Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Authority and Truth


More Conversations with Bob! My bats.

Holy Blogspace Bob!

Your last response was eight pages single-spaced! Good for you. I asked you to comment on a controversial issue. You know, Bob, if I was retired or in another profession and lived wherever it is you live in Pennsylvania, I would attend your church. I have deep admiration for you. And I am not just blowing smoke. I do. I appreciate your sincerity and the way you carry yourself in conversation.

I would be an annoying attendee, for sure. I would invite you out for a sarsparilla every now and then and tell you where you are full of crap and you would tell me where I am full of crap and we would have a helluva good time.

Bob, I have the same respect for you that you have for Jack Rogers, even as I have not known you as long as you have known him. You and I disagree on certain issues. Big deal. We are brothers in Christ and friends.

You are a far better exegete of scripture than I. Again, no smoke; it is true. You know your Bible, your Reformed Theology, you know your stuff. I, on the other hand, am a fly-by-night. "Hey, check this out! What do you think about this?" I am limited in consistency and coherence.

And the bottom line for me is I really don't care what the Bible or Reformed Theology says about this or that or if its opinion on this or that is presumptuous enough to tell me how to live my life. I can make my own decisions. I am impetuously autonomous and an incorrigible smart-ass.

This means that...
  • if even 500 verses of the Bible and
  • if Jesus himself proclaimed on the Mount of Transfiguration and
  • if Jesus appeared to me on my back deck in the glory of his resuscitated corpse and
stated to me as clearly as the four p.m. sun is hot, that homoerotic love is a sin and that if I support gays and lesbians in their relationships I would join them in the fires of hell, I would look him in his piercing eyes and say (if I had the courage of my convictions):

"Fine then. Send me to your hell. You are wrong, Jesus."

Why? Because I know Tony and Mike. Because I know dozens of other couples and individuals and I know who they are and that what they do is as good and sacred as what anyone else does.

Enough on that.

Bob, when I personally read the Bible I don't see an external authority telling me what is true or how to behave. Something is not true because an authority says it is true. Authority is earned by the truth it tells. The Bible is a mixed bag.

From a practical and a pastoral standpoint, I realize that not all people are as impetuously autonomous as I. Some need to know that an authority such as the Bible affirms them. In those cases, I refer them to Jack Rogers or to Mel White or to this great resource from the Human Rights Campaign.

By the way, I need to tell you how I admire you for supporting Jack Rogers as many of our colleagues who may agree with you on sexuality issues are vilifying him. That is yet one more reason why I respect you, Bob.

We will get through this issue as we have others. Friendship remains.

That is all for today. You gave me some passages to check out. Next time.

I leave us with a poem that I heard today on The Writer's Almanac:

The Mower by Philip Larkin

The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found
A hedgehog jammed up against the blades,
Killed. It had been in the long grass.

I had seen it before, and even fed it, once.
Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world
Unmendably. Burial was no help:

Next morning I got up and it did not.
The first day after a death, the new absence
Is always the same; we should be careful

Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.
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