"When reading my Bible, how can I be free from the emotional subjectivity of the assembly?"
Dear Wounded Pilgrim,
I promised to share some things that might help us regain the joy of reading the Bible again. As I mentioned before I had to first learn how to "study" the Bible, as the GG methods of hearing God's voice kept one in mystical fog all the time. To read and understand the Bible with the mind was serious carnality in the assembly. We were told that God wants to speak to "our hearts" not "our minds".
Heart knowledge came to the GG follower when his inner life was made clean by a thorough inner examination of sin within. "God would not speak", said George, "if we did not have clean, pure, consecrated hearts." Since GG had the most pure heart, God spoke more clearly to him than to any of us and thus his views trumped whatever God may have said to us.
So, to get out of the fog we have to start to use our minds again as we read the Bible. We also need free and independent minds that don't rely on the slant that GG brought to his Biblical exposition. Before we can read devotionally we must take back this ground. Believe it or not the road to joyful devotional reading will start with a basic primer in Biblical doctrine. It is essential that we are clear on what the Gospel is and have a good grasp of it to be able to grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The second aspect of learning to use our minds, and to actually study the Bible, is to understand basic principles of interpretation. A brother who had recently left the assemblies wanted to discuss GG's teaching on the inheritance. To do this he went to a couple of verses in Hebrews where he insisted there was proof that GG's teaching was correct. Without going into the whole discussion, I urged him to consider the very many other passages that contradicted his interpretation, but he wanted to start from one verse to prove a point about an entire doctrine.
The lesson here is that no single verse is to be understood apart from the context of the passage, the book, the New Testament, and the entire Bible. When we understand the basic foundational truth of salvation by grace through faith we then can wrestle with the more difficult passages. The novel interpretations of the more difficult passages should not be made the basis for our doctrinal positions.
But doesn't that destroy the kind of emotional connection one gets from reading, the kind of reading where God is speaking directly to my heart? On the contrary it protects us from our own wild fancies, and even more seriously from evil spiritual influence. From a sound understanding of a grace-based relationship with God, comes peace, joy, and love, which all are very healthy emotional responses.
There is more to say about the actual devotional time of reading, as it concerns separating our past mystical experiences from a healthier version. Prior to my salvation I was deeply involved in Eastern Mysticism. The whole notion of GG's concept of "morning time" and "hearing God's voice" fits the Buddhist view much closer than the Christian one. I will talk about that in another letter, as I have given this a great deal of thought and hope that it will bring freedom to those still bound in the full lotus position of GG's instruction.