While listening to the radio the other day I heard an artist lament the lack of art history knowledge among art students today. He decried the lack of historical reference markers that enabled an intelligent discussion of art and its presentation in today’s society. Students had no knowledge of the historical scaffolding upon which they were trying to present their artistic expression.
This is also a good metaphor for biblical and theological discussions today. In the wall to wall debates we are currently hearing on the radio, TV and internet with regard to same sex marriage I am astounded at the lack of biblical literacy by those representing various iterations of the church. The lack of understanding of Christianity’s foundational text, a poor comprehension of Church history and thoroughly shoddy theology leaves one aghast at those representing and giving voice to many denominations in Australia today.
I am not alluding to disagreements about what the text means. That has always been an issue within the church and between denominations. My beef is more about the manner in which the Bible is used and abused. Issues such as the nature of the Old Testament, different genres within the Bible, the meta narrative that holds the Bible together and so on are so often missing in action.
The consequence is that we hear phrases like “I feel” or “the vibe” of the Bible/text/book. The subjectivity within discussions is quite alarming. The over arching idea presented in many of these debates is that we can make the Bible say anything we want it to say. Worse still, we read the Bible through the lens of the spirit of our age rather than asking what God’s message and intention is for our times.
If churches are to learn anything from our current discussion I think there can be no better lesson than to return to a serious and intentional study of God’s Word. Maybe that is the Reformation needed today.
Churches are sometimes afraid to teach the Cultural history surrounding the Bible and the events therein. They somehow think that if the rules about women being silent could be explained by disruptive women from a particular cult will be null and void once people realize the reason why women were supposed to be silent no longer exists. It’s far better to divorce the Bible from the culture and the history that it had so that it can be made to apply forever as if it were meant just for us, right here and right now.
Well said, Pieter.
Re “The subjectivity within discussion is quite alarming”
Is it possible to read the Bible without some degree of subjectivity?
How does one read the Bible in a completely objective manner?