Adopting the coin phrase “What is the plain reading of scripture?” as a rule of thumb for interpretation can lead professing Christ followers to appear more like followers of Epicurus, Zeno and even Moses rather than Christ. The phrase sounds nice but what does it even mean? Please understand that I consider myself an evangelical deeply committed to the Gospel and the authority of scripture so please interpret any criticism that I may have in light of that.
Our culture today has new influences, leaders, philosophers, etc. Christ’s followers need to engage in not against their cultural context. A plain reading of scripture is in many ways apposed to our culture today. Why are we not talking about this more? Is it bibliscism? Come on, we need to grow up. 2000 years has passed and I am tired of superfluous questions like “What is the plain reading of scripture?” being used as the easy way out. Don’t get me wrong… there is a time and place for a phrase like “the plain reading of scripture” however, it seems like a crutch lately regarding certain topics.
It takes time, study, prayer, community, hard work, cultural immersion, discussion and many mistakes to take a 2000 year old text written in the context of a 2000 year old culture and plant it’s many messages and themes in our world today. Some of our doctrinal transplants are obviously not thriving (many are dying). Are we content with blaming this present evil age (Gal 1:4) for a crisis of doctrinal atrophy? The apostle Paul wasn’t content with that. It’s hard work planting seeds and seeing them to fruition in a new and foreign environment. Please don’t take the easy-way out and say “I go by the plain reading of scripture.”
1. Have you heard this phrase used lately in an unhelpful way?
2. What ways or ideas have you used to bridge the biblical text from then to now?
3. Can our churches remain committed to Sola-Scriptura and do away with phrases like “plain reading of scripture”?