Friday, April 4, 2008

"It means what it means"

Via Kingdom People, C. Michael Patton on absolutely the wrong way to approach Bible study:
What does it mean to you? This, I believe, is the most destructive question that one can ask of the Scriptures. The implication is that the Scriptures can mean something to one person that it does not to another. “To me, it means that God is going to protect my children,” says one person. “Well, to me it means that God is going to help me get that new car,” says another. “Wonderful!” is the response to both. And so goes the conversation around the circle of well-meaning Bible studiers.

The problem with the “What-does-it-mean-to-you” approach is that it is purely subjective. It turns the Scripture into a wax nose that can be shaped into what ever our our current situation demands. The Bible becomes subjective magic book through which we serve as mediums to its message.

It does not matter what it means to you.

It does not matter what it means to you.

It matters what it means. Yes, there are various ways in which the Bible can apply to you, but it is not going to apply outside its objective meaning. It means what it means.

“But the Bible is God’s word,” you may say. ”It is powerful. You should not limit it. God can speak directly to me through it.” This is true. The Bible is powerful. It is God’s word. It can speak to you. But it is not going to give you a different meaning than it gives to everyone else. [more]
Patton provides this diagram:

Reclaiming the Mind: The Exegetical Process: What Does it Mean to You?

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