I have had the opportunity over the last months to have many conversations with Christians from a different perspective than I personally espouse. I would characterize myself as a person on a journey in Christian thought and expression, discovering God anew and church anew. This often means asking questions of established perspectives, doctrines and interpretations of Scripture, after all the central point of dispute between Christian factions usually centers on different systems of interpretation of Scriptures.
What has surprised me in these conversations is not that we have differing perspectives but the certainty with which we understand the system of belief and interpretation that we hold, to the exclusion of any other approaches. The big question is whether there are legitimate variations of approach to interpretation of the Bible?
Can we not all admit that we bring our religious culture, history, experiences and many other personal elements to our interpretational process. And just because a view has been the prevailing view in recent or not so recent history, does that exclude it from the possibility that it could be a bit off target? Theology and doctrine always reflect the culture from which the interpretations proceed. So it isn’t like any of us have the last and final word to the nature of the realities which the words of Scripture point, nor to what those realities may look like in our current place in history.
Therefore, wouldn’t it be more positive for us to allow those who differ from us to still be considered a people who are seriously seeking to follow Jesus in this world and through whom we might even deepen our walk and relationship with God and our neighbors? Often the conversation between differing opinions is not in discovery but an attempt to be correct and to register another convert to a particular way of thinking.
Yes we are approaching the same text but what are we seeing as we approach how are we acting upon what we see? I believe that those are important questions that we seek out answers to and which allow us to grant room to others to describe what they see, think, believe and how they act upon that.
We are all looking at the same thing but what do we see? Notice that we see only one or the other at any given moment, not both at the same time. Limitations are good things and hopefully send us into hopeful and humble discovery of God, his word and his actions in this world in which we live (taken from “how (not) to speak of God” by Peter Rollins.