Monday, November 27, 2006

Sola Scriptura--The Prey of Cultural Influence--Part II

As discussed before, the goal of these next few posts is to expose those things which most often hinder our ability to have unbiased interpretation (of the Bible). The last post was aimed at those who interpret scripture in light of culture. This post will have the same purpose, however it will be aimed at those who let culture interpret scripture in ways that are not quite so obvious.

Many may say to me at this point, "Jimmy, do you have a chip on your shoulder or something? I mean, you seem to be knocking on everyone. Give us a break, no one is perfect. Do you expect everyone to be COMPLETELY unbiased in their interpretation?"

Of course I do not expect everyone to be completely unbiased, even I am full of bias. What I desire to see is a Christianity that desires to be rid of their biases so that they might be shaped and formed solely by the word of God. The more we rid ourselves of those things which keep us from correctly interpreting Scripture, the more formed by Scripture we will become. The problem is that most Christians today are being formed more by their culture than they are by the Bible. This is not even necessarily because they are not reading their Bibles, but rather because when they do read their Bibles, they are throwing their cultural biases on the text.

My goal is that I will become completely free of bias when reading the Bible. That should be everyone's goal. We should all desire that our desires, thoughts, beliefs, fears, joys etc. be conformed by the Scritpures alone. This is the call of Sola Scriptura. This is what Luther was fighting for (don't be conformed by church tradition, but rather be conformed by the Word of God).

This is for my fellow Evangelical Fundamentalist Bigoted Christian Brothers and Sisters: How much do you fall prey to the influences and norms of our culture? How much do you allow these influences and norms to effect your interpretation? Let me just expose one area of cultural bias that can be found even in my own circle of fellow believers.

Where do you stand on the issue of divorce and remarriage (yes, I do realize that I am opening a huge can of worms)? I am not here pushing for any of the views. In fact, I will not make known where I stand on this issue. Now, What drove you to come to your position? Was it the result of struggling with the texts as they are presented in context? Is your position the result of unbiased interpretation?

One of the hardest things to get over when studying divorce and remarriage is cultural bias. How many (Christians) would ever consider the thought that those who have been divorced can never remarry (at least until their divorced spouse has died), even if they were the innocent party? Most Christian's already have their minds made up before they even start looking at the pertinent Scriptures. AFTER their minds have been made up, then they go to the Bible and lay their preconceived-culturally-shaped ideas upon the Bible.

Here are some commonly held objections to the view of divorce and remarriage I just laid forth, "Are you going to tell me that a 19 year old girl who was just wrongfully divorced cannot remarry until her X is dead?" I am not going to stand here and make it sound better than what it is, but if that is what the Bible teaches... then we must submit to it. Do you like the sound of Hell? Of course not, then why not reject that doctrine? Because it is in the Bible.

"I cannot believe in a God who would not allow the innocent party of a divorce to never remarry until his/her guilty X dies." Well, I never would have believed in a God who destroys sinners in hell for an eternity unless I was leaning upon the Bible. In fact, I would not believe much of what I now believe if my beliefs were not shaped by the Bible.

"What are you going to do with the great majority of those in our churches who have been divorced? Are you going to tell them that they sinned when they remarried?" Well, what are you going to tell the even greater majority of Christians whose lives are marked by gluttony? Why are you going to tell them that they are sinning? Because the BIBLE says they are.

These three objections certainly are important and need to be addressed, but these objections mean nothing if the Bible teaches this certain view of remarriage.

I am not pushing for this view of remarriage (or am I?). I am exposing the reality of how shaped we all are by our culture, yea, our Christian Culture. If you disagree with this view of remarriage than that is fine (or is it--if it is in accord with the Bible it isn't). BUT if you are going to disagree with this view of remarriage then you answer had better be, "I disagree because I have searched the Scriptures in context and have heavily considered each view in light of Scripture. I have come to a different position because the Bible teaches a different position and the Bible is what shapes my idea of divorce and remarriage."

Most Christians are very Catholic on this issue. Rather than coming to the Bible to be told what to believe about divorce and remarriage, we come to the Bible with our minds made up. We come to the Bible with our ideas being shaped by the culture and then we lay this already discovered truth on the Bible. We need to have a Bible bias and let it (the Bible read in context) solely shape our understanding of remarriage. Rather than having our understanding of divorce and remarriage shaped by Church Tradition (as the Catholics) we are having our understanding of divorce shaped by the Christian Culture. Both are just as bad, because neither of them are leaning solely upon the word of God. Do you see how much even we Baptists are much like the Catholic Church. We need to heed the call of Sola Scriptura. We need the Bible to inform us of what is right. We need the Bible to be that which informs our idea of divorce and remarriage. Not our culture. Not are already held theology. Not Church Tradition, but the Bible.

No comments: