A Matter of Perspective

February 25, 2014 § Leave a comment

Brian Zahnd writes of his struggle to read Scripture from the correct perspective. He gets a lot right in this post and I wanted to pass it on to you. So much of how we read and interpret Scripture depends on our own perspective – what we bring to the table when we open the pages of the Bible. Unfortunately, we can often get so caught up in our own reading of Scripture that we forget to be aware of how the Scripture “reads” us – we forget to place ourselves in a position of being seen, known, and interpreted by the Holy Spirit while we read. Zahnd has allowed himself to be “interpreted” by Scripture in this post; as a result, when he reads the text, he finds that he identifies more readily with the conquerors who oppressed Israel rather than the oppressed nation of Israel itself. He readily admits this bias and is aware of it when he reads the text. As a result, he knows he needs to intentionally re-orient himself to the “bottom-up” nature of the Scriptures – the Biblical story from the perspective of the enslaved, oppressed, occupied, and exiled. He needs to change his perspective, and he knows it. Look at this quote from his post: 

“If I read the Bible with the appropriate perspective and humility I don’t use the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus as a proof-text to condemn others to hell. I use it as a reminder that I’m a rich man and Lazarus lies at my door. I don’t use the conquest narratives of Joshua to justify Manifest Destiny. Instead I see myself as a Rahab who needs to welcome newcomers. I don’t fancy myself as Elijah calling down fire from heaven. I’m more like Nebuchadnezzar who needs to humble himself lest he go insane.”

Our first instinct when we read the text is often to jump to the question, “How does this apply to me?” We would do better to ask ourselves, “How do I apply myself to the Bible? How does the Bible point out my own incorrect perspective – and how can I invite the Holy Spirit to change my heart so that I can read Scripture rightly?” Everyone brings their own perspectives to the text. This is a beautiful thing; this is part of why each new believer can see Scripture as new and wonderful, and well they should! However, we can get so lost in our own perspective that we forget to take on the perspective of Scripture. When we don’t allow the Holy Spirit to change the way we read the Bible, we miss much of what it says – or, worse, we skew the holy words of the Bible and bend them to fit our own presuppositions and agendas. It’s far better to intentionally and consciously allow the Holy Spirit to remake us into the image of Christ through the reading of His word; it’s far worse to unintentionally and unconsciously bend Scripture to fit our own ideas. I hope you take the time to read Brian Zahnd’s post. 

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