Daily Riches: A Self-Aware Reading of Scripture (Richard Beck)

“We are all interpreting the text to some degree. We are all privileging–deferring to–certain values, doctrines, creedal commitments, traditions, or biblical texts. Something somewhere is trumping something else.  …The only question is whether you are consciously vs. unconsciously using a hermeneutic. …When your hermeneutic is operating unconsciously it causes you to say things like ‘this is the clear teaching of Scripture.’  …What is interesting to me in this phenomenon is not that we are all engaging in hermeneutics, acts of interpretation. That is a given. What is interesting to me is how self-awareness, or the lack thereof, is implicated in all this. …denying that you are engaged in hermeneutics–betrays a shocking lack of self-awareness, an inability to notice the way your mind and emotions are working in the background and beneath the surface. I think statements like ‘this is the clear teaching of Scripture’ are psychologically diagnostic. Statements like these reveal something about yourself. Namely, that you lack a certain degree of self-awareness. For example, saying something like ‘this is the clear teaching of Scripture’ is similar to saying ‘I’m not a racist.’ …Self-aware people would say things like ‘I don’t want to be a racist’ or ‘I try not to be racist’ or ‘I condemn racism.’ But they would never say ‘I’m not a racist’ because self-aware people know that they have blind spots. …[that] they have unconscious baggage that is hard to notice or overcome. And it’s the same with how self-aware people approach reading the bible. Self-aware people know that they are trying to read the bible in an unbiased fashion. …[and] to let the bible speak clearly and it its own voice. But self-aware people know they have blind spots. They know that there is unconscious baggage affecting how they are reading the bible, baggage that they know must be biasing their readings and conclusions. Consequently, self-aware people would never, ever say ‘this is the clear teaching of Scripture.’ Just like they’d never claim to be unbiased in any other area of life, racism being just one example. What I am saying is that when we approach the issue of sola scriptura–using ‘the bible alone’ …[that besides remembering hermeneutics, we must remember] the issue of emotional intelligence, the degree to which you are reading the bible with a degree of self-awareness.” Richard Beck

“Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” Peter (Mark 14:31)

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Is the Bible’s meaning usually pretty obvious to you?
  • Are you aware of your biases and blind-spots?
  • What can you do to read with more “self-awareness?”

Abba, reveal my blind-spots and arrogance, and open my eyes to see when others show me the truth.

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Thanks for reading and sharing this blog!  –  Bill

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