May 5 is a big deal for me. But despite what my elementary school repeatedly thought about me, it’s not because I hail from Mexico. It is the birthday of two very important people: my mentor who is still alive, Dave D., and my mentor who is not so much still alive, Soren Kierkegaard. I wish I had some great quotes from Dave, but since I don’t, here is a selection from SK, in honor of what would have been his 199th birthday (I already asked my wife if we could go to Copenhagen next May for his 200th. Not so much):
“In other words, it is not the obscure passages in Scripture that bind you but the ones you understand. With these you are to comply at once. If you understood only one passage in all of Scripture, well, then you must do that first of all…God’s Word is given in order that you shall act according to it, not that you gain expertise in interpreting it…Being alone with God’s Word is a dangerous matter. Of course, you can always find ways to defend yourself against it: Take the Bible, lock your door – but then get out ten dictionaries and twenty-five commentaries. Then you can read it just as calmly and coolly as you read newspaper advertising.
With this arsenal you can really begin to wonder, “Are there not several valid interpretations? So you calmly conclude, “I myself am not absolutely sure about the meaning of this passage. I need more time to form an opinion.” Good Lord! What a tragic misuse of scholarship that it makes it so easy for people to deceive themselves!
Can’t we be honest for once! We have become such experts at cunningly shoving one layer after another, one interpretation after another, between the Word and our lives…and we then allow this preoccupation to swell to such profundity that we never come to look at ourselves in the mirror…
It is only all too easy to understand the requirements contained in God’s Word (“Give all your good to the poor” etc.) The most ignorant, poor creature cannot honestly deny being able to understand God’s requirements. But it is tough on the flesh to will to understand it and to then act accordingly.
Herein lies the problem. It is not a question of interpretation, but action.”
excerpts from For Self-Examination & Judge For Yourself, 26-35