What mistakes can liberals make in interpretation? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Tom Copeland’s book Honestly, like I said yesterday, is for the most part quite good, but I really disagreed with his statements on sexual orientation. Last time, I discussed his concerns with a conservative schema for interpreting Scripture. I appreciate that he was fair and said liberals have some problems as well. Let’s look at those and then when we get to what he says, I will see if he does fall under any of those concerns.
The first one is that liberals can be reluctant to deal honestly with difficult passages if they think they hurt them or someone they care about. In many cases, that’s something all of us are prone to. “Well, the Bible doesn’t really say much about my sin here, but check out everything it says about my neighbor’s!” Michael Brown wrote a book on overcoming a food addiction and noted how many pastors are obese and that you never hear a sermon on gluttony. I wonder why.
The second danger is like this. If an interpretation doesn’t match how we think God is or how Christ is, we discount it. Surely a God of love would never do XYZ! Well, there’s a lot of things a God of love would do that we don’t understand. This is also something common with internet atheists and others. “Look at what God did! That’s not loving!”
The next is a lack of consistency or structure in interpreting Scripture. If much of our interpretation of Scripture is based on experiences and on what is going on in culture at the time, it is easy to get caught up in an idea because it is new. This is something that happens regularly in politics where people will suddenly show up and embrace what is obviously true despite it not being believed by anyone for thousands of years beforehand.
The last he mentions is a focus on tolerance and grace at the expense of truth. I had Gregory Quinian on my podcast once who describes himself as an ex-homosexual and he has said that we are to speak the truth in love, but if it’s not the truth, it’s not love. There are too many in our society that will not tell someone the truth for fear that it will hurt them. Many Christians often talk about loving someone into the kingdom. You can also love someone out of the kingdom.
I definitely appreciate all of these as I want to give the benefit of the doubt and think that Copeland is trying to give both sides of the coin to the best of his ability. In the end as you will see, I do not think he has made a really strong case from the Bible for his position. If you are one who doesn’t hold to Scripture, that won’t matter to you, but as I said last time, this is a book by a Christian for a Christian so we are seeing how it stacks up with a Christian worldview.
We shall continue next time.