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The Lens of Personal Experience-Man Centered Theology

Updated on December 21, 2011

The Lens of Experience

Recently I had a series of correspondents with a Man-Centered Christian on the topic of right and wrong. The question I posed was, how do we as Christians determine right from wrong? The answer was very eye opening for me.

My friend gave me a psychologically correct answer, we view right and wrong through the lens of experience. Put another way, we determine right and wrong based on our past experiences.

This understanding disturbed me because it was a fancy description of Moral Relativism. Moral relativism teaches that there are no moral absolutes. Everything is relative to the individual’s personal experience.

When I asked how God's Word figured in to that position, the response was:

"We all read/interpret the Word through the lens of our experience that's why there is such a variety of interpretations."

The following is my response. I am passing this on because it is my desire and goal to expose humanism in the church when ever I find it. By using God's Word, I aim to give you the tools needed to spot and defend against it as well.

Your brother in Christ

ABR

_______________________________________________________________

Dear Man-Centered Christian:

Thank you for taking the time to discuss with me this important topic. I must say your explanation has got me to thinking. Please consider the following scriptures in regards to viewing Gods Words through the lens of experience:

Proverbs 14:12
There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death

Proverbs 28:26a
He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool

Proverbs 3:5
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

I don’t believe I am to use my experiences to determine right and wrong. I don’t deny that experiences are important in shaping understanding however,

  • I view experiences through the lens of Gods word. That is, God’s word determines how I view and understand my experiences.

Please consider that humanity's sense of right and wrong is self centered. If we allow our understandings or experiences to dictate the meaning of scripture, we will find fault. Scripture contradicts selfish ambition by teaching us to die to self. Scripture places God's ambitions, and those of my fellow man, before my own.

In regards to Biblical interpretation

You said "We all read/interpret the Word through the lens of our experience that's why there is such a variety of interpretations."

I believe that this is true for the unbeliever only. This misalignment was a direct result of the fall of man in the garden.

Consider the following:

Gen 3:4-5

Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”


You Shall Be Like God.

Our sin in the garden was not that we wanted to know good and evil. It was that we wanted to be like God. We wanted to decide for ourselves what was good and evil or right and wrong. Our understandings first. We wanted to be our own god.

Eve relied on her own reasoning and accepted the serpents self centered interpretation of God's Word when she reached out and ate of the fruit.


Gen 3:6

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.


In so doing, we gained an understanding of Good and Evil. But we lacked the ability to only choose good. In addition, we based good and evil/right and wrong, on our own perspectives and reasoning. What seems good to me does not always seem good to God. Man had became wise in his own eyes. (Proverbs 3:5)

God removed man from the garden and denied them access to the tree of life.

Gen 3:22

Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”—


In one single act of rebellion man withdrew his submitted will, from God and said I will decide for myself what is good and evil. Thus I will decide for myself, based on past experiences, if God's word be true. Man wanted to be like God then and we want to be like God today. When confronted with God's Word man will always say "My will, not God’s."

Luke 22:42
"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."

John 4:34
"My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.

As a regenerated or saved man I strive to return my will back to God. I place His Word, His purposes, and His ambitions before mine I ask that you reconsider your understanding. Scripture teaches us that we are to view our experiences through the lens of God's Word.

A mans theology will dictate his actions or his actions will dictate his theology-Bill Gothard

Look at this quote from Augustine

“If you believe what you like in the gospel, and reject what you don't like, it’s not the gospel you believe, but yourself."

Augustine was referring specifically to the gospels of the New Testament; the principle can be applied to all of scripture as well. In our discussions, you have dismissed some teachings in the Bible; I am concerned that you may not see scripture as God's infallible word.

You believe:

  • We all read/interpret the Word through the lens of our experience.
  • Personal experiences, as they relate to God's Word, are the primary ruler that defines our understanding of scripture and ultimately your understanding of right and wrong.

What if our experience suggests that God is unjust? Scripture teaches that women should not be pastors; this contradicts your understandings of right and wrong. For you, scripture does not agree with your experience or your understanding of right and wrong, as a result, you conclude that scripture is wrong.

Others dismiss scripture because it teaches that only Born Again Christians will go to heaven or because it teaches Jesus is God. Some scoff at the notion that God created the earth in 6 days or that Jesus rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and will return again. More feel the whole idea that a loving and just God would send the majority of mankind to hell is just ridiculous. How can the Bible be true?????

Thus the quote from Augustine:

“If you believe what you like in the gospel, and reject what you don't like, it’s not the gospel you believe, but yourself."


Our natural sense of right and wrong is self serving; birthed from our desire to be our own God. Aside from Christ our fallen nature says " I believe myself not the scripture.

The point is that Christians accept God's will and understanding of right and wrong over their own. Even when it contradicts their own understandings. In those times of contradiction we must walk by faith and obedience to God's Word

In Christ

ABR


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    • Abrushing1968 profile imageAUTHOR

      Aaron Rushing 

      8 years ago from USA- Florida

      Thanks Sista of mine :)

      God Bless

      ABR

    • profile image

      CarrieUrsista 

      8 years ago

      hey Bro, In my way of thinking (not folding laundry terms. An in side family joke, sorry hubbers) lol. I belive it is just simply called, "having a relationship with God" I may know who the people are down the road, but do I have a personal relationship with them. A non-Christian person may know who "GOD is, the big man up stairs" but are they lacking the personal relationship with him? Again, in my simple terms, where is the personal relationship.

      Now if I am off the mark with the conversation...I will go fold my laundry..lol

      Love ya anyways Aaron. :-)

    • Abrushing1968 profile imageAUTHOR

      Aaron Rushing 

      9 years ago from USA- Florida

      Thanks Kstyle- That is one of my favorite songs as well.

      Thank you for taking the time to read my hub it is an encouragement to me. I look forward to reading your as well.

      In Christ

      ABR

    • profile image

      KStyle 

      9 years ago

      Abrushing1968, I listen to all kinds of music, but listening to Josh Groben sing "You raise me up to more than I can be" is really enlightening. I get goosebumps it's so great!

      Thanks for saying so.

    • Abrushing1968 profile imageAUTHOR

      Aaron Rushing 

      9 years ago from USA- Florida

      James, I look forward to checking out your hub. I bet he got it from Dr. Johnson.

      Thank again for stopping by.

      ABR

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      9 years ago from Chicago

      Excellent reproof to your terribly misguided brother. I am with you all the way. That quote attributed to Gothard sounds an awful lot like what Dr. Johnson said in 1752. I think you would like my Hub, "Dr. Johnson" if you get the time to check it out.

    • Abrushing1968 profile imageAUTHOR

      Aaron Rushing 

      9 years ago from USA- Florida

      Thanks Wehzo I always look forward to your comments. I do believe we share the same desire to defend the gospel.

      The quote from Augustine has brought me clarity more then once. I hope it does the same for you and yours.

      May we all become master swords men in defense of our faith.

      Thank you for taking the time to consider my thoughts I am honored by your kind words of encouragement.

      In Christ

      ABR

    • Wehzo profile image

      Nathaniel Stalling Jr 

      9 years ago from Detroit, MI

      Wonderful hub Abrushing1968. Very well written, and I hope you don't mind me using your quote from Augustine in a few of my weekly bible studies. Defending the gospel is something you and I share. I must confess that you have brought some things to my attention that are exceptionally helpful, thank you. Keep up the good work.

      God Bless You

    • Abrushing1968 profile imageAUTHOR

      Aaron Rushing 

      9 years ago from USA- Florida

      GS fantastic add. Excellent clarification.Your contributions are always insightful.

      Amazing Grace how sweet the sound

      That saves a wretch like me.

      I once was lost, but now am found

      Was blind, but now, I see.

      John Newton.

      In Christ

      ABR

    • Gicky Soriano profile image

      Gicky Soriano 

      9 years ago from California

      ABR, I can understand where Hoo and Aaron are coming from. Before Aaron came to Christ he was counted among those described in Romans 1:18 and following: "For what can be known about God is plan to them, because God has shown it to them" (v.19). The creation itself speaks of God's eternal power and divine nature emptying human beings of any and all excuses of His existence (v.20).

      With that being said, the ungodly and wicked by their wickedness suppress the truth, "for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened" (v.21).

      And as Paul states in 1 Corinthians 2:11 and following, these same darkened human minds cannot comprehend the word of God because it can only be spiritually discerned by the Spirit of God. We are taught the things of God by the Spirit and not by human wisdom (v.13). Therefore the Spirit of God is the spiritual lens that allows one, not in rebellion, but "in relationship with Him," to interpret, discern and understand the spiritual truths in Scripture.

      Your hub was quite engaging. We can either "do what is right in our own eyes by the spirit of the world" or "discern what is right in God's eyes by the Spirit of God." Thank you for your biblical response to humanism.

    • Abrushing1968 profile imageAUTHOR

      Aaron Rushing 

      9 years ago from USA- Florida

      Thanks HOOWANTSTONO. I think I understand what you are saying. All men have a knowledge of God. But for them to truly "beleive in God" that is "Put our trust in him", to "know Him", requires the Holy spirit. I appreciate your contribution to this Hub Indeed we walk in darknes aside from Christ for Jesus is the light of the men

      John 1:4 and 5

      In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

      Jimm: As away I am honored by your visits to my Hubs. I am so grateful that God revealed himself to you and that I am able to call you my friend and brother.

      In Christ.

      ABR

    • profile image

      JimmBacon 

      9 years ago

      Aaron,

      Good post, you hit the needed point. I'd have to disagree with hoowantstono about someone outside Christianity not believing in God, don't get me wrong in what I'm about to say, I know I wasn't going to go to Heaven, nor did i have Jesus as Savior, but...I've always believed in God, I can't explain why, I just did, I knew He was real, I somehow just knew that the creation account was accurate and I knew that Jesus was His "Son", I knew He died, but didn't know or understand the signifigance of it. None of that of course until I was 26 years old and in 1992 gave my life to Christ and was redeemed. I will fully grant you that I did not understand the first thing about the scriptures the few times I'd rried reading them before coming to Christ, but I had come to know that God for whatever reason had His devine hand on me in my life and had spared it a few times. Thanx, that's all, just wanted to share that for clarification.

      jimm

    • HOOWANTSTONO profile image

      HOOWANTSTONO 

      9 years ago

      Hi there

      Yes I agree with your interpretation of the sin of man.

      A non believer outside Christ cant believe in God, because his mind is in Darkness, hence, God giving us the Doctrine of Baptisms, Water and the Spirit.The Holy Spirit is the Light of God that makes man the Light of men, and a son of God.Its being in the dark that makes man try and interpret scriptures, which cant be done without the Holy Spirit. Word of God is Spirit and shines in the darkness of the mind and reveals the truth of forgiveness which draws men to Jesus Christ....the Gospel....good news.

      Go well

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