Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Tub, Two...

Continuing from the last post...

The Tale of the Tub was a broadside against those who did what they wanted to do and then went to the Scripture to find justification for it. Such twisting of scripture is done equally by the religious right and the religious left. This is a form of scholasticism -- we go to the scriptures to bolster our arguments about what we want to be true ("scholasticism" is a broad term and this is only part of what it covers). When Pat Robertson claims that hurricanes are a sign of God's disfavor he may run to the Bible to bring out plague and storm stories, but he doesn't check the passages that show God's faithful people caught in the middle of trials, storms, pain, and disease. He has a point and he wants to push it.

When people want to be seen as erudite and urbane, up to date in their mores and science they can find lots of stuff in the Bible that isn't there! Theistic evolution (and permission to ridicule creationists), elastic views of inspiration (and permission to ridicule those who believe in inerrancy), and so forth can be found in scripture the same way the sons in "The Tale of a Tub" found hidden permission to change their coats for every season, at every whim.

The Amish can find rules against the use of electricity or zippers. Churches of Christ (my tribe) have often found rules against hair styles, song styles, wearing crosses, etc. that change as culture changes. Examples of this abound across the denominational spectrum.

So... if everybody's doing it, is it all right? Not even a little bit. In "The Tale of the Tub" the Father's will was only examined to see if they could find a way to do what they wanted to do, when the will is there to show what the Father wanted done. While we may differ on issues here and there, we must approach scripture -- not to alter it -- but to be altered by it. That will pull us left and right to get us back into position.

An example: a recent poster indicated that changing views of women's roles in the church were due to a more enlightened view of God at work in society. In some churches that may be the case. I know that our elders at Rochester (God bless them!) studied the issue very, very deeply over a two year period. It consumed them. They brought in experts in Greek, in Church History, and in Theology. They read a ton of books. They prayed and searched the scriptures, not for permission to do what they wanted, but to find what the Lord wanted. At the end they decided they had been wrong to place some of the limits we have traditionally placed on women and those were lifted so that they would remain true to the scripture. Other limits remained in place because it seemed that was what Scripture said. It is not a closed issue as they are still studying -- willing to be altered by the Word again.

Some will search the Bible to find ways to condemn more praise centered worship. They scoff and call it "entertainment." In my searching of scripture (I'm not done!) I can find nothing against being 'entertained' by our worship. In fact, even those who rail against entertainment are, themselves, entertained by their favorite songs, favorite speaker, favorite prayers, and favorite subjects. Searching the scriptures for what we want to find breeds division. Searching it to see what God wants allows for greater diversity among us (see particularly Romans 14 and 15) and a more stable community.

If we are to be honest in our dealings with Scripture (and our history and nature) we have to approach God and His Book as students, ready to learn, ready to be rebuked, ready to repent, and ready to rejoice. Ready -- in short -- to be obedient to the will; unwilling to twist it to ours.

11 Comments:

At 1/25/2006 10:33:00 AM , Blogger DJG said...

Beautifully expressed.

 
At 1/25/2006 11:43:00 AM , Blogger David U said...

Sounds like you have some wonderful Shepherds, Patrick! What a blessing, huh? Thanks for your encouragement! It really raises my blood pressure to see folks making scripture fit their theology, instead of having their theology fit scripture. Our fellowship is guilty, as is ALL other fellowships. It is in our DNA to want to be our own God.

Love you bro!
DU

 
At 1/25/2006 12:00:00 PM , Anonymous renee cutts said...

If you wouldn't mind sharing what your church found on your studies on women, I would greatly appreciate it. I was recently asked by the college students on a forum what I thought on that subject. I did the best I could to get into the scriptures with an open mind and let them guide me rather than what I knew from being taught over the years, but at the end, I was caught between the two. I can send you my address via email and/or send you a paid envelope or if it can be sent via email that's fine, too. I really want to understand these issues better. I don't have Greek or Hebrew experts to consult. I'd like to give the best guidance I can to these students. I'm not sure our church is ready to tackle that issue, its not been an important focus and maybe never will, but just in case...

 
At 1/25/2006 01:11:00 PM , Blogger That Girl said...

It's all on us. We can't place blame on anyone else. I am responsible for my relationship with God and others. I have got to get to know Him more.

 
At 1/25/2006 01:12:00 PM , Blogger Lee Hodges said...

You smote the nail precisely on the head my brother! Thank you.

 
At 1/25/2006 01:59:00 PM , Blogger Mark said...

Oh, so you Michiganers let the ladies ask questions in class now? That is some progress!

 
At 1/25/2006 02:41:00 PM , Blogger Carole said...

Good insight Mr. Mead! Now I have to get ahold of the book. I have always enjoyed the author (although I do think he's a bit disturbed sometimes) but this one on church (I can skip politics) would be enjoyable. Thanx!

 
At 1/25/2006 02:52:00 PM , Blogger Random Thoughts said...

Preach on brother, preach on!
Dave

 
At 1/25/2006 03:33:00 PM , Blogger Kirsten said...

I think my father might have been Pat Robertson's brother, long lost. Or at least, they had the same tendency to misuse and misrepresent scripture. Sad thing, my father was more violent about it, where at least Pat still sometimes seems like a nice person! Good post Patrick.

Also, thank you for the comment on my blog. I can't tell you how burdened I am and feeling some shame too at being in the situation I am. But it helps to know I am not completely alone. And God has always kept His promises to me in the past, I know He will come through this time too...just maybe not in "my time"!

 
At 1/26/2006 10:48:00 AM , Blogger Jason Coriell said...

You make a strong point about the proper use of Scripture. It is impressive to see that your Elders brought in experts in biblical languages, history, and theology. It is evident that our principles of biblical interpretation (hermeneutics) are of great importance, yet I find that many folks are resistant to discussing these principles directly. This resistance is something I do not fully understand.

It seems to me that so many of the differences among the "tribes" boil down to hermeneutical issues, yet rarely are such issues acknowledged directly. We all tend to go our separate ways citing "the plain teachings of Scripture." This has puzzled me for years.

 
At 1/26/2006 12:32:00 PM , Blogger Josh.Graves said...

To the mystery "poster" Mark--the elders decided that it was appropriate to have women participate in any activity of the church save preaching and serving as an elder.

We are slowly but surely taking steps in that direction. For some, we're moving too fast. For others, we're not moving fast enough.

We are admitting that women have been leading our churches for a long time, but the men who've been so bent on power games had to hold on the mantle of power, leaving many women battered emotionally and spiritually in their arrogant wake.

We have women serving as ministry leaders (trying to delete the word deacon from our vocab as it has become an office and not a description as seen in the NT) as well as teaching classes. I'm quiet sure you were posting in fun--but I want to make sure the women in our Rochester Community know how valued and appreciated they are.

 

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