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Monday, October 18, 2010

Not So Clearly

There's something really bugging me about theological conversations with people who think they're got it all figured out. (Besides the fact that they think they have it all figured out....). I keep hearing the phrase "The Bible clearly says...", which is used to completely stomp out the opposition. Or just make them look stupid.

I am here to tell you that the Bible doesn't "clearly say" what everyone seems to think it does. There's not much in the Bible that's really very "clear" at all. The more I read and study, the less I feel I know, and the muddier it all gets. Think about it: we're talking about a book that's comprised of hundreds of documents, stories, instructions, poems, prophecies, and history, written by dozens of different men, over a period of thousands of years, in several different languages, to cultures that were very different than our own, and translated into hundreds of languages. How is that "clear and simple"??? Answer: it's not. It makes for very complicated study and interpretation.

It just kills me when someone quotes a scripture out of an English Bible and says "see? it's really very clear and simple". And it really gets to me when people downplay looking up the scriptures in their original language and say "well, it gets rather confusing when you do that. I just read it for what it says." *face palm* Clearly they don't understand the process of how that scripture went from God's mouth to our hands. How in the world is a translation from the original language more "clear and accurate" than the original launguage?!

I believe that God has preserved His written will and heart. But I don't think that much of the church's interpretations of that written will are very accurate. Nor do I think that they have been arrived at by the best methods. I also don't believe that just reading an English Bible is the best way to discover what God really thinks. That written will itself says to "be diligent to.....accurately divide the Word of Truth". If it were really as "clear and simple" as people seem to think, why would it take diligence and hard work to "rightly divide" what God has said?

I am not afraid to admit that the Bible is one complicated book. I don't think this makes God less personal or less powerful. It certainly ups my determination to study and seek after the Truth, knowing that it is there and it is important. I'm also not afraid to question everything I've ever been taught and to discuss it with others. But I seem to be running into two kinds of Christians. The first kind is so confident in their knowledge of "what the Bible clearly says" that they cannot see any other point of view enough to even dialoge about it. They just throw scriptures at you, thinking that that should settle it. This frustrates me to no end. The other kind of Christian seems almost afraid of digging deeper and re-examining scripture. Like they're scared of being wrong or "deceived" or finding out that what they've always been taught isn't God's clear truth after all. So they resort to judging motives ("you just don't like authority, you're a feminist, etc") and stating "Well, the Bible clearly states...and if you can't see it then I can't help you." End of discussion.

Maybe it's because I've been through two major religious paradigm shifts in my life, or maybe it's just my personality, but finding out I was wrong doesn't scare or intimidate me in the least. Why should it? I want to know what God thinks and if what I've been believing isn't it then I'm more than happy to leave it behind. Just, please, don't call me names and don't judge my heart just because you're too afraid of being wrong and too confident in your own knowledge to even consider that you might be.

So far the only "clear" things I see in the Bible are this: God loves us, we blew it, Jesus lived, died, and lives again to redeem us, and the Christian life is all about loving God and loving people. Everything else is a little foggy but I'm OK with that. I'm determined to ask, seek, and knock, and never stop until I'm dead. God's not going to strike me with lightning and send me to hell because I'm wrong about womens roles, church authority, dress codes, eschatology, or kosher eating. He's not threatened by my questioning. If that's the kind of god you serve, then I'm not the one with problems.

Don't freak out on me; I'm not promoting reletivism. I do believe in absolute truth. I'm just not sure that we're meant to find it in this life. Maybe it's supposed to be a journey, a process, a walking-with-God thing. For now, I'm confident in my unconfidence of my own knowledge and if I never get to the bottom of the egalitarian v. complementarian debate, I'm totally fine with that. Meanwhile, I'm lovin' on my husband, my kids, and everyone else who comes across my path; I'm walking with God and enjoying the journey. I figure that's what really matters anyway.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


"How long, Oh Lord?
Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long will I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and hear me,
Oh Lord, my God;
Enlighten my eyes,
Lest I sleep the sleep of death;
Lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed against [her]!"
Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved.

But I have trusted in your mercy;
My heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord
Because He has dealt bountifully with me."

~Psalm 13

The dichotomy of thinking that God has forgotten me while believing that He has blessed me and shown mercy. This I cannot understand. On the one hand, I am full of doubt that God is doing anything good in my life; on the other hand I know He is. But I am obviously not the first person to have this war in my soul. The Psalms can be so comforting. It's nice to know that the human heart is the same now as it was several thousand years ago.

"How long, Oh Lord?......My heart shall rejoice."