As we conclude our discussion of “The Battle over the Bible” [Chapter 8} Pastor Hamilton finds a way to summarize this warfare between conservative interpreters and liberal interpreters.
I wish he could find a way to make these warring sides make peace but that is not going to happen.
Instead he expresses his own view of the Bible and I want to comment on it because it is near to my view of the Bible.
As I have gotten older, I read the Bible more than ever. I consult the Bible in the writing of this blog, I consult the Bible in the teaching of my Sunday school class and I just have this habit of reading it every day now. That has been in place for the past year and it shows no sign on slacking off [thank you God].
I do see the writers of the Bible as human beings with all the foibles we all have. They are capable of misunderstanding things and being inconsistent. They were sinners and very good people but they were given their messages from God. I believe God gave them direction in their writing. I believe God gave the copyists guidance in their copying the Bible, I believe church leaders felt God’s guidance in the selection of the canon and I believe God gives me guidance in my reading of His Word.
I agree with Pastor Hamilton that the Bible is “living and active” and I believe the very reading of the Bible can change your life. I was telling someone the other day that I think the goal of every Christian should be to get as much Bible inside themselves as possible.
Pastor Hamilton likens reading the Bible to taking communion and I like that image. I pray before I read the Bible. I pray that the Holy Spirit will speak to me as I read the word. I ask that my powers of observation be sharpened and my eyes be open to what the text is saying. I ask for wisdom and insight as I seek to interpret what the text means. I ask that the Bible touch my life in ways that need God’s touch. I ask that God convict me of any issues in my life that I’m hiding. I give God complete permission to search my heart to see if there is anything in me that is contrary to His will. I ask to be challenged by His holiness and comforted by His promises.
As we approach communion, we should be in prayer just as we approach the Bible we should be in prayer. As communion imparts grace, wisdom, truth and hope, so does the Bible.
Maybe it is my education but I don’t turn my back on Biblical scholarship. As we have been discussing in Chapter 8, Bible scholars do have their biases. Some focus on the writers of God’s word as humans; other believe that the writers are a part of a divine process. I believe that by reading Biblical scholarship I am opposed to does not make me lose my faith. I am able to separate the bias out and even an opinion I don’t appreciate can have a grain of truth. At least it is important for me to understand the position of people I don’t agree with.
In essense, like John Wesley, I feel the need to incorporate four elements in my reading of the Bible: I hold the Scripture up as the first authority before considering anything else. I value traditional knowledge about the Bible, for those who have come before us do know a lot and they can instruct me. I value my ability to reason or think especially if it is in tune with the Holy Spirit and I value experience that I have had with scriptures in the past and experiences I have had in life that relate to the Bible.
Psalm 119:105 is possibly the best way to summarize how we should all feel about the Bible. Its words are “a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”