It’s both interesting and sobering to see how the roles of faith and Scripture are being shaped and perhaps recast in our contemporary moment. Yesterday’s online conversation was dominated by the meaning of Romans 13 as it relates to government and law. A lot of our approach to Scripture and interpretation depends on things beyond us, things that say more about us than they say about Scripture. I found this commentary by Alan Jacobs to be spot-on:
The lesson to be drawn here is this: the great majority of Christians in America who call themselves evangelical are simply not formed by Christian teaching or the Christian scriptures. They are, rather, formed by the media they consume — or, more precisely, by the media that consume them. The Bible is just too difficult, and when it’s not difficult it is terrifying. So many Christians simply act tribally, and when challenged to offer a Christian justification for their positions typically grope for a Bible verse or two, with no regard for its context or even its explicit meaning. Or they summarize a Sunday-school story that they clearly don’t understand, as when they compare Trump to King David because both sinned — without even noticing that David’s penitence was even more extravagant than his sins, while Trump doesn’t think he needs to repent of anything.
It is easy to forget how difficult rightly interpreting even the simplest passage of Scripture can be. That doesn’t mean it’s an impossible task, mind you. It’s an ongoing task with significant parameters, for sure.
Jacobs has more to say about the Romans 13 issue here. Agree with him or not, he has done some good thinking and reflection. His hyper-links are good to follow, too.