Submitting Your Beliefs to Scripture or Submitting Scripture to Your Beliefs?

The following is a fantastic excerpt from Daniel Doriani’s Putting the Truth to Work: The Theory and Practice of Biblical Application.

The submissive interpreter bows to the God who reveals himself in Scripture and accepts, in principle, whatever it says. If the Bible upsets a cherished conviction, we say, “I stand corrected,” not “I wonder.” Facing a difficult teaching, we may suspect that it has been misconstrued or otherwise hesitate. But if we confirm that it means what it seems to mean, then we bow–not to the text, but to the God who gave it. So conservatives claim the highest willingness to submit to Scripture.

The difficulty with this view [as presented above] is that confessing, “I submit to Scripture,” is one thing, while actually submitting is another. Further, this . . . view can be perverted by illogical thinking:

I believe whatever the Bible says.

Whatever the Bible says, I believe.

I know what the Bible says.

Therefore, what I believe is what the Bible says.

Therefore, if the Bible seems to say something I don’t believe, it must not really mean that.

This sort of thinking betrays a startling naiveté. Burdened with groundless self-confidence that they are knowledgeable and free from prejudices, people holding this view can distort texts so that they confim prior beliefs and dismess whatever does not fit their system. They profess the authority of Scripture but function as if impervious to it.

. . . If we would hear the Bible, we need a humbler syllogism:

I probably do not believe this passage as purely, as radically, as I should.

I probably do not believe this passage as fully as I should.

Therefore, I probably need this text to correct my understanding and deepen my faith.

Doriani, Daniel M., Putting the Truth to Work: The Theory and Practice of Biblical Application (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian a& Reformed Publishing Company, 2001), 66-67.