Thursday, March 23, 2006

“God said it. I believe it. That settles it.”

I think that most of us have seen that bumper sticker at some point in our lives and I am sure that many of us found it unsettling. When I hear someone speak about scripture in that manner, I assume that they regard Scripture as a pile of propositional bricks with which they can build their house or, perhaps, they think of it as an ideational 2 x 4 with which they can smack those who disagree with them over the head. So I’m completely uncomfortable with that kind of absolutist, propositional approach.

But I am still quite willing to do something simply because “the Bible told me so.” Is that a contradiction?

I think not. But in order for me to submit my life to Scripture in such a manner, I’ve had to alter my metaphors. I no longer look at Scripture as 66 old piles of propositional bricks, but as the record of how God, through the Holy Spirit, has and is shaping his people to worship Him, love one another and incarnate his presence in the world. Since I believe that the same Spirit that inspired the Scriptures and has shaped God’s people throughout history is still moving within and shaping both me and my community, I do not hesitate to submit my life to the Scriptures. So, in the end, I am still willing to do things “because the Bible said so.” But my motives for doing so are a bit different now than they were in the past.

I don’t know if this makes any sense at all. This kind of topic deserves more careful treatment, but I don’t have the time to offer that right now. Just thought I’d let you know what I’m thinking.


g13 said...

i'm offering $5 to the first LCCer who can identify the person who proudly displayed this bumper sticker on their vehicle.

kidpositive said...

although you say you do things "because the Bible told you so", i don't necessarily think that's true. i think there's a nother huge part of your life, your general perspective on life, that leads you to do many of the things that are in agreement with the Bible. but, we tend to hide those sorts of input from our self-analysis, and therefore begin to think we do things only because the Bible says so.

maybe i'm wrong. maybe there are things in your life that you do purely because the Bible says so, and for no other reason. but i have a hard time believing that.

g13 said...

like i said, this requires further thought, analysis and clarification. thanks for initiating dialogue.

i'm not saying "because the Bible said so" is the only reason. i'm saying that the same Spirit who shaped reality and inspired the Scriptures moves me towards living in ways that are remarkably consistent with Scriptural teaching. of course, i'm not always pliable in regards to the movement of the Spirit, but that's another issue altogether.

kidpositive said...

right on. but honestly, this should come as no surprise. i mean, the same physical mechanisms have been mediating gravity for thousands of years, so why would we expect any other inconsistency in a world created by God? everything that science has been discovering tells us that there is a deep structure to the universe, and that ultimately things adhere to that structure. so, in a way, i see "guidance by the Spirit" as no more than humans falling in line with this sort of deep structure. since the structure exists, then the only things that will survive and flourish are those things which adhere to the structure.

i view the Bible as a historical document. not scientifically historical in the sense that it contains hard "facts" that should always hold true, but rather as a historical record of Jewish culture over many years. as my perspective on the Bible has grown in this area, i've gained a new appreciation for how to read it. i look at scripture and realize that it was written in a specific time, when the people involved had a specific knowledge, and used a specific language. i realize that the "truth" they were experiencing at that time was filtered through these cultural factors. so, when i read, i try to interpret through these factors, and bring it into my current context, so that I can see how that core truth blooms into the context of my life. (i know, also, that you hold this same perspective).

holding the Bible in an esteem such that we view it as THE container of truth is VERY, VERY dangerous. not only is it dangerous, but it is antithetical to the very content of the Bible. Scripture seems fairly clear that the truth of God is something that is boundless and evident to all men. why, then, do we attempt to control that truth by constraining it ONLY to Scripture? this only sets up a false idol, for then the Bible becomes equivalent to God. it's the Holy Spirit, not the holy Bible, that is the third member of the trinity.

g13 said...

i concur sir! at the same time, i must admit that it has taken me a long time to move past the Bible as propositional bricks idea.

in other news, i've been struggling with asthma attacks all day, so if i sound irrational, please credit it to the reduced amount of oxygen that's flowing into my brain.

Jason Ardell said...

The reason that statement is unsettling to me is that it comes along with a heaping spoonfull of arrogance. Something else that God told you to do was "do all these things in love", and the "I'm better than you" stance of the church just won't cut it; Christ knew this.

I like the discussion on idolizing the bible, and kid you're right on about creating being structured and consistent, and Romans 1:20 tells us that creation resounds the glory of God. I have to assume that His truth is part of this resounding.

hawk said...

Jeff, my temptation is to start rambling with other wonderful bumper sticker evangelism quips! But, that would devolve a good discussion pretty quickly...

it seems that our "willing to do" submission comes from a convergence of revelation. How many times do we read something (probably still [at least for me] propositionally) recognize (or convicted) about what is revealed, but are not moved to action or change? Although I don't agree with his premise, I enjoyed Howard Gardner's book "Changing Minds" because he talks (through his grid of multiple intelligences) about the convergence of influences that must take place for us to fundamentally change the way we think about and consequently act upon new information.

g13 said...

a convergence of revelation...that's an excellent way to think about things. i'm going to be chewing on that concept for a while.

let's get together soon, hawk. give me a call.