I’m reading a book by Michael Chricton called “Travels”, a sort of auto-biography. One of the subjects he talks about is auras, or waves of energy which surround people. Chricton believes the halos painted in Christian art could be auras, that people witnessed the auras of Christ and the Saints, and represented them in art as halos to project a special quality of those individuals.
Part of me is offended by this, but that’s probably just a cultural bias. According to those who believe in auras, everyone has an aura, though some are stronger than others. So why couldn’t the Son of God have had such a powerful aura that it was easily visible to anyone with a knack for seeing that sort of thing?
My real question is: How much of what I interpret in Scripture is influenced by my own historical setting? What if I’m all wrong? What if Jesus’ words that our own faith heals us is really a reference to chakras, the points of energy that some people believe are present in our own bodies? Isn’t it possible that Jesus’ words were so narrowly defined by his own historical context that contemporary readers mistake his meaning as supernatural, rather than a quite natural phenomenon? It’s not like Jesus could’ve started talking about chakras to his audience; it would’ve been meaningless. His listeners would’ve had no context for a conversation like that. So He spoke in words they did understand.
But does that mean we should intentionally handcuff our own understanding? Should we box ourselves in with the limited world-view of first-century Palestinians? Or is it ok, even desirable, to interpret Scripture through the much broader lenses of culture, learning, and science available to us today?
Why would we resist a deeper understanding of Scripture not totally dependent upon a Western, post-modern interpretation of events in the Near East more than two thousand years ago?
In some ways, it feels like a child who doesn’t want to hear that Santa Claus isn’t real; we don’t want people telling us Scripture can be interpreted outside a Greco-Roman world view. It’s too scary. Better to believe that Santa Claus is real.