As I mentioned yesterday, I am currently reading That’s A Great Question: What To Say When Your Faith Is Questioned by Glenn Pearson. Pearson’s basic premise is that we all see the Bible through various filters. We have presuppositions and opinions that we bring to the table before we ever begin to actually read it…and those filters affect the way we react to the message.
Pearson suggests that there are two categories of filters for people who fall outside of the historic Christian faith: those which add to the Bible, and those which take away from the Bible. There are different types of filters found within the two categories as well. Under the first you find: the filter of new revelation, and the filter of outlandish speculation. The second category contains three different filters: the filter of atheism, the filter of antisupernaturalism, and the filter of selective Christian theology.
I am just now getting into Pearson’s descriptions of the filters and how they affect one’s view of the Bible. I am reading through the book slowly (for me) so that I can really think about what he is saying. I have re-read a couple of sections and made notes. I am really interested in what Pearson has to say and I am trying to absorb what I read so that it will be useful to me as I minister to others. Pearson makes a great point when he reminds us that: “Each of us (emphasis his) operates with presuppositions that affect our conclusions about the Bible, God, and Jesus.” (location 444 in the Kindle version)
I have to remind myself of that often. I was raised in the church…the independent Church of Christ…the eastern North Carolina flavor. There are certain things that were instilled in me at a very early age that still affect the way I read the Bible and the way I live out my faith. Baptism (by immersion) and the weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper are a HUGE part of my belief system. In the past I looked at other Christian groups (often judging them) by the way they practiced (or didn’t practice) those two things. That was a filter through which I saw Christianity. I have known people who honestly believe that the King James Version of the Bible is the ONLY acceptable English translation. That is one of the filters through which they view other believers. To many of them, those who do not use the KJV are not only using perverted versions of the Bible, they are in danger of going to hell. The filters through which we view things are very important.
I know that I have my own filters. Some of them are stronger than others. Some of them need to go. In chapter 2, Pearson talks about looking at “Jesus Unfiltered” in the Gospel accounts. I am trying to do that more and more but let’s be honest…it is hard to set aside your presuppositions. It is hard to read about Jesus and not see the Sunday School flannelgraph figures from my childhood. It’s hard to embrace the grace and mercy Christ brings when there are years of hellfire and brimstone sermons still echoing in my head. There are so many filters distorting who Jesus is. It is my prayer that this book will not only help me with my personal filters, but it will also help me minister to others through the various filters they have been using.