This blog begins a series on the nature of the Bible for Christians. It will explore Biblical presuppositions, the process of drawing out meanings from Scipture, and good practices for Biblical interpretation among others.
How do you read the Bible? For Believers this is a foundational issue that needs to be contemplated. You see, we all develop a personal theology that finds it roots in multiple sources, parents, teachers, friends, books, etc. However, ultimately we should be seeking to bring our theology into harmony with Scriptural truths. The process by which we harmonize our theology with the Bible generally happens in two ways:
1. Scripturalizing our Theology.
This is when any of us has or develops a particular theological position and then goes to the Bible to find the necessary support.
2. Theologizing Scripture
This is when we read the Bible and begin the process of principalizing and theologizing the Scriptural truths found therein.
3. An example
Being that I grew up Pentecostal circles we had the distinctive doctrine of Baptism in the Holy Spirit (BHS) wherein a person has an initial salvation experience and then a separate distinct Baptism experience (BHS) evidence by the speaking in other tongues.
All my life growing up I heard things like, we believe in the BHS with the initial physical evidence of Speaking on Tongues, and here is the evidence. . . (I won't go into the specific scriptural proofs here, it is outside the emphasis of this blog). This is an example of the first approach to drawing Theology out of Scripture. However, when I went to college I began to look at Scripture and see that (in my own humble opinion), I could not, with intellectual honesty, accept the prevailing position wholeheartedly.
What my pastors were doing (using the Bible to justify theological positions) when I was growing up was not bad, just dangerous. The conclusions they came to were not wholly wrong, nor destructive in any way. However, nut jobs who have no Biblical training, decide they have all of the theological answers and pull verses that have no contextual relationship with one another out to support some asinine theological position, that ends up destroying people's lives.
I am not demonizing anyone who follows this first line of thinking, in fact, I use it myself when teaching theological doctrines to people. What I want to do here though, is call attention to the process scripturalizing our theological presuppositions. This can lead us down some scary theological roads of which we tread with great danger.
What do you think, did you grow up in a similar situation? Has either approach caused you issues in the working out of your faith? Let me know, I am interested to hear.
This post is simply an introduction into this idea, next post on Friday I plan on throwing out some thoughts on the Scriptural theology interaction.