December 26, 2007

"What the Scripture Means to Me"

Speaking of cliches, this is yet another that I hope our prepared women's ministry leaders will choose to confront this year. I've heard this from women in bible studies as well as from seasoned leaders. As they discuss a portion of Scripture, it inevitably comes back to the individual, themselves. They begin the sentence with "what this verse means to me is..." and then they go on to explain how a particular experience helps them to understand the meaning of the verse. At best, they share how the verse speaks to their own circumstances, yet they do this prior to working out the actual meaning associated with the context of the passage. Either way, this approach not only encourages a mishandling of Scripture and a misapplication of the text, it also neglects to honor to the inspired meaning. I do hope we won't throw inspiration out the window.

The problem with "what the Scripture means to me" is that it is, by definition, creating an environment for subjective interpretation. We are in dangerous territory when we encourage this manner of handling the Bible as we are ultimately allowing for many understandings of a given passage. Who can argue with anyone's subjective experience? I'm reminded of yet another overly used cliche, "the Lord led me..." who can argue with that? Appealing to God in this manner, taking the self out of the decision making process, makes it virtually impossible to argue against. We must be so careful with the use of our evangelical vernacular. Interpretation of a passage may sometimes be difficult, but a proper understanding of the meaning is our ultimate goal.

We have been given the responsibility to teach from the Scriptures and to teach others how to understand them on their through their own studies. We need to discourage the type of subjectivity that encourages the reader to be self-centered instead of Christ-centered. Ours is a faith that includes our every facet, let's not neglect the role of the mind.

No comments: