Monday, July 28, 2008

It's Not Just About the View With God

"It's not interpreted differently. It's viewed differently."
--Don Sutton, Baseball Hall of Famer,
on an umpire's view of the strike zone

If you didn't read Part I, you might want to trek back a blog.

The Bible is not exempt from the interpretation/view discussion either. Believers vs. non-believers; believers vs. believers; denomination vs. denomination, etc. The viewpoints on the Bible are as varied as the people God has created. What's tricky about discussing the Bible is that even translation comes into question. What is really being said? If this is God's universal and absolute truth, is there any way we can all know what it is? What is God's strike zone??

False teachers and prophets were aplenty in the days after Jesus' resurrection. His disciples truly had their work laid out for them, and Jesus told them as much.

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you."
--Matthew 28: 19&20 (emphasis mine)

Teaching the truth was a major charge. John, one of Jesus' disciples, would continue to evangelize into his 80s, dispelling the false teachings that were starting to be viewed, if not interpreted, by churches as Biblical truth. Things are not that different today, which is probably why John's letters were planned by God in the first place. What? Churches not following the same truth? One might say that there is more argument over truth in the church than anywhere else (e.g., submission, baptism, homosexuality, monetary giving, even who is a Christian and who isn't).

"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God."
--I John 4: 1&2

The key is the Spirit of God--the breath (and breadth) of our understanding His Word. God's truth is only known when we let God's Spirit interpret the truth. Remember, interpretation is defined as the "expression of one's conception of a work," here, meaning the Holy Spirit interprets God's work--his Creation and all truths pertaining to it. How you view that truth may vary from person to person, as it is His good will and pleasure to guide us with knowledge at a certain points in time.

We may embrace the truth immediately or we may misunderstand it for a time. We may live out the truth differently than friends who understand the same interpretation. (We all have different gifts--we don't all give or love or serve the same way.) Likewise, someone else may share your view of the truth (e.g., giving to help the neighborhood food bank), but not know the Holy Spirit. ("Giving to charity makes me feel good and it's tax-deductible," vs. "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has not pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?" --I John 3:17) But, which is better in the long run? What view lands you in "the Hall of" Heaven?

I think Don Sutton's statement still holds up here if we are talking about Spirit-led interpretation. We are operating in God's parameters when our interpretation of the Bible is in step with the Spirit, not with the world. Our view of the truth may be seen from a different perspective, but, with the Holy Spirit's direction, it will change to be more of a direct match with God's strike zone.

However, it is not enough to maintain only the same view of truth without a solid home base in Biblical interpretation.That would imply that the interpretation of God's strike zone was not absolute.

Hmm.... A world without absolutes....

No wonder Jesus says, essentially, "it's a whole new ballgame" when we come to Him. If Jesus spoke "in baseball," he might have been quoted in Matthew 9: 37 & 38 as follows:

"Then he said to his umpires, 'The pitches are plentiful but the called strikes are few. Ask the Lord of the ballpark therefore to send out coaches into his umping field."


Chatty Kelly said...

The NHPC Pastor would love these posts with all the sports references! ha! Me, I have a hard time interpreting the bible, and a hard time interpreting sports - can anyone say 'duh!?"

Great blog. Actually my topic today lines up nicely with yours.

Some deep thinking. and no crystal clear answers.

My ADHD Me said...

Ck said it perfect
"Some deep thinking. And no crystal clear answers."
I'm really sorry to hear about your pastor leaving. I really liked him alot. A great guy. A great teacher. When ever he spoke with me he spoke TO me, not AT me.