This is an excerpt from a lecture at a local Christian College class taught by community pastors – my assignment was Neo-Orthodoxy to what is going on now! The following introduction has to do with our reading companions – who do we consciously or subconsciously rely on to interpret the scriptures?
Theology is written by very human theologians. The truth of God is eternal and unchanging but our understanding is often tied to the other things we know, or think we know. We interpret the Word of God by our world, our experience and through our culturally conditioned eyes. We read the Bible through cultural lenses. So we see that:
- The Church Fathers were very influenced by Plato and Neoplatonic thought.
- The Medieval theologians were influenced by Aristotle.
- Modernist Theologians were influenced by science, Darwin and a view of human progress.
- This is seen in how we view Creation, for example. Galileo did not so much challenge the Bible, but a consensus view that was based on Aristotle, Ptolemy and the Bible.
- This is seen in how we view Revelation – is the Bible a Divine Book only (Neoplatonic church fathers), a human book only (higher critical modernists) or both ( Evangelical – e.g. Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy)
- This is seen in how we view Salvation – The Christ pictured in the Sistine Chapel is unapproachable and busy sending sinners to hell and saints to heaven (is it any wonder that the people turned to Mary?); the Christ of Liberalism is kindly and humane. Albert Schweitzer said of the “quest for the historical Jesus” that European scholars searched carefully and found that Jesus was just like themselves.
C. S. Lewis said that one should alternate reading current books with old ones. This is one way we help see the trap that is the world view of our own times. Reading church history raises this question for us. Who or what do we use to stand next to the Bible to interpret it? Tradition (officially co-equal to scripture in Catholic Theology); Theological schools (Calvin v. Arminius); Popular Culture (church should entertain); the Business world (Pastors are CEOs); Social Media; Psychology (as practiced by Oprah, Dr Phil);
Question: What lens do you use to understand the Bible?
(Full notes – NeoorthodoxyEtc.notes )