Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler quote Psalm 119.97, “O how I love your teaching! It is my study all day long.” Then they write, “These two themes—the love for Torah (teaching) and dedication to the study of it—have characterized Jewish reading and interpretation of the Bible ever since. The love is the impetus for the study; the study is the expression of the love.”1
The same is true for Christian study of that same Bible, the Scriptures of the New Testament, and of course, the person and spirit of Jesus. The ideas within Psalm 119.97 remind me of the Four Fragile Freedomsas laid out by Walter Shurden in The Baptist Identity: Four Fragile Freedoms.2
I understand these ideas to mean that devout study does not lead people to the same conclusions, that a belief once strongly held might turn out to be wrong, and a belief thought to be wrong might turn out to be right.
I understand that FREEDOM is the key word. Without it, intellectual inquiry would be limited, debate would be muted, righting wrongs would be hampered, faith would lose its meaning, and a personal relationship with Christ would be hindered.
Without FREEDOM there would be two choices: accept or reject the dogma. Such a forced choice limits options, and unless a person agrees with the dogma right down the line or does not want to be free, the only choice is to reject the dogma so as to find a better path.
Let’s keep learning together. See you soon!
Rev Jim Sinclair
Pastor Jim is the minister for First United Baptist Church