Sunday, 4 September 2011

Seeing our own limitations

Previously I have written that I do not think that we can have a too high a view of Scripture. Emulating Jesus' view of Scripture should be our goal. This does not mean that we worship the Bible—we worship God; yet we should consider that what the Bible says is what God says. For those who do hold the Bible in high regard, the temptation to inappropriate veneration of the Bible is probably not the greatest concern, and it may not even be that common. What is more likely to trouble scriptural infallibilists and inerrantists is their lack of clarity on their own limitations. Limitations in interpreting what the Bible does actually mean; lack of awareness of their cultural biases; failure to grasp context, especially hidden context; and difficulty in applying Scripture to life circumstances.

Related to this last point, we may not just lack insight into general application, but to the specifics of other people's situations. Dale Ralph Davis makes an astute observation,
Those who hold a high view of the Bible's authority sometimes hold a high view of their own ability to assess people's circumstances and to prescribe solutions. (The Word Became Fresh: How to Preach from Old Testament Narrative Texts, p. 108)
We can have a high view of Scripture without having a high view of our ability to interpret it, or our ability to find correct application of Scripture. Further, we may not know enough about the situations of others to assess rightly. Davis makes his comments in the context of Elisha not having prophetic knowledge of the Shunummite woman's situation (2 Kings 4). Likewise, Davis suggests, we must be aware of our own limitations,
Like Elisha, where is the shame in admitting the Lord has not given us light on a matter and that we are reduced to begging him in prayer?
This is not to say that everyone can claim to have extenuating circumstances which rendors them immune to scriptural admonition; rather this is addressed to those who would give advice—that they may choose humility.

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