Saturday, September 30, 2006

To Err Is Human...Inerrancy Is Divine

So, according to Bob, if you're a conservative Christian you are an undereducated, southern, white evangelical or black protestant. Oh...and you have no conscience, hate gay people, want women to be subjugated, and hope everyone who believes different gets smited...smoten...smitten...would someone conjugate the word "smite", please?

He constantly sets up straw-men to paint a picture of those of us who believe in things like the inerrancy of the Bible as Dark Age serfs, and they who believe the bible is "authoritative, but not inerrant" as the bringers of the Enlightenment.

My question is this: if you believe, as Bob writes, "morality can be objectively determined by reason independent of God’s revelation in Scripture", why do you even care about the Bible? The church fathers believed that Scripture trumped tradition, and tradition trumped reason. I think that tradition and reason are more equal, but Scripture has always been at the top of the food chain, even for Jesus.

But if the Bible is second on the food chain to us, why even use it? How can you trust it? It isn't Shakespeare or Homer...we aren't looking for entertainment, allegory, or insight into human life. We look to the Bible for Truth. And if you think that your source of Truth isn't perfect, how can you trust that it's truthful. I guess for Bob and others like him, the Bible is more about truthiness than Truth.

I posted this as a comment to a couple of his latest blogs at

So, tell me where I fall if I think God is like this:

Angry when His people sin (ex: 1Kings 8:46ff)
Involved in our lives (Matt. 21:22) For us to receive what we pray for, he has to be listening. Not to mention that since He is all loving, and loves all of His people equally, He must be involved in all of our lives. And if not, why do we pray? And that's not to say He's orchestrating every moment, but He's involved.
Longing to forgive us and receive us home (the Prodigal Son, as you mentioned)
Giving endless opportunities to come to Jesus, no matter what we've done (Saul's Conversion)
Ultimately righteous, God will judge everyone, according to their choice to follow Christ (Matt. 11:20-24; 12:36-37; John 5:24-27, etc.)

I'll assume that looking at my list you'll quickly drop me in the authoritarian bucket as a black protestent or white evangelical. I'm sure you'll be surprised to know I'm a black ELCA minister.

You mention in another post that one reason you don't believe in Biblical inerrancy is that the Bible contradicts itself. I think, however, the contradictions speak to the full nature of God.

Jesus was fully God and fully man. That's 100% of each, which is something we can't comprehend. So why is it surprising that the 200% son of God calls us to total acceptance of people and total rejection of sin at the same time? In the same way you can't be 200% anything, you can't have people without sin. But we're called to love people, and hate sin. So we try. We fail, but we press on.

We're also called to confront sin, and love our neighbor. But if we confront a person's sin, they're probably going to be offended and hurt when called on it. Some say that if we hurt them at all, we aren't loving them; but loving another person means leading them to the truth. We can't do that if we posit that loving them means accepting everything they do. The Bible is God's Truth passed through a seive, leaving behind what we are capable of understanding. We should take what He's given us and rely on it, knowing full well that it isn't the Tome of the Full Knowledge of God, but a love story, a biography, and a guidebook.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Ring Around the Rosie

Do you ever wonder why people clap at certain things? Like on the last episode of Friend's, when Chandler and Monica find out they're going to have a girl, the audience applauds. Why? Even the cast wasn't sure. And why do people applaud everyone who speaks in public, except preachers? I understand the sentiment, but it's weird, you know?

And here's the biggie...why do people applaud every time someone insults Christianity, even if it doesn't make sense. On September 12, Rosie O'Donnell said on The View, "Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America where we have separation of church and state."

I won't get into Rosie's comments, because you can find better commentary on that elsewhere. But my question is this: Why did she get three seconds of loud applause when she said it? Why was the audience so on board? Event the other hosts didn't agree (Barbara Walters' mouth was glued shut, and the other two were arguing).

I think that people just like to insult Christians because they aren't Christians. It's something that I think deserves unpacking. From my perspective at this moment, they are looking at us thinking, "You think you're better than me, but we disagree and you're so stubborn that you won't agree with my beliefs, so yours aren't worth hearing. Therefore, I am better than you."

This is something that I may never understand about the political left: If we disagree, I'm the intolerant one, just because I believe in right and wrong. Apparently you are only right if you think nothing is wrong, and the only thing that's wrong is thinking that something could be wrong (and fossil fuels).

Well, there are some things that are wrong. I know it and you know it. They've always been wrong, and will always be wrong. But, the new way of making sin acceptable is to say that it's only considered wrong by the unenlightened, and the civilized thing to do is to accept all behavior as an "alternative lifestyle". Of course, soon enough it will be wrong to consider anything "alternative".

I won't go so far as to say that we'll be living in a world where sin will go completely unchallenged, but Sodom and Gomorrah did exist, and may exist again.

I'm reminded of something I wrote a couple of years ago. Our problem is that we do think we're better. We can't pretend we don't. We can't go to someone and tell them that we have the answer, and not think we're just a tiny bit better because of it.
And it's ok, because we are, but only by that tiny bit. We're sinners in white robes ministering to those in sackcloth.

But there is responsibility here. We are called to love all of God's creation; all people. So we shall. Don't accept their sin, but accept them. Learn to separate the person from the action. Love the person, and show them the Father. Intolerance and exclusion are wrong. Jesus welcomed everyone (IRS agents, lepers, and porn stars), but he told them to stop sinning. The Gospel is ruined when you accept sinful behavior for the sake of political correctness.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Meek or Macho?

I read an article in Details this week about manners. The premise of the article is that manners, for most men, have fallen by the wayside. Deference, courtesy, and awareness of others have been replaced by selfishness, bravado, and the tendency to be oblivious to our surroundings. But the writer challenges the assumption that tough and macho equal "manly".

There's another movement forming in America alongside this one, on the other end of the spectrum. This movement is one that shames men for being men. Apparently masculinity is out. Feminists have found success in berating men for exibiting masculine qualities, while encouraging women to adopt those same traits. This movement has even found its way into the church.

What did Jesus look like? I'm not really worried about race or national origin, but the rest of it. Was he fit or soft? Rugged or delicate? Manly or not? Traditionally Jesus is portrayed as a soft-skinned, gentle, delicate weakling. They don't say it that way, but that's how he comes off. And people use that image of Christ to say that men shouldn't be masculine.

But is that realistic? Think about the things Jesus did...teaching in the synagogues, rebuking storms and demons, clearing the temple. Do you think a soft man, a "nice guy" could clear seedy hustlers and con-men from a city square by himself? Of course not!

Jesus was a man. If I had to guess, I'd say he was a baritone...soothing, yet forceful. A heart for others that was consumed by zeal for the Father. It's true that the meek will inherit the earth, Jesus said so. But Christ's definition is one of humility and submission to God, not a lack of courage or spirit.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Deepening Well of Frustration

Who would have ever thought that the simple, obvious, basic things of Christianity would get questioned to the level they are now?

Things like whether or not we should refer to God as a "him". It seems so simple. Jesus refers to God as the Father. Is a father anything other than a masculine image? Well, no! So why the recent move by some denominations and progressive movements to eliminate that element of the Truth? Of course God isn't a "man" in the conventional sense of the word. He's God! But that doesn't mean he isn't masculine. Looking at his actions throughout the Old and New Testaments, it seems very apparent that he, is a him.

Anyhow, that's just the one that's grinding its teeth in my ear today. What about the authority of scripture? Should we not follow Luther's example and put the Bible above tradition and our own ideas? We have this idea that if we disagree with what we read in the Bible then the Bible must be wrong. What is that? One day soon I'll be able to write this lucidly, but right now I'm so frustrated with some of the things I see and hear in supposedly Christian circles that I'm beside myself. So, here's to calming down...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

God Changed God's Mind Because Moses Asked God To.

I'm working and I really don't have time to be writing this, but I just got back something I wrote and it was edited in a way that allows the removal of "him" in reference to God, and replaces it with "God". It made me so mad that I started looking into why it is so common. I read this fantastic article at The Anchoress. I'm glad there's a woman out there who can see clearly and describe the line of bull that many women accept without question. Anyway, gotta it.