Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Perfect Plot Pt. 2

Yes, so here goes another one of those boring posts. Sorry. Maybe I'll get around to posting something interesting one of these days...

I was reading through a couple posts ago and realized what a crumby job I did explaining things, so I thought we'd try this again.

I realized how often I throw out the phrase "read the Bible as a whole" but fail to really explain what I mean by that. Everyone will agree that you should read the Bible as a whole - after all, it is one book, but I think a lot of people don't understand what that truly means. Assuming you read (and if you didn't, don't feel like you have to :-P) part one of this topic, I'm going to hopefully assume that you understand that I believe that everything in the OT points to the Christ event and does not manifest itself in the modern-day Christian.

I'm just going to look at Steve's comments on part one (thanks, Steve!) and attempt (I'll probably end up flubbing this quest) to answer and explain some of the questions. Steve, don't feel like I'm picking on you. :)

"Now, with that in mind, do you believe that verses can't be quoted, or sections of scripture memorized or meditated upon, for fear of taking them out of context?"

No, I don't believe that. I believe that we should memorize, have quiet meditation, and read selections of the Bible; however, there is a danger in doing that that we must be aware of.

1) If we cut a portion out of the Bible and don't have anything surrounding it, we're going to miss-interpret it. Prophesies that were being foretold about Israel will suddenly seem as if they're being told about us, and laws that applied to the Israel before the Christ Event will seem as if they're applying to us.
2) We tend to want to apply everything to ourselves and will apply those things if not understood in their proper context (not to say we shouldn't be doing a lot of the things in the Bible -but hey! that's living the law of love). However, we do have to remember that Christ fulfilled all the Torah and the whole OT for that matter.
3) People will get what they want out of the Bible. We've all seen how two people can interpret a passage two completely different ways. It's only natural because (unfortunately) we all come to the Bible with a mind that already has decided what it's going to find in it. This can lead to major problems, particularly in "proof-text battles" where two people are finding verses to fight each other with. Because of this, many people think that the Bible contradicts itself over and over. Not so. It has to be read and understood in relationship to how and when it takes place in the unfolding of the renewal of all things.
4) Christianity will (yet again!) look like lists of do's and don'ts. Many times when Christians are feeling down, they'll find a random verse that really helps them pull through. I'm totally all for that person being able to find comfort in a verse, but many times if the person had understood the Bible correctly in the first place, they wouldn't need to find a verse to help them at all. Just seeing God's faithfulness throughout everything and living in faith would be enough to help that person through. Don't think I'm being cruel in saying that a hurt person can't find comfort in the Bible. What I'm saying is that a Christian's ups and downs are all because the Christian doubted God. Whatever made that person think that God was not with them? Was it because they didn't have enough time to do their devotions that morning? If so, not true. Since when does God's grace depend on something we do?

Having said all of that, yes, I do believe that a Christian should meditate on passages and memorize. However, the Christian should be very careful not to fall into one of those traps.

"Another question that would pop out of this conversation, in the realm of Biblical theology, does the bible need to be re-organized to be chronologically accurate?"

No, but everything in the Bible must be understood in relationship to whether it came before or after the Christ event. If it came before, we should see how that thing points to Christ and how Christ fulfilled it, and if it comes after, we should see how it shows the outworking of the restoration.

"You made the point that since our human minds are corrupt and fallible, that our human reasoning is susceptible to make the wrong assumptions about scripture. I agree, however, aren't you depending on the mind to correctly assess "how the Bible fits together " even while using the system of Biblical theology?"

In some ways yes, and in some ways no. It is true that we must use our minds to understand things and that yes indeed, we are fallen and will therefore have holes in our thinking. However, I think letting the Bible interpret itself in the order of how it presents itself is much more fool-proof than taking it and applying it to ourselves. At some point, we are going to have to believe something. We can't just go around thinking nothing is the truth. We do know for sure that the Bible is the truth, and we have a lot better chance of interpreting it correctly if we let it interpret itself by leaving behind our preconceived notions (which is impossible to do :S). It's so, so hard to go to the Bible and try to understand what it means without all your years of getting something else ingrained into you interpreting it for you. But that's where we must have faith that God, through his mercy, is allowing us to grow and mature and to learn about him by his Spirit.

I was going to put all of this as a comment, but I realized how long it was, so I get a free post out of it! Thanks for the discussion, guys.

7 comments:

Steven said...

Boy, when my comments were italicized they look all smart-like!

Thanks for answering the questions!


I found your point #3 to be quite interesting. “This can lead to major problems, particularly in "proof-text battles" where two people are finding verses to fight each other with.” I find this interesting because of a few “lectures” ago when you were talking about love. I often wonder if more of these “battles” come out of a lack of true Christian love. It often seems like people are more willing to beat each-other over the head with a proof text instead of being willing to listen, learn, and possibly even be corrected. Anyway, just a thought.


In point #4, you lead to the idea of a Christian’s doubt, perhaps lack of faith. I know that I do lack faith; I obviously don’t have even as much faith as the mustard seed, but is this really the root cause of my roller coaster of a Christian walk? Is it because I doubt God’s power, or is it because I have not been faithful in my walk with Christ? Are my ups and downs more related to my relationship with my maker, or my lack of belief in his power?


Who knows if any of that made sense. I should stop commenting before I say something that makes me looks stupid.

thekingpin68 said...

'Yes, so here goes another one of those boring posts. Sorry. Maybe I'll get around to posting something interesting one of these days...'

Wonderful self-promotion.;)

'I'm going to hopefully assume that you understand that I believe that everything in the OT points to the Christ event and does not manifest itself in the modern-day Christian.'

GGM where are you?;)

'1) If we cut a portion out of the Bible and don't have anything surrounding it, we're going to miss-interpret it. Prophesies that were being foretold about Israel will suddenly seem as if they're being told about us, and laws that applied to the Israel before the Christ Event will seem as if they're applying to us.'

Good point, Abbey. You should send a letter to a few televangelists.

'3) People will get what they want out of the Bible. We've all seen how two people can interpret a passage two completely different ways. It's only natural because (unfortunately) we all come to the Bible with a mind that already has decided what it's going to find in it.'

Yes, and as I tell people on and offline this is why the use of commentaries and background studies along with the Bible (studied in context) is very important in Christian studies.

Russ:)

Great Googly Moogly! said...

"GGM where are you?;)"

I'm letting others have a turn...and it's killing me! :-)

Abbey said...

"Boy, when my comments were italicized they look all smart-like!"

LOL - Thanks for taking the time (and brain juice!) to actually think and comment. It's like SWEET! Dude. Like. Totally.

"I often wonder if more of these “battles” come out of a lack of true Christian love. It often seems like people are more willing to beat each-other over the head with a proof text instead of being willing to listen, learn, and possibly even be corrected."

You're probably right. However, these proof text battles wouldn't even have to happen if people understood how the Bible fit together in the first place. Also, I think a lot of people do truly think they are showing genuine love by thwacking (I love that word!) them over the head. Everyone believes they are right (obviously), and they want everyone else to understand how right they are. It's kind of a mixed thing between just wanting to be right and thinking they're showing true love. I've finally realized, though, that people aren't going to change their doctrine unless they're ready (and decided on their own that they're ready) to change. Only then. However, this shouldn't be an issue because our great commonality is in Christ (and only Christ), and if we try to find a commonality in anything else, that's when we run into problems with people not living in love toward each other. Not to say, however, that we shouldn't be searching for sound doctrine. After all, this is how we learn more about God, but it should be done in a way that shows love to our family in Christ.

"is this really the root cause of my roller coaster of a Christian walk?"

Totally! I don't want to sound like a health/wealth Gospel person, but if you view things with faith, you won't have ups and downs. Of course this is impossible to do all the time because we are in a fallen world. But when we feel as if we aren't doing a good enough job and God is mad at us because of it, we're just reverting back to our fallen nature of wanting to do something to feel that God is still loving us and that we deserve it. Other more practical things can seem like ups and downs because somehow we feel that we have the ability to pronounce whether something is good or not. How can we dare to do such a thing when we only see a piece of the puzzle? It's kind of like looking at things in nature. It seems terrible how forest fires burn down acres and acres of trees, leaving everything black and burned up. It will seem like everything is terrible and cruel if this is all we see. However, if we look at the big picture, we see that the shells that protect seeds for those trees will only be opened by fire. That is the only way that a new generation of trees will be able to start. Just like the trees, we can't pronounce anything as being good or bad because we 1) don't have the authority and 2) we can't see far enough in front of our noses to see whether something that's seemingly "bad" is actually "good."

K, sorry I rambled so long...

Steven said...

I'm wondering if we need to define "ups and downs"

"...but if you view things with faith, you won't have ups and downs."

I was just pondering this faith issue.. I was thinking about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, and (Yes, I'm speculating here) it seemed like he was pretty down.. Praying that God would take the cup from him... Was he lacking faith?

I also think of when he was with the mourning crowd at the tomb of Lazarus and he wept...

I just wonder because I don't know if just "Having Faith" will solve all our problems as Christians..

I'm not trying to push an angle, I'm just wondering.

Abbey said...

'I'm wondering if we need to define "ups and downs"'

Yeah, I'm sorry I left my terms undefined. When I speak of ups and downs, I'm not speaking so much of what is actually happening to us but rather how we perceive what is happening to us.

Despite what the typical "good feelings pastor" will teach, Christians (yes, even those who seem to be living an upright life) will suffer in this world. He may lose his job, his wife may be killed in a car accident, or it could even be as simple as the pizza delivery failing to show up. All people will suffer, but these happenings are not what I define as being "ups and downs." Rather, how a Christian deals with those things will be where he may feel up or down. If he chooses to view bad happenings as some how being a curse from God, a punishment for something he did, or simply the result of something bad he did, he will probably feel down. It is only natural for us to want to live a works-based life (even when we are Christians). It's natural for us to try to apply cause and effect to out spiritual lives because that's how the world we live in works. If all of a sudden someone is winning lots of prizes, getting a pay raise, or has perfect kids, it's only natural for people to look at their lives and try to find some reason why those good things are happening. These may be viewed as his 'ups'. However, both of these are both unbiblical and rather sinful. By saying that something we do determines what God is going to give us, we denying the very reason Christ came down to earth. God's love is unconditional, and to say that because of something we did, God is punishing or rewarding us, we're saying that we can do something to deserve God's love. Christianity is not works-based. God's work doesn't come as an effect of something we do. How we perceive what happens to us should be in faith, remembering that all things that happen to us are for the growing of our faith, not to somehow convict us of how we didn't quite measure up to perfection yesterday.

Don't know if any of that made sense...

"Praying that God would take the cup from him... Was he lacking faith?"

I think it's important to remember that Jesus also prayed that if it be the will of the Father, take the cup from him. He was showing his true humanness (not in a bad way). Notice he still was living in faith. It's only natural to not really be looking forward to being killed in a torturous way (after all, he was human and did have the sense of touch); yet, he still had faith.

"I also think of when he was with the mourning crowd at the tomb of Lazarus and he wept..."

Again, (I'm sorry I gave this impression) Christians will always suffer, and to live in faith doesn't mean that nothing bad will happen. Jesus was weeping because of their lack of faith. Mourning and showing emotion is not necessarily faithless. It is neither good nor bad. It can be either. When someone dies, by all means we should mourn for the person, but always with the hope, remembrance, and joy that all things will be consummated with the return of Christ and that death will be destroyed.

Great Googly Moogly! said...

"When I speak of ups and downs, I'm not speaking so much of what is actually happening to us but rather how we perceive what is happening to us."

"How we perceive what happens to us should be in faith, remembering that all things that happen to us are for the growing of our faith, not to somehow convict us of how we didn't quite measure up to perfection yesterday."

Very well said, Abbey. This reminds me of the thrust of this week's chapter in The Swill, especially the statement, "Paradigms power perception and perceptions power emotions."

We can feel "down" about the situations of life and/or the sin we still see in our lives, which doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing if we have the correct paradigm to understand these things; and if we do have the right paradigm to deal with it, then our overall countenance and "spirit" will reflect the joy that is within us as Children of God who are secure in God's love. When we let sin and circumstances negatively affect our perception of reality (the reality that God is in control and that nothing will ever separate us from the love of God in Christ) and cause us to try to "work harder" to please our Father, then we've put the yoke of slavery back on our shoulders--the yoke of the false paradigm that sees our relationship with God as dependant upon our "works" of obedience.

If we have the correct paradigm, then our perception of things will always lead us back to the love of God toward us in Christ and a continuation on the path of a life of faith!

"Mourning and showing emotion is not necessarily faithless. It is neither good nor bad. It can be either. When someone dies, by all means we should mourn for the person, but always with the hope, remembrance, and joy that all things will be consummated with the return of Christ and that death will be destroyed."

Another excellent statement! Sorry, but I have nothing to find fault with--keep up the good work. I think you're fleshing out this life of faith very well.

I appreciate Steven's responses and your interaction; it helps us all to think about these things and how we live this life of faith.

GGM