A recurring question for many of us is, “How are we to interpret scripture?” How we do so, is of great import. Our reading and understanding of scripture will either lead us to encounter Life or keep us in religious bondage and darkness. As we saw in an earlier post, the Gospel of Grace must be imbibed in its pure, undiluted state. However, our inherited theology, religious doctrines and cultural traditions have established a rigid framework through which we have dogmatically sieved and strained every chapter and verse. And thus, it may be argued, we have perhaps missed the point entirely. Theology is not the problem, bad theology is!
In our previous post, we saw an example of how modern western evangelical thinking is out of sync with traditional Apostolic and orthodox beliefs. In truth, with unquestioning loyalty to our inherited and received theology we have all fallen into the trap (I most certainly have) of selectively hand-picking proof texts to support doctrinal prejudices and their resulting preconceptions.
If something does not fit into our framework, we erroneously believe that it, therefore, cannot be true! As Gerhard von Rad stated, creating God in our own image leaves us, not with the Living God, “…but with a sophisticated reflection of our own ideas about God.” We defend our version of truth in the name of He Who Is Truth, without Knowing Who He Really Is!
Perhaps, not every doorway we have walked through has led us into an encounter with Truth…
Maybe we would benefit in releasing all our preconceived theologies to Holy Spirit and trusting Her to Reveal Truth to us. Being humble and open enough to admit we may have it wrong, is an important first step. Realising there is an infinite depth of mystery yet to be unfolded and unveiled to us, is also an important step! We err if we remain locked into an understanding of scripture that is unyielding and unbending. Learning to unlearn, will allow us to encounter Truth and explore mysteries yet to be unveiled.
Perhaps like me, when you look around at a world struggling with its identity, and at our churches devoid of Liberating Truth, Freedom and Joy – let alone Ecstatic Bliss and Pleasure In The Triune God – a question you may have asked is, “Is this it?” Other questions follow: Surely there is more to the Gospel than mere liturgical servitude, initiations to fulfil and programs to uphold? What if the Gospel is stupendously better than we ever dared to imagine? What if God is actually, Really, Really Good…All the time? What if, our fore-fathers, albeit well meaning and zealous for the truth, misinterpreted it? Such searching questions are not judgements – I have asked such questions of myself – but rather, they are borne of honest observation and reflection and become an open invitation to converse on a new level of intimacy.
What would the world look like if the Church had a version of God that actually looked like Jesus, and not one forged by our denominational and personal prejudice, or religious bias? We must not interpret scripture through a jaundiced eye! We can only understand scripture through Holy Spirit’s awakening us to the Truth of Who Jesus Is! Would the Real Jesus please stand up!
All scripture is a revealing of Jesus Christ, (either shadow or substance) so don’t you think it’s important the version of Jesus we believe in, to be the right one (Lk. 24)? This is why Christology is so important: the understanding of Who Jesus Is and what became of Him in His Incarnation, Life, Death, Resurrection and Ascension: and of what became of us In Him.
So, how are we then to interpret scripture? Hermeneutics – the actual how of biblical interpretation and how we read scripture, is through the beautiful lens of The Finished Work of Jesus Christ and the Triune God of Love and Grace. A Trinitarian, Christological understanding is The lens through which all scripture must be viewed.
If we do not use this lens, the Written Word becomes deadly letters on a page. For if not rightly discerned they will kill, holding us in bondage to a mere illusion of who we think God is. That is to say, we end up in Law, legalism and dead, pharisaical religiosity. All of which merely blind us further to who Father Truly Is and to our seamless Union In Christ!
Surprisingly, it’s still news to many Christians that there is a New Covenant that surpasses the Old, having made it obsolete (Heb. 8:13). Jesus Christ fulfilled the Old and Is Himself the New Covenant! If you persist in living an Old Covenant life of have tos and shoulds, of rituals and laws, you will never see nor participate in the True Freedom of Life In Christ Jesus. The new Glory of the Grace of God revealed in the New Covenant surpasses the former glory of the Old Covenant of Law. But, the danger persists that if you read the Old Covenant into the New – reading the New with an Old Covenant mindset – the veil of Moses remains, for it is only removed In Christ! Whenever a person beholds Christ, (not their version of Christ) the veil is removed and with a mind renewed, transformation occurs (2Cor. 10- 16; Rom. 12:2).
If we were to take a long hard look at ourselves, we may be honest enough to admit we revere scripture as if it were the third person of the Trinity; Father, Son and Holy Bible. You may want to sit down for this…Here it comes; The Triune God is actually Father, Son and Holy Spirit! The written word (scriptura) is not The Living Word of God: Jesus Christ Is! God’s Mind and Heart now revealed! You cannot have relationship with a book. Jesus came, not to refine our theological misunderstandings nor to give us a perfect ‘how to’ manual: He came to redeem the image and likeness of God In you!
“In that day you will know that I am In the Father, you are In Me and I am In you,” Jn. 14:20.
You cannot find eternal life in the Bible – Jesus’s own words (Jn 5:39) – for Eternal Life is found In Christ Alone, In His Face to Face Relationship with His Father In the Anointing of the Holy Spirit (Jn 17:3). Remember, the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ reveals that All are In Christ, and Live In the very Life of the Triune God: whether they know it or not, or believe it or not. Truth is True whether we believe it or not.
Our understanding of scripture will be Joyfully transformed if we determine to interpret scripture, The Written Word of God, through the lens of The Logos, The Living Word of God: Jesus Christ.
In our next post we will continue with our theme and share with you a few helpful recommendations that I believe will bless you as you rediscover Truth in every page!
As He Is,