Objective Bible Study

Challies has a post about the necessity of leaning on the Holy Spirit when studying the Bible to avoid the possibility of reading the Bible to support preexisting arguments rather than what is there.

he first gives an interesting illustration involving the Loch Ness monster that wraps up like this.

In the case of the people gathered at Loch Ness, they saw something vague and yet were able to describe it in detail. The detail was fabricated by their minds based on what they already imagined the Loch Ness Monster to look like. They were fooled by their own minds which superimposed what they wanted to see over what they truly did see.
Certainly the people who saw a section of fence being raised from the water did not expect to see a fence–they expected to see a monster. Many of them had traveled from across the country or across the world for the very purpose of visiting Loch Ness. Everybody who stands on the shores of the Loch hopes to catch a glimpse of Nessie, even if most are skeptical about her existence. So when this object came up from the water their minds allowed them to see what they wanted to see. Had they been expecting to see a school bus emerging from the water I have little doubt that their minds would have allowed them to believe that is what rose from the depths.

then he looks at examples of “partisan” bible study in the world today involving homosexuality and women in church leadership. He concludes by acknowledging his own tendency to do the same thing if he doesn’t maintain humble reliance on God through the Holy Spirit.

The lesson to me is that I need to approach the Bible humbly, as objectively as I can, always asking God to reveal His truth to me through His Word. I need to lay aside my presuppositions and biases so, if necessary, I can allow God to change and shape and mold me. I have to be utterly dependent on Him. I need to allow the Spirit to show me what a given passage really means, not merely force it into saying what I want it to say.

Go read the whole thing. It is an excellent reminder of both the difficulty and the necessity of maintaining objectivity when studying the word. It is the same thing that I was driving at in this post, but stated much more completely and eloquently.

Hat tip to Ramblin’ Pastor Man.

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