As I hope a lot of us do, I’ve been thinking about how we read and interpret the Bible. Too often we spend our time debating issues without looking at the underlying principles behind our differing viewpoints.
When we look at something that was done in the Bible or something commanded in the Bible, we have to figure out what that says for us. I’m not sure that there is anyone who takes every command personally… seen anybody gathering animals into an ark lately? Nor do we follow every example. We all make decisions about how to extract teachings from the Bible and apply them to us.
Some try to stick as closely to the things they see done in the Bible. Their women wear veils, they wash each other’s feet, and they greet with a kiss. What matters to them is what people did back then.
Another group is more interested in why things were done a certain way in the Bible. This is something I’ve discussed in the past as “form vs. function.” Instead of insisting that women wear veils, the form and function camp looks to why they were required to wear veils, and seeks an equivalent response today. The idea is that the means are (may be) culturally bound but the motives are eternal.
A third group, which I see as growing in prominence today, feels that both the means and the motives are culturally bound. What people did in Bible times and why they did those things only respond to questions of their moment in time. Christian living today can and should be very different.
I’ll confess to understanding the first two positions better than I do the third. I would absolutely love for someone to help me understand and state the third position better. I find myself firmly in the “form vs. function” position, but not so firmly that I’m unwilling to grow and learn.
Can you help me state any of these positions more clearly? Can you help me see other views toward the Bible that might fit into this discussion?
As always, I appreciate your input.