Shuck and Jive

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

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A Devil's Advocate Reads the Bible

More Conversations with Bob!


Very thoughtful and thorough exegesis of those four sample texts
. I am going to respond first as devil's advocate then how I really think.

Women. The church has clearly interpreted this passage and others at face value. This passage from Paul's letter is clear. The worship space is public where men will do the talking. The history of interpretation is on my side. The Pope is not female. Neither is the president of the Southern Baptist Convention. If that changes then we will have left the biblical witness. Women, keep your silence. This is the Word of God.

Slavery. Only recently has the church shunned the biblical witness on slavery. Slavery is clearly God-ordained throughout the scriptures beginning with the curse of Noah. There are God-ordained roles. Some are slaves, some are free. We are one in Christ in a spiritual sense, but there are roles for men and women, slave and free. Christ is coming soon, but until then, slaves obey your masters (or you poor, be satisfied with your wages). This is the Word of God.

Jews. The history of the church is clear that the Jews are responsible for the death of Jesus. They will be either converted or exterminated by God's loving hand through Christians, God's instruments. This is the Word of God.

War. YHWH is a God of War. YHWH's enemies are our enemies. The history of the church has been clear about that as well. Christ holds the sword of judgment. We are his holy warriors. Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross. This is the Word of God.

You can do a lot of exegetical gymnastics, Bob, but the witness of the church has been pretty consistent on these topics. You may satisfy the liberals who have given into the culture and no longer find the Bible binding, but not true believers who believe what the Bible says, the Word of God, every word, especially when it is as clear as a bell.

Devil's Advocate

Me again, Bob. I would have to agree with the Devil's Advocate for those who insist that the Bible is the Word of God.

Since I do not think the Bible is the Word of God, these four texts are easy for me. They are bad texts. I have no need to defend them or to explain them. They reflect sinfulness, ignorance, and unjust power relations. They are not truthful. They are false. They are lies. They are bad texts. They are in the Bible. I don't need to remove them from the Bible. In fact, they are helpful in regards to understanding issues of their day. But they certainly have no authority for me today. They certainly do not speak for God, at least in my opinion.

It is kind of nice to say that, you know?

All right, Bob. Here is my bottom line. This is my opinion based on observation and conversation over the years. The real reason I see a need for people to defend bad texts by saying 'the texts are not bad only the interpretation of them is bad,' is so that they don't lose the Bible's supposed "authority." If we admitted the obvious, that a text is simply bad, then we wouldn't have to engage in complex schemes of interpretation to show that it isn't bad, it is just someone else's interpretation of it that is bad. But if we did that, of course, we could not use the Bible as a source of authority for some other point of view that we hold dear, or for a prejudice we do not wish to relinquish.

You knew this was coming. How do you interpret the following?

Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.' John 14:6
You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. Leviticus 18:22

For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error. Romans 1:26-27

The Word of God?