4) THE TENSION OF CIRCUMSTANCES
There are certain factors which affect our understanding of Scripture to one degree or another:
a) Application to the Scriptures.
In many parts of the charismatic church we face a crisis here. Whilst we claim to be Bible believers many people rarely open their Bibles with any more serious intent than to receive a blessing or a word of encouragement or direction. Questions of context and original intent never enter their heads with the result that texts can be made to say anything the reader fancies.
b) Technical ability.
While it is my belief that the ordinary believer has open to him or her all the resources of God to help them understand what they are reading it is also clear that we cannot ignore the need for understanding of basic languages etc.
Many charismatics decry academic study because they have heard of or encountered the negativism of popular liberalism in schools RE and the like. But they are then in danger of riding on the back of the very thing they decry without realising, namely, the faithful and useful work accomplished by generations of believing scholars who have unlocked the mysteries of text and history to enable our present grasp of the scriptures.
Many believers are essentially lazy when it comes to proper Bible study. This has the net effect of leaving them vulnerable to every wind of doctrine that blows.
c) Prior theological conditioning.
Many of us are more affected than we know by the ideas we have inherited and which have become part of the fibre of our spiritual life. I confess I am like that with regard to the idea that Christian may/can lose their salvation.
d) Weight of tradition.
In the same way we are deeply affected by the ecclesiastical stream we belong to. Indeed, it may be just too painful or costly for an individual to accept some new insight from scripture that would lead to a disruption of fellowship with that tradition.
e) Personal morality or lifestyle.
The way of life that we have accepted or become bound in may affect our openness to what the scriptures have to say.
f) Principle of hiddenness(Dt 29v29)
It seems quite clear that there are certain things God doesn’t want us to know more about anyway.
It never ceases to amaze me that the issues which the modern broad church regard as vitally important, the NT has little clear to say about, viz, the role of a special priesthood, the celebration of the Eucharist, the practise of baptism, detailed church order.