Wednesday, May 24, 2006

cracking codes?

"Some of these clowns even seem to misrepresent scripture and take it way out of whack..." (societyVs)

yep, one of the main reasons why many people choose to disbelieve is because it's just too hard to buy into what some are selling as a Word from God.

kinda like driving in a blizzard- it's a whiteout and you nearly hit the ditch on your right, so you crank the wheel and head over to the ditch on the left. it's keeping it between the lines that keeps you alive and moving ever closer to the end of the journey, yeah?

recently i was sitting in a bible class being held at our church on correct interpretation of scripture- ie: equipping people to not only NOT misinterpret what scripture is saying in their own personal quiet time with God, but also providing them with some tools to discern just what is scriptural and what is a load of self-driven personal hooey.

our teacher is a seminary professor giving us a heckuva deal on some awesome bible-school teaching just because he wants the church to be able to read the bible 'for all its worth.'

(the name of the textbook for the course

so anyway, to illustrate a point about wrongly interpreted conclusions, we turned to the book of nahum and then watched a video clip...

nahum 2.4 says "The chariots storm through the streets, rushing back and forth through the squares. They look like flaming torches; they dart about like lightning."

well, this guy on tv proceeded to enthusiastically explain how the prophet writing this passage is really foretelling fast'n'furious-type streetracing in the final days, rather than the sacking of the city of nineveh some eighty years later...

it appears as though scripture can be much like statistics: you can use it to say just about anything if you have the imagination to do so. the classic approach of proof-texting (coming up with an idea and then finding scriptures to be taken out of context in order to validate the idea, while ignoring others that contradict) is a great example of how scripture gets misused regularly by well-intentioned people. often, like in the passage cited above from nahum, people focus on some connections while completely disregarding other contradictory ones that exist. one thing that scripture doesn't do is contradict itself in the bigger picture. the contradictions we find therein usually have more to do with us than with scripture- with our read on it rather than what we're actually reading in it...

the correct handling of scripture is a sacred task to which we are all called in our discipleship. however, those charged by God with teaching or preaching ministries have even greater responsibility there because they are using scripture to lead others onward. taking this responsibility seriously allows our stories of God to be more than simply theological gossip.

okay, i can't take it anymore- i have to mention da vinci code (don't worry, only briefly, and as an example of what i'm talking about). take the whole grail/chalice theory...

for me, it's important to remember that the grail/chalice theory is a theory... and not a particularly theological one at that. it has more to do with conspiracy, paranoia and politics than with God.

am i saying that this theory is 'a load of self-driven personal hooey'?
nope. not qualified to make that call.

lee strobel and gary poole have written a book called exploring the da vinci code... i'm not saying this is the only book to read on the theories put forth in the recent novel and even more recent film- i haven't read it... i'm just saying that, among the plethora of reactive books having been written on this topic, the strobel/poole book promises to be responsive by virtue of its authors. strobel has brought us strong and balanced reads like a case for Christ; a case for the creator and a case for faith)

i'm saying that we need to be regularly studying and sorting through God's word so that we know what is actually in scripture and what these scriptures tell us about God himself.

in attempting to develop one's own personal theology, it's important to be active without necessarily being activistic- to remember that personal theology is personal... there's a good one to shoot for. we don't need to march around with placards proclaiming for all and sundry that we are militant, underthinking, over-reacting ethnocentrics with an agenda of conquest. we have to come to a decision for ourselves, sorting out what is figurative and what is literal and how these passages studied are set against the larger whole of scripture and history.

let's dig into the theories about God that are all around us and use scripture in order to seek the truth about God in this or that context. let's identify what about any theory impacts our faith, and be willing to thoughtfully consider the ideas of others in the light of scripture. in doing so, let's be both willing to consider scripture in such a way that it can still be the revealed word of God (even if this means changing one's traditional and time-honoured interpretation of a passage) and also intentional about discerning from the original context, genre and apparent intent of the scriptures being set forth as evidence, whether a theory is biblical or merely fanciful.

here's an example. i know i've told this story before- perhaps you've even read it on this blog- i don't remember... all apologies. anyway, during my educational internship, we decided to hold a creation/evolution debate with eighth grade students. notes went home to be signed and off we went. sadly, the creationists used only the bible in their research, while the evolutionists used the whole library. at the end of the debate, we had an anthropologist and a lutheran minister come in on two separate days to share their perspectives with the kids.

the minister began his comments by saying 'i think you've been reading this book (bible) wrong- remember, it was never written to be treated like a science textbook. it was not written to tell us what happened, but who did it." yada yada yada

the anthropologist came the next day (it was early december- blizzard season) and said 'i think you need to rethink the role of science. if you are driving a car in a blizzard and it breaks down, you can pray if you like, but it probably won't make the car start- use science for that. however, if you are looking for the meaning of life in that moment, science has no wisdom to offer.' yada yada yada

making sense of this physical experience called life on fallen planet earth has largely to do with viewing things through the right lenses. once we've figured out what we believe then we can shine that light into the everyday context of our relationships because there are probably people all around us who are seeking the truth and hoping that we'll help them find it.

i'm to be a candle shining in their darkest night
not a blinding flash of light

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Blogger bjk said...

REALLY liked the last couple of sentences....will be rereading the whole of it to digest properly...thanks

Blogger jollybeggar said...

yeah, i fixed the grammar in the last couple of sentences so they are now a little more coherent...

although i often write in circles, these ones were particularly elliptical!

Blogger Pastor Josh said...

Very nice. It is amazing while I watch Tv how many people are talking about scriptures way out of text. God did say their would be false prophets. The bad thing is they're making the real church look bad. That we're out there somewhere. I usually listen to my spirit when watching preachers on Tv. I don't even like calling them preachers, because they are not. Any way. I listen to my spirit to direct my in the right direction. Your spirit will know what is Godly and ungodly. The things is when a preacher is preaching the word of God. There's power and truth coming out. Even a sinner can tell the truth from the untruth. The way they know it's written on there hearts. God said that He would right the law on every man's heart. So all we have to do is speak the truth and the word which is a two edge sword will pearce there heart. And the heart will then know the truth. Great post.

Blogger jollybeggar said...

"Even a sinner can tell the truth from the untruth"

well, and let's not forget that we all stink, yeah?
ha ha- maybe it's just me!

what i mean is that we all blow it- i can't remember the last day i lived where i could honestly say that i hadn't sinned even once. i get frustrated, lose my temper, grumble something in the car about somebody or whatever. pretty hard to do what Jesus did, but ya gotta keep trying.

with regard to what you're probably meaning, i love the bit in 1cor12.24-25 dealing with an unbeliever (i prefer to try to refer to folks as achristian- being without Christ at this point- as opposed to unbeliever or non-Christian or pre-Christian or whatever...) who comes, witnesses authentic corporate worship and convicted of sin, falls to his/her knees saying 'God is truly among you!'

yeah, that's what i'm praying for around here.


Blogger Cinder said...

"i'm to be a candle shining in their darkest night
not a blinding flash of light"

this really says it how things are supposed to be...we're not called to be in a person's face, but instead to walk alongside them...not to condemn them, but to realize that none of us are perfect and that this walk is a continual learning and growing process.

"well, and let's not forget that we all stink, yeah?
ha ha- maybe it's just me!"

it's not just you...i don't think we'd be very truthful if we attempted to say we hadn't sinned...well, at least for me it would be a blatant lie...i'm human and very imperfect depending on the time and it sure shows a lot of days. everyday's a new one and you just gotta keep trying!

Blogger curious servant said...

Heavenly Father...

We are Your children. We know how much You love us, what You have already given for us. Pardon... we know a small part of what You have already given...

We are grateful, Lord. We are amazed at Your love for us.

We also know that You hear our cries, our anguish, our worries and concerns.

We have a sister Lord, a child of Yours, who needs Your touch.

Please draw close to Anita, Lord. She is in mortal danger.

I know Lord... there really isn't any danger in being mortal, for we are a part of You, a part of eternity.

Yet there are things we must do here. Tasks we wish to accomplish for Your glory.

And we are mayflies Lord. We are accustomed to this life and cling to it with a passion You gave to us.

So please bless our sister Anita. Touch her body. Comfort her family. Provide wisdom and endurance and strength and compassion to her doctors and nurses. Bring Your spirit to this situation, Lord.


Blogger Pastor Josh said...

It is amazing how often we actually sin and don't even now we did. I asked God to open my eyes to my sins once. I thought at that time I was doing a pretty good job of not sinning. Well let's say within an hour into it. I was asking God to close my eyes to the sins that I was committing. WE have to remember that our flesh is going to sin. Most of our sins is just in our thoughts. We don't have to act it out we just have to think it. Just like Jesus said, If you look at a woman in lust, you have already committed adoltry in your heart. You just have to think and it becomes real, even though you don't carry out the actions. God bless.

Blogger jollybeggar said...

"I thought at that time I was doing a pretty good job of not sinning."

and then i remember how much God likes spiritual pride...

i like what you said, peej, about how most of our sin is thought only. good one. our greatest iniqity is confined to the space between our ears. yep- got it.

reminds me a lot of samson... long before he cut his hair he had compromised his nazirite vows in his heart.

Blogger SocietyVs said...

I watch Van Impe, on a time to time basis, he's a handful of end-time jargon I can tell ya that much.
As for interpreting scripture, I am all for getting back to the truth, the sanctity of it. I am aware of how fraile we really are as humans, being sinners and all that...but that can't stop us from upholding the standard set by Jesus'.
I say down with clowns.


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