Monday, September 10, 2007

My Confession about the Bible

I have a confession.

The Bible frustrates me.

Yes, I'm a pastor and all pastors are supposed to revere the Word of God, preach it faithfully to their congregations, and study it for themselves each and every day. In many ways, evangelical ministers are advocates for the reliability and truthfulness of the Scriptures. I do all these things, yet that still doesn't change the fact that sometimes the Bible frustrates me to no end. The Bible is truth without error, but that doesn't mean then it's easy to interpret.

Right now I'm preaching through 1 Corinthians. In chapters 1-4, the Apostle Paul is pleading with his young church in Corinth, Greece to put aside their petty divisions and be a united church. And yet, the way Paul pleads for unity-- to me-- is hard to appreciate.

What we're reading is a one sided telephone conversation. Paul is wholly familiar with the problem at Corinth (1:11), and we're given some details to the problem (1:12), but I'm still left scratching my head as to precisely the problem causing all the divisiveness.

Even more frustrating to me is what Paul says in response. He writes skillfully and persuasively, but also in stream of consciousness (1:16). His reasoning-- to me-- is obscure. As I keep reading chapters 1-4, I keep asking myself, "Why is Paul saying this? Why will this be the answer to end quarrels?" I comprehend the words, but I don't get why he's saying them.

And I have to preach this on Sunday?

Fortunately, there's people who are much smarter than me, or more patient than me, in reading Paul. And I've benefited a lot from their wisdom in discerning Paul. And because of those scholars, I have a small grip of what Paul is saying and why.

So if in reading you're Bible you come across something that causes you to scratch your head, don't fret too much. Do as Dr. Howard Hendricks says, "If something you read in Scripture is too difficult to figure out, just eat the meat and put the bones to the side."

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