Are we too smart for the Bible?

Today I had a discussion today with friend and mentor, Dr. David Olford or Olford Ministries International.  He posed a question that was very challenging, “Are we too smart for the Bible?”

This question runs at the heart of our study and communication of the Scriptures.  We live in a day where theological positions are debated in 140 characters or less on Twitter (unless you cheat and use Twitlonger).  Everyone is out to make sure their voice is heard on micro-slices of scripture to ensure their particular theological position is adequately supported. Whether it is the Calvinists who never miss an opportunity to remind us of God’s sovereignty or the Armenians reminding us that we must “call upon the name of the Lord.” There are the Pentecostals who beat the drum of the Holy Spirit while our Southern Baptist friends keep us aware of all the possible errors and abuses.  Not to mention the four views of the Millennium, Rapture timing, God’s Kingdom and what in the world God is doing with Israel. Let us not forget about Creation or Evolution or Creative Evolution. The list goes on and on.

Admittedly, I take these opportunities as much as the next guy. However, today’s conversation reminded me of a two simple principles I need to keep in place around my study of scripture and how I communicate it.

1. The necessity of humility. The true student of Scripture should have an attitude of humility. Humility should permeate both our study and our delivery of God’s word.  We should not minimize the necessity of prayer and dependence on God as a means of establishing appropriate humility before we engage the scriptures.  We need to approach the scripture as the light we need in our darkness and not be arrogant fools who think we have all the light we need.

2. The danger of boxes. Everyone has theological boxes. In many respects these boxes are helpful to understand complex concepts in Scripture, however they can be as dangerous as they are helpful. Especially as we study the scripture, we ought to be open to what God has said, not impose our box into the text. If our exposure is first and foremost the pages of Holy Scripture we must entertain the question, “What does it say?” and then ask, “What does it mean?” God forgive us for imposing our boxes (well-meaning they may be) on your Word.

One caveat: there are many theological and doctrinal boxes that have existed for centuries and act as safeguards against the invention of “new” doctrines AKA heresies. Please know I’m not advocating the abandonment of tradition or orthodoxy. I am advocating for the pure study of scripture as it is written before consulting any helpful resources. 

Sometimes we are simply too smart and too educated for our own good. It’s often our “smarts” that limit our understanding. We May we never lose the childlike wonder of opening God’s word to see exactly what He has said.  Maybe we will rediscover the excitement of this great story of God’s love for us.
Posted by Andy Savage at 12:18 PM
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