Biblical understanding is not always mystical.

Often times I hear pastors tell the people of their congregation to “pray for understanding” while reading the bible. Indeed it seems to be an oft repeated suggestion, but one that, I feel, is slightly problematic in that it creates a desire for mystical interpretation where there is none to be found.

It is my belief that the bible is quite understandable if you just read it. I have said repeatedly that the bible is written with both literal and figurative, or poetic, language, and it shouldn’t be too difficult to decipher which is which. Literal language should be taken literally. Jesus is the son of God. Noah built an ark and loaded it with animals. Angels appeared to people on several occasions. Though some might say these are symbolic references, since, in their own minds, these could not possibly have REALLY taken place, they are not written as such.

Poetic language can be open to some interpretation. Again I recall the discussion a group of us men had over the parable of the mustard seed told by Jesus. There was some varying interpretation of the meaning of the tree and the birds between the lot of us, but what Jesus told was a story for the understanding of the people, and not an account of an actual event.

I don’t think it’s wrong for pastors to suggest praying for understanding, but what I think it does, sometimes, is prompt people to look past actually understanding a verse of scripture in hopes of finding some type of underlying, mystical understanding when there is none. Instead of reading and understanding Jesus wept, they will ponder and fret over the REAL meaning of the words, all while hoping the holy spirit reveals to them the underlying message. Jesus wept. Its not that hard to understand.

Where it really seems to be a problem is when the bible directs us in something specific. Women, be subject to your own husbands, Husbands, love your wives as Christ loves the church. Is there an underlying meaning there? Do you need to ask God for understanding on something so straight forward and clear? Whole books have been written about both of these commandments, and yet, just reading them should be all that is needed, shouldn’t it?

This post is not specifically in reference to those two commandments, but those are just the first ones that came to mind.

What kind of difference would we see in American Christianity if people just read the bible and understood the parts that are easy to understand?

This morning’s biblical ponderings have been brought to you by Rock Star energy drinks, the Society for the Listening of Final Fantasy 7 Soundtracks and the ‘Man I hate installing software’ foundation.

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Author: SnapperTrx

Just a guy on the internet.

3 thoughts on “Biblical understanding is not always mystical.”

  1. “This morning’s biblical ponderings have been brought to you by Rock Star energy drinks, the Society for the Listening of Final Fantasy 7 Soundtracks and the ‘Man I hate installing software’ foundation.”

    lol! funnee 🙂

    – – – – –

    idk, Snapper. is it so simple as that? does one always know what it’s like to be loved? is being hit and abused by one’s parents, watching one’s dad seductively scope out his teenage daughter’s body, being encouraged to have boys lust after you, having one’s husband demean and belittle you till you’re curled up in a ball on the floor and then he walks away saying, “You know I love you.” how’s one to know what real love is until it’s experienced? and then the man i’m married to now does things, and i ask him why, and he replies, “Because I love you.” and i’m at least half-way through my life before i begin to know what love is.

    and submitting to my husband? is it really so simple? is it the way my mom passively-aggressively manipulated everyone … is it the way my MIL was not allowed to have a thought of her own to the point she had two personalities – one well hidden for fear he would hurt her, again. and why would it be that i would continuously learn how to submit to my husband if it were as simple as just doing it?

    or why would it be, as 1 corinthians 3 says, that there is a process to learning and growing in Christ … some who can only drink milk … but some who can now eat meat. and could it be that, as we grow in Christ, we can eat different levels of foods in different areas of growth? and could it be that it’s not a straight line of growth but more of a crazy line sometimes.

    i think the simplicity of the bible is that it does meet us where we are, but the complexity of it is that it meets us where we are in every ‘stage’ of growth in our lives … and in the lives of others.

    1. Is it that simple to understand – yes.
      Is it that simple for us to do – not always.

      Was it simple for Abram to understand Gods commandment to sacrifice his own son? Absolutely. He may not have understood why he was told to do so, and he probably didn’t like it, but he understood the command and understood that God was in control.

      Was it simple for Jonah to understand Gods commandment to go speak to the people of Nineveh? Absolutely. Yet his comprehension of WHY was clouded by his own personal opinion on the subject. To him it didn’t seem fair, it didn’t seem right. Yet in the end he understood that God saw a far bigger picture than he ever could, and that God was in control.

      This understanding, perhaps, is part of the ‘milk’ and ‘meat’ of understanding scripture. One still on milk may not comprehend that even in the evil things, the sad things, the horrendous things, the death of a child, the diagnosis of a disease – God is still in control and He is still fully aware of what is going on. Perhaps part of the ‘meat’ is understanding that a sickness that cannot be cured doesn’t mean God hates you or has forsaken you, but that it too, yes, even something so awful, is part of His plan.

      Lets look at abortion. The commandment simply says, Thou shalt not murder. It’s a simple command, easy to understand and very straightforward. Yet there are many, many Christians who have believe they have REAL understanding and have now poked all manner of holes in the meaning, allowing themselves to justify in their hearts and minds abortion under certain circumstances. It is their own opinion and their OWN understanding that has caused them to err.

      Or take the ‘no suffering’ gospel that gets tossed around by some Christians. A simple reading of the scripture indicates that, as Christians, we are guaranteed to suffer in this life, and that we should count it as a blessing! Yet their own opinion and their OWN understanding says that God couldn’t possibly allow one of His children to suffer! What God, a God who IS love, could allow that to happen?

      “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”

      Understanding CAN be simple (again, I acknowledge that not all scripture is so straightforward). Being obedient, now that’s another story.

      1. It seems to me that a large portion of Christians believe WHAT THEY BELIEVE THE BIBLE TO SAY, and not necessarily WHAT THE BIBLE ACTUALLY SAYS. They seem to think that they can say they believe in the bible, then proceed to pick and choose what portions they actually want to believe. This is a dangerous game to play, but try bringing this up to a Christian who does so and your likely in for a fight.

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