What Do We Do With Scripture?

Sarah said:
"Interesting read. Accidentally stumbled on your blog somehow, and since I've been doing a lot of reading about emergent/emerging/etc. learning a bit more.I would be really interested to hear your thoughts on Scripture-- how literally it should be taken, whether parts of it are only relevant for the culture during which it was written, how it should be applied in a Christian's life, etc..."

Sarah, thanks for the visit. I apologize for the apparent lack of substance in my last few posts. Sometimes I get lazy and avoid thinking deep thoughts. Sometimes it's exhausting to feel feelings and hurt hurts. All of which tend to follow honest reflection.

But good question: "Scripture - what do we do with it?"

I'll confess that three years ago, I enrolled at George Fox Seminary because it was the only seminary in Portland (including Western Seminary and Multnomah Seminary) that did not use the word "inerrant" in its Statement of Faith. "Inspired"? Yes. But not inerrant. And I needed that loophole.

In truth, there aren't a lot of "purist" inerrantists because the position is so extreme. True biblical inerrancy concedes nothing: the Bible is without error or contradiction, including scientific and historical features. So the universe was created in six literal days. Somehow, the two Creation stories don't contradict each other. All of the animals on earth today fit on the ark. God put dinosaur bones in the ground to confuse us. Carbon-dating is an anti-Christian conspiracy. Women shouldn't speak out loud in church. Or be touched on their periods. Tattoos are an abomination. So are fabrics made of multiple materials. Conflicting historical accounts between Israel and Judah are... what? Dual realities? Parallel universes...

I'm sure you know, the list goes on...

But of course, there are more "nuanced, educated and aware" approaches to Scripture - even in very conservative circles. Infallibility or "limited inerrancy" do concede certain points (usually for the sake of convenience).

Me? I'm really not educated enough to have an "official position." All I want is room. I want room to ask questions. Room for a little disbelief. Room to acknowledge that science is not an enemy of faith. I have a hunch that faith entails believing in something that can't be proven. I have no problem with that! But I have a real problem with trying to forcefully conform science (or history) into a religious worldview that makes certain demands of God - of how God functions.

And therein lies my deepest frustration: trying to force GOD into a box. Suggesting that our theological needs or expectations must take precedence over the universe God created and blessed us with. Denying reality for the sake of an overly-controlling dream.

I love Scripture. I hear the gentle, quiet, loving voice of God when I read the beautiful treks through Exodus and Deuteronomy. I fall in love with Jesus all over again, reading Mark and John. I get challenged - and pissed off - every time I read anything Paul wrote. And Revelation's poetry and vision stirs my imagination and hope (far beyond the mess LaHaye and Jenkins made of it).

I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit (yes, emerging Christians are allowed to "talk-spirit"). I believe in God's desire to speak to us through the incredibly vast and beautiful cannon of Holy Scripture we've been blessed with. I love the Bible. But I love the Word of God far more than I love the Bible. And Jesus Christ, crucified and resurrected, is the living Word of God. That is whom I worship.


Sarah said...

Hey Peter--

Really appreciated your post on this topic and look forward to hearing more. You probably won't be surprised to know that I disagree with you pretty much completely. ;-) So I posted a response this evening, if you're interested.

Thanks for helping me think. Isn't it good to have a faith that does not fear the Truth?


2Pete said...

Sarah, thanks for coming back. You know what I love? That you seem kind. My wife said once, "I'd rather go to a church of kind fundamentalists than of cold, detached progressives." I agree with her.

I agree - I'm not afraid of the truth. More than anything, I'm just afraid of missing something God is telling me, because my "fear-goggles" are on (that's like "beer-goggles" without the frat house).

2Pete said...

P.S. not that I'm calling you a fundamentalist Sarah. Just for the sake of contrast ;)

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