Sjolander Road Fellowship




Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

biblical misdirection

2/14/15

 

To say that Christianity is obsessed with the Bible, its endless study, and the art of its interpretation would be to state the obvious. The institutional church claims its very role as the earthly sponsor and administrator of Christianity based on the Book. Their every practice is supposedly drawn from the Book, one being the emphasis on constantly searching the scriptures. No church service is complete without the quoting of scripture and a lesson on its meaning and application. Every preacher, priest, or minister is assumed to be an expounder of the Bible as his defining characteristic.

 

Out of this historical emphasis on Bible study and proper interpretation, we have experienced what I consider to be a diversion away from the essential message of the Bible. The very notion that the Bible has to be unraveled, bit by bit, properly connecting the widely scattered dots and using precise logical steps, has promoted two counter productive outcomes. One is the common conclusion that only trained clergymen are proper interpreters. This has made it easy for most people to avoid the Bible all together.

 

The second result has been an inordinate attention to so called biblical prophesy. The idea of deeply embedded truth naturally makes men gravitate to those portions of scripture with strange and uncertain language, thus presenting the greatest intellectual challenge. Anyone drawn to the idea of Bible study must select a place of emphasis. The challenge of prophetic passages stimulate not only curiosity, but also provide the student with an opportunity to feel extraordinarily accomplished in that study, to excel and thereby be recognized.

 

One might question my conclusions about the motivating thoughts which underlie the general fascination of the church with prophesy, but there is little room to deny the fascination itself. The constant drum roll of Christianity over the imminent Return of Christ and the associated Great White Throne Judgment is proof positive.

 

Another part of the focus on prophesy has been the associated interest in the symbolic connection between the Old Testament and the New. A generally accepted understanding of how this connectedness works is that various aspects of the Old Testament story mirrored or foreshadowed corresponding aspects of the New Testament. This type/antitype comparison is heralded as a powerful evidence of the divine nature of the Bible, indicating knowledge beyond mere human capability.

 

This type/antitype interpretive scheme reinforces the idea that the NT is an outgrowth of the OT. Some will say that everything in the Bible promotes the same thought, but that leaves unanswered the question as to the exact nature and purpose of that connection. One way to view it is to conclude, as many do, that the OT with its laws and rituals merely foreshadowed NT laws and rituals which were more meaningful and powerful than the old. For instance, the old Jewish temple led to the church. The old priesthood led to the current day clergy. The old blood sacrifices led to the sacrifice of Jesus. The old temple observances resulted in current day worship services. This particular way of seeing the OT/NT connection minimizes idea of radical change and actually allows many aspects of OT Judaism to be promoted as marks of NT Christianity (tithing and ten commandments come to mind).

 

Since the OT scriptures contain most of what is seen as prophetic and unfulfilled, the fascination with the art of prophesy requires a deep study of the OT. This adds to the tendency to drag more of the old into the new.

 

An alternative way to see the OT to NT connection is to consider the old as a precursor but not one which simply reflected less powerful laws and rituals. Instead the old offered a marked difference from the new in its ethical system. Under this view the old becomes a demonstration of old thinking and its ineffectiveness as compared with the new which represents a radically different way of viewing, God, man, human behavior, and the manner of living which produces ultimate fulfillment. Under this view mankind is encourage to be radically different by letting go of all the old stuff and trying something brand new. The connection between old and new remains intact, but, instead of the new being merely a step up from the old, the new becomes in many ways the polar opposite of the old.

 

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