Thursday, April 19, 2012

Responding to Yesterday's Post

I would most certainly agree that the Old Testament (really the whole Bible) needs to be read with a historian's lens, however, I disagree with the idea that God's word is flexible. It's our interpretation that is limited and confined to our own understanding, NOT God's word. The principals and truth that weave through the entire Bible are timeless and not up for debate. I say this based upon a vast amount of research in trying to do things my way ;) It's painful. I suppose what I'm trying to say here is this: confined to the idea that Adam and Eve were the first two people on earth and that the earth is only a few thousand years old - yes, most certainly seems to be a story teaching us (to the best of the culture's time) of the "sin nature" (I like to think of it as innate selfishness) of man. Stories in the bible such as these may indeed have been the best way to reach the culture of the time. Obviously if the bible were to start talking about molecular structures and evolution* of man it would have completely bypassed the entire culture's understanding. *(come on people, look at the evidence out there slapping you in the face - I'm not saying we came from monkeys, but we certainly haven't always been built the way we are today)HOWEVER, the principals and guidelines for living a fulfilling and peaceful existence are NOT flexible or up for any debate. I don't say this because I think I'm right - I say this because I KNOW I have been wrong SO MANY TIMES (and continue to be)!

Kurt: There's a really good chance that this is precisely what you were saying, it just struck a chord when I read that and I wanted to see if indeed we were on the same page. And I totally agree about the laws in Leviticus - one of the most frustrating things is when some crazy Bible Nazi wants to quote laws from the old testament that they want to choose to uphold (and use to condemn others), but they omit these sorts of laws - Stoning your children at the gates of the city for disobeying or selling them into slavery (although life would be much more peaceful), or wearing mixed fabrics, the list goes on.... All in all, I'm very happy to watch your spiritual life unfold in front of me :) I can't express to you the amount of freedom you have found (which I seem to discover more and more of in my life). I'm excited to watch your journey and am grateful to be a part of it. Keep up the good work, and God Bless.
  The above is a response to the post I wrote yesterday and I felt that it brought up some points that I wanted to adress here.  I think that there is a certain semantic issue where we are not seeing eye to eye, though in truth, we probably are.  When I mentioned that the Bible is flexible. I meant it, and here is why.

  I think I want to start with Romans 13:1 (NET)
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except by God’s appointment,  and the authorities that exist have been instituted by God.
  The Epistle of Romans is considered one of the most inspired books of the Bible, without a doubt. Martin Luther even went so far as to say, "most important piece in the New Testament. It is purest Gospel. It is well worth a Christian's while not only to memorize it word for word but also to occupy himself with it daily, as though it were the daily bread of the soul" in his treatise, The Adoration of the Sacrament.  If you don't let the Bible be flexible then think of the leaders you have to condone simply because they have power.  Without the flexibility of judgement we would have to interpret the Holocaust as righteous because Hitler was a man of power.  I just can't do that. 

  Now, where I think our opinions actually do match up, is that the Bible is written in the languages of man.  How many times have you tried to describe what you are feeling only to never find the right words?  My wife and I argued, the other day, that I don't talk to her about church anymore.  I told her that there was no way I can describe to her how I was feeling because I don't know words to quantify it.  The English language consists of over 200,000 words (according to Oxford) and I probably know around a quarter of them, which is actually a fairly large vocabulary.  Even with that I have no idea how to describe the feelings I have in church.  I think the Bible suffers because of this.  Not only was it written by historical peoples without the understanding needed to grasp some of its concepts, it was also written in languages that can't come close to giving full meaning to it's verses.

   This leads me to believe that the Bible isn't the "Word" of God... it is the "Voice" of God.  The difference is minute and semantic but, in my opinion it means everything.  The Bible lets God talk to you through it.  "Voice" denotes something more active and engaging where "Word" is something written and done, in other words present versus past tense.  If you look at the Bible as God's conversation with you then it will be like any other discussion, meaning it adapts and flows and changes as the subjects come and go.  You and I can read the same passages and even if our interpretations of them are outwardly the same they will always differ minutely within our souls.  If the Bible was absolute then there would be no interpretation of it.  I think Christians have faltered because they have issues adapting, the read the Word but they don't listen to the Voice and mankind has suffered for it.  As you said, there are absolutes such as being loving and kind and accepting and revering the power of Jesus and the Holy Spirit but those are generalities that open the gate for us to learn the specifics.  Yes, there are absolutes in the Bible but for thousands of years people have been trying to decide which parts are absolute and which are metaphor.  I feel like I am starting to ramble, probably because I don't quite have the skills with the English language to express exactly what I am thinking but I hope this all makes sense.  Thank you for your response, it really made me stop and think about some things.  God Bless!

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