How do we interpret the Bible? Does it even speak to our life and context today? How do we know, because it doesn’t seem like Jesus says anything specifically about Ebola, protests in Ferguson about race relations, marriage equality, or the theory of evolution. So how do we understand what God wants in our world today? Do we have to infer logical conclusions extending from our reading of the Bible? Do we simply need to take the word literally and not ask more questions? Do we need to read the Word, then put it aside to address the situations we face today, which are quite different than those of the Ancient World that Jesus knew?
“Nothing beyond what is written.” That’s what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4:6. But what is he talking about? Is he answering our question about understanding, reading, hearing and interpreting the Bible for our own life and world today? What is he talking about? Can we take the verse alone, or do we have to read it in the context of the larger chapter, and pastoral letter of advice to the church?
Our topic this week comes from a question about our past conversation about how gender shapes our language and thus impacts the way we perceive and talk about God. [LINK to that BTS Post] Can we talk about God as a “she” or something beyond “male” (since God is talked of as father by Jesus)? Or is that blasphemy?
Our reading today speaks to the division that exists in the church community at Corinth. It’s not from diverse leadership, of Apollos and Paul. Rather it seems to stem from some in the community who seem to feel that they are beyond being subject to God’s authority. They claim to have a wisdom of God’s plan that moves them beyond, making them greater and wiser than others. Paul speaks to them, reminding them that the foolish tings of God are wiser than the wisest things of humanity. Paul writes to explain that their difficult is that they are uncritically perpetuating the norms and values of the pagan culture around them, based upon the notion that wisdom and philosophy, logical ways of thinking about the world, are superior to all else. Paul writes to them to remind them that all is subject to God. God is sovereign. And paradoxically the best way to understand, or even glimpse the heart of God, is through the nonsensical event of the Cross: the messiah who foolishly gives up power to die at the hands of oppressors for something for which he is not guilty.
Questions for going deeper:
- What grabs your attention in these scriptures?
- How do you interpret the scriptures so that they make sense, or apply, to today’s world?
- How do you know if you are going beyond what is written?