Traversing the terrain of scripture exposes the biblical student to danger, baring one’s very heart before the penetrating stare of scripture. Will the human domesticate the message to perform his own self-imposed agenda or will the divine creature be allowed to run free according to its own bidding? This is the crisis revealing, “who will be master?”
Perceiving a problem, whether it be the need for clarity, encouragement, correction or simply plowing through the next block of text, flashes of scriptural snippets and metaphor suggest a path how to accomplish the goal. Agenda then drives where study is focused as well as the organizational process of ideas. And then it happens again.
Although someone might think that the crisis should no longer be a surprise; it still comes as a shock every time. With a life and will of its own, scripture roars and strains to go into an altogether different direction from the human predetermined agenda.
At times I’ve focused on the leopard’s spot missing the cat in action. Sometimes scripture’s roar is broader or narrower than my own. On other occasions I have sought support for a particular application but discovered my fists full of different fur.
Whose will will win? Who will be muzzled? Who will be domesticated, the human voice or scripture’s bellowing? If both voices can actually be clearly heard, the answer will always lie in whether a self-governing pragmatism pursuing human agendas or whether a submissiveness to the text rules.
As for me, I have resolved to be domesticated. Yet, a few questions remain. When should I be hearing scripture’s roar, but am deaf?
How often do those working with scripture realize the crisis, and what do their hearts value most? Will difficult texts or key words be forced to conform to the security of their own religious heritage? Will cultural agendas be allowed to either transform scripture’s secondary values into being primary, or conveniently silence inconvenient messages?
A final question remains. How perceptive are readers and listeners in distinguishing the authentic voice of scripture from an agenda-driven human voice? I want to be hopeful. Without personal study confronting the crisis for themselves, I am skeptical.