Learning With Your Head

I am such an egg-head, it’s scary

I’m not sure whether this is a flaw that I need to overcome (many people have told me this) or whether it’s how God made me and I need to learn to appreciate it about myself.

One thing that scares me is that I don’t see a lot of head-learning in the Bible. I see a lot of poetry, music, art, analogy, parable, faith, trust, prophesy, preaching, personal experience … but not a lot of head-learning.

I know I’m going off the deep end when I find myself thinking maybe I need to attend a seminary in order to understand the Bible.

The thing is, it scares me to only hear one side of the story. Take any Biblical topic that’s controversial and with the help of the Internet I can find dozens of different ways of understanding it. And each of them sincerely, and with Biblical references to back it, claims that it offers the right way to understand God’s Word and all the others are wrong.

Even in the Bible itself — even (I hope this isn’t a sin) in Jesus’s own words sometimes — I see disrespect for other points of view. (Jesus was not hesitant to call those He criticized vipers and hypocrites, etc.)

I feel like I want to study the Bible like this:

  • [Bible Passage]
  • What does it say?
  • What does it mean?
    • Here’s how I (the speaker) understand it
    • Here are some ways that others understand it
      • 1 (Best, most favorable interpretation of other view #1)
      • 2 (Best, most favorable interpretation of other view #2)
      • 3 (Best, most favorable interpretation of other view #3)
      • etc.,
    • Here’s why I (the speaker) or we (the organization) understand it the way I/we do
    • What do you (the listener/reader) think, and why?

I know this is a really egg-head way to approach the Bible.

It kind of invokes my sense that there are always (at least) 2 sides of every story. It scares me to decide to endorse something if I don’t even know what various other sides of the story have to say for themselves.

It also kind of resonates with a method often advocated by counselors for better communication … i.e., before you disagree with what the other person is saying, state back to them what you think they are saying and give them an opportunity to tell you what you’re missing, and keep doing that until the other person agrees that yes, you do truly understand what they’re saying. Then ( and only then ) if you still don’t agree, you’re ready to have a discussion about it.

I get frustrated with what seems like simplistic advice (to me). “You have to trust your gut/heart/whatever.” Well, maybe – but you need to have a Christ-like gut/heart/whatever to start with in order for that to work. For example, lots of oppressors have justified treating the people they’re oppressing badly because they “trusted their gut” and their gut was telling them that the people they’re oppressing are less fully human than they are.

Do I need a 12-step program, Egg-Head Christians Anonymous? (EHCA, notice that’s ACHE reversed…)


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