Today, we don’t differ much over what the Bible says, we differ over what the Bible means. This highlights the differences in the way we interpret what the Bible says. This opens up the larger issue of HOW we interpret the Bible. In my nearly 20 years as a pastor, I’ve discovered that most “folks in the pew” don’t think much about that. Yet, it’s important. There is a difference between the way a Roman Catholic or an Evangelical or an Anabaptist or an Atheist engages in the interpretative task. That means that their understandings of what the Bible means vary significantly. If you are a “person in the pew” this excellent post by Andrew Perriman explores the “historical-metaphorical” hermeneutic (a hermeneutic is an interpretive lens or how you interpret the Bible) of Marcus Borg (a “liberal” Bible scholar). If you are a pastor (or anyone who engages in public preaching and teaching of Biblical texts) you may find the post challenging (especially concerning how we are tempted to result to metaphor when we find aspects of the Biblical story incredible).
Andrew’s post is a peek behind the curtain, revealing the kind of work your pastor does in his study long before he or she steps into the pulpit. It might also help you see why a Mennonite pastor, a Roman Catholic priest, a mainline pastor, and a conservative evangelical pastor come to differing conclusions as to what a text means.