While thinking lately not only about some bloody 15th and 16th century periods of church history, but also about the way church people continue to bitterly divide over theological and political differences, I’m reminded how important it is to try to attach authority to no more and no less than what the Bible says.
In this regard, though, a co-worker rightly reminded me yesterday that the real issue isn’t even “what the Bible says,” but “what the Bible means.”
Guess that’s why we’ve occasionally compared notes in this blog about the difference between necessary, probable, possible, improbable, and impossible meanings and implications of the Bible.
So how do we sort this out? First response, probably should be “by reading and interpreting the Bible in context” in an effort to hear “what the author intended”—rather than being told what it means– or by jumping to “what this means to me.”
Another answer could be “listen to what others say about the issue or text.” The Bible says in many ways that “in the multitude of counsel there is safety” (Prov 11:14; 15:22). This principle is important not only in war counsels, doing business, and seeking medical attention, but also in how we understand difficult interpretations and applications of both Old and New Testaments.
Over the years I’ve been especially concerned about the way the Bible is used to limit the options and counsel needed by those who find their faith in crisis as a result of being caught in difficult and complex problems like addiction, mental illness, marital abuse.
Treating such issues as only “spiritual problems” that can be solved by prayer, Bible reading, and church attendance can overlook the heart, physical, or relational issues that are understood by those who have either “been there” or treated people in such problems.
To try to do our part in providing both “pastoral/spiritual/biblical” perspectives and mature, experienced counsel, we have launched a Website called “helpformylife.org”. One of our purposes is to show the value of both spiritual perspectives and practical knowledge.
At this site we are posting not only video insights from persons like Joe Stowell and Gene Getz (both of whom have had many years of Bible teaching and pastoral experience), but also Larry Crabb who is well known as a counselor who is deeply rooted in the wisdom of the Bible while recognizing the complexity of mind, heart, and body relationships.
When you get a chance I’d encourage you to check out the way both pastors and counselors can speak thoughtfully to difficult issues and focus not just on what the Bible says, but what the Bible means and provides for those of us who know we need help.