Image via WikipediaWhat you will read below here is not my own. This is from Rachel Held Evan’s blog. But I’m going to borrow some of this and try to pass it off as my own as I enter discussions with persons about the Bible and about following it.
See, I not only read the Bible (it’s a “Good Book” ), but I’m interested in how we use the Bible, are shaped by it, and, oftentimes, shape it. I’m interested in the presuppositions we bring to it and the how our view of others is shaped by our interpretation of it. I’m interested in the notion of inerrancy as it seems that no one views the whole thing as “inerrant” and we all seem to pick and choose.
I want to take the Bible seriously. I believe it has words of life as it relates to us the Word (Jesus Christ) of God, who is the Way and the Truth and the Life. Can we take it seriously without using it to beat up our theological opponents? Can we be honest about its breadth and depth and confess how we prooftext to fit our social or religious perspectives? Can we approach the Bible with humility and see how complex the act of believing and interpreting really is?
So, Rachel has her “Seven Rules of Engagement” for discussing the Bible. These are the ground rules that she (and I) think are needed to make sure we’re honest about our limitations and perspectives.
It blew my mind today…particularly #6.
Here they are…
Are you ready…
1) I won’t question your commitment to the Bible just because you interpret it differently than I do.
2) I won’t use the Bible as a proof-texting weapon of mass destruction.
3) I won’t accuse you of “picking and choosing” when we all employ some selectivity when interpreting and applying the Bible.
4) I will use the word “biblical” properly—as a descriptive adjective, not a prescriptive one. (The cartoon above illustrates the need for this perfectly!)
5) I won’t use the words “plain” or “clear” when referring to an ancient collection of stories, poems, letters, laws, history, prophecy, and philosophy—all written in a language and culture very different from my own.
6) I will keep in mind that my interpretation of the Bible is only as inerrant as I am.
7) I will use the Bible as a conversation-starter, not a conversation-ender.
So, what do you think?
A lot of this comes through in the discussions I’ve had with folks about David Kinnaman’s book, UnChristian. For instance, (to use the “poster child” of Biblical hot topics) if we’re going to say, based on Leviticus (20:13), that homosexuals should be killed, we need to admit that, a couple verses prior, (20:9) the Bible says that children who “curse” their mother or father should be killed too. If we’re going to be “literal” with one…we need to be aware that we’re not being “literal” with the other…or at least be honest in how we’re doing our interpretation. (Let me be clear here, this does not mean that we can pretend that homosexual practice is not mentioned in the Bible. It’s there. But we need to have the proper perspective of our interpretation.
Moreover, we need to be clear that non-Christian people in the world can see that we prooftext and they can see that we beat each other up with our respective Bibles and interpretations. The recent Rob Bell debates is a case in point and this is an argument that has gone mainstream, even being picked up by Time Magazine.
I want to take the Bible seriously.
Sometimes…maybe a lot of the time…Christians use the Bible for their own purposes, perhaps taking themselves more seriously than the Word of God.
And, in all honesty, I do this too.
Oh, click here to see the great cartoon that Rachel Held Evans mentions.