Our culture has taught us right and wrong. This is not bad, mind you. But when we take non-bendable sides as if we have the only truth and all other is false, we have placed ourselves in the seat of God. Because we live in the “cult of individuality,” we believe our individual interpretation is correct, which leads us to believe that everyone else who interprets differently is incorrect. There is another side. In 1624, John Donne wrote in Devotions, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent….” 1 He caught a glimpse of the fact that deep in the breast of humankind lies a desire to be a part of a community. God created it to be so. Our cultural selective value of individualism runs counter to what God created us to be a part of. This is why there is so much tension and frustration in today’s society. We seek what we were not created to be. This story tells us that humankind will only achieve its highest potential when it gives in to God’s creative forces and separates itself from the culture’s selective position. 2
So, in the age of individualism, which has created the “cult of individuality,” we have come to believe that we are the final decider of what is correct and what is not. And we bring that concept to our reading of Scripture. In doing so, we have forgotten the concept of community, which is the bedrock of the story of Scripture. We need to often remind ourselves that the “you” word in Paul is more often plural than singular. A person can only be the best individual that she/he can be inside a community. It seems to me that communities are not limited to a church at the corner of walk and don’t walk whose focus is Sunday meetings of the saints.
Here are some thoughts to ponder:
- What conclusion(s) could you draw after reading this section on individual devotional readings of the text?
- Is all interpretative reading of the text correct? Why or Why not?
- What parts of the forgoing section did you agree or disagree with? Why?
Well, if most followers of Jesus are not going to spend time learning the historical approach and the devotional approach has dangers that can lead to malnutrition, how do we read the text?