Sometimes the blog feels a little like me dominating a discussion in the living room, while the real discussions takes place in a back bed room. The following is a comment response to a reader.
Josiah said, "I hear you saying the Bible is certainly a kind of Spiritual Encyclopdia to help us define, articulate, and check our spiritual walk and knowledge. I think I do take it is a kind of duty to understand the Bible. If I were not a inclined toward my intellect or were not a good reader I think I would not feel the duty as strongly. However, as a christian (who reads alot); I feel subject first to God and secondly to the Bible. If it is in the Bible and I can understand it, I feel a duy to obey even if I have not got a specific leading in my spirit. Are you warning aginst this? or is there a particular bondage of duty against which you are warning likened to differences in Law described inthe Bible. Law bringing death -- law bringing Life."
The questions you raise are insightful and needed to help me articulate something beautiful but hard to reduce to mere words. I am warning only against a self delusion I experienced once upon a time. That is that I perceived my daily discipline of Bible reading as a measure of my spiritual maturity and the basis for my spiritual insights. Of course, what insights I had spiritually were from understanding the Bible, however now I view those insights as intellectual at the time and weak for their lack of connectedness to my heart. I do not think that I view the Bible as a Spiritual Encyclopedia, but I think it is that at least and I like the analogy. I completely agree that in lacking a clear spiritual nudge from the Holy Spirit one turns to and obeys the Bible to the fullest of one's understanding. I think sometimes the Lord is silent in spirit often because He has clearly addressed the issue in scripture.
I understand your feeling of duty to develop your intellectual understanding of the Bible. I have felt the same. Duty is an interesting word and here is a hinge in the discussion. Following duty is a good thing, unless one trusts that one's duty is the measure of spiritual reality. We feel duties differently, in varying degrees when applied to varied topics. I followed duty not love in inviting my mother to live in our home as she neared the end of her life and needed to live with others instead of alone. In following that duty I learned much about love, though I must be honest that my love for my mother did not increase. However, I feel the experience helped me separate from my love of her many anxieties and resentments that had built up toward her. Duty is like that sometimes. We follow it not realizing it will bring us to a place of deeper spiritual understanding. Yet, there is no guarantee it will. We can dutifully do something for years without any change in our spiritual awareness. This is the kind of conundrum that piques my curiosity. What is the difference, and why is it there? I postulate but do not assert, the difference is that in the one our heart is open to hear God beyond the duty even as the duty positions us to hear. When duty fails to spiritually enlighten us, we have approached the duty with the hidden agenda of establishing our own righteousness.
I must be off to work. craig v., I will post my response to you later today, perhaps early enough for you to read before you get into the weekend this Friday evening. Thanks for being patient with me.