I am digressing from the current "series." No big surprise there, huh?
I've mentioned John Gavazonni on this blog many times. Ten or so years ago, in the early days of my Christian walk, I "happened upon" an article he had written that dissed the widely held view (penal substitution) of the atonement. It offered a sensible, biblical alternative view. I have since read quite a bit about the atonement...and may differ from his view somewhat (adding elements of Girard's theory of mimetic rivalry to the mix) but I will be forever grateful to the insights in The Great Misinterpretation.
Today, I came upon another writing of his that I thought I might post snippets from here. Oh, and probably add my two cents worth too. The article is called simply, "The Bible"
Oh boy, an article by that name could go in about a zillion different directions but he hones in on (somewhat) the Bible not as a law book, or a how to book but rather as a divinely inspired book of promises.
Thou shalt not ________ (fill in the blank) becomes a promise. A promise that when God is finished with his dealings with us we "shalt not" because we have been formed in the image of Christ and shalt not because we cannot....because we have no desire to.
Keith has told me this many times...so it is not new revelation to me. He has often said that if a man loves his brother as himself, would a command against stealing from him, killing him or lying to him be necessary? It would not be in us to do those things. I am paraphrasing his views. He could likely say it better than I am.
So while this revelation is not ground breaking for me, John G's writing was a nice reminder. A few snippets from the article....
He compares the Bible to an "instrument" an archeologist unearths, uncertain of its original intent/purpose.
Though the use of an instrument is usually quite specific, sometimes with limited success, it can be used for purposes other than the original intention. A shoe, for instance, practically speaking, is meant to provide protection for one's foot, but lacking a hammer, it can be used as a pounding device. Remember Nikita Khrushchev pounding his shoe on the table at the United Nations?
Though knowing, in His omniscience, that the Bible would be used for purposes other than, or inferior to His ultimate intention---and making a place for such misuse or sub-use in His overall plan--- nevertheless, God has a purpose in mind for Holy Writ that, particularly in this age, I believe, only a relative few have and will come to understand, and with that understanding, skillfully use His literary implement.
Oh, yeah...I've seen people misuse the Bible in a way not unlike the example of the shoe above. The Bible has been used many times over as an instrument with which to "pound" others.
Are the words, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and serve only Him" Matt 4:10 KJV and "Thou shalt have no other gods before me?" Ex 20:3 KJV words of legislation or prophetic promise? I read them as promises to my New Man, who by nature SHALL do what is written. They are most essentially, in terms of unveiling the heart of God to me, precious promises that I shall do rightly by my Father. All those things that I ought to do, or not to do are indicative of the manner of man that I am in Christ.
God promised that His people, by His causation, would have His laws written on fleshly tablets of the heart as features of their true nature. What I'm getting at, dear brethren, is that the Spirit teaches us to approach the written word much more carefully and respectfully than we have previously done. Beware when the Bible seems simply to be telling you what to do, and/or what to believe. Oh no! The Bible, once probed into its heart, is found to be the central and normative literary instrument toward the realization of Christ as its substance. However else you read it, you are only reading law, and you will find it, in that mode, to be the strength of sin.
Okay...it is a short article and if I don't stop now, I will have quoted the whole thing here in this post. Do take the time to go read it. I think it offers valuable insights about the (mistaken) view of the Bible as a "rule book for life." He closes the article with the following thought....
.......for we are not called to learn about and do THINGS, we are called to learn and do CHRIST. We are not called to merely believe correct doctrines; we are called to participate in the faith of Christ, which is total dependence upon our Father. Only one life has that quality, and that is Christ.
Be careful also in your quest for factuality in your study of the Bible. Facts can be used of God to enlighten us, but facts can become an end in themselves and addict us to being right and knowing more, or more accurately, than the next guy. Wow, you have no idea how seductive biblical knowledge can be. Don't equate facts with truth. Christ is the truth, and there are a lot of dear brethren whose factual knowledge is minimal, but who know Christ intimately.
Thanks, John G for this timely (because of some situations I find myself involved in) article.