Thursday, January 3, 2008

Things I don't like

I find when I will talk to people about what they believe, or more importantly for this discussion, things they don't believe, something, quite often the reason given is because of "like". I've come across people who deny that Christ is physically present in the Supper because they don't like the idea - not because of any argument based on Scripture, but because they don't like the notion.

There are plenty of things in Scripture, plenty of doctrines that I don't like. I don't like, for one, the concept of hell. I don't like the idea that there will be those who are sent to hell - that God the Judge will say to some, "Depart from Me, I never knew you." This probably will apply to several family members, several friends - I don't like it. Now, I could try to avoid this teaching, I could try to sugar coat it - but if I do so I am avoiding something in Scripture. Consciously. There are those who do so. There are universalists, who believe all will eventually be saved. There are those who believe the wicked just cease to exist (there is no real hell). There are those who refuse to say that God would never send someone to hell or punish them (maybe God will let people punish themselves). But that doesn't mesh with Scripture.

Which gets me to thinking. How often is false doctrine based simply on the fact that we don't like something. We don't like having to rely on others, so instead of giving credit to Christ for our salvation, we look to and even create "good works" that we do that help out. We don't like the fact that in this life God would allow suffering, so we:
A: Deny that God would allow the righteous to suffer (a la Islam with Jesus not really being crucified).
B: Determine that if we just do the right things or pray the right pray our lives will be full of blessings (ah, the joys of American Protestantism)
C: Claim that perhaps God isn't involved, rather He is just watching us from a distance (Diests, or Bette Midler).
Yet we are told to take up our cross and follow Him, which implies suffering. But we don't like it.

So here is my question to you. It's not a perfect check, but are there things about your beliefs which you don't "like" - which you sort of wish were another way. If there aren't, you might want to think some things through again and examine yourself in light of Scripture. (Note: this isn't a perfect system - no one likes being a Calvinist, but there is false doctrine there too) All too often we want to be "like God" and be the boss, and we will even determine that our way of doing thigns is better than the one He revealed in Scripture. Oh well, thus is life.


Doorman-Priest said...

You're probably going to hate me for this: my own sense of this is about the authority of scripture. In the end it all comes down to that.

Are we dealing with a document, warts and all, that is 100% the inspired word of God, or is it the word of God interpreted through the writers with their own cultural and historical gloss?

Does Holy scripture, or parts of it, need to be reevaluated for each new generation to see how it needs to be applied. After all we've lost polygamy and slavery, we are changing our attitude to the role of women in ministry and then there is the whole human sexuality thing. It is my observation that following certain scriptural tennets has left us on the wrong side of both history and morality in the past as Christiany adapts to changing circumstances (often belatedly)in different times.

I am not going to lay the culture and morality of first century Christianity over my life in 2008 and I for one have ditched all of Leviticus. You either have to ditch it all as Old Testament teaching not compatible with Christianity or you have to stuggle to apply it all - and justify that. You can't be selective and pick and choose. I eat pork, I wear glasses and serve at the altar, I wear clothes of mixed fabric and I don't expect to be stoned to death.

So maybe the question should be "What are the essential articles of faith?" Now there's a question!

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

See, with that I think you are missing the entire point of the Old Testament Ceremonial law - the Ceremonial law is not "the way God wants things done" - rather, it was stuff that would pull Israel out of the common culture of the day - things that would seperate them from the people around them. Israel would do things differently - so as to be a reminder to Israel and also to the rest of the world that the Messiah would could.

That's it. That was the point. Now, there are questions of what is actually part of God's moral law - and that we need to obey. For example - Slavery. Slavery isn't mandated or commanded - God doesn't give slavery a thumbs up - but what is taught. If you or I get captured and enforced into slavery - we ought to serve well, so that through our service we might show forth the light of Christ. That hasn't changed.

Also - the whole role of women thing - a lot of this is due to a lack of understanding of the ancient world. Take women and head coverings - head coverings aren't pieces of cloth - your head covering is your hair. Why were the women of Corinth supposed to keep their hair? Because Corinth was a center of Isis worship - where the priestess of Isis were prostitutes who shaved their head. This was sort of a popular look - but Paul says, "Hey, don't dress like a tart or a hooker, that's not a good use of your freedom."

Two other things are brought up. First, human sexuality. We don't need to change that, and we shouldn't. There is a right time and place for sexual intercourse - and that is within the bonds of marriage - man and woman. Is homosexual practice right? No. It's no more right than guy and girl pre-marital sex or guy and girl affairs. That's it. I think too many people will over play homosexuality -- look, you could be stoned for this in the old testament - so could you for having a normal affair - relax a bit - it's just a sin. A sin, but still, just a sin - don't do it, struggle against your flesh.

(Side note - some will say, "But if people are made this way, how can it be wrong?" My reply. I'm part Swedish. There is part of me that, for lack of a better description, would like to sample darn near every woman that walks by. Shall I indulge and say, "Eh, I'm just a dirty Swede?" No - I must struggle against the desires of the flesh so that I can bear proper witness to the new life that is within me. Same way with those who are attracted to those of their own gender.)

Finally - with women in the ministry - No. Scripture says so. But, but, but why? Why would God wontonly eliminate 50% of the possible pastors. First - we ought remember that no one has the "right" to be a minister - it is a calling, and thus not something you take up of your own accord, not a utilization of your rights. Second - why does God limited it to men? I don't know exactly - some will say "order of creation" and the fact that it is the responsibility of men to preach and teach. I suppose. Some will say, "It is Christological - Christ is not just human - but He is a male, a Man, so we have men in that role to assert the actuality of the Incarnation." Perhaps. Perhaps it even is just another one of those things that Christians are going to be different on. There was a long, pagan history of priestess - who were often prostitutes. Perhaps this is just a giant way of God saying, "Thou shalt not go there - ever. Worship isn't about seduction, the beauty of the female form, carnal pleasure, or anything else that you stinking men think of when you look at a woman!" But, whatever the full reasoning of God is - I trust in what He says.

That's the thing - if you put yourself over Scripture - if you pick and choose and put judgments on what is written - how will you have peace? What else should go? What if you aren't enlightened enough to properly see past some cultural mistake? But be under Scripture - that is my advice.

You can still be a civilized human being and be under scripture. You can still question some past interpretations that are flawed - but be faithful to the Word. Thus my recommendation.

I don't hate you for this - I just think it is sad. Most of my family is ELCA - and I've seen what this type of approach to Scripture has done to them, the needless angst it brings.

Doorman-Priest said...

I take your point, but I'm not actaully sure, having read both comments again, that we are actually very far apart at all.

Not experiencing any angst, needless or otherwise, on this issue I have to say. The angst came from struggling with the things I believed I was bound by.

I still think you are avoiding the wholesale problem of the Levitical injunctions. Are we to pick and choose, and if so who is the arbiter? Or are we to adopt or reject the lot?

Nice to discuss with you.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

While I don't know if I would absolutely say that I throw everything in Leviticus out - in practicality I don't run to Leviticus when seeking to discuss morality or the like. I look at the New Testament.

I don't forbid one from having a tattoo and I enjoy a cheese burger. If a guy dies, I don't instruct his brother to impregnate his wife. If you want to know what is vital to morality - look at Paul, who is writing to Gentiles - here is what you, who haven't grown up following Leviticus, need to know.

Now, are there many parallels between what I think it right and wrong and what is present in Leviticus - sure. But Leviticus isn't the guide.

Doorman-Priest said...

Glad to hear it. (I missed the section on tattooing - fortunately for me!)

Sorry there isn't a realistic possibility of us ever meeting as I would enjoy talking to you.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Why not? I have friends who live in London. This means if I travel to London, I don't have to pay for a hotel - which lowers the cost of vacationing quite a bit. I was in London in the summer of '06 - I had been intending to go to the US Northwest (Seattle, Portland) - but a friend and I found good deals on tickets, which actually made going to London cheaper.

Doorman-Priest said...

Just let me know.....