March 13, 2017

Is the Bible Always Clear?

There you are, diving in to a discussion about an issue or a passage of Scripture with someone else. Pretty quickly, it becomes obvious that you and the person you're speaking with have a different opinion about what you're discussing. As you share your take, you can tell it's not going over well as the other person is shaking their head in disagreement. And then, in their response, they drop their bomb of truth on you:

"Nope, you're wrong, the Bible is clear on this."

And that's it. You try to present more of your perspective but you are met with the same refrain. "The Bible is clear."

In my opinion, the argument of the Bible being clear tends to come from one of three places:

1) Arrogance - this refrain is usually accompanied with anger and defensiveness. The person just can't get beyond what they have always known to be true and for the sake of their own faith and feeling safe, they just can't, nor want to, consider another perspective. (If you want to dig deeper in to this aspect and the way people think differently, check out Spiral Dynamics...fascinating stuff!)

2) Ignorance - this refrain is usually accompanied with fear. This person has never realized that there are other takes on the issue or passage that you're discussing and they don't know how to respond. They've never done deeper research or study about it, they have always been around people who think just like them, and they are terrified to consider another perspective.

3) Well Intentioned - sometimes when someone issues this refrain, what they really are trying to say is: "After all the research and studying that I've done into this issue or passage, I have come to believe that the issue is clear." As stated, this is most often well intentioned, however I think it's better to over explain stating the later because that opens the door for further discussion, where just saying it's clear can be mistaken for one of the above responses.

Now, I have come to believe that the Bible is clear about a lot of things. (I just started to write a bulleted list of all the things I believe are clear but I feel like that would be missing the point of this blog.) I've come to that conclusion by reading it, studying it, purposefully exposing myself to different opinions and beliefs, and most of all, by discussing it with other people who have a heart to understand it as well.

But the other side of my beliefs that I feel are clear in the Bible, is that I am open to being convinced otherwise and I respect when someone else feels that what I believe is clear one way, they feel is clear another way. As a follower of Jesus, I believe that one of the biggest markers of that is humility (see Philippians 2:1-11). And part of that is recognizing that I, as a finite human being, who can be selfish and let emotions cloud my judgement, needs to be constantly open to the fact that my limited brain may not fully and absolutely understand the infinite, all-knowing, indescribable, God that we worship. Personally, I've come to believe that anything less than that is actually idolatry; worshipping a smaller god that you can fully and totally comprehend since it's made in your own image.

The Bible can be a very difficult book to read at times as it isn't always super clear about everything, especially as you dive in deeper to translation questions, cultural contexts and how a 3,000 year old text applies to use today. The best I can do is promise to always be as faithful as I can to the Scriptures and to prayerfully rely on the Holy Spirit to guide and direct me to Gods deeper truth in everything I believe.

I want to continue asking questions for the sake of growing in my faith and understanding the Divine.

I want to constantly have an attitude of listening and considering other perspectives for the sake of learning and being refined in my beliefs.

And I pray that I change my mind on lots of things throughout my life as God convicts me of more areas in my life that need to be changed to reflect more and more of Jesus.

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