In philosophy there is a study known as epistemology. Epistemology is simply the study of knowledge, or how we came to know the things that we know. For everyone of us, we have all grown up a certain way. We all have certain backgrounds, family life, health, appearance, and skills. All of these influences and attributes make us who we are. However, these life circumstances, eventually, form a sort of lens in which we see life. They are like a contact lens. Contact lenses help correct vision, but with the wrong prescription, they ultimately do more harm than good. In this same way, everything that has made you -you, forms a grid or lens in which you perceive life. Majority of the time we label this a worldview.
Worldview’s are simply the particular bias in our presuppositions that influences how you look at the world and what we see or expect to see. This bias reveals itself in answering both the major and the minor questions of life. It is a predisposition, a slant, a bias in how we see things. And honestly they affect us every day. A person’s worldview influences what they expect to see, and how they explain things. We all have them. Sometimes these views can change, either through relationships or circumstances. Overall though, they are the grid in which we explain some of life’s most difficult questions. And the answer we have to those, also plays out in life’s simplest day to day life.
Why do I bring all this up? Well, when we come to the bible we bring our
lenses, most of the time not even realizing it.
Here are two questions we must think about in light of this:
What is going on when a reader encounters a text?
What kind of knowledge do we gain as we read?
Both of these questions are subjective to the readers lens. Their world views, intentions, mindesets, aims, and motivations influence what they read and how they interpret things. What happens with this, is simply; only wanting to hear what we think we already know, or only seeing what we think we already believe. Our lenses overtime become crystallized and change becomes difficult. NT Wright states there are three grids people normally use when they approach scripture. All of the following quotes are from his book called “The New Testament and the People of God.”
The positivist position seeks ‘solid and unquestionable knowledge and this epistemological stance is found among ‘naïve realists’ who ‘have instant access to raw data about which they can simply make propositions on the basis of sense experience.’
Observer —————————————–> Object
-simply looking at objective reality
-tested by empirical observation
-if it doesn’t work, it’s nonsense
Translates talk about external objects… into statements about sense data’ for ‘the only thing of which I can be sure when confronted by things in (what seems to be) the external world are my own sense-data’
Observer —————————————–> Object
-I seem to have evidence of external reality
-but can survive the challenge and speak truly of reality.
These are the three grids. But what about the Holy Spirit?, you might ask. Well, we know that the holy spirit guides and directs and gives us insight into God’s word. But once again, because of our lenses, relying simply on this has led the church into so many disputes that some of the current denominations that exist today have resulted from such practice. This is normally called “sola scriptura.” And again, not that we can understand God’s word without the holy spirit, we just can’t simply rely on ourself.
This brings me to the conclusion of all this. Your story greatly effects how you interact with God’s story. Take a close look at the next diagram.
STORY——–>IDENTITY———>BE (Character)———>DO (Skill)
Your story (background family etc.) shapes your identity. Your identity shapes what you are or believe, which ultimately directs what you do or your actions. Returning to what we said at the beginning…if your lenses have been shaped than everything you do and how you process life is affected by this. So ultimately your story and grid creates who you are, what you believe and what you do. If this is off, then your interactions with God and the bible will be too. What we need to do is create our identity in and around God’s. But by doing so, we must deconstruct who we are and reconstruct who he is through us. In other words God’s upper story must reshape our lower story, so that we can be who we are suppose to be in him (God’s story), and not who he is in us(our story).
Allowing God’s story to run our story is difficult as we all know. But realizing that your story has and is greatly effecting your ability to live out his, is a great place to start. Hopefully in time this will be the case…
God’s story & you——>His identity in you——-> God’s Charcter ——->Godly Actions