save himself. (2 Tim 3:16)

    Parallel to the Reformation, the Bible was placed in the hands of the common man and removed from the ungodly protection of the priesthood. Universities were flourishing as quickly as the thirst for knowledge was exploding. The printing press became of incalculable value in ensuring that each man had access to a Bible and also for the multiplying of knowledge. Christians were unwittingly learning to eat from the Tree of Knowledge to gain meaning from Scriptures and not just the Tree of Life.

    During this hypnotizing season in European history of late Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation, all gathered to climb the vast boughs of the Tree of Knowledge while few enjoyed even shade from the Tree of Life.

    What a deft sleight of hand satan had waved! Not only through knowledge did he claim salve to all the world's ills but now he was the one most often sought/inquired of to mine gold from the Holy Scriptures.

     

    Conclusion

    "It's easier to debate God's Word than to obey God's Word." 

    Contextual understandings are pleasant and can be helpful but they are not mandatory. They can also be intimidating or binding. To pursue contextual understanding of the Bible is to make the context the arbiter of truth when it cannot be the guarantor of truth. Context has become elevated above the authority of Scripture for now it determines how Scripture is read. It is the Holy Spirit of Truth alone that is to explain Scripture. (Jn 14:26)

    Context is to be culled if the Holy Spirit is to be listened to.

    "The Christian church honors Christian knowledge and activity but not Christian devotion." 

    Next month ... Snacking and Feasting at the Tree of Life

    #Here my hand must ascend high - I have learned and taught as Pharisee, lived well as a Pharisee, been honored as a Pharisee, criticized as Pharisees do and been as proud as a Pharisee. I say this as no boast but as simply a man who is the chief of sinners and who has wrestled across the Jabbok with the Lord for far  long than an evening that He would show me my own sin. I have been a professional Pharisee but pray that in the Lord's generous mercy I am no more.

    ENJOY - Part A ... Stoning Adam and Eve ~ Bible reading history