Many moons ago, I posted several blogs concerning biblical interpretation. Those posts, though not verbatim, were taken from Fee and Stuart’s book, “How to Read The Bible For All It’s Worth.” After many weeks off from this, I hope to resume some posts about this. For those of you who have read the book, please excuse me for using so much of their material. This book has opened up a whole new world for me in the realm of interpreting the Bible. That’s why I’m sharing this material. for those of you who have not read the book, I suggest you buy a copy. It’s life changing information that I shelved for many years. Don’t make that mistake.
Last post I brought to our attention the idea of inconsistency. Some of this material may be a repeat, but that’s OK for us to review. I hope you enjoy this.
The Problem of Consistency
Hermeneutical problems concerning culture and meaning of biblical texts are numerous. However, all problems concerning hermeneutics stem from on thing–our lack of consistency.
Without meaning to, we all bring things to the table of interpretation like theological heritage, church traditions, and our own cultural norms. When we come to texts of the Bible with all of this baggage, we tend to try and get around harder to understand texts.
We skirt the real meanings of texts in order to simply try and make them fit into our way of thinking. This causes a great amount of inconsistency. Here are a few inconsistencies worth noting.
1. In the 60’s when the hippie movement was strong, churches said that men were a disgrace for wearing long hair based on 1 Corinthians 11:14. Yet, at the same time, allowed women to cut their hair completely ignoring verse 15.
2. In some churches, women have been forbidden to speak based upon 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, yet all other things in that chapter are dismissed as being cultural and limited only to the first century, i.e. tongues speaking and prophesying.
3. While 1 Timothy teaches that there was a plurality of leaders, many churches do not follow this rule.
4. Very few churches enroll widows as instructed by Paul in 1 Timothy 5:3-15
5. Some churches find support for infant baptism in passages like 1 Corinthians 1:16, 7:14 or Colossians 2:11-12.
Fee and Stuart make the following statement that explains much of the reason for these inconsistencies. “Indeed our experience as teachers is that Students from these traditions seldom ask what these texts mean; they want to know ‘how to answer’ these texts.” (Fee and Stuart 60)
How true this is! We come to a text, know that it can’t mean what makes me uncomfortable, therefore we give an explanation on how to answer the text rather than letting the text teach us.
Maybe you know of other things where interpretation has left folks looking less than consistent. In the next post I want to give some of Fee and Stuart’s principles for being more consistent.