Almost everyone who studies the Bible recognizes that they read Scripture with certain assumptions and presuppositions. This “hermeneutical lens” affects the way we understand and teach the Bible. The exegete will attempt to remove as much of this hermeneutical lens as possible in order to determine the intent of the original author.
Lately, I’ve tried to remove the “institutional lens” that has affected my understanding of Scripture. That is, I have attempted to understand the Bible apart from the institutional and cultural phenomenon that we call “church.” For example, consider the modern usages of the following words: church, worship, service, ministry, pastor, member, preach … We regularly use those words (and many others) in ways that the biblical writers never intended. Certainly, meanings of words change. However, we must be careful not to read these modern meanings back into the text of Scripture.
I would love to hear from others who have attempted to read Scripture without being affected by this “institutional lens.”