Saturday, June 26, 2010

Head Knowledge

I get very distressed when I hear Christians look at hermeneutics and theology and say, "It's all head knowledge. It isn't necessary." They are terribly wrong, by their own lights.

II Timothy 2:15 says, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." It is a clear command to be diligent about handling the scriptures.

The wrongness of the phrase "it isn't necessary" is that it is a half-truth. The Bible and its contents and understanding of it are all unnecessary for salvation, according to Christian doctrine. But study of the Bible is necessary if you intend to use it as a workman uses his tools.

The problem arises when Christians bandy their own scriptures around without first trying to understand what they mean. II Timothy 2:16 says, "But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness." In other words, if you haven't studied the 'word of truth' and are sloppy at parsing or analysing (or 'rightly dividing') it, then you should avoid making irreligious and pointless statements.

That's not to say that those of us who have studied it should be arrogant. The text is complex. But the point is that anyone who makes a comment about a text should at least have a) read the entire text, b) learnt how such texts are to be examined, and c) learnt how to interpret the examined text.

Until one is reasonably experienced, one should avoid making statements about the text. And one should always be humble about accepting new input that is congruent with the entire text; you learn from fellow-labourers how the work is done. What one shouldn't do is blindly mimic or quote the words of someone else who is interpreting the text but not showing the principles by which he does it, or is using spurious principles.

All this applies also to the study of literature. Actually, this is why people who study any kind of religious text would benefit from being students of literature.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Sorrows said...

I find it most annoying when certain people insist on taking a certain verse out of context and quoting it, twisting it to suit their own meanings.

/Sorrows

Sunday, June 27, 2010 3:15:00 am  
Blogger P0litik said...

yeah. i totally agree with your post.

however, i've come to realise what it means when the Bible says that knowledge puffs up. that it gives you a false sense of security which you are often unaware about. i guess that's the term 'puff' is used. cuz it really isn't much there till you actually experience it

Sunday, June 27, 2010 9:02:00 pm  
Blogger Trebuchet said...

@P0litik: yes, the analogy is almost exact — if you know how to use tools, be careful that you don't take on a job too big for you or think that you know everything about those tools; nevertheless, at least learn how to use the tools.

Monday, June 28, 2010 2:37:00 am  

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