Sjolander Road Fellowship




Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

clear or cloudy

12/20/13

 

Most people probably would agree that the Bible is nothing but words on a page until it is understood. In that sense the divine revelation represented by the Bible reveals nothing until it is properly comprehended. In that regard the church paradoxically treats the Bible on the one hand as if its message is crystal clear and irrefutably so and, then, on the other as a text which must be properly illuminated by the Holy Spirit and perhaps a trained clergyman. The essentiality of proper interpretation by humans is further emphasized by the countless ways different Christian groups denounce one another over false doctrine and incorrect practice.

 

In promoting the first view, that of obvious truth, many in the church cling to what they term a literal interpretative scheme in addressing the scriptures. Under this paradigm, the written words are supposed to be understood in their normal, everyday sense, unless the context demands otherwise. The inquisitive student will immediately ask how one determines when a non-literal interpretation is necessary. The answer to that question will normally be that if it does not fit "literally" into our interpretation of scripture, then it becomes mysterious and therefore non-literal.

 

To the extent that the Bible is to be judged clear and easily understood, the recognition of symbolism, idiomatic expressions, or figures of speech in its text is understandably denied, wherever possible. Therefore any contention that the Bible is perfectly clear in its message will necessitate an insistence on a standard use of the associated language.

 

Conversely, when the church claims to be the conduit through which divine truth flows to mankind, one must wonder why the purported clarity of the Bible would require any sort of institution to interpret and disseminate its message. The very existence of the clergy and its claimed role as Bible instructors emphatically implies that there is more to knowing the Bible than just reading the words and embracing the literal meaning of those words. Unless one is illiterate or unfamiliar with the words employed, a crystal clear written revelation would require no further clarification or explanation. In other words, a clear revelation makes the clergy superfluous. In fact, if a literal interpretation, as defined above, is the correct one, the best the clergy could do is repeat the obvious and the worst would be to confuse or cloud the understanding.

 

It is rather obvious that as long as we inject a human element into the divine revelation, what results is no longer remotely divine. Any admixture of the divine and the human will inevitably be tainted and thus cannot remain divine. By its very insistence on being the interpreter of the Bible, the church eliminates the possibility of it possessing a divine revelation.

 

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