By Alexander Carpenter
Lately the Spectrum Blog discussion over evolution and other things has turned to questions over hermeneutics.
It strikes me as dangerous that some can alembicate the issue over the mediation of subjectivity down to the 101 proof idea that “true Christians” just let God tell them what to do. Does faith mean skipping the rigor required to understand the context — ancient through contemporary — of God’s words?
I wonder, If we really believe that our scriptures are normative ought we best understand “the way” by knowing not just the what, but the why?
Almost everyone likes a little context, but too many fear knowing more of the truth. There should be no doubt that God wants us to know about creation and God’s role in our lives. Cutting back on the mind for fear of losing faith actually builds up the existential angst. Look at the fundamentalisms of Christianity, Islam, Judaism — basing faith on knowing what absolute truth today means that the scientific discoveries, new books, cultural mixing of tomorrow drives a wedge between humanity and truth.
No one has read any scripture in the history of the world without being located in time, in culture, in situ. Scripture breathes now — and that breath of inspired history is choked out by those who don’t understand its textual history. To read God’s word literally is the greatest ego trip because it is I who rips words from their context with little regard for the people who’ve heard God before me.
All too often the voiced fear is that to read texts for rhetorical, political, cultural context will weaken faith. Here’s a good answer to that anxiety and a fresh perspective on how the bible can ground Christianity today. In the clip below bible scholar Marcus Borg shares a political context for scripture that saves us from making the moral mistakes of fear and biblical agnosticism.
Treat your mind to “Mysticism and Resistance, Empowerment and Advocacy” featuring keynote speaker, Marcus J. Borg, author of the bestseller The Heart of Christianity.
Borg’s latest book, Jesus: Uncovering the Life, Teachings, and Relevance of a Religious Revolutionary, offers a new perspective that can overcome the differences between the literalists and progressives, a path that emphasizes following “the way” of Jesus.
To get right into to the good stuff, click on the FORA Tools button, select Chapters, and hit #3 “The political dimension of the bible.”
By Alexander Carpenter
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I had a dream last night, a dream of General Conference Sessions past and future. I stood in the center of a stadium, packed with people, all captivated by the music and stagecraft in front of them. I looked around and felt a sadness that kept growing inside of me until it was overwhelming.
Some time ago I was sitting in what quite possibly was the most boring church service I have ever been in. (No, I won’t tell you where I was.) There couldn’t have been more than 50 people in the sanctuary, and I’m being generous. We sang no less than 5 hymns. All hymns were sung in a dry, slow manner. The sermon seemed uninspired, barely prepared, and was presented with no sense of conviction. It felt like we were in church for three hours. We were in church for about 70 minutes.