Sunday, December 2, 2012

A me-centered approach

Reviewing Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes, Christopher Hall writes that the authors argue that Christians in the West are apt to read scripture in an ego-centric manner. I agree but think the failing is probably more human than Western. I suggest this part of the argument should be taken seriously by every believer everywhere:
.... How often have you sat in a Bible study, looked at a passage with other group members, and then had the leader of the group ask, "What does the passage mean to you?" A minute or two passes in silence; slowly individuals begin to respond: "To me this passage is saying" this, or "to me this passage means" that.

Of course, to ask what a passage means is praiseworthy. But to make the individual Christian the starting point for interpretation and the center of a text's problematic. Richards and O'Brien point to at least two immediate dangers.

First, if I make myself the center in my search for meaning in the Bible, I will naturally mine the Scripture for passages that I sense are immediately relevant to my life, and ignore swaths of texts where I don't discern immediate applicability. "This," the authors say, "leaves us basing our Christian life on less than the full counsel of God."

Second, and perhaps more seriously, a me-centered approach to the Bible confuses application with meaning. Simply put, I am not the focus of the Bible's meaning; Christ is. Yes, as God's image-bearers, we play an important role in the Bible's story. Christ has come to save us, and much of the Bible's story explains the wonder of how he has done just that. But if the first question I ask of a biblical text is how I can apply that text to my life, I leapfrog over meaning to applicability. I place myself at the center of the universe.... [more]
How to Remove Our Bible-Reading Blinders | Christianity Today

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