Re: How should the Bible be interpreted?

Wallis wishes we were more literal about what Jesus said.
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TRANSCRIPT

Jim Wallis: You know a few people say, “Well you don’t interpret the Bible literally.”  And I say, “I wish we were a little more literal about Jesus said.”  When Jesus talked about how we’re supposed to treat those who are left out and left behind, I’d like us to take that more seriously.  So the Bible isn’t a science textbook, of course.  But you know it really talks about what God is like, and what God wants us to be like in the world, and the kind of world that God wants.  And so it’s very clear on some of the biggest kinds of issues.  We ought to be stewards of this creation, this environment.  Not those who dominate it, use it, exploit and throw it away.   We’re tested . . . The prophets say the society is the best test of its integrity.  It’s how it treats the most vulnerable in its midst.  So from a biblical point of view, the best view of reality is not from the top, but from the bottom.  How does life look from those on the margins?  That’s in fact what the Bible talks about again and again.  The issues of race.  The Church and the body of Christ . . .  In the early Church, there was this baptismal formula.  In Christ there is no Jew or Greek, male or female, bond or free.  That was race, class and gender are to disappear.  These are the divisive, oppressive factors in the world.  All of these, all three are usually involved in oppression.  And in the early church – these little communities – they tried to shatter those divisions by creating a new community.  Jesus preached a new order.  It wasn’t just about doctrine.  It was a new order.  How do you live in the world?  And then a new community formed around that new order.  And it was a movement.  It wasn’t an institution; it was a movement out to change the world.  So the Bible gives us sort of biblical guidance about how to live in the world.  And so many of us are just selective.  We cherry pick things.  We like this and that, but again . . .  Rick Warren who is a new friend of mine, mega church pastor, says, “How did I miss those 2,000 verses?  I went to two seminaries.  I got a PhD.  How did I miss those verses about poor people?  How did I miss this purpose of God?”  And a lot of people are now saying, “I’ve missed so much, and I want to now have a more . . . a deeper, more holistic view.”