"You are not big enough to accuse the whole age effectively, but let us say you are in dissent. You are in no position to issue commands, but you can speak words of hope. Shall this be the substance of your message? Be human in this most inhuman of ages; guard the image of man for it is the image of God." ~ Thomas Merton
What I am about to say I wish I did not have to say. Putting this on the website makes my heart heavy. I would rather simply do what Thomas Merton suggests above and not share these words. The words I wrote below will seem harsh to many of you; but I think the honest in heart will hear me out and understand where I am coming from. When I wrote it I was writing in response to those who say "The Bible says" and yet misuse the Bible. Such people are deserving of such a rebuke.
"It is to the man who is trying to live, to the man who is obedient to the word of the Master, that the word of the Master unfolds itself. " ~ George MacDonald - "The Cause of Spiritual Stupidity"
Don't bother trying to tell me that the Bible says this or that, I want to know who is saying the Bible says this or that. Then I want to know how godly the person is who is telling me that the Bible teaches this or that.
Jesus said to judge a tree by its fruit. Yes, we are to check the scriptures as the Bereans did (see Acts 17:11), but that alone should not be enough to decide the issue. First we have to ask the question, "How godly is this man or woman who is teaching this doctrine?" The closer the person is to God, the more they will know the mind of God. If we do not take that into consideration, we might be deceived by someone who is clever. Augustine, Calvin and Luther were all very intelligent men, and I'm sure they were trying very hard to understand the scriptures, but that does not mean they rightly understood them. The Pharisees and the scribes worked very hard at understanding the scriptures.
How much a person understands God is not dependant on how much they study the scriptures; how much they understand him is directly related to how much they trust and obey him. "Obedience is the opener of eyes."
The more a person trusts God, the more they will love their neighbours. The more a person knows of love, the more they will understand the God who is love.
Because C.S. Lewis' favourite author had a very deep relationship with God, I pay very close attention to what he wrote. Anyone who has looked closely at his life and the lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin, will conclude that MacDonald knew God better than any of those men (see here).
"But what about Paul? Or Jesus himself? Will you listen to them?" Yes. I can read the Bible for myself. I do not need an ungodly man like Calvin to tell me what this or that verse means.
We can go horribly wrong when we put too much faith in our ability to understand (which when you think about it, is faith in ourselves and not in God).