AA Bondy – When the Devil’s Loose
I would have liked to return to the topic of biblical interpretation sooner, but there was this thing called “The Entire Summer” that got in the way. So, I’m back.
That is back to the Bible. I closed out last time with the idea that interpretation done on our own will always lead to error. This isn’t the time or place to go into great detail about how we arrived at a place where the ideal Christian is one who reads the Bible by themselves for hours on end, but maybe the broad strokes will suffice.
I know it is hard to believe but the idea of the “self” that is separated from the rest of one’s society, clan, tribe, family, etc… is a relatively “new” idea. Certainly, roots of individualism can be traced back to the 14th century when a person’s capacity to think and reason for one’s self was highly esteemed and praised. Even in Martin Luther’s famous phrase, solo Scriptura (Scripture alone), we find not only the singular importance of Scripture idealized, but it also implicitly idealizes the ability of the one who is reading the Scriptures… solo.
Well, what got started in the Europe in the 14th century certainly has reached its fullest expression in 21st century America. The idea that the ‘self’ or ‘individual’ is the most important determinant of what is right and true simply goes unchallenged. It is one of the givens by which we operate. When I say it is a ‘given,’ it is just that.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident (that is… not needing any justification), that all men (we’ll assume for the moment they meant women and non-whites too, even though they probably didn’t) are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
To be an American is to recognize that that the self is entitled to certain things and has the ability to secure them. Of course, this democratic way of looking at things colors all we do. Take for example American Idol (it all comes back to AI eventually). Regardless of what one thought of the abilities of the contestants, skill or ability was secondary to how much people liked the contestant. So, if one had the right look (and in our society, maybe every society, the right “look” often determines how much one “likes” someone) then he or she has a decent chance to go far. Because in the end, it is me the individual, the solo viewer, who has the power to determine what ‘good’ is.
Stick with me, this is going somewhere. If the individual, the solo viewer determines what talent is or isn’t. Then it really isn’t that much of a jump to get to a place where it is the individual, the solo reader who determines what is right or true when interacting with Scripture.
to be continued…