The Bible is both simple and complex, a feature that few works of literature have. It is quite unique and for me to take time writing about this one fact would fill pages, and I do not have the time nor endurance to journey on that quest. I have had the opportunity to study under many great doctors who have taught the faith with great courage, and who have discipled me well.
Through my years in school I have recognized something that I find extremely interesting and that is that every person reads the Bible through a lens whether they like it or not, myself included.
A while ago I had the chance to be a part of a impactful Bible study, I had a friend who I admired when it came to how he dissected scripture. We could be walking through the most depressing, horrifying, and sad passage in Scripture, and yet by some magical force, he could see the most loving, gracious, and merciful pieces. I have no idea how, I would sit in awe at how he was able to do such an amazing thing.
Now I also had another friend that was a part of this group, and he too could pull some amazing things out of a passage. The passage could be the most loving, merciful, and gracious passage such as John 3:16, and he could somehow show the group why it was declaring Gods hatred towards sin, hatred towards sinners, and justice that was on its way… not as happy as the previous one but he did bring up valid points that needed to be discussed.
These are just two examples of MANY different lenses that Christians create to read the Bible through. Some are simpler like the ones that I mentioned above, but others can get quite more complicated, such as a reformed lens, or an arminian lens, or wesleyan lens, or a dispensational lens. You get the picture, it seems that everyone who reads the Bible reads it through this “man created lens.”
This is dangerous
The Bible was NOT created to be read through a lens or to have a “theological system” applied to it.
That statement above applies to theologies that I both disagree with and agree with. Let me explain to you my conversion from dispensational theology to covenantal.
I had grown up in a church, and taught in college that taught the dispositional position as the most accurate, however while I was in college I began to realize that rather than deriving the theology from the scriptures, what they were doing was applying their theology to it. I took a step back and had to re analyze my entire theological system, and that began with taking a fresh perspective on the Bible, with little to no influence from “theological systems” from the outside. By the time I had finished my study I was asked the question, “are you reformed?” I didn’t even know what that meant, and I said “I don’t know” and come to find out what I had derived from the scriptures outside of the use of a “theological system” was and is most accurately referred to as reformed theology.
I do not just want to put the blame on one system, this applies to MOST ALL REFORMED PEOPLE, even happens to myself. Reformed people can be some of the worst, in fact I see reformed guys relying more on their system of theology rather than SCRIPTURE. I would rather you be dispensational, and have derived it purely from scripture, rather than reformed and separating it from scripture.
BUT HOLD ON
I am not saying that theological systems are useless… or that they have no value. No, they are systems that humans have created to help us study the scriptures, to help us know and understand God in a deeper way. I think some do it better than others, like reformed theology… lol.
We have differences, and we agree on some things, but I want to emphasize that if we believe in the Gospel that was confessed from the apostles to us, then we are all adopted into the kingdom of God, regardless of out theological stance. (as long as it lands within orthodoxy) Let us not get hung up on things that hold little weight in our here and now. Let us be encouraged, and strengthened to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.