Monday, February 25, 2008

ready to set sail again.

for those who have been around, you know that around this time every spring, i end up boarding the dawn treader and trying to put into action all the things i have learned over the winter. the call is coming a little sooner this year than usual, but it is there all the same, and i can't deny it. so, i have a couple of loose cyber-ends to tie up, and then i will be setting sail.

expect part 2 of my views on scripture and how and why they have changed very soon. of course, this post is in no way trying to stop conversation on the previous post, of which there is new discussion. just wanted to let you all know what was brewing in my heart.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

welcome to my abode

"This is no trap, Huma. We are as much the foes of the Dragonqueen as you are. Let past differences remain where they are - in the past."

come in, come in. make yourselves comfortable. thank you for coming.

in the past, i held several beliefs about the bible. then, one day, i noticed that many of the beliefs i held about the bible didn't actually come from the bible. which can be fine, but when these beliefs are held within a framework that only likes to believe things from the bible...well...holding beliefs that DON'T come from the bible can be sketchy. especially when people are lead to believe that their beliefs DO come from the bible. even when they don't.

for example, the bible never uses the word authoritative about itself. it never uses the word infallible about itself. they are NON-SCRIPTURAL beliefs about scripture. which is fine with me, but very strange considering the evangelical world and its stance on scripture. that it is authoritative, infallible, and the "word of god" are the basis of all of their beliefs about scripture. it creates a strange circular not-quite-logic that implodes in my head and i can't quite understand it anymore.

on only one occasion is any part of the bible spoken of as the "word of god." and this comes from jesus, speaking of one of the ten commandments. matt. 15:6. the rest of the instances in which the phrase "word of god" is used it is used to speak of this very intangible experience of a living word coming upon a person and the person speaking forth in an immediate real time situation. not writing down something for everyone for all time. and, interestingly enough, when jesus does speak of the scriptures (the ones they had and recognized as such), he attributes them to moses, not god. matt. 8:4,19:7-8, mark 1:44,10:3-5,12:26, luke 5:14,16:29-31,24:44... just to name a few.

yet, not only did i hold non-scriptural beliefs about scripture, i also ignored many things that it DID say in favor of a tidy system of beliefs. all the while, discarding or simply not noticing the statements that didn't fit. for example, there are three scriptures that come to mind right off the bat that are currently making me reevaluate just who god is and how he acts towards us. one of my eveangelical beliefs basically reiterated john's statement that "God is light; in him there is no darkness at all." which i think is true. but there are other statements made that shade that belief forcing me to change my preconceived notion of what it means.

first, there is the story of Job. god consorting with satan. satan seemingly being free to come and go from heaven as he chooses. god turning satan's attention towards Job. Job enduring such trials in order for god to win a bet with someone he isn't even supposed to like. and the real capper, for me, is this verse at the end. Job 42:11, "...they comforted and consoled him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him." what?! the lord brought evil on someone?

I sam. 16:14-16 talks of an "evil spirit from the lord" terrorizing saul. and in Is. 45:7, god speaks for himself and reveals something about himself to us, "The One forming light and creating DARKNESS, causing well-being and creating CALAMITY; I am the LORD who does ALL these." (emphasis mine)
i'm not saying i fully understand what is going on here, i am simply pointing out that these things are in the bible and they force me to reevaluate my beliefs. i can't hold things in a neat evangelical doctrinal structure. they simply don't address these things. and as i would like to continue growing, i need to grapple with these things. yet as i tried, i found myself unwelcome to grapple with them among my brothers and sisters within the walls of the "church" building.

another scripture that baked my noodle and has me reevaluating is Is. 7:14-16. we are generally familiar with verse 14 which prophecys that jesus will be born of a virgin and he will be called immanuel. yet the passage goes on further to tell us that there will be a time when this same boy, immanuel, will not know enough to choose the good and reject the bad. so does that mean that jesus wasn't sinless? or does it mean that we don't really know what sin is?

it is scriptures such as this that keep me from making statements of finality and definitiveness. because they throw in monkey-wrenches that force me to be intellectually honest and say, "i'm not sure what it all means. but this is where i am right now. and, of course, i'm still studying..." which is why when i hear evangelicals uses phrases like, "scripture tells us" it just gets my ire up. i apologize for that, as it is one of the only things, but it makes me feel as if there can be no discussion when the verdict is already in. unfortunately, the verdict, for me, simply hasn't considered all of the evidence. and i fear the verdict is incorrect at worst, or incomplete at best.

for example, lesley, when i spoke of god being "in all" you came back by quoting acts 19:2 and then telling me that "It would appear from scripture..." all the while ignoring the fact that i had also quoted from scripture (eph 4:6) to say what i had said. it is something i do not fully understand, but i also know that in spite of the evangelical belief that salvation is something to be "received" or "gotten", the bible does also make statments in joel 2:28-32 (acts 2:17) and jer. 31:31-34 (heb. 8:10-13) that force me personally to reevaluate this belief, finding it to not present a complete picture.

and what of the evangelical belief that god is something we have to bring with us to other cultures? after all, didn't paul say this in rom. 10:14? but we also have a more complete picture that is largely ignored in which the bible speaks of god being at work already in other cultures, apart from the bible or "christian belief."
there is melchizedek, who we don't know how he got his knowledge. or who his people are and how they came by this knowledge.
and of course, there is Job who was not from the tribe of israel and may even predate them.
balaam is a man not of israel who still not only worships the true god, but is also a prophet of the true god. to whom was balaam speaking? to whom was his message? and where did he come by his beliefs?
god calls nebuchadnezzar "My servant" in jer. 27:6.
the wise men are lead to jesus and his family by reading the stars. (matt.2:1-2) and they are warned not to return to herod by a dream sent from god. (matt.2:12) in both instances, they are lead true and they have the ability to hear and understand. as well as have faith in what they are hearing. where did they come by these unconventional means that guide them truly?
and when peter is sent to cornelius and his household, peter finds him, a non-jew, as a man who already knows and serves the true god, cornelius just doesn't know about jesus yet. (acts10:2)

time is getting away from me, and i have only covered about 8 lines of my notes that i have been gathering for my post. so we'll consider this to be part 1. there is a lot here and it may take some time to digest. so, i'll stop for now. thanks for stopping by.