Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Truth, faith can co-exist in getting of wisdom

I found this pretty interesting article in The Age this morning, there's a couple of very thought-provoking little snippets in there, some of which I've put here. Its a good read.

The church as I know it is a living, flawed entity full of varied, ordinary people who want nothing but good for others as well as themselves and who try to help refugees, the marginalised and those just having a hard time. And who not only haven't stopped searching for answers, but also want to ask the right questions. For instance, asking whether a story from the Bible is historically true isn't a question that is useful to me. I want to know in what context the story was conceived, and what it tells me about the struggle of human beings to understand why we're here and live good lives.

Taking the Bible literally is pointless, for it contains many different stories by many different authors that are easily taken out of context.

The Bible is a profound record of a search for wisdom and of a long struggle over many centuries to reconcile humanity with goodness. And the search didn't end when the Bible's last section was written. So I can't really take seriously someone who believes that the Bible is the inerrant word of God. That argument has been refuted by rigorous scholarship. But that doesn't mean I think scripture has nothing to tell me.

In the end, if all progressive believers quit their religious traditions, it would mean that all religions would be left to the fundamentalists, and there's already too much of that in the world. So though I deplore my church's official positions on women's rights and its hierarchy's frequent flirtations with right-wing politics, it doesn't mean I have become something else. What I have needed to do for myself is to work out what I didn't believe and what I did believe. The former was relatively easy; the latter is taking a lifetime.


Captain Best said...

This stuff, I don't care what other people say, i agree with. We talked about it in our Vetamorphus group last year. The Bible really tells us more about humanity and its struggle to understand God, than the rules and guidelines of life. Although I do think many aspects of the bible are more than just that, but still have to be taken into context, as it was written such a long time ago. In Veta, we also wondered about just somebody like Paul. Would he be turning in his grave to know that people were following his every word? For example, in the book of Romans, was Paul writing to the world, telling us how to live, or was he giving his advice to the Romans? This question has an obvious answer, but I think many people who read the bible nowadays get that answer wrong.

Mitch k said...

Agree with "Bible really tells us more about humanity and its struggle to understand God" but I also think it has many guidelines and good advice on how to live life. All must be taken in context though, and taking things word for word will not help our cause, instead just confusing us more. I think there is much we can learn from Pauls writing in Romans as long as we take it in context. I still think its the best hand book on how to live life :-p

Owl said...

"Heaven and Earth will pass away, but my words, never" said Jesus, in three gospels. Good enough for me.

Miss Mase said...

Yeah I'm with you, owl! :P I don't really have a determined answer in my mind as to whether i think the Bible is flawless. (funny, some of my study this week was on this subject!). Basically, i think it's much more complicated than that! Context changes so much, and sure, the humans who wrote the Bible were flawed, however, as is obvious, God is in no way limited or held back by humanity, and He has, in my life, used His Word countless times to feed into my spirit, encourage me, give me life, and give me hope when i've felt that things are hopeless. I don't care whether ppl see the Bible as inerrant or not, I trust in God's power to use it for His purposes...it's alive! :p And i'd rather go more hardcore on what it says than i need to, than go lax and miss out on anything, or live not as close to God's standards as i could.
A few random thoughts, don't even know if i addressed the actual point! :P lol.
thanks for the thoughts digs,
love mase.

Digger said...

Argh, so annoying, wrote a big reply to this, then it didn't work. So lets see if this one works...

Digger said...

Woo, yeah it did!

So, my thoughts.
Actually, Captain Best, I don't c the Bible being about humanity's struggle to understand God, and guidelines for life, as that different.
We learn from how other people struggled to know and follow God, look at God revealed in Jesus, and we see where we can go with our life.
So yeah, pretty much what Mitch said! (Good summary mate!)

And I don't think that the fact that Paul was writing specifically to the Romans means that God can't then use those words to teach and inspire us.

When it comes to using those words to formulate doctrine, getting into the context stuff becomes a whole lot more important...

Yeah interesting point owl-but would you say that reading that in context would lead us to believe Jesus was talking about what we now know as the Bible? Cos to be honest, I don't. Jesus' words yes, whole Bible-prob not.

Digger said...

And yeah, loved what u said MAse about God not being held back by flawed humans, so true! Otherwise I'd never achieve anything in ministry!

I tend to be a bit the same Mase, not to fussed if people wanna be tight-arse about it and try prove or dis-prove its inerrancy and that, God speaks to me thru it, so thats sweet.

But as I said before, when you start getting into the areas of studying it and not just using it for our own personal walk, but for everybody's, then it gets confusing! But its still worth doing!

Captain Best said...

I really didn't want to give the opinion that I think the Bible lacks value in any way, like I thought my comment may have come across. And I don't claim to have any theological authority in what I say, either. I think the Bible is an invaluable book that can teach us heaps heaps heaps about life, God, and otehr people's understanding of God. But what I do belive, is not that the bible (e.g. Paul's letter to the Romans)was not written for us, and hence, in not revelant for us, my thought was rather, that it was not written to us, so we shgouldn't read it like it's written to us. We should read it, and look at it, as if it was written to the Romans, and see what stuff is in there that help us, now. What stuff is relevant to us, now, what stuff is not? These are the questions I think should be asked of writings like this in the Bible. I hope what I'm saying makes sense, and portrays how I feel, because I'm not sure if it does. And I think I'm slowly confusing myself by trying to give my opinion as a comment on a blog, but oh well, at least I'm trying!

Digger said...

Na na thats makes a lot of sense C.B. I like it.

Especially not reading it as though it was written to us, when it clearly wasn't. Cheers

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