There is a famous scene in the movie "A Few Good Men" where there is a brutal exchange between a lawyer, played by Tom Cruise, and a General, played by Jack Nicholson. At the end of an intense argument over a military case, Tom Cruise's character demands that he wants to know the truth, to which the General famously replies “You can’t handle the truth!”
The accusation that we can’t handle the truth is probably one that Christians have to admit we may sometimes be guilty of. And this has always been the case throughout history.
This was a clear concern in one exchange in one of the New Testament letters where Paul asked Timothy to handle the truth with care.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Tim 2:15
The term “correctly handle” originates from the Greek concept of “cutting a straight line.” Some people think Paul may have been using an expression that tied in with his trade as a Tent Maker. Back in the day, tents were made from the skins of animals in a patchwork sort of design. Every piece would have to be cut and fit together as part of a bigger pattern. If one didn’t cut the pieces right, would the whole thing fit together properly? Perhaps this was the essence of the charge to Timothy from Paul about the Bible?
The challenge to correctly handle the Word of God still stands for us today; yet 2000 years later there are new challenges we have to overcome that Timothy didn’t have to contend with. We need to Mind the Gap as we seek to understand scripture.
Which gaps are we talking about? Well there is a time gap, A geographical gap, a cultural gap, a language gap, a writing gap and a supernatural gap! That is more gaps than the London underground!
In light of these gaps we need to handle scripture with care. Some Christians vary wildly in their conservative or liberal views – with both sides throwing around the phrase “THE BIBLE SAYS” and both sides often misunderstanding how to actually interpret the Bible.
Everybody interprets the Bible – the question is do we do it responsibly?
What I am going to do over the next few posts is share some practical tools to help you start to responsibly interpret ANY passage of scripture. These are what I use all the time and will help you take steps towards becoming a "Bible Jedi"!