The Whole Truth Or Its Nothing Like the Truth!

Word_2A few years ago, I went through a time of re-evaluating my understanding of scripture. I saw it being used very legalistically and reacted against that practice. I began to question the idea that scripture should be called the “word of God” and received a very harsh backlash from a few members of a forum I frequented, even though I didn’t deny the authority and inspiration of scripture.
Essentially I now think most of the argument was more about semantics and terminology than honestly addressing the nature of scripture.

Not long after this I came face to face with another view point, where scripture was taken extremely lightly and was seen as being secondary to the “voice of the Spirit”. It led to all kinds of strange beliefs and practices and attempts to bring correction through appeals to scripture were dismissed.

These experiences showed me the dangers of extremes.
One extreme takes every word as being individually God inspired and therefore containing the full authority of God. It leads to taking individual verses out of their intended context and trying to apply them in some way in our lives. It reduces scripture to a collection of instructions or individual stand-alone truths that must be held in all circumstances regardless of intended context.

The other extreme sees scripture as out-dated and almost irrelevant because we now have the Spirit to teach and guide, we just need to follow His leading. Of course that relationship with the Spirit is true (or should be) – but part of His Spiritual leading comes through the scriptures He inspired. We can’t cast aside His previous revelation as being no longer relevant in order to follow a “new” thing totally separated from revelation already provided.

A dangerous side of this is found in the SELECTIVE approach to scripture where some think they can pick and choose which parts are relevant today, which parts are REALLY inspired, and which parts are not. This often leads to adding new “truths” in place of scripture and progresses to practices and beliefs contrary to the scriptural revelation of God’s character. Look up the antics of people like Todd Bentley and John Crowder to see examples of this.

I am convinced that scripture needs to be seen as a whole revelation and reliance on “texts” needs to end. We at least need a basic overview of the bible. I see that is much more important than familiarity with individual “memory verses”. How do the Bible’s parts fit together? How does the story of God’s relationship with mankind progress from creation (Genesis) right through to the end of the book of Revelation?
Where do the prophets fit into the history? During which period were they prophesying? Pre-exile, post-exile, or during the exile? We don’t need to be experts on these things, but a little knowledge of the flow of scripture and how different parts relate to each other helps increase our understanding of God and His purposes: in other words what scripture is REALLY revealing.

Additionally I have seen the importance of recognising what scripture ACTUALLY says; accepting it literally unless context makes it clear that other meaning should be sought (clear symbolism for example or things expressed as poetry).

Too often people ignore the literal message because it challenges what they want to believe. They then choose to interpret what they read to make it more palatable.

8 thoughts on “The Whole Truth Or Its Nothing Like the Truth!

  1. This is why a relationship with God is a life-long journey. The Bible can’t be read like a concrete set of rules and not every emotion a person experiences comes from the Spirit of God. We spend our whole lives searching, exploring, seeking discovery. In the process, we learn just as much about who we are as who God is. Playing a game of “extremes” removes the uncertainty factor but it also eliminates the depth of the experience.

  2. Onesimus, this is indeed a wide ranging and deep post, almost as deep as the water in which some of these theories swim. There’s all manner of nasties lurking in the deep.

    If I’ve understood you correctly, I’m in the same place, take the entirety of the Bible, soak oneself in it and know the mind of God on any issue, any part of life.

    To throw Scriptures out wildly is useless, proving only we may use the same Bible software! Text hurling, or text curling (bending to suit an argument) proves nothing, yet does an awful lot of damage, and really, doesn’t open a heart to Christ, just condemns with the weight the writer intended. Spiritual prowess, if you like. I’m know my Bible better than you!!!

    Bet you don’t!!!

    What is truth? Oh an age old question, but in the context of which we write, surely truth is the sum total of God’s words to man. All else, surely, is a manufactured truth. And anything manufactured has an ulterior purpose, does it not?

  3. “To throw Scriptures out wildly is useless, proving only we may use the same Bible software! ”


    Or share the same theological conditioning.
    I noticed this in my discussions with Calvinists. I found the same texts were continually trotted out to “prove” their theology – some of which were quite obscure references.

  4. Thanks James,
    You hit the mark with your reference to “relationship”. Relationships aren’t taught, they are grown.

    Yet so much of accepted Christian experience centres on theological “teaching” , learning the “facts” and memorising bible verses by rote.

  5. Onesimus, and not just Calvinists – pretty much every sect, denomination or group has their ‘right to exist texts.’

    If the Brethren keep on splitting they’ll run out of suitable Scriptures.

  6. You are right Martin.
    I mentioned the Calvinist example because that is the one that made me realise the strong influence of theological tradition in creating belief systems based on “proof texts”.

    I later recognised I had fallen for the same kind of thing with my Word of Faith involvement. I was learning my “bible” more from sermons than I did from personal reading of scripture. And my reading of scripture was through the filter of the isolated proof texts I was being fed.

  7. Onesimus, I agree wholeheatedly with you and with comments from Martin and James also. How far we have strayed from understanding how God has spoken. It seems appropriate to say let us consider Jesus. An old African leader visting Brisbane where I live in 1959 was asked by a theological student “what is your eschatological emphasis?”. Yohanna Omari, with very limited English and beaming with delight, replied “Oh–on Jesus!” Good answer to all questions, I reckon.

  8. The Word of God is an exceedingly complex unity. The different items and the various kinds of material which make it up—laws, promises, liturgies, genealogies, arguments, narratives, meditations, visions, aphorisms, homilies, parables and the rest—do not stand in Scripture as isolated fragments, but as parts of a whole. The exposition of them, therefore, involves exhibiting them in right relation both to the whole and to each other. God’s Word is not presented in Scripture in the form of a theological system, but it admits of being stated in that form, and, indeed, requires to be so stated before we can properly grasp it—grasp it, that is, as a whole. Every text has its immediate context in the passage from which it comes, its broader context in the book to which it belongs, and its ultimate context in the Bible as a whole; and it needs to be rightly related to each of these contexts if its character, scope and significance is to be adequately understood.

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