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To the Point . . .

Taking the High View

A "letter-to-editor" piece I read recently expressed dismay at the insinuation that an opposing view (on homosexuality) stemmed from the lack of "a high view" of Scripture. So, what is a "high view of Scripture"? Is "high" absolute or relative? Does "high" mean literal? Is "high" about letter, "low" about spirit? Is "high" qualitative, like "high-class" or "high-brow"? Does "high" imply deep love and respect, "low" -- casual, careless?

High suggests higher than something else (implicitly: better!). Those who use it usually attribute it to themselves, in contrast to someone else. A "high view" is an approach to interpreting Scripture--one that takes the words of the text as literally and naturally as when reading the newspaper, accepting their normal everyday meaning unless there are clear figures of speech or common idiom.

"Taken at face value", the letter writer goes on, "the Bible can be used to support many arguments." What is "face-value"? Isn't "face-value" what people normally accept as the self-evident worth of a bill as it is used in everyday commerce? Isn't it just taking it for what it says, seriously, trustingly, and compliantly? Yes, fit a specific passage in Scripture with other known revelation, read in context, be alert to the cultural setting, but recognize that principles do not change. Sin is sin because God hates it, because it rejects Him and His rule. He is the same, in any age, in any culture, in any testament. "High" wants to believe Scripture means what it says and it means us, now!

What about the authenticity of the text itself? Are all writers to be trusted equally? Are all verses equally authoritative, or binding? Is the New Testament "higher" than the Old? Is Paul to be trusted over James? Is the King James to be trusted over "The Message"? Some time ago, I went to purchase a new Bible (capitalized = "high view"). I asked to see a Non-Red Letter edition. It was hard to find! I despise "Red Letter" for two reasons:

  1. it is more difficult to read (sometimes more pink that red), and
  2. it implies that if a verse can be attributed as a direct quote of Jesus, it carries more weight, demands higher respect, or higher obedience.
To me this flies in the face of "all Scripture is God-breathed." When someone dismisses or discounts some teaching of the Apostle Paul, or suggests that because Jesus didn't address it explicitly, it is up for grabs, that is a "low" blow! It is hardly a "high view" of the Scriptures, or of Jesus himself who said, "Not the smallest letter will by any means disappear." Peter said, "No prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophets own...." John wrote, "If anyone takes words away...." These declarations are not human assessments; they are God's revealed truth about His very own Word. Simply to dismiss verses we find hard to accept (or fit into our culture), surely must be a "low" view of Scripture. Disregard for the explicit statements, demands, or prohibitions of the God-breathed text can never be accepted, justified or applauded. Yes, there is such a thing as a "high view" of Scripture; it is one that is worthy of its Author!

Del Sauder, Lancaster, PA

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