The Battle Against the Brain – part 3 September 15, 2009Posted by Matt in The Battle Against the Brain.
Tags: Bible, Biblical Interpretation, Divine Inspiration, Evangelicals, educated people, mythology
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One of the biggest sticking points between many Evangelical Christians and the educated is undoubtedly their unwavering belief that the Bible is the perfect, inerrant, divinely inspired, directly-given word of God. The aforementioned Pew study quantified this idea, stating that 59% of Evangelicals believe that the Bible is the literal, word-for-word dictation from God.
But, some of us have differing opinions.
The inaccuracies and contradictions contained within the pages of the Bible have been widely written about in the past (see Marcus Borg’s Reading the Bible Again for the First Time, as one example) and, though many seek to tie the loose ends together with the most tenuous and illogical explanations, they still exist and they can be quite damning.
Now, of course, this does not mean that the Bible is unimportant, quite the contrary, it is of great relevance, even to those of us living today in a world that the Biblical writers could not have even dreamed of. For us it is a window into the world of an ancient people as they try to explain things beyond explanation. It is their realization that something bigger than them exists, leading them to speak of it and write about it in a way that makes sense within their ancient worldview. It then leads us in our search for the Divine as we search for meaning in a world of randomly occurring tragedies and triumphs.
Thus, we do not feel the need to accept the asinine assumptions of creation science or to accept the obviously bipolar God of Genesis (It says creation is good and then, one page later, is sorry for it and wants to kill all the men, women, children, and animals by asphyxiation?) as factual. We do not need to believe that a good God sends pestilence and plague and natural disasters to wipe out masses of people. We can accept it that the New Testament writers borrowed heavily from Plato, rather than having their pens divinely guided (unless you accept Plato as being divinely inspired as well, but, as a homosexual heathen he’s probably not very high on the Evangelical guest list in heaven).
Perhaps then it is the overarching Biblical themes of redemption and love that truly matter rather than the specific stories. Maybe we would all be better off if we accepted mythology for what it is, a collection of thematic stories proclaiming truth without being factual representations of actual events.
It is this blind allegiance, this thinly veiled form of idolatry, that has been largely responsible for the exodus of the educated from America’s churches.
A Place at the Table – Pt. 3 January 27, 2009Posted by Matt in A Place at the Table.
Tags: Bible, Biblical Interpretation, church of christ, idolatry
I know it has been a few weeks since I last posted on the issues surrounding the role of women (or lack thereof) in the Church of Christ. In that time, there have been several comments both on my first “A Place at the Table” post (the comments were inadvertantly turned off on part 2) and the “Case Against Lads to Leaders” post from before then. In these, several people took the time and space to write out verse-by-verse how they felt about my prior statements – why they were either right or wrong.
Originally, I had it in my mind that I would do something similar and use the Bible to try and make my argument, but, after reading the arguments from both sides another question came to mind, arising like a phoenix from the leftover ash heap in this fight over Biblical interpretation. So, the more I thought about it, the more it plagued my thoughts and the more it affected my writing of this next installment.
So, I have decided that, instead of rambling on and on with my own opinions, I would pose the question to you.
Have we (meaning in my context the “Church of Christ,” but anyone is welcome to comment from their own situation) turned the Bible into our idol? In our zeal for having things exactly right have we elevated the scriptures to an unhealthy level? In our desire to parse each syllable of each word have we turned this volume from antiquity into a golden calf?
Deconstructing Jesus – pt.4 February 22, 2008Posted by Matt in Bible, church, deconstruction, god, philosophy, postmodernism.
Tags: Bible, Biblical Interpretation, Christianity, community, deconstruction, Derrida
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Again, thank you for your comments on the last three entries.
Thusfar we have briefly explored Jacques Derrida’s claim that there is “nothing outside the text,” with the idea that the “text” in question is a metaphor for our interpretations of life experiences. In this view, everyone’s text is different based upon an individual interpretive framework. In yesterday’s entry, we looked at the idea of the “undeconstructible” concept of justice in Derrida’s philosophy, which, while affirming that reality is based upon an individual construct, opens the door to an underlying “truth”, regardless of how abstract it may be in his way of thinking.
So, what does this mean for us, as Christians, in our way of reading and studying and applying the Bible?
Though the majority of Christians affirm the Bible as the Word of God, it is obvious from the plethora of churches that they do not all arrive at the same conclusions when interpreting. Modernity brought about an isolating individualism that taught us that we could interpret the Bible for ourselves and gain a total understanding if we systematically studied it and, while it did afford people the opportunity to study and learn as they never had before, it also robbed many Christians of the communal nature of Scripture that characterized the early church. Over the centuries, the Scriptures have even been used recklessly to further the agendas of various groups – legitimizing everything from slavery to genocide. So, even though there are innumerable ways to view the same passages based on your personal interpretive lens, they cannot all be good and true. That would be logically incoherent.
So, in a world full of ideas and interpretive frameworks, what is the role of Scripture and the Church?
The role of the community must first be brought back to the forefront. This community of interpreters can then establish a context through which to interpret, by consensus, what constitutes the true text. Then, communities fix contexts and contexts determine meaning, with God as the “undeconstructible” base. Thus, the Biblical text becomes the “text” through which we view the world.
So, the Deconstructive Church makes the Biblical text central for shaping its interpretation of the world, but at the same time realizes and relishes its global nature which is characterized by diversity. It embraces tradition and history, but not traditionalism and a one-size-fits-all Christian faith. Instead we celebrate our differences and work together in love to come to a better understanding of our God.
Next week we’ll explore the idea of the Christian Faith as Metanarrative.