God – in black & white or color?
May 13, 2008, 10:44 pm
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It may be that I am lazy and enjoy watching television, but I have recently began to realize that I really do not know what it is like to watch television in only black and white. My whole life I have watched television in color. Color is a whole different experience than black and white; and now with HD that makes the experience even more enjoyable. Color allows me to see things more clearly, and I can take part in a deeper view of things. If I had viewed the world through a black and white television, I may never see the world as it really is.

The same is true with our view of God through biblical interpretation. The literalistic, scientific reading that has so permeated our churches is somewhat disturbing. Such individuals have said to me, “Evan, why can’t people just read the Bible as is? That’s what it says, so I believe it.” I believe that many fear any interpretive style other than because they believe that it will allow for all types of unorthodox interpretation. The only problem is, Hasn’t that happened anyway? Or hasn’t it gotten worse since the literalistic style has become popular? I mean, if we are honest, we can make the Bible say whatever we want and say, “That’s what it says, so I believe it.”

And doesn’t the literalistic reading draw us to view God in a limited manner in the same way as watching TV in black and white? Doesn’t it limit the meaning the text (or worse, the Holy Spirit) could possibly give? Ultimately, the literalistic view draws on ‘authorial intent.’ But could not God mean something greater than what the author meant? I think so.

If we adopt an interpretive style such as that of Origen, the other church fathers, or the medieval interpreters with multiple-layered meanings of Scripture, it may bring us to view God in color again. We are very quick to place God in our boxes (as stated in my previous post) and limit him because we are scared people can just say what they want and come up with unorthodox views. But…God is not scared of these things, and neither should we be.

I am tired of God being ‘immovable,’ ‘omnipotent,’ or ‘providential.’ I do believe he is all of these things, but wouldn’t it be better to view God in metaphor and in color? God is ‘a safe place,’ ‘a consuming fire,’ or ‘Love.’ I believe that our literalistic view of biblical interpretation and our rejection of the multi-layered view has limited our view of God and has bred more (or, at least, the same amount of) unorthodox views than such were found prior.

I hope to write more about this later, but this is good for now.


1 Comment so far
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You know my friend, I appreciate what you’re saying and we’ve enjoyed this conversation personally. Looking forward to hearing more about this.
For the sake of discussion however, and being a fellow youth pastor, you know we specialize in metaphors and I’d like to point out a difference with your use of b&w, color, and HD.
First, tv’s are of the devil. I see no relevance here.
But because you have a gun to m head, let me move on. When regular color television viewers discover HD, they want it. Even if they are old boomers. I’ve never, ever heard anyone say, “This sucks! You can see too much more!” or “I disagree with this new format. If God wanted us to see clearer, he would have made our eyes in HD not given us the ability to manipulate technology in order to see more”. I haven’t even heard a family group voice concern over the fact that they children are not at risk of seeing sexual images crisper and sharper.
Why?? Because EVERYONE (and I am including Pat Robertson. How do I know, I saw a couple hanging on his set. I know, I know, I saw the 700 on accident, was only passing by. It’s like accidentally landing on porn for me – honest. Although that brings up an interesting blog post – which is worse for your soul – the 700 club or porn? Sorry I digress).
Back to the point, everyone loves HD because it is obviously, objectively, clearly better.
Could I suggest a better analogy here? (I see you nodding your head so I’ll continue.)
The gas engine versus the new ethanol or electric or hydrogen engine. Depending who you are, you see the change as inevitable. The old guy driving his Ford 150 is praying every night that we find more oil fields in Wyoming. He’s also the guy trying to bring back crop circles to get rid of the ethanol.
Sorry to avoid your worth considering point, I am just in a weird mood.
Looking forward though to more. Later.

Comment by tghali

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