Monday, February 17, 2014

Persecution Within the Church - Harsher than I Thought, Faith Stronger than I Knew

I want to make sure we are on even ground or at least you know what ground I am standing on before you read this.

1) I believe that the Bible is both inerrant and sufficient doctrine for a Christian in knowledge, wisdom and salvation. 

One of my pastors, after I accepted the gift of Salvation, told me the bible was without error. My first question was, which one. As you probably know, if there is translation involved, there are humans and culture involved, and that allows for factual error to creep in. For example, at the time of my salvation, Christians were still beating each other up with violent voices about which translation to use, and in some cases, if you used the wrong one, you were labeled twisted or a heretic. The book of the time was the King James Version.

I studied theology in undergrad school earning nearly as many credit hours in that as in my major, which was physics. Admittedly, I was searching for the truth, but I was certain the truth did not lie with the Christians, because at the time, all I heard from them was hate and death, mostly directed at each other. So I studied theology to satisfy my need to search and to shred them as I gained knowledge. Anyway, the translators in the 1500's changed most of the pronouns from female to male, specifically with the psalms, feeling that women were too weak to convey the correct meaning. That would be an error, and I knew it, so I pointed it out.

The response from that pastor has been my benchmark for inerrant ever sense. He said, "In the original copies, there were no error." For those of you who are not into faith based Christianity, that sounds unsupportable, and it is. Seriously, who has access to the original copies. However, believing that God inspired the writers of the books of the Bible covers that. God does not make mistakes, so again, I can take it on faith that there were no errors in the original letters or books or stories. The biblical support is from the bible itself. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (KJV) "16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:"

Again, if you are not blinded by the light of the thing, and you have been classically trained in nearly any discipline, the first thing you are going to cry is, circular logic. You can't use a thing to prove the same thing. You need outside sources. So crying foul for the New Testament's authority is certainly a fair thing to do. Worse, at the time the letter was written, 300 years before there was a new testament, the letter itself was not part of the cannon. In other words, the author was talking about the Jewish scripture, not the New Testament, which did not yet exist. From here, if you are really bent on argument, you would bring up the various council where men decided which books would be included in the bible, but again, as a Christian, I take it as a mater of faith that God acted on these early leaders too.

So why do I believe? The short answer is faith. Once I accepted the gospel, the holy spirit changed my view on nearly everything, and accepting the New and Old Testaments as inerrant is one of those things. In addition, I believe that whatever contradictions and translation errors or missing or added pages exist from one human translation to the next can all be corrected by the Holy Spirit. If you read the Bible without the Holy Spirit, you won't get much out of it.

Point B: Why do I claim it is sufficient - meaning I don't need additional inspired texts or revelations for passing on the gospel to other people. The simple answer is I came to know the love of Christ with the Bible alone, so I have experienced its sufficiency, but again, the same verse of scripture cries out that it is enough.

2) I am a scientist with a degree in Physics and Graduate school in physics. I believe in science.

3) When the Bible disagrees with the facts then either your facts or your interpretation of the bible are wrong, since the Word of God is not wrong.

Since I believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, as read with the Holy Spirit, I can not pick the Bible as wrong.

The Second choice, the science is wrong. This is the default choice of most Christians. Being a scientist however, I nearly never take that stance. Though science transmutes as we gain knowledge, facts are still facts.

Finally, you can look at your translation or understanding of the scripture itself, because if the facts say something different that the scripture, and the scripture can not be wrong, there is nothing else to blame.

I always start with #2, and if I find the evidence compelling, I move to # 3, knowing that God's word is not wrong.

An example: Romans 8:28 (KJV) "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

I was told more than once that this was a promise that whatever endeavor I undertook would succeed if I did it for the Glory of God. In other words, I would prosper if I had faith and I gave it to Gods Glory. An invocation of blessings, so to speak, compelling the Lord to create success for me if I only followed this rule.

The fact: My insurance company decided I was not disabled with TBI, and had enough money to force me to accept their judgment. The fact is, I lost everything, including my car, when that happened. That event did not agree with this verse. Everything I had done was for God, but it did not and has not yet, turned out good for me yet.

So my translation of that verse must be wrong, since the Word of God is not wrong, and the results were fact.

As it turns out, it does not say that. The short answer is that it works out for God. I can not harm his plans or purposes for anyone or anything if I do whatever I do for his Glory. I might yet fail, as I did this last Sunday, but in the end, God will find a way to make his kingdom stronger with what I have done, even if I was in error.


On to the Persecution

Several weeks ago I noticed a post from someone who went to my church that stated that she was tired of the impression that conservative Christians seem to hate gays, and that she could not do that. An entire class of Americans were being discriminated against, and this does not show God's Love. She went on to say she did not have to discuss if LGBT was a sin or not, because she herself was a sinner, and it was enough to both support and love them.

Pretty cool. God's love in action from a conservative church and better yet from my church.

Since I had spent several 100 hours in on this one subject, back in the day, and recently, I liked the comment and made my own comment. I said that I supported her point and that I was not myself sure if LGBT was even a sin at all. This latter point is dependant on my inability, past current convention, to translate the passages most used to "prove" LGBT lives as sin when taken in both context of the Bible and the cultural context at the time they were written. I have always though it impossible to understand most of the Bible if you did not have a basic understanding of the culture of the people the bible was written for at the time it was written.

The truth is, I still can't prove that the 47% of the church that believes that LGBT is sinful is either right or wrong. It is not clear enough to me. It is very possible, leaning on toward probable, that our translation and use of those passages are wrong. It feels anaologus to the way white Ameirca used scripture to support and defend slavery of the Blacks in the past. I said that too.

It really bothered some people. Yesterday I was told that I did not believe the Bible. Why? Because I questioned the plurality opionion of the scriptures in question. I was actually thrown out of a postion I had held for 20 years because I dared to read the bible on my own, using my own education and my own connection to the Holy Spirit as my guide.

And, in the end, for me nothing has changed. The core of my theoolgy comes down to:

Matthew 22:37-39 (ESV) "And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

And - Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV) "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

And finally, Paul's emphatic reminder, from 1 Corinthians 10:23(ESV) “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up."

So, to me, it is about Love to begin with. I can not love anyone if I hate their entire class of being. Worse, if I constantly find myself calling what they are doing sin, how does that translate to love, if you are on the receiveing end, and how does that square with all things are lawful? It appears, if it glorifies God and shows love to his people, it's lawful and not sinful. And, even if I am wrong, how can it be wrong to love and support this particular class of people, assuming they are sinners? Arn't we all sinners? Isn't that the point of salvation to begin with?

So, yestereday I was persecuted by someone who is afraid of the word and more afraid of LGBT people, and I actually got stronger from the expereince. I lost some of my life, that will take some getting used to, but I gained the truth, and the truth shall set you free.

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