**All photos and posts are my original work. Please do not reprint photos or articles without permission.**

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.

19 comments:

  1. This is so good..."don't call me names..." I can hear it now: "Mom! She called me a feminist!" ;-) Also I totally appreciate the "confidence in my unconfidence..." Great post, Darcy.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I guess it shouldn't surprise me that, once again, another Spiritual Abuse survivor has come to the same conclusions that I have. It is always a refreshing reminder, though, that I truly am not the only one. Well done!

    Cindy@Baptist Taliban Memoirs

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wonderful!!! So refreshing. Thank you for the wonderful reminders. Dogma is never loving. And if I'm choosing His love, I can leave the defensive dogma behind. Resting here, Karen

    ReplyDelete
  4. So well stated, Darcy!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Excellent post. You could have been writing from my life. Anyone who thinks they have all the answers has, by definition, not been asking enough questions. Anyone who shuts down a thoughtful query with name-calling or gagging quantities of his or her chosen authority (i.e. Bible Trump) is really saying "I don't have a strongl foundation to be preaching from and I hope you will go away and stop making me have to recognize that."

    ReplyDelete
  6. I love this line: "I do believe in absolute truth. I'm just not sure that we're meant to find it in this life." I remember a series of lessons in one of my university classes about the history of biblical translation. Just the concept of the Bible as a changing document scared me so much that I skipped class. If the words had gone through so many interpretations, how could I count on them anymore? Now, however, I'm grateful that there is so much room in the Scriptures to grow and learn and have my mindset changed. I believe God's Spirit helps each of us with that process if we're open to discovery... and re-discovery... and re-re-discovery. Well-said!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you Darcy for putting this so clearly. When people think their interpretation is the correct or best one and throw it at me, I call it using the "God card!" It ends the discussion. This is such a common denominator to the women I am in relationship with , who have been affected by abuse, from a "Christian setting." Many have a difficult time reading or studying the Bible, for a long time - making them feel guilty since the commands to read it, know it, and use it was demanded of them. They hear the voice of their abuser, interpreting every passage, while they are trying to read. My husband has always reminded me that if the Bible was so clear and a concise formula for living, we would not need to seek Him. I used to think I knew more than I do now; I agree that the older I get, the less I know. And that is fine with me, too! I am a mom, wife, and friend, who stays open to God being God, when it comes to telling others what He means by what He says! Thanks for saying these words.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yes, yes, yes!!!! It's like you wrote what's in my head. We just recently left the church we'd been going to for years because the pastor found it okay to judge our hearts according to what his bible "clearly said," and because we didn't jive with his interpretation. I'm okay with agreeing to disagree, but when it comes to someone judging my salvation because I don't agree with their interpretation of what their bible "clearly says," then I'm outta there.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love you Darcy!!! You are not alone in your sentiments any way, shape or form. Seems there are more of us every day. n_n

    ReplyDelete
  10. I know I'm not alone! But now I know why people who are searching don't blab about it. :*/

    Erika, I'm sorry about your church! I hope you find one more accepting soon. I feel like the church we're at would welcome questions like mine and never judge me because of them. I just don't know people enough yet to get into those discussions. I will though. ;)

    Thank you for the encouraging comments, everyone! :-D

    ReplyDelete
  11. I hope you don't mind that I linked to your post. I can take it down if you would like. I don't get much traffic, so it probably won't make much difference.

    Darcy, 61% of evangelical youth are no longer attending church at all by the time they are in their early twenties. Seems to me that our elders in the faith should be applauding your sincere love for Jesus, your willingness to take seriously His command to love your brothers and sisters in Christ, and your insistence on authentic relationship with the Living God, rather than a carefully crafted set of doctrinal/cultural customs.

    I know I applaud you, and all the sincere younger sisters in Christ I have met online through Hillary's blog. You inspire me with the sincerity and purity of your love for Jesus.

    As my son would say, don't let the haters get you down. =)

    ReplyDelete
  12. here from shadowspring's blog

    "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."

    This is probably the most simple and profound thing I've heard in a long time. It just crystallizes what Christianity should be all about. I needed that crystal clear message today. Thanks so much for sharing it!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I also linked to your blog. My faith journey has taken a beating the past 5 years, and I love so much of what you say here. If you'd rather I didn't link, please tell me! :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Y'all are welcome to link! I'm honored. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Darcy - I just linked to your post as part of my new series and hope it sends lots of people here to read this excellent post! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  16. In reality, everyone interprets the bible incorrectly at some level, at least in my opinion. No one really has "all the answers."

    ReplyDelete
  17. "Trust those who seek truth, doubt those who find it." Christ is Truth-- trust those who seek Him, and aren't satisfied with their version of Christianity that comes with a neat bow tied on top.

    It's astonishing to me how many Christians I run in to who don't even KNOW that the Bible was written in different languages, who have no concept of the time or purpose of many of the books, who don't know that the epistles of Paul were letters to churches.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thank you for this post! There are issues that I disagree with you on theologically, but you know what? Instead of getting scared (for your soul, or for my beliefs), I am curious. I want to know what you believe, so I can find out more about this amazing God of ours. Maybe I will be reasurred of our great God, or maybe I will learn something new. But there is so much we agree on, too. It all boils down to the gospel. As Christians, this should be the tie that binds us together instead of petty bickering. Yes, we (Christians) should study and have a firm backing concerning what we belive. However, this does not mean we are 100% right. I trust that God will help me follow Him, have a relationship with Him, and ultimately glorify Him and enjoy Him. Yes, there is one way. Yes, there is one truth, but I agree with you that here on earth it is just fine that it is a little grey.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thank you for taking the time to publish this information very useful! Best Dissertation Writing Services UK

    ReplyDelete