Scripture’s Paradox: Extraordinarily Simple & Profoundly Complex (Miniblog #156)
A recurring issue I encounter is that of Scripture’s perspicuity. That is, the doctrine of Scripture’s clarity. It’s a subject with which I used wrestle a great deal. On the one hand, the divisions between Roman Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox, and approximately one bazillion Protestant sects manifestly illustrates the point that the Bible must be interpreted and interpretation is, unfortunately, an imperfect art. Even the Bible’s newest books are nearly 2,000 years old, the cultural-historical contexts of its authors and redactors are incomprehensibly different than our own, and its genres are often foreign to even well-read modern Westerners. We’re faced with a daunting task. On the other hand, who among us hasn’t felt that we’re searching so hard for these deep truths and nuanced details that we often miss the obvious message just beneath our noses? Kierkegaard once rebuked, “The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly.” That rings equally true to my ears. As I said, this self-evident paradox used to consume a great deal of time and energy. Then I learned to embrace it. Today I openly profess Scripture’s simultaneous extraordinary simplicity and profound complexity. Even a child can read the Bible and grasp its basic narrative and teachings unto salvation. I absolutely and unequivocally affirm that. At the same time (not “but”), a brilliant and devout scholar can spend a lifetime rigorously studying the biblical text only to feel as though he or she has barely scratched the surface. To my eyes, this is a tension we cannot responsibly alleviate.