The Bible is the foundation for Christian doctrine and practice. It is the ultimate Christian authoritative source, and is “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” We read and study it often, yet usually not as much as we think we should.
So what does the Bible really say? It seems to depend on whom we ask. The Bible (or at least selected passages) can be used to support almost any spiritual perspective. It seems to me that much of what we think the Bible says is actually what someone else says it says. While we often need help in understanding the context or background of what we are reading, too often we don’t rely on our own understanding of the plain text and the guidance of the Spirit within us. I am remembering a specific incident where a Bible teacher went to great lengths to bend and stretch a passage well beyond the simple meaning of the words so that he could make the passage fit into his personal narrow doctrinal perspective. We need to be very skeptical of such teaching.
There were two triggers for today’s post. One is that today is the start of a new year and I intend to get back to my studies of the history of Christianity. The other trigger is that I have started reading a book: What the Bible Really Says, A Reader’s Guide to the Old and New Testaments, by Manfred Barthel. This book is actually more about historical context than about specific commentary, and I am finding it to be both interesting and informative.
Happy New Year, and Happy Bible Reading.