Sunday, November 04, 2012

How We Read the Bible - Part 2

When we read and interpret Scripture, we all pick and choose.

Few of us admit it, but all of us do it.

How do I know that? Because not one of us can honestly say we do everything Scripture says.

One of the hardest parts of Scripture is adapting a 1st century text to life in the 21st century. We aren't consistent in our adaptations. But I believe we are sincere in our adaptations. We disagree on how to interpret and live out the text.

While I was at ACU, Ken Cukrowski took my class through an exercise that was extremely revealing. I'd like to ask you to take part of that test:

Put a "C" beside those items that are "cultural" and a "P" beside those items that are permanent.
1) Greet one another with a holy kiss (Rom. 16:16; 1 Cor. 16:20; 2 Cor. 13:12; 1 Thess. 5:26).
2) Be baptized (Acts 2:38).
3) Wash one another's feet (John 13:14).
4) Abstain from fornication (Acts 15:29).
5) If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also (Matt. 5:39).
6) Love your enemies (Matt. 5:44).
7) Prohibit women from wearing braided hair, gold, pearls, or costly attire (1 Tim. 2:9).
8) Permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men (1 Tim. 2:12).
9) Anoint the sick with oil (James 5:14).
10) A woman should pray and prophesy with her head covered (1 Cor. 11:5,10).
11) Long hair on a man is degrading (1 Cor. 11:14).
12) Take communion in a large upper room (Luke 22:12).
13) Drink communion from a single cup (Luke 22:17).
14) Do not own property, but meet in house churches (Acts 12:12; 16:40; Rom. 16:5; 1 Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:15; Phlm. 2).
15) Each member should bring a song, lesson, etc. to share with the church during worship (1 Cor. 14:26).
16) Women should keep silent in the churches (1 Cor. 14:34).
17) Owe no one anything (Rom. 13:8).
18) Advise engaged couples not to seek marriage (1 Cor. 7:25-27,37-38).
19) Wives, be subject to your husbands (Eph. 5:22).
20) Slaves, obey your earthly masters (Eph. 6:5-8).

How did you decide whether the practice was cultural or permanent?

Ideally, we would have a way to interpret Scripture that would form our practice. But what I noticed when I took the test is that I subconsciously flipped the process. I determined my current practice and legitimized myself by interpreting Scripture to support my current practice.

And that's scary!

If we don't pay close attention to the way we pick and choose in our interpretation and practice, then there's a good chance we will read Scripture in the most gracious way we possibly can to make ourselves feel good about our current lifestyle.

So, the question I want to consider is not if we should pick and choose. We all do that. What I want to pursue is how we can pick and choose in a conscious, faithful, repeatable way.

As Scot McKnight says in his book, The Blue parakeet, "We all pick and choose...I believe many of us want to know why we pick and choose. Even more importantly, many of us want to know how to do this in a way that honors God and embraces the BIble as God's Word for all times."


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