A fellow missionary loaned me his copy of a fascinating Rob Bell book entitled, "Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith". I love books like this that stretch my thinking and have a way of overturning my theological cart of pat answers to everything. On the back cover is the statement, "Just because I’m a Christian and I’m trying to articulate a Christian worldview doesn’t mean I’ve got it nailed. I’m contributing to the discussion." How often I have wanted to say this very thing. "We have to test everything...I thank God for anybody anywhere who is pointing people to the mysteries of God."
What follows are a few lines quoted from pages 50, 54-55.
"I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." --Jesus
What [Jesus] is doing here is significant. He is giving his followers the authority to make new interpretations of the Bible. He is giving them permission to say, "Hey, we think we missed it before on that verse, and we've recently come to the conclusion that this is what it actually means."
And not only is he giving them authority, but he is saying that when they do debate and discuss and pray and wrestle and then make decisions about the Bible, somehow God in heaven will be involved...
Jesus expects his followers to be engaged in the endless process of deciding what it means to actually live the Scriptures...
The Bible has to be interpreted. Decisions have to be made about what it means now, today.
The idea that everybody else approaches the Bible with baggage and agendas and lenses and I don't is the ultimate in arrogance. To think that I can just read the Bible without reading any of my own culture or background or issues into it and come out with a "pure" or "exact" meaning is not only untrue, but it leads to a very destructive reading of the Bible that robs it of its life and energy.
I have heard people say their church is growing because they "just teach the Bible"...They aren't objective, and they aren't just telling people what it says. They have interpreted it and made decisions about it, and this particular... version--their version--is striking a chord with people, and so they are coming to hear more of this take on the Bible...
The Bible is always coming through the interpretation of someone. And that's because binding and loosing require awareness.
Awareness that everybody's understanding of the Bible rests on somebody's binding and loosing.