Since I hold a contrary view of the Bible, i.e. non-traditional, I am subject to questions about how I reconcile this or that verse or passage with my general understanding of scripture. My approach is fundamentally the same as anyone else’s. Everyone, to a greater or lesser extent, decides what the Bible should be teaching and then tries to fit all scripture into that mold. I’ll admit to the same tendency.
I have already shared the Bible axiom I use to test my understanding of any passage of scripture: God is Love and Love never fails. Others apparently hold to a different axiom, something like this: God is the arbitrary ruler of the universe and obedience to His holy commands is a requirement to be loved and accepted by Him. To be unacceptable brings about His wrath and eternal punishment.
Now, no one denies that the Bible says plenty about obedience, wrath, and judgment. The Bible is full of it, especially the Old Testament. What people don’t seem to realize is that the workings of the Old Covenant Law with all its inherent frustration, failure, and punishments were preparatory, designed to teach the inadequacy of rule-keeping (obedience) for dealing with the problem of man’s shortcomings. Additionally, most do not recognize that the historical period documented in the New Testament scriptures was transitional and therefore most of what is written there was a unique message to the people of that time.
Everyone, at least subconsciously, brings interpretive assumptions to the table as they study the Bible. Since our society and its cultural norms are so infused with the old, orthodox thinking, those assumptions often lead in circular fashion back to an orthodox understanding. So let’s just own up to our prejudices and recognize that one man’s opinion, no matter how strictly orthodox, is just that and no more. To the extent we propose that our opinion is God’s message to everyone, we then better be able to demonstrate God-like omniscience to complement our other God-like qualities.