In 2009, a beautiful Texas former American Idol woman named Kelly Clarkson released a single called I Do Not Hook Up. We danced, cheered and sang with her about we also do not want to be whores and celebrate being alive with Kelly.
In a similar time period, Brian Fallon and his band The Gaslight Anthem, just released their jaw dropping and critically acclaimed album ‘The 59′ Sound’. Fallon, with his Springstein esque voice, tears through the sound waves with heart and soul. Not to long after Clarkson released her single, Fallon was found on the radio covering the same song, but, with his heart and soul deeply embedded into it.
Isn’t it funny, how the same song can take on different meanings and sounds with a new voice? For many people who hate Clarkson and pop music, they might find Fallon’s rendition deeply refreshing and passionate. While others love the original (most doubtedly written for Clarkson, not by) because of its infectious energy and catchiness. When we engage a song, a piece of art, these two versions show that there is more than one way to approach a work of art.
When we approach the Bible as a library of masterpieces that are inspired by God, historical Christianity has shown over and over again, that we approach it from different angles all the time.
The Bible was written by people to Communities, for Communities. So we understand that at the heart of good Christian interpretation is this sacred element that what we read together, should shape us together. We were meant to wrestle together over what it means. This practice stopped happening after Johannes Gutenberg created the printing press, Martin Luther translated the Bible in German and John Calvin taught that faith and Christianity was more of a personal endeavor, rather than a communal one. After this, the importance of communal Bible reading and theology became less important because every person had the Bible written in their language, in their living room.
What the Bible says to me is incredibly important. When we recognize that God is near to us and within us, we can receive a lot of wisdom, healing and intimacy from God by reading it as an individual. Spiritual practices like the Lectio Divina, become a sacred part of our faith because the Bible isn’t just something that God says to Christians but it’s what he wants to speak to me. This is incredibly intimate and moves us beyond historical analytical interpretation.
However, this historical interpretation is incredibly important. We need to understand what was going on in that society at that time, so we can properly understand what God was saying and what Jesus was doing. Without an understanding of historical analysis, we cannot properly interpret the significance of how and why this is being said.
With so many lenses viewing the Bible this way, it’s no wonder why we cannot agree and many, many, denominations and sects of Christianity have formed. Rather than throwing out everyone else from our faith, and, dismissing them. I submit, that we learn to recognize, that we are all saying signing the same song, but, just have creative differences. And, while we are able to hold our version being better, we can also realize that listening to another version of it, might add more to my own version and still allow me to love and appreciate other interpretation. Just because they carry the same tune as me, doesn’t mean that they don’t possess God and I should be open to receiving God in the space that their version has created.
At the end, while there are better musicians out there, every voice matters in the choir, and, we’re all singing the same song.