Dealing with Scripture Honestly: Introduction

As a young Christian in an Assembly of God church, I was trained to deal illogically and dishonestly with Scripture. Because of the Christian atmosphere in my town, at least among evangelical denominations, I was also trained to argue vehemently on behalf of my own denomination. As I argued, I saw that both the defenders of other evangelical denominations and defenders of groups we called “cults” treated the Scriptures in the same irrational and dishonest manner.

I was only 9 months old in the Lord when the US Air Force sent me to Galena, Alaska on a remote assignment. There were about 700 Native Americans there in two small villages, about 300 military, and about 200 other government workers. The available choices for attending church were the Catholic service at the chapel, the Protestant service at the chapel (led by a North American Baptist chaplain), and the little missionary church of 10 members or so in the Indian village.

I tried the Protestant service at the chapel, but it was clearly meant not to bother the unbelievers, so it did nothing for me. In the small world of Galena Air Station, I quickly found out who the committed Christians were. Including the chaplain, there were seven.

I got them together for Friday night prayer and Saturday evangelism in the Indian village. The chaplain did not join us for these. The others were all from varying backgrounds, and it took only 6 weeks for them to stop speaking with each other.

At that point, I realized I needed to start over. I needed to get in the Scripture and read the Bible just for what it says. 

That is not as easy as it sounds. I was filled with preconceived notions that I had rapidly accumulated as I read the Bible and listened to sermons over my first year as a Christian. Divesting myself of those was not easy.

I have been working at reading the Bible honestly since that turn of mind in 1983. It is a chore that requires great effort. 

The great effort is not the study. I love looking up Greek words, reading commentaries, and comparing passage to passage. I love finding out about the various books of the Bible, and the writers. 

The great effort is fighting my desire to be right. The great effort is choosing what is right when I am embarrassed that I am wrong. Most often, this problem arises when someone else points out a solid truth in defense of a doctrine with which I did not agree.

I say “did not” because I have learned to quash that defensive desire. Nowadays, when I realize I was wrong, I change. 35 years have given me a lot of practice at being wrong and changing sides. It is no less painful and humiliating, but I have gotten used to the pain.

This series, “Dealing with Scripture Honestly,” will describe some of my embarrassing experiences, if I can remember them. They’re painful. Mostly, though, I want to point out some of those irrational and dishonest interpretations of Scripture that you, myself, and others have held or still hold.

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3 Responses to Dealing with Scripture Honestly: Introduction

  1. luke1813 says:

    The ministry of the Holy Spirit leads us into truth. We are not 100% there yet, we are brainwashed by our culture, our environment, our up-brining. Christ breaks down through all these elements and speaks truth into our heart. But it is a process, some call it sanctification. Hence,no matter how old we are “in Christ” we have revelations when we read the word. We are not there yet. But we will be, we will “know as we are known”. We need to stay disciples our whole life, heeding the admonition of Ephesians 6 to put on the whole armor of God and never forgetting that the greatest gift is love.

    • paulfpavao says:

      Thank you, Luke1813. I agree with your comment. I would add that the truth that the Holy Spirit leads us into has nothing to do with resolving the pre-, mid-, or post-trib rapture, but that he instead teaches us how to live as disciples, how to confront the world with the truth of Christ, and how to love another, growing together into the fullness of Christ. 1 John 2:26-27, which talks about the Anointing teaches us has all plural yous in the Greek. The Anointing will lead “y’all” into all truth, not individuals, and the truth that he leads us into is the same truth that John wanted all his children walking in. That truth is that if we follow the God who is light, we should walk in the light. We must love in truth, not in word only. These are the important truths that the Holy Spirit leads us into. All the other impractical (unable to be put into practice) doctrines are things we should mostly avoid, as Paul teaches throughout the letters to Timothy and Titus.

    • paulfpavao says:

      I better also add that “growing in truth” does not justify the abuse of the Scriptures that I am in the process of writing about as I get the next post ready.

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