Friday, December 15, 2006

Differences of Scriptural Interpretation

We have a new reader making comments here, Jonathan K. Welcome, Jonathan.

Jonathan holds significantly different theological points of view from the majority of our readers. I respect his right to hold and practice his views, and I am in no way singling him out to belittle him at all.

Your situation, Jonathan, just provides a great opportunity to illustrate a point.

Jonathan has contributed to two comment stream: This one about Joel Osteen, and my most recent hypothetical post about IMB policies.

Over the course of the past year, we've heard from a number of brothers that, although we had every right in the Conservative Resurgence to take strong stands over the nature of scripture, we must be careful not to codify particular interpretations of scripture so as not to exclude people who are honestly seeking to interpret the Bible.

I submit to you that the differences between Jonathan K's views and mine are strictly and solely differences over interpretation of the Bible. He has sought to present a biblical rationale behind his views in both of these posts. I think that his views are the fruit of a poor hermeneutic. He thinks that my views represent a poor hermeneutic. But he has never built any of his arguments on any concept of fallibility in the text.

If we are unwilling to divide over differences of interpretation of the text, then we have no doctrine. Anti-Trinitarians (and re-reading, I clarify that I am making no comparison between Jonathan and Anti-Trinitarians) build their viewpoint from the text, and many such people hold high views of the nature of the Bible. And by the way, the Trinitarian argument is not exactly the clearest and simplest one to make from the scripture, either.

But the importance of a doctrine is not determined by whether anyone else might have read the Bible differently. The importance of a doctrine is not even determined by how many times it appears in the Bible or how easy it is to interpret those occasions where it does appear.

So, the next time you read someone making a plea that we not divide over "differing interpretations of Scripture," ask yourself, what does that really mean, and what would our churches look like if we really followed that rule?

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