Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Bible as a Mirror

I was recently in an office's waiting room, and found a book on the shelf entitled something like "The Evidence for Jesus". I don't recall the author's name (but no, it was not Josh McDowell). I opened the book somewhere in the middle and read a page or two while waiting, and the message in those pages struck a chord.

The author basically said that the Bible very often functions as a mirror; whatever ideas you have in mind when you read it, you'll find reflected in the text. So if you have Southern Baptist ideologies, you'll find support for your Baptist ideas in the text. If you have Charismatic Presbyterian ideologies, you'll find support for your Charismatic Presbyterian ideas in the text.

It struck me that this claim is true, even in the case of my Church of Christ ideologies with which I grew up. Over the past few years as I've tried to read the Bible without my "Church of Christ" glasses on, I've been astounded to find that I'm not seeing nearly as much "Church of Christ" doctrine in the text as I used to see. If I temporarily put on some "Baptist" glasses, I'm amazed to see that I find Baptist doctrine in the text. If I take off those "Baptist" glasses and temporarily put on "Secular Atheist" glasses, I see in the text a capricious God doing things that are scientific nonsense. If I take off those "Secular Atheist" glasses and put on "Mormon" glasses, I see lots of polygamy in the text.


What does this mean? I'm not entirely sure. One conclusion I make, however, is that it is not appropriate to conclude that someone with a different understanding of the Bible than that which I have is "blind" or "stubborn" or "has an agenda". Another conclusion I make is ... "God, be merciful to me, a sinner, a sinner who has no understanding, or worse, a sinner who thinks he does have understanding."

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