No, its not a game, Bible Monopoly is played in real life and unfortunately among highly respected Bible teachers. Bible monopoly is the view that the Bible is solely understood by a person or a specific group. It is synonymous to what the religious leaders (Pharisees and Scribes) during Jesus’ time were doing with Judaism resulting in a lack of understanding of God’s word.
An example of Bible monopoly is Paul Helm’s review of Peter Enns’ Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament.
See other reviews and Enns’ response at http://theologica.blogspot.com/2008/01/enns-vs-helm-vs-beale.html
Characteristics of Bible Monopoly in Paul Helm’s Review:
- An unwillingness to deal with the plural complexity of interpretation
- A failure to wrestle with the difficult matters of Biblical scholarship
- A failure to see the provisional nature of scripture
- An obsession with turning honest interaction with extra Biblical data into an evil foe of orthodoxy
- A tendency to use past theologians (the one’s they agree with) as the standard of Biblical interpretation
The five characteristics found in Bible monopolizers derived from Helm’s review are all symptoms of treating the Bible as a sacred book of answers rather than a sacred book that leave readers with more questions. If the the Bible is just a book of answers then it makes sense why some of it’s readers think they have completely arrived at a full grasp of God’s holy writ, hence the idea of the Bible being provisional sounds ludicrous to them. How can the Bible be provisional if Christians have it all figured out (tongue-in-cheek)?
The point of the Bible is not so that it can be treated like a handbook, a systematic theological commentary, or like an encyclopedia. The Bible is not a book that is to be read like a syllogism. If so, then that will explain why many seem to have a relationship with the book rather than with its Author. If the Bible is a book of answers, then there is no need to consult its Author since everything you need is right there in the book. On the contrary, the Bible’s aim is to lead readers to it’s grand Author. It is meant to shock you, to leave you dumbfounded and bombard you with questions ( about the text, about God, about yourself, etc) that may never be settled, yet your trust in God and reverence of His holiness will grow. The Bible’s ultimate goal is to draw you to God not draw you to the plurality of its readers (John Piper, R.C. Sproul, John Gill, me, etc).
Bible readers may consult past and present commentators and interact with various interpretations, frameworks, and models, but such people and things are not the authority of scripture that is to be reverenced–an authority that is discovered by each reader and through a long-term process. <——the remedy to Bible monopoly.