Today, in a short blog post, we are going to try to dive pretty deep theologically and philosophically. I want to begin with a quote from a pretty well-known Biblical scholar at Wheaton, named John Walton, who apparently Larry went to school with, which makes me quite jealous.
Walton writes this, “We must notice that when God wanted to talk to the Israelites about their intellect, emotions, and will, he did not revise their ideas of physiology and feel compelled to reveal the function of the brain. Instead, he adopted the language of the culture to communicate in terms they understood.”
For me, that last line is incredibly important… “[God] adopted” – or we could say incarnated Himself – “in the language of the culture to communicate in terms they understood.” What this means is that the message of the Bible is imbedded and formed by the ancient cultures of the Bible. Or, as John Walton puts it, “[The Bible’s] message transcends the culture in which it originated, but the form in which the message was imbedded was fully permeated by the ancient culture.”
So far, if you’ve read this and think to yourself, “I have no idea what this means and why this matters” and you feel sorry for my wife because I like to sit down on Friday nights and read passages like this, then here’s my interpretation of what this means…When it comes to interpreting the Bible, we need to be humble.
We cannot pretend that the Bible speaks our modern-day language – it doesn’t. We cannot pretend that the Bible is asking our modern-day questions – it often isn’t. We cannot pretend that we have everything put together – we often don’t. The Bible speaks in an ancient voice that we need to listen to and not be so arrogant to think we have it all put together. Because, while I believe the Bible is authoritative, I just as equally believe I am not, nor are my interpretations.
So, for me, the main point of this post is this… We need to be open to letting the Bible speak in its own voice, not in ours.We need to be humble with our interpretations because we aren’t perfect. We need to be open to continually learning, searching and growing because none of us has it all put together.
That doesn’t mean we have to give up on the truth we know, but rather our fallibility should shape how we hold the truth. We shouldn’t be arrogant, haughty and overconfident. Instead, when we come to reading the Bible, we should be humble, grateful and open to learning. Because, this amazing, ancient document has changed lives for centuries, and it will continue to change lives when we learn to humbly listen to it and the wisdom found in it.