2002-04-09 - Being Inventive
Acts 8:30,31 "And when Philip had run up, he heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, 'Do you understand what you are reading?' And he said, 'Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?' And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him."
Being inventive can be a good thing. Take, for example, the invention of French women, Dominique Peignoux, Yvette Guys and Francoise Dekan, who, in the 1980's, marketed a musical napkin that was placed inside a baby's diaper and played "When the Saints Go Marching In" as soon as it became wet. That might be very useful. It would be even greater if you could select your song like you can with cell phone. Or consider William A. Calderwood of Peoria, Arizona, who patented helium filled furniture that would float to the ceiling when not in use to allow extra floor space and could be pulled back down by a rope as needed.
Inventions in our understanding of Scripture are rarely a good thing. If you think you have come up with a new interpretation of Scripture that no one else has thought of, you probably have not. There is most likely, in fact, a very good reason why you have not heard the interpretation before. It has probably long ago been dismissed as error. It is highly unlikely that we are going to come upon something that everyone else before us has missed. There really is nothing new under the sun, Ecclesiasties 1:9.
Every passage of Scripture has a historical, systematic, and practical interpretation. These are often very similar in relation to each other and the passage. When the Bible became available to the common person in the 16th and 17th centuries there were various "new" interpretations. Some would shock you. For example the Ranters who read Scripture and believed they were incapable of sinning and desired to return to Adam's life in paradise. Of course, that meant that at their public meetings they met naked. We might laugh but they felt they were following the clear teaching of Scripture. They felt they had a new interpretation that everyone else was missing. The implication here, of course, is that if you think you don't sin, you have to go to church naked. I'm glad I still struggle with sin; at least for that reason.
We ought to have enthusiasm for the study of God's Holy Word. But we should not fall trap to the thinking we have found something everyone else has missed. We might as well drive our car off a theological cliff. There is nothing wrong with checking things out with other passages of the Bible or with historic interpretations from the history of the Christian church. A good help here is to have a decent commentary that covers the whole Bible. Personally, I love Matthew Henry's work because: his commentary covers the whole Bible, he is eloquent, sound in his interpretations, and his commentary is easily obtainable. However, there are many others out there and the real key is to find one that is faithful to God's Word. This way when we think we have tripped over a "new" truth we wont be tempted to go to church naked.
Soli Deo Gloria,