What I keep hearing from our culture about religion and faith seems to be missing the mark. It's like having a conversation with someone where you are talking about two different things.
Most people look at the Bible and think it's a prescriptive text about what one should and should not do in order to be a child of God and enter into the kingdom. They point to it and say: this is the word of God and we must follow what it says, but then they don't really read it. I mean really read it.
What do I mean by that?
In order to read something you have to do a few things. You have to be able to read. You need access to material to read. You have to be able to interpret the words on the page into concepts in your mind. That's on a fundamental level.
- You can read
- You have access to material
- You are literate in the language the material is written in
- You understand the form of the material
- You understand the culture and history of the material
So if I took a flowery poem written by a modern poet, but I didn't pay attention to the form, I might be very confused about what this particular writer sees in the world around him/her, and I might even think that writer is crazy. If I understand the form, then I can quickly understand what's happening.
This happens with culture as well. I never was able to read Shakespear, simply because I didn't have the patience to figure out what was going on. You can translate the language into present-day English, but I still didn't really grasp the context in which he was writing.
So there are some fundamental barriers to reading the Bible, that I think a lot of people know about (at least on a visceral level), but perhaps don't pay enough attention to. Most of us only have two out of the five things I listed above in relation to the Bible. Most of us pick up a modern translation of the Bible, interpret some piece of it however we want, call it good and use our logical fallacies to back up whatever we decided the text said and throw out any other interpretations.
I don't think I have to tell you that's ridiculous.
I guess what I'm asking is, are you sure that's what the Bible says when you're quoting it? I mean really sure?