I am reading a biography of Meister Eckhart, an Augustinian monk from the 14th century. He was attempting to bring some reform to the corrupt, materialistic Catholic Church.
In so doing, he became one of the foremost mystics in Christian theology and is a little weird. He felt it was important for people to actually know Christ through mystical experience, rather than ritual motions, although he still kept ritual motions.
In a section talking about Eckhart’s education in the monastery, I read this paragraph:
Lectures on Lombard’s Sentences provided Eckhart with his first experience in the sophisticated practice of scriptural interpretation, or exegesis. Most crucially for his own religious thinking, he learned how to move from the sensus historicus, or literal sense, of Bible passages to various spiritual senses that reveal certain ‘deeper truths’ on the reading in question. The allegorical, or metaphorical, interpretation of a scriptural passage, for instance, viewed people and actions described in a symbolic manner, together conveying an essential spiritual truth.
Along with the literal and allegorical sense, there was also the moral or tropological sense, and the anagogical sense.
Each of the four interpretations, according to his teachers, pointed in a different direction . . . each sense was true, Eckhart learned, but not readily apparent to the casual reader, hence the need for a trained preacher.
The reason we need a trained clergy is because regular people are too stupid to see these “deeper truths.” I like that the author says these senses are “not readily apparent to the casual reader.” Yeah, no kidding!
Seeing these deeper, hidden truths, and needing to be educated by people who are initiated in special ways of reading the Scripture, is the realm of theologians.
The main job of a theologian is to make the simple Scriptural meanings massively more complicated so they can feel smart and sell you things.
Yes, I’m a tad cynical of theologians. People who use big words like tropological and anagogical are not people who are going to help you understand the Bible! Use real words, people!
People who use big words are not trying to help. They are trying to make sure you realize they are smarter than you and you should bow before their awesomeness.
I don’t trust them and neither should you.
Read the Bible. Take the common sense interpretation and put it into practice. You will grow that way.
Theologians can help, but if you find that all they do is confuse you and make it harder, than don’t mess with them.
Pretty much the only reason I listen to theologians is because everyone else is basing what they believe off of what these guys said.
If you want to know where different Christians are coming from; read theology. If you want to know God and follow Christ; read the Bible.
You do not need to read big-worded theologians to know Christ. For many, theologians actually keep people from knowing Christ.
Keep it simple. Don’t let smart people discourage you. Know Christ.