Born-Again Bible Reading: A Thought for Discussion

Below is an email I sent to a dear friend this morning concerning "parsimony" in Scripture interpretation. I believe all of it is true, but rather than explain why, I thought I’d initiate a little discussion.

Parsimony: Adoption of the simplest assumption in the formulation of a theory or in the interpretation of data

My friend had written:

I’m starting to find that there’s a lot to the whole parsimony thing. I had been raised with complex answers to so many questions about the scriptures, but the simplest, (and often hardest to swallow and walk in faith in) is usually the right interpretation. ie: Jesus, Paul, James, John… they simply meant what they said.

My Response

I was thinking about that this morning.

The “born-again” crowd is given a few teachings that are not to be questioned. Then they read the Bible and the very books that supposedly produced those teachings–Romans, Galatians, Ephesians–are confusing, almost incomprehensible from a fundamentalist interpretation. Christians then just get used to the cognitive dissonance. “I believe the Bible. The Bible has all sorts of verses that I really don’t believe. Here’s the verses I use to ignore those verses. I believe the Bible is the infallible, inerrant Word of God.”

Parsimony destroys the entire fundamentalist system. It rips their most important doctrines to shreds.

On the other hand, after some years of reading the Bible parsimoniously and getting your beliefs bulldozed, all the Scriptures begin to fall right into place so beautifully that it’s breathtaking.

It’s a lot like having a scratch-off game card. As you scratch more and more off, you begin to see the prize.

About Paul Pavao

I am married, the father of six, and currently the grandfather of two. I run a business, live in a Christian community, teach, and I am learning to disciple others better than I have ever been able to before. I believe God has gifted me to restore proper foundations to the Christian faith. In order to ensure that I do not become a heretic, I read the early church fathers from the second and third centuries. They were around when all the churches founded by the apostles were in unity. I also try to stay honest and open. I argue and discuss these foundational doctrines with others to make sure my teaching really lines up with Scripture. I am encouraged by the fact that the several missionaries and pastors that I know well and admire as holy men love the things I teach. I hope you will be encouraged too. I am indeed tearing up old foundations created by tradition in order to re-establish the foundations found in Scripture and lived on by the churches during their 300 years of unity.
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4 Responses to Born-Again Bible Reading: A Thought for Discussion

  1. Britt Mooney says:

    I love this … so explains the shift in the reality that needs to be shared … goes along with a new series I’m thinking about doing … just can’t think of a catchy title … which probably shouldn’t matter 😉

  2. Shammah says:

    I had to look it up myself.

  3. Jennie S. says:

    I thought parsimony meant stinginess; now I see it has a good side too: simplicity. I think I have both tendencies.

  4. John Bob says:

    This is really getting me excited… it makes it so much easier to sit at the Master’s feet and take in His teachings at their full value, and not have to make it fit in some ridiculous box that makes me feel so extremely unclear and dishonest.

    When He said that he’d clothe us in more splendor than the lillies, He really meant it.

    When He said don’t worry about what to eat or drink, He really meant it.

    When He said that whoever does the will of His Father are His brother, sister and mother, HE REALLY MEANT IT!

    Imagine that! Really!

    Jesus, the Son of the Living God meant what He said. You can listen to Him, do what He says, and keep it that simple.

    I love it!

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