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 perspective 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 spirituality, 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 spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God 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.