I just completed reading Pulitizer Prize winning historian David McCullough’s The Pioneers. I frequently read science and history books and watch documentaries. The great theologian St. Augustine compared secular truth to the valuable gold and silver the Israelites took out of pagan Egypt. He taught appropriation of God’s valuable truth from all sources to correctly interpret scripture.
Most of the prominent pioneers featured in McCullough’s account of the settlement of the Northwest Territory in the early nineteenth century were devout Christians–Congregationalists from New England. Congregationalists of that era are known for their zealousness for God. Striking to me is the contrast between their interpretation of scripture and that of current day evangelicals. The Congregationalists were federalists–advocating use of science by a strong and progressive central government. They would be Democrats in today’s political environment. I’ve read other ideas of very dedicated followers of Christ in previous generations that would differ from most twenty-first century American evangelicals.
My purpose here is to not advocate any stance. Rather I am saying that Congregationalists had the same scriptures and Holy Spirit we do. Any time there are widely differing interpretations of scripture among sincere believers, we would do well to carefully examine our biblical application. Otherwise we could be in danger of a sense of infallibility possibly leading to inaccurate use of scripture.
But examine everything carefully, hold fast to that which is good. I Thessolonians 5:21