Know Thyself: The Forgotten Reality In Bible Reading

Facts and objectivity are rather big deals in the sales world of journalism.  Like every other part of business America, journalism outlets are competing for the attention and approval of the American populace.  So the taglines go something like “hard hitting facts” or “bringing you the scoop”.  After all, who wants to have yesterday’s scoop today in a world where old information is “so 30 seconds ago”?  What often goes unnoticed—and subsequently unquestioned—is perhaps the most important part of the business of journalism.  We can get so enamored with the presentation of a story that we forget the filter of communication—the worldview of the news stations and journalists bringing the news.   Someone has to decide what is news, and which person(s) or idea(s) will be favorably presented.

 

In the world of professing Christianity, the claim to “sticking by the Book” is very much akin to journalism’s claim to faithfully dabbling in objective facts.  If a church member or pastor is asked what they believe, you might hear something like “I believe the Bible”.  While this sentiment reflects the very biblical teaching of the centrality of Revelation to the life and thought of the Church, such responses can often leave us with a thought akin to the famous California surfer philosopher—“Whatever, dude”.  The meaning behind such a statement is often as varied as the people who assert it.

 

In the world of Bible reading and preaching, we often forget that it isn’t enough to study the Bible.  Philosophers of days past had a very wise saying—“Know thyself”.  It isn’t enough to examine the contents of Holy Scripture.  The human mind serves as a filter—a lens of interpretation—through which we understand the Word of God.  All men approach life with presuppositions—things that we “pre-suppose” to be true.  In a sense, pure objectivity then becomes impossible.  Rather, interpretation of biblical content becomes inextricably tied to the way in which we view the world and the Bible as a system, as a unified or unrelated whole.

 

The forgotten reality in Bible reading then becomes the exercise of considering our own lens of interpretation.  Various interpretive systems are known, for example, under such names as Dispensationalism, Covenant Theology, and Fundamentalism.  We have all grown up under some form of thought structure that sets into our minds a basic framework for how we approach the theology of any concept, doctrine, or passage of Scripture.  And the most important question then becomes discerning whether or not the Bible presents its own system of thought.  2 Timothy 1:13 seems to assert as much when it commands us to hold fast the “outline” of sound words.  Biblical truth has an outline to it, a pre-standing structure through which we are to look at every part.  What lens of interpretive thought determines how you view passages of Scripture?  Bible reader, know thyself.

 

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