The traditional church presents the Bible in two distinctly opposite ways. In the first they throw out isolated verses as if they are patently self explanatory and say there it is, read and heed, take it or leave it. It is the sort of Bible usage we witness when some one cites a s proof text as conclusive proof, places a verse on a billboard, or flashes a scripture reference at a ballgame. The implication is that the Bible is crystal clear, so just read and believe it.
The second, and perhaps more common presentation, is that of the paid minister. Theirs is an invitation to pay close attention to how they clarify a series of verses and draw the proper conclusions and responses there from. This is decidedly the normal approach when the evangelicals attempt to teach their version of the plan of salvation. No matter whose version of the plan you hear, it almost always entails a series of steps which must be completed, maybe even in a specific order. These steps will very likely be identified in widely scattered areas of scripture. As opposed to the use of quick, self evident verses above, this representation of the Bible involves broad Bible knowledge and the ability to identify interconnectedness and to differentiate between essential and incidental information. Generally, the ability to teach in this way is the role of the paid clergy.
The entire contention by evangelicals that the Bible is the absolute truth standard which verifies their theology is at odds with how they use it in both these examples. If Bible as a 2000 page book is the measure of truth, then any one or two verses can hardly convey enough of the Bible message to establish the truth. If every aspect of evangelical theology is essential, then no few verses can instruct sufficiently. If, as some contend, the Holy Spirit will invigorate and illuminate the text, making even a small snippet of scripture effective, why is the human element necessary in evangelism?
Then, if larger portions of scripture must be noted and deciphered and I must rely on church professionals to illuminate those portions, I need a way to sort through the various interpretations of the Bible presented by different professionals. If, as many propose, each person must personally confirm any teaching by comparison with the scriptures, then I really don't need the instructor in the first place. Ultimately, I am personally responsible for determining the truth. Again, why even have a middle man between me and God's revelation?
Confused yet? I certainly am. Who is the author of this confusion (I Corinthians 14:33)?