If you are a fan of CSI, the original one, you know a bit about Gil Grissom’s Rule. The rule is this. Follow the evidence. Simple rule.
It has come into play on numerous occasions when, on the show, one of the suspects is really a despicable character who one of the agents truly wants to be guilty and go to jail. As a result, they try to pull the evidence together so that they can arrest the person and get them convicted.
On more than one occasion things did not go well because the evidence wasn’t matching up with their conclusion. Grissom’s rule comes into play. Follow the evidence. Don’t try to force the evidence where you want it to go; follow the evidence where it actually leads you.
We suffer both politically and theologically from a desire or need to begin where we want to end up instead of beginning at, well, the beginning. We decree something to be the ‘Truth’ and then do a construct to demonstrate how we got there. If the evidence does not lead to where we wanted it to, we ‘adjust’ the evidence to get us where we want to go.
We preachers often do this. We develop an opinion and then go about proving our opinion. We hang Scripture verses on our opinion like Christmas lights with little regard to context or consistency.
The end result of this, however, has been a growing lack of credibility. Theology is often replaced by political beliefs. Political beliefs are not persuaded by theology, but much the opposite.
The problem often lies with the Bible. It’s not the Bible but what we choose to do or not do with it.
The first problem is when we use the Bible for our own ends instead of following where it is leading us. I heard a sermon once where the preacher was speaking about Jesus wanting lower taxes. He had some interesting quotes but if one actually reads the entire Gospel narratives Jesus didn’t really have much interest in discussing taxes other than his famous render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s remark. We can all have our own opinions about taxes but the reality is that Jesus really doesn’t offer us a lot of insight on this.
This is most often abused with issues of sexuality. One would get the impression that Jesus spent the vast amount of his time, effort, and energy talking about the sex lives of people and mostly what they couldn’t do and who they couldn’t do it with. In reality Jesus said virtually nothing on the subject.
This is a problem when we start at the finish line instead of the starting line. We make conclusions based on what we want them to be as opposed to where the Bible actually might be leading us.
Conversely the Bible does not exist to be ignored. There are issues that are very Biblical that you can nuance any way you want to and they still come out as issues.
People, men actually, have tried to finesse the adultery laws in the Bible creating exceptions to the rule and attempting to make women property. No matter how one tries to finesse it, however, it is still wrong.
People have attempted to rationalize stealing or gouging people and all sorts of things simply ignoring that which they wanted to ignore.
Gil Grissom’s rule is a good one. Start at the starting line and follow the evidence. Don’t presume to start at the conclusion; the lack of evidence makes us look foolish.