To teach someone what the Bible says is a serious thing. James 3:1 clearly shows that, should one undertake to do so, it should be done with seriousness and the knowledge of greater accountability. It is in that spirit that I approach my next several posts.
I want to begin by simply pointing out that culture does impact interpretation of scripture and well it should. It is a major principle of hermeneutics [principles for biblical interpretation] that you understand the culture [history] of the sacred writings. It is that culture that gives understanding, to some degree, to the words of the text. Suppose I tell someone of my culture that I rode a 'hog' to the cafe to eat supper. A later generation might argue over whether pigs should be eaten or ridden and might accuse the other side of not being fit for fellowship-- unless --they know that my culture understands a 'hog' can be a reference to a motorcycle and may not be referring to an actual animal being eaten OR ridden. So it is with understanding the culture into which the scriptures were given by inspiration. That culture impacts our seeing what the intended meaning really is.
That said, it remains for the interpreter, under guidance from the Spirit, to use all the tools necessary to fully understand the grammar, syntax, history, context, and guidance of the Spirit to get to that original meaning. But two things I do wish to say here...
#1 --The goal of interpretation of scripture is not to find what no-one else has ever found but to discover and disclose the true meaning of the text. However, an interpretation may seem unique to one who has never seen it according to Fee and Stuart in their "How to Read The Bible For All It's Worth." [p. 14] I can truthfully say I do not remember ever seeing the new meaning of a verse that someone else has not caused me to investigate with their new [new to me] insight. I do trust my final conclusion is NOT because they said it but that I see it in the text. To give credit to a person for my understanding of a verse would be impossible as much as I would like to speak of a James I Packer, Gordon Fee, John Reisinger, Jon Zens, David Johnson, Cheryl Schatz and a host of others. [Ancient writers I could have mentioned and the new ones I did mention.]
#2--You do not have to be a bible scholar to understand the scriptures. Any Christian does have an unction [anointing] from the Holy One [1 John 2:20] and is able to come to some understanding of the bible on his/her own. I would say it is good to use any available tool/teacher/method one might choose and to hold conclusions lightly allowing them to be confirmed by godly people along the way. All the time remembering it is possible to get lost in the forest [scriptures] while looking at the trees [doctrines] and, unless willing to find a high place to get the big picture of the whole forest, [scriptures] you may not find your way to Truth as I will show in a moment.
That leads to another rule/principle for proper interpretation and that is that no one verse or passage can be interpreted alone. It must be seen, as the Scofield Reference Notes accurately points out when referencing 11 Peter 1:20, the 'no private interpretation' means 'It's own interpretation, i.e. not isolated from all the Word has given elsewhere.' This principle will be very important in correctly seeing a couple of passages that, on the surface or taken by themselves, would seem to lead to a doctrine [tree] condemning women to never saying anything for all time in the Church. Another single passage that seems to say, on the surface, the woman has another head [authority] other than Christ who is the Head of the Church. Is that what was originally meant by these few passages? [Trees] We shall see as we look at the whole of the scriptures. [Forest].
So we begin with a need for the context of the whole of scripture on this 'woman' issue that has resulted in these feeble words of mine on women in the Church and life in general. My first post spoke of the well known clash between Egalitarians and Fundamentalists/Complementarians over roles of women in scripture and even discrimination against women in some religious circles. But my purpose in later posts will not be to prove one view or the other [remember I don't like labels] but, rather, to speak of a better understanding of the view of the whole of scripture with regards to women in the Church and in life in general. My goal is to look from a high ground biblical perspective at God's intention and purpose for male/female relationships and particularly the female's freedom and value because of creation and redemption through Christ and her subsequent value to the Church and in the world. Let me say it clearly here.....
No voice will ever speak of the equality and value of women more clearly or present the personal freedom and joy that comes in being female than will the voice that proclaims the meaning of scripture as God originally intended it in regards to women, be that voice male or female. The gospel really does set captives free whether it is one enslaved to sin or men.
Our first big picture view next time.