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.
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.
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.