“What did this do to my theology? I’d always thought – and had taught my students that any other ‘gods’ referenced in the Bible were just idols. As easy and comfortable as that explanation was, it didn’t’ make sense here. The God of Israel isn’t part of a group of idols. But I couldn’t picture him running around with other real gods, either. This was the Bible, not Greek mythology. But there it was in black and white. My conscience wouldn’t let me ignore my own Bible in order to retain the theology with which I was comfortable. Was my loyalty to the text or to Christian tradition? Did I really had to choose between the two? “When you open your Bible, I want you to be able to see it like the ancient Israelites or first-century Jews saw it, to perceive and consider it as they would have. I want THEIR supernatural worldview in YOUR head. Seeing the Bible through the eyes of an ancient reader requires shedding the filters of our traditions and presumptions. They processed life in supernatural terms. Today’s Christians processes it by a mixture of creedal statements and modern rationalism. I want to help you recover the supernatural worldview of the biblical writers – the people who produced the Bible. Obtaining and retaining that ancient mind-set requires observing a few ground rules.
FILTERING THE TEXT
“Filters are used to eliminate things in order to achieve a desired result. When we use them in cooking, the unwanted elements are dredged, strained, and discarded. When used in our cars, they prevent particles from interfering with performance. Most of my education was conducted in this way – using filters. It was no sinister plot. It was just what it was. The content I learned was filtered through certain presumptions and traditions that ordered the material for me, that put it into a system that made sense to my modern mind. Verses that didn’t quite work with my tradition were ‘problem passages’ that were either filtered out or consigned to the periphery of unimportance. We view the Bible through the lens of what we know and what’s familiar. Our traditions, however honorable, are not intrinsic to the Bible. They are artificial. They are filters. But throwing away my filters cost me the system with which I’d ordered Scripture and doctrine in my mind.”