Thursday, June 03, 2004

A Thing That Makes Me Go HUH?

At a Community College in 1989, I took a class called New Testament History (or something like that -- I don't remember the name of it). I took it because I thought it would be a cake walk class. Seemed to me like an easy 4.0, having grown up in the church and also having won several awards for memorizing hundreds of verses in the bible as part of a program at church. Arrogant 19 year old me thought I knew virtually all there was to know about the New Testament, and besides, this wasn't even a christian college - how hard could it be?

The very first class blew cocky young me right out of the water. I think that in the end, I passed that class (barely) with the lowest grade I received the whole time I was in that particular school. But it was one of the best classes I ever took, from a spiritual standpoint. Maybe the coolest thing was that it taught me not to think I knew so much.

In addition to that, it made me have little tiny pre-thinky thoughts that went directly against what I had previously believed.

For instance, This class showed us within the first few hours that there are in fact some errors in the Bible! This was news to me. I was rather offended (and secretly confused) because to my way of thinking, no one would say such a thing unless they were saying the bible wasn't true. In any case, the teacher made his point clear. There ARE errors in the Bible. It ain't Inerrant in that sense, at least.

By the end of that New Testament class it was clear that the teacher wasn't against the bible at all. He was very thorough and I found I didn't know very much at all about the New Testament! The final exam was comprised of only a few questions and one of them was something like this: What is The Gospel? In your own words, describe the essence, the central message of the new testament?
HIS point, of course, was that with the inconsistencies, with the errors - there is a message there that shouldn't be missed even from a literary standpoint and THAT isn't necessarily negated in any way by the humanity of the writers. The rest is up to you, do you believe it or not? The choice is yours. This I say a big fat AMEN to. Rock On, Episcopalian Priest/Professor Dude!

Several years later I dated this guy who got really offended when I refered to The Bible as The Word Of God. He said that JESUS, and God and the Holy Spirit was the word of God, not this book called The Bible!
I was horrified. Suddenly it seemed to me that he had a great gaping hole in his theology. It seemed to me he couldn't even be a real Christian and believe that.
What about the Council of Trent? Weren't they Guided by the Hand of God to choose only those writings that were "God Breathed"?

I thought only non believers didn't believe that the Bible was The Word Of God!! So, naturally, being a good fundamentalist, I questioned him about his salvation. When in doubt about someone's Theology, Find out if they're REALLY SAVED. Because - they might just be thinking wrongly because they've not Accepted Christ As Their Savior and therefore don't have the Holy Spirit to guide them in their thinking. But, he said he had. So that stumped me completely.

We broke up not long after that so really we didn't have a lot more dialogue about this subject, but it did get me thinking about a few things, and for that I'm glad.

Several MORE years later it is, and still I've still not arrived at any solid conclusion, still am not able to come up with any graceful way of saying this without sounding like a heretic maybe even to myself. I mostly keep it to myself and occasionally discuss it with friends whom I trust not to freak out on me and assume I've lost my faith.

One of the earliest foundational elements I was taught to include in my "statement of faith" says something like "We Believe The Bible is The Inerrant Word Of God."
And Ummm... errr...ya, nope. Just not so sure about that anymore. It's now a great big HUH?

And - here's another kicker: I'm Ok with some of these big HUH? and HMM's. I don't have to KNOW. Because what precious little I DO KNOW I believe is True, and not changed by anything relating to that question.
Just for fun let's say I eventually decide that the Bible is simply a History Book -- most people won't argue with the historical value of it. By faith I do believe that Jesus was Who He said He was. And that He did what he did for all of us, including me. And that I follow Jesus because I believe that He really did say "I Am", and that it was true because my faith is resting not in the Bible, but in Jesus Christ and what I believe He did. There's no set of empirical data that proves Jesus was who He said He was or did what He did - or even that it has anything to do with me. I either believe it or I don't.

If we go with the paradox theory then maybe it goes something like this:
Is the Bible The Word of God?

That whole paradox thing I talked about yesterday implies that the answer would be Yes and No. If I accept only one, then I dump the other out and miss the point.


The Blue Pill or The Red Pill?
What if Neo had taken BOTH!?


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