It drives me crazy to hear people talking about the Bible as if they’re the only ones capable of understanding it. I’ve heard sentences like these:
"But if you only knew the secondary meaning of the Greek word you’d understand that everything we’ve previously believed is totally false."
"If you just understood what was going on in the world when the gospels were written you’d see that Jesus isn’t at all who you thought He was."
I’m all for deep study of the Bible. Read it in Greek or Hebrew. Research the culture and politics into which and out of which it was written. That kind of study can be really cool and interesting and insightful. It provides layers, texture, beauty.
But I firmly believe it’s not going to blow Christianity wide open.
I don’t believe that the way we interpret a single word is going to change anything foundational about my walk with God. Similarly, I don’t think knowing everything about Caesar or Israel’s various political uprisings is going to hugely alter the way I relate to Jesus.
I like to think that the Bible is pretty straightforward, that most people can read it and figure out what God wants from them.
I am prepared to take flack for this because I can’t exactly prove it. I don’t have a verse that reads “The Bible is clear and easy to understand.” And I know that some parts of the Bible aren’t easy to understand (Have you checked out Revelation lately?).
But I do know that Jesus likes it when people are child-like, simple, and humble. And I know that Jesus despised the Scribes and Pharisees who spent all day studying but never did the big, obvious stuff like treating people well.
It doesn’t make sense for God to hang the eternal destiny of mankind on a translation decision or on the hope that people will know enough about Israel’s political climate to properly understand Jesus’ mission.
God wrote a book. Why would the key to it all exist outside the book? Or outside what the average reader is capable of knowing?
If I only focus on the absolutely clear stuff in the Bible, I have my hands full. Trying to be pure and patient and selfless takes all of my energy.
I don’t have time to treat the Bible like string cheese, pulling it apart piece by piece until nothing’s left to hold onto.
This whole discussion makes me think of I Cor. 1:20:
“Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?”
You don’t have to be smart to know God.