As regular readers will know, I’m someone who has been formed in the Pentecostal tradition, which tends to lean towards a fairly rigorous, black-and-white, not to say fundamentalist view of scripture.
Within this and many other traditions, there’s an unspoken assumption when it comes to reading and understanding the Bible: namely, that for any given passage of scripture, there is one correct interpretation, and it is our job as readers to find it. Whether the issue be appropriate moral standards, the nature of God or end times events, all we have to do is find a way to dig out the one intended meaning.
In this paradigm, the most spiritually revered are those who can most authoritatively proclaim the “truth” of scripture (with little concern for where that authoritative understanding came from, be it rigorous study, divine download… or pure imagination).
But the more I think about this approach, the more I realise that there’s a glaring, Everest-sized problem with it.
Allow me to sum this problem up as succinctly as I can: the Bible is not sufficiently clear or consistent for anyone to be able to categorically and authoritatively state beyond doubt what it means.