One of the things my prof has spoken of quite a bit this semester is the development of his eschatological position. Over the years, he has studied, learned, taught, ministered, and prayed, and it is not what it once was many years ago. I am not unfamiliar with that.
A while ago on Twitter, a friend told me that it was a bold confession I made when I said that I had read The Prayer of Jabez and liked it. I, too, have grown in my theology over the years. Fifteen years ago, I knew very little of the distinctions between those who hold a more Calvinistic view than those who don't. Ignoramus that I am, I thought every Evangelical held to a Calvinistic view. I can hear people laughing as I type this. There is so much to learn.
On Tuesday, in our study of the Psalms, we discussed imprecatory passages such as the one found in Psalm 109:6-15. This spurred on a discussion about the meaning and application of such passages, and our prof shared how he'd done a turnabout with this over the years. At one time, he felt that such passages were not to be applied to the church today; another example of a growing theology. He shared with us the account of a man he knew who at one point was a preacher of the gospel but who became an agnostic because he struggled to believe in a God who would allow the imprecatory passages. That, too, is another example of a changing theology.
As I get older, I see more and more how when we read Scripture, we read our pre-suppositions into things. We assume that our experience is the universal experience. Even when we discuss things like marriage and family, we are often locked into a view of things that is not based so much on Scripture as it is on our circumstances; for me, a white, middle-class woman in North America. But we must be careful about verbalizing these things lest others conclude that we're becoming "liberal" in our old age. I must admit that I have occasionally made that ignorant assumption. Don't misunderstand me; I'm not talking about what is truth. I'm talking about making normative things that are clearly situational.
One of the things I'm learning as I evaluate my own pre-suppositions is that I need to return again and again to what Scripture says. I need to keep mining its depths. It's often a more complicated process than I thought. And if I'm not going to spend the time thinking and studying, I may end up with stunted growth.
In objection to this need for hard work and study, aside from being the argument that it's being "too academic," I've heard the objection that women from other cultures did not have access to the study methods we do, and they were fine Christian women. Some didn't read and some didn't own their own Bibles. That is true. They depended on others to teach them. However, the fact remains that here in the West we do live in a culture where these things are at our disposal. Most of us have funds enough to buy a Bible, to buy a few books. We have time. If we have enough to noodle around on the internet, we have time to study. We have computers, cell phones, tablets; we have access to resources. The problems isn't the availability of resources.
This week had an assignment for our discussion forum regarding Psalm 109:6-15. This is the opportunity to hear the voices of my fellow students. I always leave that forum thinking that I am a dope. Some of the things they come up with challenge me and force me to think harder. They force me to look at my views, and to ensure they are formulated around Scripture, not just my pre-suppositions. It is true that we will always have pre-supposistions. There is no such thing as pure objectivity. There is, however, always the option of recognizing them and addressing them.