Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

 

If you all are wondering how this pastor tries to use the Biblical texts and current events to comment on one another, here is some insight into my sermon prep work…

An Endless Falling

2952906522_26eb2b9637_z Been musing on this Sunday’s Gospel text , as I think it probably gives us some insight into this whole mess with World Vision.

In the text Jesus uses mud to give this man sight.

Or, as I would say for the modern hearer, this man, in the muddiness of life, feels that Jesus has given him some new sight.

In the text it’s literal sight, but I love the over-arching metaphor, too, of how God, through the muddiness of life, gives us new insight.

Perhaps World Vision felt they had some new insight as they looked at their Christian brothers and sisters from all walks of life who had talent and vision and the ability to do good work, but were barred from employment because they were openly gay and partnered.  Perhaps they saw it as a justice issue.  Perhaps they saw it as a way to bring diverse…

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New Years Resolution

Posted: December 31, 2013 in Uncategorized

Today, just a bit of original poetry.

indexNew Years Resolution

Well 2013,

(or should I call you “Twentythirteen”?)

you had a good run.

The events, memories, touchstones,

too many to now recount

even if I had the desire to recount them all,

were all leading up to this one moment: the clock striking twelve.

And, sure, people who call themselves religious made fools of themselves this past year

as they did in 2012

and even as far back as year 1

(and before then),

but I expect nothing less.  Fear seems not to know that all things can be new

in the new year,

and it continually shows up, right on time, staying long past the party is over, waking up in a haze on your living room floor expecting breakfast.

Fear does that.

Fear of the other, of difference,

fear that “not being right” means failure.

Fear has survived too many years in a row, even past the angel’s cries of “Fear not.”

Fear doesn’t take a hint.

For 2014, I wonder if we can all make this resolution:

Let us hold that someone else’s opinions

beliefs

thoughts

convictions

aren’t threatening to me.  We need not fear them.

Let us instead hold that the only threatening thing in this world is indifference.

And then, maybe, we’ll get somewhere.

2013, you had a good run.  But sometimes the clown car took over the religious circus.

2014, here’s to hoping that you have within you

(and you do, as the incarnation makes clear)

the ability to have it done differently.

Blessed New Year

pt…

 

My colleague and good friend Jason put out to the world a list of “7 things people think are in the Bible but actually aren’t.”  You canspider1 read it here.

And it’s gone a bit viral, as well it should have.  It’s good writing.  And Jason is, by and large, correct in his list (despite the many Bible verses that those who disagree with him have quoted in the comments section).

What Jason sees, and what a large portion of people who identify as Christian and comment on his blog miss, is the difference between Bible quotation/citation and the theological discipline of Systematics.

Take his #7 example, for instance: The Rapture.

The Rapture as a theological concept, as a system, is not in the Bible.  Sure, there are verses in the Bible that the creators of this theological concept used to come up with this particular pseudo-doctrine (it’s not, technically, a doctrine at all).  And these quotations from Matthew and Ephesians and elsewhere lay a hodgepodge basis for this flimsy theological idea.

But the idea is not in there itself.

Just because you can quote a verse used to support a theological system does not mean that the theological system that uses that quotation as foundational is actually in scripture.

It often means someone did an good job of cutting and pasting.

So, for instance, when Jason says that “God hates ____” isn’t in the Bible, technically he’s incorrect.  Sure, there are verses that name that God hates a lying tongue, a sly look, hands that shed innocent blood (Proverbs 6) as well as other things elsewhere.

But Jason isn’t talking about technicalities here, he’s talking about the broad scope view of a Bible seen through the lens of Jesus (a lens all Christians should view scripture).  And by that standard, he’s correct.

The verses might be there; you can quote them.  But the spirit of the scriptures as seen through Jesus is one of reconciliation.  Dare we say: even reconciling these verses of Proverbs that claim God “hates” things?

Plus, Jason’s overarching point is that God never hates people for being people…so any argument that deflects from that main one is just a Straw Man argument, a philosophical fallacy.

Again, just because you quote a verse does not mean the theological concept is attested to in scripture.

But the biggest problem in this whole thing, I think, is the fear that people are meeting his assertions with.

Fear is pervasive in religion, even a religion based on peace and love.

Jason even received a note that warned him that the Bible “deals harshly with false prophets and heretics.”

First of all, my Bible has never dealt with me harshly.  It doesn’t have arms or legs or weapons to do so.  If it did, I’d need to do an exorcism, cause a Bible that can “deal with me harshly” is an inanimate object possessed.

Secondly, part and parcel with a literal view of scripture is the fear that comes from any viewpoint that might call objection to such a rigid reading of this spiritual document.  If the Bible is just a list of verses that I access like an encyclopedia, I’d rather read Shakespeare, thank you.

At least Shakespeare has the ability to move me.  No encyclopedia has moved me to do anything but play a word in Scrabble or squash a spider.

And I guess that’s a pretty good analogy.  Because Jason was moved by scripture to free people from the assumptions they make about what the spirit of scriptures really say much like poetry and good stories free us to change the world.

And people responded by trying to play a move better than his and squash him.

I want to make a defense of a reasonable way of reading scriptures.  For the Christian tradition, you cannot read any part of it except through the lens of Jesus the Christ. I do not see a way around that for a Christian.

And all other portions of scripture are good for teaching and edification…when read through the lens of Jesus.

When read on their own though, well, I’m afraid most Christians just end up trying to squash their neighbor like a spider.

So, are Jason’s assertions correct?  Technically you  might be able to point to specific verses to debunk his list.  But the Bible is not an encyclopedia.  It’s a story.  And you have to read the whole thing to get the arch of the narrative.  And, specifically here, you have to know the lens to read it with.

Through the lens of Jesus, his assertions are correct.

But I’m a reluctant Christian sometimes because we can’t put up with an encyclopedic reading of scripture anymore…and that seems to be what most places are offering.  It’s just creating a lot of attempts to squash each other.

And a hell of a lot of fear.