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Category: Evangelical

Scripture Alone

Day after day. #Newberg

Sola Scriptura. It’s a popular phrase with evangelical Christians, claiming that there’s nothing more important than the Bible. It’s a comforting kind of blasphemy. And that’s the problem: This concept turns our worship into a farce. Can any thinking person justify putting scripture on a pedestal above God and his ability to speak directly to his people? God didn’t write the Bible. People wrote it. People like Moses and David and Peter and Paul. People with problems. And these people had a specific audience in mind. They weren’t writing letters and histories and poetry to us. Some of it was written for the Israelites. Some of it was written as personal reflection or as prayer. Some of it was written to a band of Christians in Corinth or in Rome or in Ephesus. None of those people are us.

I believe that what was written about God was, is and always will be absolutely true. But the truth presented in scripture is limited by the author’s perspective (experience of truth), and it is limited by the intended audience (the particular truth that the author felt that group needed to hear).

Paul told the Corinthians that women shouldn’t speak in church. But he told the Galatians that men and women are equal in the eyes of God (implying that they should also be equal in the eyes of believers). Moses told the Israelites to abstain from pork. But Luke records in Acts that Peter had a dream in which a voice from heaven gave him permission to take and eat the other white meat.

Most Christians take this and say, “Oh, that’s because the new covenant replaces the old covenant.” But Jesus disagreed. He made it clear that not one stroke of the pen would be removed from the Law. He never replaced anything. Instead, Jesus asked us to rethink our concept of what is true and what isn’t. He asked us to consider God’s intent rather than trying to literally follow every regulation. He pointed out that the problem with literal interpretation of scripture is that it is almost always done for the sake of finding loopholes, not because we want to know God.

Sola scriptura is a farce. We would do well to put scripture in its place and get back to worshiping the one true God.

the problem with literal interpretation of scripture is that it is almost always done for the sake of finding loopholes

Where Is the Threat?

- Most solutions are of their time - #Newberg #excellent_lensflare - A frien

A friend of mine is struggling to figure out what is truth and what is trash in popular belief. But his efforts to wrestle with real issues have won him few friends among his Christian peers.

“I guess what bothers me about religion and a lot of people in religions is that they completely block out what I have to say just because I have different views, and they refuse to listen to my logic.”

People simply try to argue him out of his way of thinking rather than seriously considering whether he has anything worthwhile to offer.

That kind of Christianity has always seemed foreign to me (and a little bit hypocritical). After all, if we believe that God gave us minds, then why wouldn’t we expect or allow people to use them? How come that’s such a threat to our faith (unless there isn’t really any substance to the stuff that we claim to believe)?

But while I was thinking about my friend’s struggle, I realized something about my own relationships: People, who aren’t religious, are just as close-minded (set in their beliefs about politics and success and how to act in public). I wonder if that kind of thinking — where every question has a right answer that must be defended — is part of our culture more than it is a religious idea or problem.

If this is a purely cultural phenomenon, then it is possible to be religious or not religious without a defensive mindset. It is possible to go against the grain without losing your religion. In the same sense, it is possible to resist culture without getting converted.

Maybe we need to go back to the basics, question the foundation on which we’ve built belief. The structure might not be as sound as we imagine. And a rigid system will never serve us well for long because it can’t account for future experience. Because our present foundation is built on what we know, it can’t lead us to the places where we haven’t yet been.

So let’s drop our defenses. Let’s open our minds. Let’s watch and listen for the workings of God in this world. Let’s treat our friends and neighbors as equals, created in the image of God. They have much to teach us.

Let’s treat our friends and neighbors as equals, created in the image of God. They have much to teach us.

Search for Holiness

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A friend and I discussed last night the tendency of evangelical Christianity to preach the inherent sinfulness of man, to make the claim that people, who experience grace, will be changed into something new. But the prospective pitfall of such belief is the realization that perfection (a worthy goal) is always just beyond our reach. So we become a people, impatient with seemingly impossible standards, who stop looking forward, start looking back, comparing ourselves to those who lag behind.

We define ourselves by what we’re not. And in the process, we become judgmental, self-satisfied with how much closer we are to perfection than the world’s sinners. We cultivate an attitude of intolerance, which makes us intolerable.

During this talk, there came to light another possible perspective. If we were created in God’s image, doesn’t it make sense that we are, at heart, perfect? That sinful nature — rather than a central problem — is nothing more than a veil we wear? If this is true, there remains no need for comparison to the world’s sinners. Instead of looking out, we must seek within, focus on the perfection with which we have already been gifted, the perfection that is masked (but never diminished) by our sin.

The path to holiness, then, becomes a letting go of petty possessions, dreams and desires. We strip ourselves of everything that isn’t us. And in this, we finally find the fullness of perfection to which we have been called and for which we were created.

This is freedom.

We define ourselves by what we’re not.

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