continued from part 1
RULE FOUR: Interpret personal experience in the light of Scripture, and not Scripture in the light of personal experience.
Personal experience should not become the rubric for how we understand the Bible, though it definitely is the basis for how we apply it in our lives. For example; it might lead to us distorting the truth because we argue that "in my case," the ends justify the means; or that our case is an exception. Our approach to understanding Scripture should not be to first see if it fits what makes sense to our limited and often biased perspective of life.
There was a good example--we were given a short sample 'sermon' that argued that polygamy wasn't against the Bible, and should be accepted as a legitimate alternative for Christians, citing 'proof' from church history, cultural evidence, and
RULE FIVE: Biblical examples are only authoritative when supported by a command.
This means that though it would not be wrong if we read "Go, sell all you have." in Mark 10:21 and feel convicted to do something along those lines with our own possessions, it would be wrong if we insisted that this was what Jesus commanded every single Christian to do, and started busting into our church members' homes to garage sale their furniture for the Red Cross. Unless it is a specific command, such as John 14:15--"If you love Me, keep My commandments--" we should not be interpreting and using the Bible in this way. Just as Abraham tying Isaac up as a sacrifice obviously isn't God's intention for every Christian parent, though in Abraham's case it was the right thing to do, being a test of obedience.
Likewise, there are so many different types of characters in the Bible if you look at it from a literary point of view, and not just the 'good/bad' binary characters either; so many of them, like Abraham, Gideon, Solomon, Samson, and my favourite King David, are 'good' yet essentially flawed. Do we simply follow what they did because they were people God used, they were 'good' people in that sense because they obeyed God and were used to do great works? (and in David's case, even loved God and were loved by God) No, it's so obvious that these people made mistakes too--they, like us, were cowardly, weak, lustful, selfish, proud, greedy at one time or another. The Bible does not present everything they did as something for us to emulate.
Basically, understand that the content in the Bible is in two categories: the general--content which is given for us to derive our personal application from, and benefit from accordingly within the context of our unique individual situations--and the specific, which are explicit commands applicable for all, not up to what we think they should mean for us.
RULE SIX: The primary purpose of the Bible is to change our life, not to increase our knowledge.
This was a good, if obvious reminder. In our privileged first world society where education and knowledge are prioritized and seen as indications of and means to power and superiority, we may end up having the same attitude towards studying the Bible and getting a PhD. The more obscure facts, background info, historical background, theology, and lexical analysis we absorb about the Bible, the more complacent and self-satisfied we feel, the more 'godly.' But our priority should not be how much Bible knowledge we can cram into our little brains during our time on earth. The purpose of the Bible was to change our lives. If we absorb all that knowledge only as such--head knowledge, which doesn't extend to active application; like a dietician who continues to eat sloppily, skip meals, binge on sweet treats, and live on junk food--we are not using it as God meant it to be.
continued in part 3
a small voice
Ci thinks some of God's greatest blessings to mankind are
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