“I had a desire to articulate a mentality I have of modern evangelical Christianity. Being the nature of a blog such as this, the content of this post are opinions, and to be considered as such.”
There is a lot of Christians today that look for churches that “preach the word of God”. This is so ambiguous that it simply can mean many things or nothing at all… The Word of God, first off, is both a associated with the Judeo-Christian scriptures, and the Spirit of God. But we also know that Jesus is called “The Word” on more than one occasion (John 1). It is also clear, after any amount of time studying the Bible, that the translations from the original languages into their modern, English (or other) language(s) lends to the reality that God’s Word can be taken both literally, and figuratively, and can be taken to lesser-or-greater extend in many areas. In fact, many areas are well understood as poetic in nature (Psalms), and often the prophets spoke it was is often considered symbolic language.
But aside from the different obviously-external genres of Judeo-Christian Scripture, there are grammatical differences in translation that offer varying insights into the translation of the message of Scripture. But wait, there is also the word-for-word literal comprehension of Scripture, or message-based comprehension of Scripture. It has often been considered wise to have a balance of both literal and messaged based comprehension of Scripture. Since the written word of God is so open to interpretation, it is prudent to lean on what has been widely-accepted as correct by theologians of antiquity. Doctrines held by Augustine, Clement, Origin, Calvin, Arminius, and John Wesley. But since their words are not divinely inspired by God, they are to be only considered as supplementary to Scripture.
Knowing the Voices
Of course there is always the voice of the Holy Spirit. It is His voice that speaks now in tune with what we have in divinely-inspired written form. But this is very much personal revelation, and a universal theology cannot be considered by the individual revelation. It is also important to consider the history, and personality making theological claims about God or interpretations about His written (or spoken) word. Psychological, mental, emotional, or physical factors play into the interpretation of one of history’s oldest and most-highly critiqued books.
The task of arriving at a presupposition on any one topic on Scripture is something that doesn’t happen lightly. Often, it happens when the individual is still young. Often, theology is taught in Sunday school, church services, or Sunday morning sermons. Without individual study and research, the persuasiveness of the speaker or curriculum can set an early precedent in the hearer which can be further hardened and indoctrinated as time passes. And later scholarship can be biased to interpret certain passages based on one particular perception of God. This is quite troubling. Good well-meaning people are led to believe things about God or the Judeo-Christian scriptures that are often more akin to oral tradition then they are of actual divinely-inspired content.
Collections by Men
In fact, truth be told, the Judeo-Christian cannon we know so well today was actually the decided-on-and-accepted decisions of men in councils in progressive measure. They arrived at the eventual 27 books of the New Testament and the 39 books of the New Testament later at about 397 in the Council of Hippo in Carthage North Africa. One difficulty with accepting Scriptures is the fraternization of men in recognizing them as authoritative. It helps to acknowledge that the recognize Scriptures were already considered divinely inspired by God, and they will simply adopted into an officially recognized volume of books (Biblical canon). Clearly, recognizing the fact that men collected and organized the works is reason enough to look at the history of the church in order to understand the “hands-off” status of creating the original content from pure imagination.
Having said this, some content in the New Testament is actually historical in nature, and other content is meant as encouragement. While historical accounts can be corroborated with archeological and contemporary historical accounts of parallel events, symbolic and admonishing words leave much open to interpretation.
The objective student of God, Jewish/Christian religion, church history, or Judeo-Christian Scriptures needs to consider the peripherals surrounding the subject they are specializing in. And if every Christian needs to go to the Scriptures to see if these things are true (Acts 17:11), then they need to look at the context of where Scripture comes from, the culture it came out of, the oral traditions that have been perpetuated by early readings and understandings of Scripture, and then come to their own conclusions. Finally, God is still active today, rather than the deistic perspective, which says that God started things in motion and has not involvement in the affairs of men. So our relationship and experience with God affords us some personal conclusions about who God is, and what His written and spoken word is, as well as how it applies… Know what you believe, and why you believe it.