Stoning Adam and Eve ~ Bible reading history
Stoning Adam and Eve
There is a world of difference between knowing the Word of God and knowing the God of the Word! ~ Leonard Ravenhill
Leonard Ravenhill was correct.
There is breadth of evangelical Christian Biblical knowledge that defies measurement, but such Christian faith is as shallow as its knowledge is wide. Western protestant Christians are now educated well beyond their ability to obey.
So - how did this happen?
1) ADAM and EVE and ALL THINGS BIBLE READING
Was Adam a dullard?
God gave Adam TWO ... yep only TWO instructions In Eden. This guidance required obedience but did not need much explanation or even great endurance. It was not onerous and was most simple:
- Bring order to Eden ... this is tilling the soil, naming the animals etc. - Gen 1:28
- Do not eat from the Tree of Knowledge (don't let it form you/inform in any way at all) - Gen 2:15
In Eden God's word was simply spoken as Adam and God kept company.
When Adam failed in the second instruction he was doomed with both of them; he could not remain in Eden to care for it. Adam ate knowledge from the wrong source. God would not pollute paradise permanently with evil.
Expelled from Eden, cut off from the Tree of Life Adam spread/reproduced the knowledge of good and evil with incredible and speedy success. Its early fruit was shown when Adam's first son murdered his second son. (Remember this tree informs of evil.)The seed of the apple was successfully (taken) planted outside Eden by Adam and has covered the earth with the voracity of the weed it is to this very day. Everybody now completely and unwittingly eats from the Tree of Knowledge, even the Bible scholars and students. (In fact ~ especially the Bible scholars and students.)
Remember as God explained to Adam, to eat from the Tree of Knowledge is a sin punishable by death, yet all Christians continue to do it.
All feast from the Tree of Knowledge and only a few snack at the Tree of Life
The Tree of Knowledge also claims to be able to interpret the Tree of Life which is the Word of Life. This is captured in man's learned opinions about the Bible that dilute it, deny it or shape it to fit their particular world-view.
When reading the Bible with man's knowledge, research skills or study methods, understand that man's tools are just that - human (and not spiritual). Humans eat from the Tree of Knowledge and almost all including countless Christians ignore the Tree of Life. All feast from the Tree of Knowledge and only a few snack at the Tree of Life
To read the Bible well and accurately it should be read only as the Tree of Life for it is the Tree of Life. No need for man's intervention, help, history lessons or criticisms. Those are eating from the tree of Knowledge.
When the Spirit of Truth comes He will lead you into all truth. ~ Jn 16:12.
Successful, eye opening, mind popping and truth grasping Bible reading is received with the Sprit of Truth alone. There is no need to eat from the Tree of Knowledge to inform your Bible reading. No necessity exists to understand context, appreciate culture or be familiar with Greek. The Holy Spirit is the disciple's informant.
It is the Spirit who testifies because the Spirit is the truth. ~ 1 John 5:6b
2) BIBLE READING WITH OUR HANDS IN OUR POCKETS
Various polls give equally various results about the Bible reading habits of protestant Christians. A Ragmussen poll claimed that 25% of evangelical Protestants read their Bible daily in the United States. Three years ago George Barna concluded more positively but less precisely claiming that 45% of church attenders read their Bible during the week.
Many reasons could be canvassed for the paucity of Bible reading reflected in these statistics. This SoulSense is to challenge what we have been taught about how to read the Bible. It is my premise that had we been taught well, actually according to Biblical principles (that is Holy Spirit inspired and child-like faith) far more Christians would delight in picking up their Bible daily. They would simply be listening for their Father to speak to them.
We have not been taught well how to read the Bible.
Surely the push for scholarship informed Bible reading is reading the Bible with our hands in our pockets. Yep, this is life informed by another's opinion and another's spiritual walk. It means the disciple does not need to or gain a spiritual walk for them-selves. This removes the personal spiritual activity of devotion, the questioning of God for insight and the expectation of an individual encounter. Times of devotion pass as if our hands remain in our pockets.
As it stands now, we have been taught from the Tree of Knowledge a nearly lifeless and largely daunting method to read the Bible. (Daunting because we are expected to know historical/contextual information to make the best of Bible reading.) This places the Bible firmly back in pre-reformation hands as belonging only to the experts, those educated in the Holy Writ.
3) HOW THE BIBLE WAS READ HISTORICALLY
Until the reformation and the advent of the printing press the Bible was kept safely out of the hands of laymen. This was both functional because of illiteracy but also a method of power and control that the Roman Catholic Church exerted with great vigor upon all. While it held the keys alone to divine revelation all those wanting to engage the Divine must approach through the intermediary of the priest/the church. No wonder the corruption was rife, the theology was rotten and the reformation would be birthed.
It is from 17th and 18th century scholarship that Biblical criticism arose with special attention to the first century historical context. This is to gain the text's original meaning. By the 19th and 20th century students of the Bible sought with great energy to grasp the text in historical context and thus another Holy Cow was birthed. (Previously the Catholic Church had established the Bible was interpreted by the church alone and its traditions. The Reformation slaughtered that Holy Cow.)
Obviously the Roman Catholic Church could no more claim divine authority than the protestant scholar of a university can - the Bible must stand alone and cannot be dependent upon man to explain it; for then God would be a bit lower than man and locked into man's abilities/inabilities. The Bible is inspired, perspicuous (clear) and depends upon no man for its impact.
The sensibilities of the three major strands of Christianity have each established how God is heard.
The Catholic Church believes that God is heard through His church, which now places Biblical authority lower than the church and elevates man's opinions. (This is symptomatic of a church informed by the Tree of Knowledge - man's interpretations are needed for God's word.)
The Protestant church believes that God is heard through His word, the Bible.
The Pentecostal church believes that God is heard through His Holy Spirit and His Word.
(These three outlines are simplifications to some extent.)
Yet if each Christian is to grow in their faith and live in their Bible, how God is heard must be wrestled with, for God still speaks today.
NEXT MONTH - Shooting a post-reformation Holy Cow