What is God doing in the Scripture reading? With that question in mind, I want to give you an operative principle, which, I believe, had it been used in the last 500 years, would have resulted in a much more exciting and positive Christian history. If you are meditating on a Bible text, Hebrew or Christian, and if you see God operating at a lesser level than the best person you know, then that text is not authentic revelation. “God is love” (1 John 4:16) and no person you meet could possibly be more loving than the Source of love itself. It is as simple as that. You now have a foundational hermeneutic (“interpretive key”) for interpreting all of Scripture wisely. Literalism is the lowest and most narrow hermeneutic for understanding conversation in general and sacred texts in particular.
Haven’t you read texts and not known what to think? For example, where Yahweh presumably tells the Israelites to kill every Canaanite in sight—men, women and children—and then has them impose a ban on every pagan town, telling the Israelites to enter, burn, and destroy everything in sight (e.g., Joshua 6-7). Do you really think that is God talking? I don’t think so. They have created God in their own image instead of letting God re-create them in his image.
“Well,” you say, “it is in the Bible and that makes it true and right.” That is why we have to use a whole different lens for interpreting any authoritative text. How we deal with sacred texts is how we deal with reality in general. And how we deal with reality in general is how we deal with sacred texts. And both reality and all sacred texts are also fragmented and “imperfect” (1 Corinthians 13:12). It takes a certain level of human and spiritual maturity to interpret a Scripture. Vengeful and petty people find vengeful and hateful texts (and they are there), but even when they are not there! Loving and peaceful people will hold out until a text resounds deep within them (and there are plenty there!). In short, ONLY LOVE CAN HANDLE BIG TRUTH.
Adapted from the webcast
A Teaching on Wondrous Encounters (CD, DVD, MP3)