Posts Tagged approaches to scripture
In the October 2011 issue of Christianity Today, J. Todd Billings has a gem of an article called, “How to Read the Bible.” He makes the initial claim that “Even when the Bible is turned to as the authority, it’s not necessarily interpreted Christianly.” He then describes the two most popular ways people approach Scripture today before offering another more fruitful and faithful approach. Here’s how he describes most readers of the Bible today:
“When examining how we interpret Scripture, we should pay attention to our functional theology of Scripture: how our use of Scripture reflects particular beliefs about what the Bible is. There are two common approaches to using Scripture today.
Some readers start with a detailed blueprint of what the Bible says, then read individual passages of Scripture as if they were the concrete building blocks to fit into the blueprint. They translate each passage into a set of propositions or principles that fit the established details of the blueprint. This approach assumes that we already know the larger meaning of Scripture; our system of theology gives us the meaning. Thus, the task of interpreting Scripture becomes a matter of discovering where in our theological system a particular passage fits.
Others prefer a smorgasbord approach. Imagine a huge cafeteria loaded with food of many kinds for many tastes; you are at the cafeteria with the members of a small-group Bible study. Can you imagine what some of the other members of the group would choose to eat? I suspect that there might even be patterns based on age, gender, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status, but each person chooses which foods to feast on based his or her appetite. In the smorgasbord approach to Scripture, the Bible becomes the answer book for our felt needs and personal perspectives.
With both the blueprint and smorgasbord approaches, we end up using Scripture for our own purposes. We are in control. The Bible may be viewed as authoritative, but it provides either confirmation of our preconceived ideas or divine advice for felt needs.” Read the rest of this entry »