The Sacred Leaf: Part Two
AST week I published a post about how often religious groups ground their beliefs in the Bible, but then extend the authority of Scripture beyond what seems reasonable. It’s easy to do. I’m sure I’ve been guilty before. You feel confident of your interpretation of a text but then give equal credence to your nuanced application. It’s easy to conflate the two.
Sometimes I fear evangelicalism is too invested in caring for foliage instead of getting back to the center of Scripture. The sacred leaf is my way of illustrating our distraction with issues that may be of great value within a specific community or subculture but might not be helpful in a broader application. Often a particular community can then expect other groups to apply Scripture exactly as they do.
I’m not here addressing those important doctrinal distinctions that separate denominations like Baptists and Presbyterians. Those are interpretive issues that, though significant, fall within a spectrum of orthodox options. My goal in this post is to draw attention to those values that often go beyond biblical interpretation and deal more with specific application.
I’m reminded of what I heard a friend say not long ago, “We should say what the Bible says, not more or less, for the same reasons the Bible says it.”
Instead of investing our time and energy on niche applications of perhaps disputed interpretations, maybe we need to get back on task with the more pronounced themes in Scripture. Instead of tending leaves, we can just let our fruit speak for itself. And even where we interpret and apply Scripture differently, we should always be known for our love. As one theologian famously said, “In essential things: unity, in non-essential things: liberty, but in all things: charity.”