Turning the Gem
Rob Bell wrote a book a few years ago called, “What is the Bible? How an Ancient Library of Poems, Letters, and Stories Can Transform the Way You Think and Feel About Everything”. Yes, it’s really is a long title.
In the book Rob states, “In rabbinic tradition, they talk about scripture having seventy faces so when you read it, you keep turning it like a gem, letting the light refract through the various faces in new and unexpected ways. The Rabbi Lawrence Kushner wrote a book called, “God was in This Place and I, Did Not Know” in which each chapter is a different interpretation of the same passage in the Bible. You keep turning the gem, seeing something new each time.” (What is the Bible?)
This seems pretty good right? Multiple interpretations, no one is right and no one is wrong. This is an idea that seems very inclusive, but looking deeper will show that we cannot read the Bible in this way.
Turning a Gem Does Not Change the Center
Gemologists call the center of the gem the table. The table of the gem is what all the various faces are refracting from.
This means that at the core of the gem we find truth. There is a central point of truth. Rob Bell states that we can have different interpretations because we are looking at different angles of the gem, but the issue with this is that we are all looking toward the center.
If we are all looking at the center we may have some parts that we emphasize more, but the central focus will be the same. This is where we talk about open and closed issues in the Church.
Jeremy Howard posted this helpful chart. Instead of using the terms primary, secondary and doubtful you could use the table, faces and reflection of faces. The table, or primary doctrines, are things that identify Christians. The faces, or secondary doctrine, are things that we can have differences, but we should strive to have communion with other Christians. The reflections of the faces, or doubtful things, are conscience matters. They need to be thoughtful of others and are a matter of personal conscience.
Progressives like Rob Bell blur these doctrines and say that they are all reflections of the faces or doubtful things. If everything thing is up for interpretation then Christianity is pointless and a basic reading of the scripture will show that the Christian faith is exclusive.