Friday, January 31, 2014

The Danger of Being One-sided

One the the things I see widely on Facebook is that people who are passionate about politics and speak out about it, seem to be doing so from a very one-sided perspective. The means that those are are commenting about issues are only reading and listening to people the agree with them.  To be well-informed, one needs to read and listen to people on all sides of the issues as well as all positions in politics be they right, center or left. Only then can we keep the wool from being pulled over our eyes by ideologues (like talk show hosts and syndicated columnists) who make their money by catering to the certain base of people with a certain base of belief.

This is how good biblical exegesis is done. You look at the full-view of writers down through history when seeking views of how a passage should be interpreted. The helps the interpreter deal with his or her own bias. Ultimately of course, good biblical exegesis allows the the text to speak and the meaning is established by the intention of the text (which was inspired by God and therefore we seek God's original intention). But lots of very bad biblical interpretation happens when we don't deal with our own bias. So reading and studying widely is important. It is the same when interpreting the times.

As I continue to read through Eric Metaxas' book "Bonhoeffer" I'm struck by how Hitler used one-sided, single perspective information to to control the hearts and minds of the people he got to follow him. That is the danger of only listening to one side or our favorite commentators. We get very polarized information. Now it's easier to only listen to people who believe like us. But it is ultimately dangerous. That's why I try to read very widely and not let others make my decisions for me. That's why I don't stop with people like Mark Levin (who says some very interesting things) and other radio commentators. He is convinced he is right and he wants you to be convinced he is right. But do we do the hard work of fact checking his pronouncements? Do we try to get to the other side of what he is saying as a check on his own bias?

In interpreting the times and interpreting the Bible, the only way to not have the wool pulled over our eyes is to be vigilant not to be one-sided in our research. Only then can we ask enough questions to arrive at a proper interpretation of both.

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