Do We Read the Bible with Preconceived Notions?
Last Sunday I challenged us to examine our faith practices, using the Bible as a foundation to confirm or refute the things we do in church (and in life). This way, we can consider our traditions and remove those that don’t withstand biblical scrutiny.
The problem is, we often justify our spiritual practices because we read the Bible through the very lens formed by those same practices. That is, we tend to only see what conforms to what we do, and we ignore the rest. Our preconceived notions seeks justification—and we find it.
For example, not many of us—I hope none of us—handle snakes as part of our religious services, yet those that do have a verse to support it. The same approach validates polygamy as a religious practice. The list goes on. If we try hard enough, we can prooftext almost anything.
Furthermore, it’s human nature to focus on verses that support our actions and beliefs, while we skim or skip passages that challenge them. We desire biblical confirmation and avoid biblical confrontation.
To combat this, I strive to do the opposite, skimming the verses I like and carefully considering the passages I don’t: the ones that confuse me or oppose my point of view.
I hope the result is a more holistic understanding of biblical Christianity, and I know it makes me more accepting of different Christian practices.
Join me in reading the Bible, not for self-validation, but to grasp a grander comprehension of God and how to best follow him.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.
Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.
6 replies on “Reading the Bible with Preconceived Notions”
Funny that I should read this just after hearing a TV program about the Christ’s rising on the Third Day, (which isn’t really the “third” day from the death of Christ, but only the second). Do I know why? Do I care? I only know He did and it doesn’t matter to me what day it was. Inquiring minds want to know? I guess I am not that inquisitive. I’ll let you figure out that one for me.
It doesn’t matter to me, either, but I’m sure there are people who would accuse us of heresy if we said Jesus rose after two days!
Or it could have been Monday (if they had Mondays then – just when did Caesar start that stuff, anyway?) Now I’m curious.
Loved this. It’s so true. I know this is what I’ve done. I’m willing to try it your way now.
It’s a hard habit to break!