How to Read the Bible: The Moral

As a teenager there were a lot of decisions to make.  Who should I date?  What should I do with them?  What should I drink?  What movies should I go see?  What words should I use?  What should I wear?  What music should I listen to and what should I do while listening to it?**  So many choices.  It was a good thing for me that I had the Bible.  It answered all those tricky questions and so many more.  Of course, it was best at helping me make the ultimate choice, the choice between heaven and hell – seems like an easy choice, right? – but once that one was made one must figure out what to do with oneself.  Bible for the win!

While for me this was the primary reason for reading the Bible, it was only one of four senses of Scripture for classical minds.  So far in this series, we have talked about the literal and the allegorical and now we add the moral.  The Bible will tell you what you should do.  However, in the classical model, the moral rests on top of the literal and the allegorical.  They are all simultaneously true senses of Scripture and in later thought, say Thomas Aquinas, they are all necessary.  That is, it is literally true, allegorically true, and morally true.  The Bible cannot be taken seriously as a guide for our choices unless it is also true in fact and true in pointing us to Christ.

Given what we’ve talked about the last couple of weeks, I hope you see the problem here.  Problems of transmission, translation, and intercultural communication become very acute when they are rendered in the moral arena.  The moral is where the rubber meets the road: actual behavior of actual human beings.  And given the way morality plays out in groups in a democratic society, it is critical that we attempt to be aware of the ways in which we read such a prominent moral guide, the world we construct in reading the text a particular way.  Perhaps a correct interpretation is less important than an ethical interpretation.

Please join us Sunday, 11am at Kidd Springs Rec Center as we discuss how to read the Bible in such a way that it brings God’s dreams into reality.

Grace and Peace,

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