Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Imperfect Bible

I've been in a struggle of late - I had started hearing that the Bible was perfect and wasn't in a position to say otherwise. Teaching the youth I wanted to be on the right theological page with my church. I'm frankly uncertain if those words were being spoken or if I was only hearing them, but a subtle change had taken place in the way things were being spoken.

Then I found support for my thinking on the new ELCA web site. Here is a quote from :

The Bible’s authority rests in God
ELCA Lutherans confidently proclaim with all Christians that the authority of the Bible rests in God. We believe that God inspired the Bible’s many writers, editors and compilers. ...

... At the same time, we also find in the Bible human emotion, testimony, opinion, cultural limitation and bias. ELCA Lutherans recognize that human testimony and writing are related to and often limited by culture, customs and world view. Today we know that the earth is not flat and that rabbits do not chew their cud (Leviticus 11:6 ). These are examples of time-bound cultural understandings or practices. Christians do not follow biblically prescribed dietary laws such as eliminating pork from one’s diet (Leviticus 11:7) because the new covenant we have with God has replaced the Old Testament covenant God had with his people. Because Biblical writers, editors and compilers were limited by their times and world views, even as we are, the Bible contains material wedded to those times and places. It also means that writers sometimes provide differing and even contradictory views of God’s word, ways and will.

Listening to the living Jesus in the context of the church, we therefore have the task of deciding among these. Having done this listening, we sometimes conclude either that the writer’s culture or personal experience (e.g., subordination of women or keeping of slaves) seems to have prompted his missing what God was saying or doing, or that God now is saying or doing something new.

Obviously the question becomes “How do we know which to choose?” It is much easier to say that everything there is inviolate and we must obey each word, but we’ve walked away not only from the dietary laws that Jesus clearly stated were no longer valid, but also the “laws” that we now see as customs – tassles on clothes, particular hairstyles, etc., i.e., we’ve already chosen to leave some of that behind that Jesus did not release us from specifically. I think those items and those similar to them we would agree are not the yoke we are to wear.

So, how do we choose? I’ll go with the apostle Paul on this – we’re Gentiles and have right and wrong written on our hearts and the words of God as well as the Word of God call to us even beyond what we have written on our hearts. Still, it does not make it easier. But these are not easy times.

May the peace of the Lord be with us all.


Blogger Unknown said...

it's interesting that you post this now. we should have coffee. and soon.

over the past year and a half, pregnant and dying in the emergency room, my favorite philosophy has been talking to God like one of my rawest friends, including my new favorite word, the f-word. I would probably actually post it, but I kind of like Rich. But f-it anyway. *grin*

God and I are homechickens. I get to have "dialog" with him, and I am close enough and love him enough to get in his face. And you know what? That's what friends do. They don't back down when something's clearly not right. And they don't back down when something is clear period.

So if you still think your relationship with God is this big ol' pie in the sky and He's too big to even communicate than the church has failed you. And I've watched and walked away from churches who have decided to fail His people.

So f-you if you can't take the Bible and "get it".

9/11/2009 11:57 PM  
Blogger Christian Democrat said...

Oh! so that's what you meant when you said "there for all to see." Not sure what all this means but Iknow you have the love of the Lord in your heart even when you are angry at Him. May His peace be with us all!

It isn't God that has failed anyone and I'm not even sure the church has failed anyone. People support people in faith. Sometimes we see their faith as right or wrong but if it's their faith and they hold it close so I'm willing to let them have it. People also fail each other in faith, or it is seen that way because, again, we see them as right or wrong in their theology.

So them that thinks one way hangs together and them that thinks another way hangs elsewhere.

Interesting sidenote - the password for wifi at a conference I was at this week was h82gouno. Took me a bit to figure it out, stuck on guano, then I found out who made it up and said them, "yeah, me too."

And yeah, what is it with F? I've been working at keeping it out of my usage of late, but with less success than I'd like.

9/12/2009 10:04 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

That's FUNNY! I've found that language is amazing. It is only a bunch of characters and a society decides how much power it has.

There's an older South Park episode that makes an example of it. And if you haven't noticed, dear bloggers and readers, the swear words that our grandparents would have keeled over are creeping in. Why? Power of a bunch of characters that a society gives.

Anyhoo. Failing. Churches. I'm talking about the people who are scarred... sometimes for life at a Church, and I'm not talking about a building, but people-- who have failed them. Failed to show true grace. Failed to hear someone talk about their anger management, alcoholism, addictions, loneliness, suffering, STRESSSSSSS (especially you men),family abuse... and you know what? the one place they should be able to go to is their church. But they don't. So I'm standing on the comment that the Church has failed them. In the last year, three people I loved died and I can say without a doubt, the church failed them. Why? Not because people reached out, but because they were not allowed in a larger sense to express their anger, frustration, despair about a relationship they are having with others and the God they are supposed to be so in love with. They should love their families, they should love their wife, kids, husband, parents. But instead they bottle this anger because "we should forgive and offer grace."

That's lovely. Then tell us how the hell to do it, you robes. Especially when I know for sure you don't know how to do it yourselves, and you robes refuse to get help because you can't get over yourselves to open up to anyone else. How can you show us when you can't show your sheep how to forgive we you don't forgive? How can you show your sheep how Grace works when you are the opposite of Grace? How can you show loving discipline when you can't do it yourself?

Fucking get over yourself, and get human and stop being lazy. Get your ass to a counselor and vomit. Then return to your Church and guide us.

Seminary is a joke. No wonder people leave promptly from Seminary in the middle of their journey, never to return to the God they had just a few years ago pledged their life to.

Okay, I'm done.

9/12/2009 10:28 AM  
Blogger Christian Democrat said...

Anger management groups are so needed these days but at the same time we are reluctant to admit our anger for fear of being labeled as ... angry.

There are so many disappointments that bring it about - work, relationships, issues from the past such as parents or siblings or friendships gone bad, differences of theology and politics taken to extremes by the media and so many others I'm probably not so aware of.

But yeah, we're angry and holding it back sure doesn't work. Only by bringing it out does it get dealt with and then, possibly, get done with.

The "robes" you mention are people like you and me - flawed in their own way, with strengths and weaknesses that aren't always seen as such. Mostly weaknesses get written off by others as issues that they don't want to deal with, hoping the needy will go elsewhere with their need. And when the needy are leaders it is all the more difficult to realize that they need help, that one person can make a difference to them.

Is it worth walking away from a broken situation because you don't have the will to try to change it? For some, maybe, but that's not how I got wired.

I just wish it were easier.

My new ministry may be one based on anger management. I know I need it as much as anyone, can speak it from the heart and mind of experience, and that a group would benefit from simply coming together and letting it pour out.

Whatcha think?

9/14/2009 3:29 PM  
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