Sjolander Road Fellowship




Projecting a new view of God and the Bible,
one which is truly "Good News".

Clarifying scriptures

4/2/11

So often when people discuss differing views of the Bible, what we witness is what you might call dueling scripture verses. One side typically has their supporting verses, and the opposing view has a different set. Generally both sides see their “proof texts” as overruling those of the other side.

 

When scriptures seem to support opposing views as we so often see, what is the rule by which we determine which verse clarifies or overrules which? I have heard several proposals in that regard. One was that the view supported most clearly by the Bible is the correct one. That sounds fine, except that what is clearly taught is not so clear to everyone. Some proposed to accept what has generally been believed by the church. There again, if one is familiar with vast array of different biblical interpretations maintained by various elements of the church down through the ages and the innumerable times those understandings have changed, then that rule becomes less than concrete. Finally, some support the idea that the preponderance of scriptural evidence will always point to the correct interpretation when properly applied. Well, here once more, I am left wondering who determines what the majority of verses support and how many isolated verses are needed to establish this purported preponderance. In reality, this claim, that the majority of evidence will support the correct position, is largely just another way of saying the proper view is the majority opinion. The majority opinion is significant, but to the extent that the opinion is inherited and not personally derived and tested, it remains highly suspect.

 

In the final analysis, what generally happens when someone encounters passages of scripture which don’t support what they already assume to be true, they simply ignore them. If they are forced to reconcile contrary verses. most everyone will contend that supportive verses clarify the contrary ones, meaning that some more imaginative or symbolic meaning must apply to the unsupportive verses. This demonstrates dramatically that we all will readily dismiss portions of the Bible, at least in terms of trying to understand them at face value, when the verses contradict what we want to believe. Now admittedly, the literary style of the Bible encourages, or more pointedly, demands a symbolic, non-literal understanding of many passages, so the need for seeking deeper meaning in a portion of scripture is real enough. However, as I have noted, we all see some scripture as axiomatic, i.e. evident without further proof, and other parts as requiring clarification or even nullification in light of our chosen axioms.

 

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