Tuesday, 14 December 2010

How should we approach scripture?

The Washington Post is publishing a series of articles by Gene Robinson on the subject of sexuality. The first  article  looks at how we read and interpret scripture. I have to say that I read this article and it was very much in line with how I approach scripture. What I always find amazing is that some Christians contextualise, minimise or even largely ignore, certain parts of scripture, but then complain that "liberals" pick and choose when they use the same approach to texts on certain issues, homosexuality being the main one.
I shall be reading the rest of these articles with interest.


  1. I find Gene Robinson to be gracious and compassionate and this article on how to read scripture is spot on; the trouble is will people who need to be challenged a little bit actually read it? Somehow we have to get the inclusive love of Christ out into the open. Thanks for the link.

  2. The idea of 'new truth' gives a distinct impression that it would be different to 'old truth'. So x used to be true, but now y is true. I think that reads something in to John 16:12-13 which is not there.
    There is a difference between 'All' truth and 'New' truth, as there is a difference between more chocolate cake and a victoria sponge.

    If we have 'new truth' which contradicts 'old truth' we must say that 'old truth' is actually false, so was it always false, or did it just become false, is it just false for people in the UK/US, Will we wake up one day and find that the new truth has become old and false?

  3. There is indeed a difference between being led into "all truth" and being led into a completely "new" truth and I would vehemently argue that the guiding principles laid out in scripture are truths which transcend any moment in time or human history. But you cannot argue that what has in the past being considered "true" in scripture - for example that slaves should obey their masters, or that usury is wrong, or that women who are not virgins on their wedding night must be stoned to death is not now considered untrue - and in fact most of us in our society would wholeheartedly reject them as erroneous ideas.

    So we do have "new truths" - that slavery is wrong, that usury is perfectly acceptable, that to treat women in such a way is evil. These new truths reject what is in scripture.

    So, I think we must (we do, all of us do!)differentiate between specific laws/ rules/ codes that were applied at specific points in time and guiding principles, which are universal "truths" and tend to be couched in more general terms. This is why, I believe, Christ told us to love God and our neighbour and on this hangs the law and the prophets, or to see the bigger picture of mercy and justice way, way before the smaller picture of laws and regulations such as how many spices to tithe, or what specific laws to observe - because these will change.
    Of course, none of this automatically means that someone cannot present a case that homosexuality is wrong, or bellieve such a thing, but it is not honest to condemn the methodology or approach to scripture of those who argue against this.