“I believe that all people should read the Bible and try to decide its meaning, as much as they are able, for themselves. Ideally, religious leaders should be there to help facilitate an individual’s reading of the Bible, not predigest their flock’s faith for them. They should help guide, not impose.”
-Joshua Einsohn (Banned Questions About the Bible)
I’m just going to go ahead and throw up a ‘Second’ to what Joshua says here. It’s much more concise and accessible than I could say it. And here is why I’m going to second it.
1) Jesus had a different relationship with everyone he met. He had different questions, commands, and conversations with every single individual. To Matthew he said, “Follow me.” To Mary he said, “Your sins are forgiven.” To Zacchaeus he said, “Let me eat with you.” To Martha he said, “Be still.” To Thomas he said, “Do not doubt.” He told Nicodemus to be “born again.” He asked Peter, “Do you love me?”
Our perspective matters. Jesus comforts and confronts us in exactly the way in which we need to be at any given time. If he is truly at work in the scriptures then we must assume that this is also true of them. How can someone else tell me what God is communicating to me through the scriptures if only God and myself know my heart?
2) Religious leaders are Shepherds, not representatives/rulers. The difference between the two is that shepherds are guides to help us decide our own actions (and possibly help us out of crappy situations we put ourselves in), while representatives act on our behalf while demanding certain responses. When religious leaders act as representatives they put themselves in between the flock and Jesus. They make themselves a ‘medium’ for the relationship between us and God. It is an extremely inefficient and unbiblical method of leadership. Ezekiel put it this way…
You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally.
Religious leaders who act as SHEPHERDS do just the opposite. Shepherds help the weak become strong. They nurse the sick and treat the injured. They don’t just bring the strays back or search for the lost (for that would be by force), but they TEACH them how to find their way home when they are ready.
God has a personal and intimate relationship with every individual. Perspective matters. When we claim to know the “Truth” we are acting as representatives, we are picking up the Spirit’s staff, putting on Jesus’ crown, and sitting on God’s throne.
There must be space for all people to meet and experience God in the scriptures through their own lenses.