William Tyndale gave his life — figuratively, then literally — to his dream that every plowboy in England could read the Bible in English (Tyndale translated from Greek; Wycliffe translated the Latin translation of the Greek into English). Indeed, many of our most beloved verses are Tyndale’s words. How tragic, by-the-way, that Tyndale’s valuation of availability of Scripture to the “laity” is inversely reflected today in the devaluation of Scripture by countless professing Christians. Many read Scripture despite lack of true appetite, but most simply don’t read Scripture beyond some arbitrary obligatory “devotions”.
Tyndale’s “plowboy” can read and understand much Scripture. Much Scripture reading, however, results in — as Graeme Goldsworthy phrases it — “reader-response hermeneutic”. That is, the reader assigns meaning to what s/he reads in his/her language without regard even for context, let alone for study of what the original receptors understood the inspired Word to mean. It can’t mean to us what it didn’t mean to them; it can’t mean now what it didn’t mean then. Of course, such truism is in deference to the New Covenant Scriptures being the “lens” via which the Old Covenant Scriptures are viewed. Revelation is progressive; interpreting the New via the Old and/or the Old without regard for the New results in woeful beliefs and practices which characterize system-driven theologies.
As we consider Hebrews 6:4 – 8 (next time), we must not rely on our assignment of meaning to the content of those verses (indeed, of any verses!). We must not claim privately inspired understanding. Much of the Word of Truth simply cannot be rightly divided without the Holy Spirit’s illumination. That said, the Holy Spirit’s illumination doesn’t “guide us into all truth”. None of us “gets” all of it, and, each of us — unless we’re obdurate or devoid of appetite and concomitant understanding — recognizes that our own understanding isn’t static.
Our Lord ordains teachers. Paul and John were teachers. Each of us should be teachers unless we’re “newborns”. Teaching requires study, of course. If our study is to become fruit-bearing, we must not allow a theological system to require our understanding of Scripture to “fit” such system. If we do so, we’re either bereft of the Holy Spirit or we’re regenerate but we quench/stifle the Spirit (2 Thessalonians 5:19). Amazingly, human pride is such that even the regenerate manage to find only what they’re looking for in Scripture unless we’re deliberate to put system-driven presuppositions in check. As Paul Simon observed (forty years ago!) via “The Boxer“: “Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest”.