Three Positions: Above Scripture

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, May 6, 2016 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

It is quite interesting when God hammers a point. On Sunday, April 24, my pastor preached on how to read the Bible. The very next day, I started a series in my Monday night Bible study on the canonization of the Bible (where it came from), how to read it, and how we can trust it. Then completely unintentionally with the timing, I am starting a series here about where you put yourself in relation to Scripture. I honestly did not plan to speak about this during my Bible study and write on it with Worldview Warriors at the same time. And I know, when this happens, we need to pay attention, because God is speaking.

Katie Erickson has written about fancy terms “Exegesis” and “Eisegesis”: that is, taking the clear meaning of a passage and getting your understanding from it alone, or taking your own experiences and worldview and reading that into the text. These two methods of reading and interpreting actually stem from a bigger issue: Where do you place yourself in regard to Scripture? Do you put yourself above Scripture? Equal to Scripture? Or below Scripture?

There are a lot of people that put themselves above Scripture. They roost high over it, looking down upon it, with the look of a coroner preparing to examine a body. Someone who is above Scripture considers his or her opinion to be of more importance than Scripture and is of the position that they have the right to determine what Scripture says. They often see it as an old ‘archaic’ text that really isn’t even alive anymore. Does that mentality seem familiar to you? It does to me. How often do you hear, “That’s your opinion, but not everyone interprets Scripture that way”? How often do you hear, “You are using your modern thinking to interpret Scripture for you,” when actually you aren’t, and they are?

The person who sits above Scripture believes they can work out what they think Scripture says and give it a meaning that makes “sense” to them. That they can take ‘this’ meaning from this verse, but not ‘that’ meaning from another one. These people are very often those who treat Scripture like a buffet where you have the whole set of options and can pick and choose which parts you want and which parts you don’t. These people look for what Scripture says that they can fit to their current model as they desire. In this position, Scripture is molded to fit an image or an idea.

Many of these people will actually look down compassionately towards Scripture with this line of thinking: “This book has been abused and misused for many generations and now it is no longer understood in today’s world. So I think God needs my help to get his message across.” None of them will actually say this, but this is the mentality they take. There are several groups of people that come to mind who hold this position: the Bible Skeptic, the Old Earth Creationist, the Homosexual “Christian,” and the Emergent Church mentality. Let’s take a look at not only what they preach, but what they practice.

The Bible Skeptic is not merely someone who seeks an honest examination of Scripture with doubts of its validity. It is someone who often tries to disprove the Bible. Bart Ehrman is the biggest name that comes to mind. He is a scholar, very educated, and well-researched. But he places himself above Scripture. He is the one making popular all the supposed contradictions in the Bible. By putting himself above Scripture, he gets to make the decisions about what it actually says and if he thinks there is a contradiction, there must be a contradiction.

The Old Earth Creationist, which Bill Seng, Steve Risner, and I have written often about, also holds this position. They take their understanding of modern science (which is really not science, but a philosophy of deep time) and try to make Scripture fit the model. They will never say they are doing this, but you will find that they never get an understanding of deep time from Scripture. It comes from outside Scripture, from a separate philosophy. And like the Bible Skeptic, they love their credentials more than they love Scripture, more than Christ.

I wrote a ten-post series about Matthew Vines and the supposed 10 reasons why the Bible “supports” homosexuality (it starts with this post). I am not going to rehash the whole series, but this position is exactly what Matthew Vines used in his analysis. He did not search for the true deeper meaning of Scripture. He searched for a way to try to manipulate Scripture to fit his ideals. He challenges us to look deeper into Scripture. I did, and he would not like the results (James White and others have addressed him as well).

Then there is the Emergent Church. These are the people that think truth is “springy,” that truth bends and molds around the culture. These are often the people that love to quote some Scriptures, but they take them out of context, to make them fit what they want it to say. Prosperity Gospel preachers fit in this category.

Something that is very key to note in all these approaches is the focus on “self.” All of these positions and those that put themselves above Scripture take a position where God, the Bible, and everything needs to cater to them. Scripture needs to fit what I want it to say. God is all for me and will help me and make me prosperous, even if I am living in complete defiance of his standards. If God loves me just as I am, then I don’t have to change because he loves me. It does not matter what I believe because God’s love is so great that I will go to heaven anyway.

How many of us have heard this mindset? Or worse, how many of us CARRY this mindset? If we do, we need to discard such a mindset, repent, and turn it around. Who made us so smart that we can determine what God said? Who made us so educated that we can tell God what he meant to say? What gives our intellect and research skills (or lack thereof) precedence over what God makes clear? To be honest, if God was not concerned about how we live, if he did not care about whether we change or not, 3/4 of the Bible would be non-existent. So much of the Bible speaks very honestly about whether the people followed him or not. The Bible is not going to mold around our desires, around our culture of our time. The laws of science do not bend and change according to our sensibilities. I’m sure many of us would love to shut off gravity at will. But we can’t. So why do so many of us think we can do that with the Bible?

In the next two weeks, I will explore two other positions we can hold: equal to the Bible, which is where most Christians are today, and below the Bible, where we all should be.

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