Sunday, December 4, 2011

Is the Bible a "Toxic" Book?

As I mentioned in my last post on the doctrine of accommodation, I find it very interesting how often non-Christians and strict literalist Christians agree on what the Christian Bible (Old and New Testaments) actually says-- and how often I disagree with both of them.

I have heard atheists often talk about how the Bible is an abysmal failure when it comes to morality and ethics-- particularly when it comes to issues like slavery, tribalism and patriarchy, all of which they say the Bible supports.

I have seen Bible literalists live lives of rigid, spiritually abusive dysfunction-- and heard them claim that the only reason I’m not living like they do is that I’m “lukewarm,” that I only want “Christianity lite” and am unwilling to take the Bible seriously.

And I have had people who were once strict literalist Bible followers but have become atheists, tell me that the basic teachings of the Bible are destructive and harmful. They have told me that the reason they had to leave Christianity is that they followed the teachings of the Bible to their logical conclusions. Christianity, they say, is a toxic religion, and the only way to practice it without toxicity is to ignore the toxic teachings of the Bible.

And yet (once I left behind the strict Christian sect I was once part of) I have found it possible to remain a Christian and to continue to take the Bible seriously-- and I don’t believe it’s by ignoring the parts of it I don’t like. I have found peace and strength in Christ and healing in the pages of the Bible. Perhaps I should be mistrusting my own experience? And yet it is my experience, and no less valid than anyone else’s.

So here’s the question:

Are those of us who follow a gentler version of Christianity really just deceiving ourselves about the real truth of what our religion is about? Are we not following Christ’s instructions wholeheartedly, and thus escaping the destructiveness of our religion by not “doing it properly”? Is the Bible, when it is taken seriously and followed as Christians believe (or should believe) it is meant to be followed, really a toxic book that will lead inexorably to either a life of misery and fear, or to self-preservation through ultimately rejecting the whole faith package?

In answer, I’d like to look first at two underlying assumptions made by non-Christians and by strict “purist” Christians, that are at their roots basically the same foundational idea. This is the basic window through which many people see Christianity and the Bible, without in fact noticing the window at all. We don’t tend to notice the things we look through-- we notice what we’re looking at. Because of this, Christians and non-Christians alike end up with the same idea of what the Bible is about-- and following the Bible in this way is seen as the obvious and only way to practice serious Christianity.

So here are the two related assumptions:

Non-Christian Assumption: If there were a God and the Bible were really God‘s book, God would have made sure the people He spoke to in the Bible understood that slavery, tribalism, patriarchy and so on are wrong. The Bible would, in effect, have taught the original peoples who received the writings, to think the way we do now about morality and social ethics.

Christian Assumption: The Bible tells us about Jesus, of course, and how He died for our sins-- but the main point of the Bible is to be a guidebook on how best to live. Jesus is our perfect example of obedience to God, and the Bible, if we read it carefully, will reveal to us God’s instructions for how to live in every area of life.

But are these correct assumption to make?

I’m not going to tackle the question of whether there is a God or not, here. But from the perspective of belief in God-- is it appropriate to say that the nature of the Biblical revelation is an impartation of morality and social ethics, and that since it doesn’t impart these things as we think it should, it cannot be anything other than a primitive, human book?

Is it appropriate to say that the basic nature of the Bible is to be a divine guidebook of instructions on how to live in each area of our lives?

What if the Bible is, fundamentally, neither of these things?

Theologian N.T. Wright, in his sermon-essay “How Can the Bible Be Authoritative?” puts it like this:

“[W]e have come to the whole Bible, looking for particular answers to particular questions. And we have thereby made the Bible into something which it basically is not. . . . . People treat it as an unsorted edition of Calvin’s Institutes, the Westminster Confession, the UCCF Basis of Faith, or the so-called ‘Four Spiritual Laws’. But to treat the Bible like that is, in fact, simply to take your place in a very long tradition of Christians who have tried to make the Bible into a set of abstract truths and rules . . . .

“If we are not careful, the appeal to ‘timeless truths’ . . . distorts the Bible itself, making it into the sort of book it manifestly is not. . . . My conclusion, then, is this: that the regular views of scripture and its authority which we find not only outside but also inside evangelicalism fail to do justice to what the Bible actually is—a book, an ancient book, an ancient narrative book. They function by tuning that book into something else, and by implying thereby that God has, after all, given us the wrong sort of book. This is a low doctrine of inspiration, whatever heights are claimed for it. . . .

“The writings written by these people, thus led by the Spirit, are . . . mostly narrative; and we have already run up against the problem how can a story, a narrative, be authoritative? Somehow, the authority which God has invested in this book is an authority that is wielded and exercised through the people of God telling and retelling their story as the story of the world, telling the covenant story as the true story of creation. Somehow, this authority is also wielded through his people singing psalms. Somehow, it is wielded (it seems) in particular through God’s people telling the story of Jesus.”
[Emphases in original.]


This change in approach to Biblical understanding is about more than just making sure to read the Bible according to historical and literary context; I have talked to ex-Christians who told me that they did do careful research to find the original authorial intent-- but still found themselves in a misery-inducing way of practicing their faith that they eventually had to abandon or be destroyed by.

It’s also more than just avoiding legalism. I have talked to ex-Christians who told me that they understood completely that they were saved by grace, through faith; that they never felt the need to prove their devotion to God by following the Bible in terms of rules; and yet still, as they sought to practice their faith as they believed the Bible taught, they were tossed onto the shoals of an utter exhaustion of self-sacrifice and self-denial. In short, at the end of the day they felt as if they had no “self” left. And this, they are still sure, is what Christianity and following the Bible are all about; and why they ended up leaving.

What this is, is like taking off one pair of glasses and putting on another, or changing the kind of glass in the windows you look out of. Through different windows, everything looks different.

The difference is narrative theology over systematic theology.

In systematic theology, all the things in the Bible are categorized systematically to make up a set of principles and rules for living. There is nothing wrong with categorizing and systematizing the Bible; systematic theology has its uses. It can be very helpful, for instance, to look at every place where the Bible mentions one specific subject, to get an overview of how the Bible as a whole treats that subject. But I believe narrative theology should come first, as it yields a better Christian understanding of the whole of the faith. Narrative theology should govern systematic theology, and not the other way around.

Narrative theology recognizes that taken as a whole, the Bible is primarily a story: the story of God's interactions with humanity, with the story of Christ in the center as the focal point. Looking at it as a story means that you interpret each thing in terms of where it belongs in the plot; and you see a progression in the human understanding of the nature of God from the earlier to the later books.

Viewed as a story-- a collection of ancient books written at different times, but all centering around God’s ongoing actions in the redemption of humanity-- the differences in ethics and moral values, as understood by the various cultures in which the books arose, becomes less troubling. If God was primarily interested in coming in to us in human flesh, in order to restore us to unity with one another and with God-- then God might choose to work within human cultural systems to effect gradual change, and to gradually change human values to come more into line with the ideal of universal human love-- but that would not need to be God’s highest priority. Accommodation in this sense might, in fact, be seen as a better way to effect real ethical change over the long run.

When the viewpoint is that the Bible is primarily a way to find God’s will and obey it, then in any particular passage, the question is, "what is the God-endorsed best way of living, and how am I to follow it?" Or perhaps (in the Old Testament particularly) "Does this rule apply to me; is it ok if I don't follow it?" (And it is possible, even if we believe we’re living in grace, to still approach the Bible primarily in this mindset.)

The other viewpoint focuses on God's plan: "What was God trying to accomplish in this particular part of the Story? How did people understand God then? How did Jesus change that understanding of God, and how can I be part of what God is doing now?"

The first way values obedience for its own sake, and self-sacrificial obedience especially. But to see this other way is to see obedience only as a means to an end. If God wants us to do something, why does God want us to do it? This view says that though Jesus’ self-sacrifice on the cross was certainly in obedience to the Father, the bigger picture for Jesus was the “new covenant in my blood” which was what he was doing it for. And the point of the New Covenant is that it brings us into the New Creation, in which we are united with Christ and our hearts become a home for the Father; where we are no longer led by the law, but by the Spirit. Self-sacrifice must have a redemptive reason: it doesn’t exist for its own sake. If self-sacrifice for the sake of another is not helping either us or them, then it’s the wrong solution.

The systematic way tends to sum up Christianity in terms of two words: “Yes, Lord.” The narrative way uses a different two words: “Christ rose.” That’s the point of the Story. Christ identified with me in death so that I could identify with him in life. I’m putting my trust in him and am becoming part of the New Creation. It’s not that I don’t obey God-- but I believe God is only interested in our obedience in so far as it leads to the higher goal of bringing humans into harmony with the life and love of God. What God wants-- God’s ultimate goal-- is to love and be loved by us, and that we would love one another.

This change in viewpoint also changes the way we interpret the texts. Instead of seeing each bit of scripture as a command or principle that reveals God’s will for how we should live, we look at each bit of scripture first in terms of where it fits into the whole plot-- and only afterwards do we ascertain how to apply its principles in our own lives. And because Christ’s coming is central, and central to Christ’s teachings are the commandments “love God with all your being/love your neighbor as yourself” -- we look at Christian practice primarily in terms of whether it helps us to better love God, others and ourselves. Practices that are harmful and destructive to ourselves or to others, then, cannot be the intention of the text and should be jettisoned.

Christ’s coming brings the New Creation, and the New Creation changes the way we are to relate to one another. 2 Corinthians 5:16 says we are no longer to look at one another “according to the flesh.” If any interpretation of Scripture results in our focusing on the flesh in the way we view one another-- for example, granting privileges or making restrictions based on race, sex or economic status-- then it doesn’t fit the big picture, or the direction in which God is leading humanity, and we need to examine our interpretation. Contrary to what many Christians will tell us, changing the way we see and follow these sorts of texts is not disrespecting the Bible-- in fact, it is treating the Bible with more respect. If the Bible really is mainly the Story of how God created humanity, prepared the world for the coming of the Christ, then came, died and rose again so that we could walk in new life-- then it is when we see things in terms of that new life that we are really following the Bible.

But to those looking through the old glasses, all they can see is what looks like disobedience and blatant disregard for what they see as God’s revealed will for how we are to live. If the Bible says, “wives be submissive to your husbands,” it has to be because God’s will for marriage has to do with husbands being in charge and wives following their lead. It can’t be because husband-rule was part of the way life was at that time, and that women had no power to fight it and would only damage their own freedom and the message of the New Creation, if they fought it. It can’t be that the passage was telling the husbands, who alone had any power to change things, that it was their responsibility to lay down their power as Christ laid down his, in order to raise up their wives as Christ raised up the church. But through the new glasses, that passage is about a Spirit-led change of direction for first-century marriage so that Christians could begin to realize the New Creation in their family relationships.

For non-Christians and ex-Christians-- I can understand why you think the Bible supports slavery, tribalism and patriarchy. But perhaps you can also understand my perspective as to why I think those were incidental to, and not part and parcel of, the Bible’s message.

And I do think my new glasses fit me rather well.

24 comments:

Don said...

My take is that we believers are to follow the Spirit. And we use the canon to test things we think may be from the Spirit.

Some do not like this, as the Spirit can tell different things to different people. But this is similar to giving different gifts to different people.

Ann said...

Kristen,
Thanks so much for this. I am currently in the camp of not being able to even read my bible because of the deep sense of betrayal I feel. I gave my heart to all the teachings therein and have come up empty, just as you observed. I am leaning toward the bible as a narrative because otherwise it is just full of bondage for me.
I just met with my pastor and told him that I can't come to church for this very reason. They hold scripture and tradition in high esteem and it was giving me anxiety to be in that place.
Prior, our Sunday School studied the emergent church as something that our neighbors might hold to. I found that I had way more in common with that subject than the doctrine of my church. The next day I decided I had to leave. By the way, NT Wright was mentioned as one of the proponents. I will definitely check him out.
Thanks for putting into words exactly how I am feeling.

Kristen said...

Don, I agree. We must be led by the Spirit. But if we're using the canon to test what we believe the Spirit is saying, it doesn't help if we're misunderstanding what the canon is actually about. . .

Ann, I'm not sure why N.T. Wright would be considered emergent, as he is, I believe, an Anglican bishop-- but he has some very good things to say. What is "emergent," though, is all over the map and kind of hard to define, except that we can be sure it isn't fundamentalist! Anyway, I'm very glad my words were of help to you!

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

I understand literalist Christians, I used to be one, but the literalist atheists are the ones that baffle me.

I have noticed that frequently if a literalist, evangelical Christian leaves the faith, that they can easily end up being a literalist, evangelical atheist.

Not being a Christian any more, I can take the Bible, along with other works, and glean from it what I will.

Is the Bible toxic? Some parts could be dangerous, but that applies to nearly everything. We need water to live, but it is possible to kill yourself by using it improperly, even drinking too much of it can kill you. It all depends on the reader. People saying the Bible is toxic or dangerous remind me of the same people who thought Dungeons and Dragons would lead kids to become evil Satanists, or that video games make kids more violent. Millions of people read the and revere the Bible and live peacefully, just like most kids who played Dungeons and Dragons grew up to be perfectly normal members of society, and the same for the majority of kids that play video games.

Kristen said...

Good points, Mike! Thanks for reading!

Dave said...

Of course, there is still the issue of finding the overall narrative troubling, because there is no one definitive and irrefutable and undeniable way of identifying a single theme. For example, one theme that runs through the entire Bible is the dialectic between wrath and mercy, and this is no less true in the Gospels or letters of the New Testament.

If you reject the idea of indignation, divisiveness, retribution, and divine wrath, which are consistently portrayed as the once-and-future the divine judgment for which the poor and oppressed are waiting and hoping, then people can still very well find even a narrative view of the Bible as part of a "misery-inducing way of practicing their faith that they eventually had to abandon or be destroyed by."

That is, there is still a potentially valid criticism of ignoring one aspect of a narrative or de-emphasizing it or rationalizing it away in favor of another, leaving your central question open and relevant: "Are those of us who follow a gentler version of Christianity really just deceiving ourselves about the real truth of what our religion is about?"

Dave said...

correction: "the once-and-future divine judgment"

Kristen said...

Dave, you make a good point-- but it is not "ignoring one aspect of a narrative or de-emphasizing it or rationalizing it away" to acknowledge that in the New Testament the theme of "mercy triumphs over judgement" is pervasive, and it provides a strong [i]reason[/i], not rationalization, to understand that in the wrath-vs-mercy dialectic you have identified, mercy does indeed triumph. We see Jesus eating with the "tax collectors and sinners," and understand that the condemnation of this inclusiveness comes from the Pharisees, the legalists, and that we are instead to follow in Christ's footsteps. Christians may still choose expressions of the faith that are Pharisaical, but they do so in violation of the dynamic of the Kingdom that Jesus espoused. Divisiveness over inclusiveness, legalism over love, are part of human nature and probably will always be found in religious expression of any kind-- but that does not make them the normative teaching of Christianity as Christ meant it to be.

Dave said...

That doesn't follow. I don't see how "wrath" is the same as "legalism". Jesus talks about wrath and judgment. The apostles talk about wrath and judgment. The problem is with divine wrath in the first place, the idea of God hating and punishing. Jesus does not deny this, and he never says mercy always trumps wrath for everyone. Only those who submit to God are spared. That's the same line as in the Old Testament as part of the wrath/mercy dialectic that is supposed to bring people closer to God through obedience.

But for everyone else, they are to be killed before him, cast into outer darkness, left wailing in the fiery pit, etc. God may lament such judgment, but no where is it denied. Soooo, my criticism is left untouched. Divisiveness and wrath have been just as much a part of normative Christianity as anything. Again, one can deny, de-emphasize, or otherwise try to explain it away (as symbolism or allegory, etc.), but it is central to the whole set of Biblical themes that shape its overall narrative.

Dave said...

And by the way, I would LOVE to see some explanation for God hating, being angry, etc, that is compatible with a God of infinite love and patience that isn't just some awkward and inconsistent anthropomorphic analogy like "God is a strict but loving father."

And for those who might not know my history with the blog author, I am not trying to argue with Kristen for the sake of proving her wrong, only to point out that just changing glasses doesn't get rid of the problems she raised in her original post.

Kristen said...

Dave, we seem to be talking at cross-purposes. I was talking about how Christians should act towards other human beings-- in inclusiveness not divisiveness, and in mercy not judgment, since Jesus taught inclusiveness and mercy. You seem to be talking instead about the character of God as shown in the Bible.

I don't actually recall any place where Jesus talks about God hating. 1 John says "God is love." Love encompasses no hate. Passages such as "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated" are misunderstood. They represent a certain idiomatic Hebrew way of speaking and are not about actual "hate."

As for "wrath," there is an issue about what that word means. My understanding is that it's an old-fashioned word that we now also misunderstand. In the time the KJV was written (using the word "wrath"; we don't find that word in more modern translations), the word was commonly used to mean justice. A judge administering a sentence on a murderer was demonstrating the "wrath" of the king. It didn't mean the king was in a rage. It is my understanding also that the Hebrew and Greek words translated as "wrath" also convey this same idea-- not of anger/rage, but of the administration of justice.

I agree there is a dialectic between justice and mercy in the Bible. What I don't feel obligated to believe is that a good God would have no sense of justice, or that God's love means God has to just overlook every wrong. We would all say that there is no justice in overlooking the wrongdoing of rapists or child molesters-- where is the love for the victims, in such an attitude?

I believe there is some sort of eternal justice that will be administered, where those who have harmed others will need to have their eyes opened to see themselves and what they have done. What exactly that will look like, I don't think we can know.

As far as how the Bible speaks of eternity and punishment, I think most of it is in metaphorical pictures: it is mostly set forth in Jesus' parables and in the highly symbolic language of the Book of Revelation. I don't know exactly what eternal justice would look like, but the doctrine of accommodation, which I have explained in the post immediately prior to this one, gives a good explanation as to why Jesus and the writer of Revelation would put these ideas in terms that their original listeners/readers would have understood. What eternal justice really looks like may be as far beyond our understanding as what eternal mercy really looks like. But we, as Christians, as far as it depends on us, are called in our daily living with others, to be merciful, inclusive, kind and loving-- not holier-than-thou, divisive, hateful and judgmental. That much, at least, is clear.

Kristen said...

So in conclusion-- yes, I feel that a focus on the Bible as narrative helps us to view all the texts together, rather than isolating them from one another-- and thus helps us not to take the passages on "wrath" out of balance with the passages on mercy and love.

Another Believer said...

It appears that there are a lot of justifications and conclusions being made that are based on what seems or feels right or wrong, rational or non-rational, consistent or in-consistent. By using this process, we put God into a box defined by our values and perspectives. Instead, we need to be seeking to follow what holds the most amount of truth.

There is no body of work that can make the claims of authenticity, accuracy and divine inspiration that the Bible does. No other written work has the supporting evidence in the areas of archeology, manuscript documentation, prophetic fulfillment, and consistency among so many authors as the Bible. The flaws are not in the content of God's Word, they are in the interpretation of God's Word by flawed human beings.

An interesting quality about the Bible is that it is shallow enough for a child to stand in, yet deep enough for a theologian to drowned in. Sometimes people are so caught up in dissecting the Bible's sub categories/themes (grace, mercy, justice, wrath, anger, condemnation, sin, etc.) that they miss the simple overarching theme - Love.

Jesus said the two greatest commandments are to love God with all your being and to love your neighbor as yourself. All the laws hang on these two commandments.

If people grasp onto these two commandments, the next challenge they face is to not define them through secular glasses. They need to seek these commandments through the eyes of the holy, perfect, complete God. Unlike humans, the God of the Bible is perfectly balanced in all of his qualities. Because we are not perfectly balanced in all ways as God is, we see what we believe are inconsistencies or inappropriateness on God's part reject him and the Bible in part or totality.

Based on the unmatched verifiability of the validity of the Bible (see the book The Case for Christ or the book Evidence that Demands a Verdict), if a person chooses to believe that the Bible is only a narrative of history and chooses to follow some other path, that person is choosing to base their life on something with less credibility and evidence (another religion, world philosophy, personal perspective, etc). Making this choice is not a rational decision.

Instead of deciding to discount the Bible as being less than it claims to be, people need to realize that the Bible is not flawed. What is flawed is our interpretation and we must continuously seek to check our interpretation through the filter of the perfect God of the Bible. We also must be willing to accept that just as a child cannot understand many of the concepts that an adult understands, we are not able to understand all that God knows. We must also accept that just because something doesn't makes sense to us, doesn't mean we can say it isn't true. We all believe gravity is true without understanding however gravity exists. It would be irrational to conclude that gravity doesn't exist just because we don't completely understand it. Yet, people are willing to do this with God and the Bible.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Haven't hear Strobel and McDowell invoked in a long time.

Dave said...

Kristen, thank you for your reply. It seems that the issue revolves around what the individual wants or needs. Those who can't stand the idea of people "getting away" with something find comfort in a God who executes some kind of wrath or justice. Those who see "sin" as its own punishment find the idea of a God who pours wrath on top of this as vindictive. This is based on my own view of the Bible and of the Biblical God, that we accommodate its content AND the overall narrative to suit us.*

Whether we translate the term as wrath or justice, in the Old Testament wrath involved plagues, rape and murder at the hands of a foe appointed by God. Many of these events were taken to be historical by the Hebrew, and some are still taken to be so today. So it isn't all metaphor. Just because it makes some people squirm today doesn't mean it hasn't shaped and formed the Church Universal and its doctrines and interpretations for most of its history.

People can talk about the emphasis on love, but that is a slippery word that also changes from one historical and cultural context to another. I am betting the ancient Hebrew people and the early Christian communities would have seen the periods of God's fury against the Israelities as a manifestation of that love, like a parent beating--er, spanking--er, correcting a child.

Just focusing on a particular contemporary reading of the canonical Gospels as a reference to judge everything else in the Bible doesn't really constitute an objective Biblical narrative and more than focusing on some other part of the Bible does, especially when the same themes are present throughout. One can just as easily see Jesus as fulfilling the divisive and wrathful nature of God in the OT as one can try to see hints of an evolution toward an all peaceful and loving Jesus in the OT. "Another Believer" illustrates that pretty well.

*for example, someone with a Buddhist bent might say that the wrath and mercy of God are anthropomorphic analogies for karma and not really conscious, intentional judgments or acts of reconciliation by some cosmic king on a celestial throne.

Kristen said...

Dave, I am not claiming I have an "objective" view. Who can claim that? I am saying that for Christians, the focus of their faith should be Jesus Himself; and that therefore a reading of the Bible that interprets it in the light of His life, teachings, death and Resurrection above all, is a particularly Christian way to read the Bible.

Another Believer, you can have your methods of reading the text, and I can have mine. I do think that Christianity is about Christ and the Father God and Holy Spirit, more than it's about "whatever the Bible appears to me to say must be what it says-- and that must be right and good, no matter how wrong it seems." We have to be careful not to make the Bible itself into our god. Jesus said to the Pharisees, "You search the Scriptures, thinking that in them you have eternal life, and it is they that point to me, but you do not come to me." Our relationship with Christ and the Father through the Holy Spirit is paramount. Be careful lest you, too, put God into a box-- the box of your perceptions of what the Bible says, based on what it appears to mean to your modern ears 2000-5000 years later, half a globe and several ancient languages away.

Kristen said...

Dave, there's also a certain "proof of the pudding is in the eating" justification to my position. This way of looking at the Bible tends to lead to a way of living Christianity that is a kinder, more open, more loving, happier way of "doing" the faith. In other words, it works. I am inclined to think that since it works in this way, it probably brings us closer to an understanding of the real nature of the Divine.

Dave said...

Hello again Kristen. Rather than respond in these little comment boxes, I've developed my thoughts on the matter here.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Glad you didn't do that as a comment, Dave. ;-)

I thought you had stopped posting at Peaceful Turmoil?

Another Believer said...

Kristin, I also think Christianity is about Christ and the Father and Holy Spirit. The Bible is God's primary communication tool (not a god) to us. Without it we would not know - about Christ and the Father God and Holy Spirit... - We would not know what the Gospel is. The Bible says that we are to continuously meditate on the scriptures. The Bible is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. The Bible tells us to test all things against it.

The problem with the Pharisees was not that they searched the scriptures. The problem was that they never came to Jesus. In fact, Jesus used the scriptures to rebuke the Pharisees. Additionally, he was constantly referencing the scriptures to direct his life and to Shepherd other people.

We all put God into box because we are imperfect human beings. To help minimize our box building, we need to be in prayer, be seeking to be led by the Holy Spirit, be studying the scriptures and be in community with other believers where all are fulfilling their responsibility to be iron sharpening iron.

Unfortunately, too many people choose to ignore or distort parts of the Bible to suit there desires or conceptions of what is right or wrong. Some do so and move in a very legalistic direction. Others do so and move in a very liberal direction where anything goes as long as it fits into their world view. Instead, we need to move from these extremes and be in the center where God is standing.

Kristen said...

Another Believer-- I agree with all you have said in your last post above. I believe we may differ with one another on exactly where "the center where God is standing" is in some areas. I believe the way to hold the Bible in highest regard is to let it be the book it is, not what we want it to be. That means we have to try our best to understand first what the message is that was intended by the original writer and understood by the original audience-- and understand it as a narrative of God's creation and redemption of humanity. Sometimes that means that I'm going to differ strongly with traditional or evangelical/fundamentalist understandings of what the Bible is saying. I particularly disagree in the area of "gender roles." But it's not because I don't hold the Bible in high regard. I hope that makes my position clearer.

The Politics Of Heaven said...

Kristen,

Since I am no longer welcome on "Commandments of Men", I wanted you to know that I've found your comments anything but "too strong" and offensive.

I don't think you are afraid to truly think and it is evident in your writing.

I may be commenting on your posts later, but I wanted you to know that I appreciate your thoughtful tone.

Kristen said...

Thank you, Politics. I appreciate your kind words.

JaredMithrandir said...

I am a Bible literalist, but agree the Bible doesn't support Sexism or Homophobia.

http://solascripturachristianliberty.blogspot.com/p/blog-page.html