The great Reformer Martin Luther famously found the letter of James to be a strawy epistle because, in his judgment, it did not teach enough Christ or faith or grace. It had too much law for him. Most of us have forgiven Luther for overcooking his confidence, but he illustrates how many of us often read the Bible. We fasten upon a "maestro" ? and Luther's maestro was clearly the Apostle Paul ? and make the rest of the Bible fall in line with our maestro's lens of interpretation. Let me trade a moment in a few stereotypes.
Protestant liberals, Anabaptists, and Red Letter Christians have all made Jesus the maestro of their Bible reading. Everything is seen through the angle of the words "kingdom" and social justice as "discipleship." We are tempted, of course, to forgive anyone who makes Jesus their maestro, but the wisdom of God in giving us a canon - a list of 27 books that included Paul and Peter and John and Hebrews and Jude - which renders making even Jesus the maestro suspect.
Conservative evangelicals and the (strongly) Reformed have made Paul their maestro, at times a bit like Luther. In their view the rest of the Bible either anticipates or clarifies "justification by faith" and "soteriology" and "grace." Paul's theology, it must be admitted, is gloriously rich and his categories breathtakingly clear and the implications profound. But the wisdom of God was to give us a bundle of books and a bundle of authors. A fully biblical approach to reading the Bible reads and accepts each author and each book.
Maestro Bible reading is an alluring temptation for a number of reasons:
-It is simpler to master one author and let the others chime in where they fit;
-It is safer to have it all figured out;
-It is more challenging ...