Education and Application of Scripture

Without being well-educated, a church (and the Church) will forever be battling, or worse, forever be wrong on how to apply Scripture appropriately in the real world. When people come to the Bible unwilling to reassess their presuppositions about Scripture and about the world, though we all know ourselves to be fallible, we can only be stuck in facile answers or sharp disagreement about something that matters very much.

With this problem, the only way to move forward is to give up our fundamentalisms and pursue the truth to the darkest, most uncomfortable depths – dark because darkness is where our minds hide such things, uncomfortable because discomfort is why we hide them in the first place. Now people often say we know what to do, but we just have to do it. This is true to some degree, of course, because we all fail even our own current standards. What we want, however, both in the sense of desiring and in the sense of lacking, is knowledge of what God bids us do.

We can talk about interpretation all we want: indeed, we’re often wrong there as well. But the Church is the body of Christ, commissioned to do more than speculate on ideas, commissioned to do more than be nice, commissioned to do more even than convert (often read: manipulate) people into its fold. If that were all, we would not have, or need, much of the New Testament and most of the Old Testament; as it is, we have it all because we have things to figure out beyond the individual level.

This is where our group Bible study reaches an impasse, because we lack the stomach to be uncomfortable and disagree strenuously and think rigorously about difficult things. Yet what we need to do, even we ourselves, we as our individual persons, is not subjective: God has objective commands for us, commands that must come upon hearts worshipping in the Church and return to meaningful worship by the Church (and ‘Church’, by the way, is more than just the plural of ‘Christian’).

So what we need from Scripture is commands, not commands weakened by translation into suggestions, yet not commands from the devices and desires of man’s own hearts. Instead:

The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture […] (Westminster Confession of Faith, 1.6).

I’m sure we can agree still that more is necessary than what we are used to doing. We must do substantial things, and we need God to supply, in faith, both the knowledge and the will to do it. But we’re so illiterate, or so fearful of objectivity in God’s dwelling among us, that we’re not hearing.


3 responses to “Education and Application of Scripture

  1. Now all has been heard;
     here is the conclusion of the matter:
     Fear God and keep his commandments,
     for this is the whole duty of man.


  2. Pingback: Confucian Virtue and Niceness « Cogito, Credo, Petam

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