Sjolander Road Fellowship




Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

having it both ways

1/1/14

 

Simultaneously the church wants to embrace and deny human reasoning in establishing and confirming its doctrines. In the denial mode, the church's frequent target is the scientific community which they label as a cabal of devious atheists, who are more interested in derailing Christianity than expanding real knowledge.

 

In the common practice of insisting that its clergy are the rightful interpreters of the Bible, the church demonstrates the way they rely on the human intellect. Of course, they will attempt to moderate this obvious reliance on the clearly human element in this regard by simultaneously claiming that the Holy Spirit works through the church sanctioned human intermediaries to insure divine results. Since there is no clear way to demonstrate and confirm this divine assistance in the church's doctrine and practice, some groups attempt to establish supernatural abilities in their clergy and followers. Thus we witness faith healers, current day prophets, and others within Christianity who try to prove their divine credentials by the exercise of extraordinary powers.

 

All who are remotely familiar with the typical use of the Bible by the church will know that the average lesson or sermon involves stringing together widely separate and brief passages of scripture from all over the Bible to establish a doctrinal point. These typical exercises rely exclusively on the ability to establish a logical connection between these disparate portions of scripture. Thus human reasoning on the part of the teacher or preacher is front and center in almost every church gathering.

 

On the flip side, when the church encounters a conflict between its understanding and that developed by the reasoning of science, they suddenly want to deny the viability of the human intellect in deciphering the Bible. The reasoning of the scientist is dismissed as prejudiced against Christianity and even inspired by the Devil. To question the church and its take on the Bible is labeled as elitism. Supposedly the church member with the Bible in hand is smarter in all things than the scientist with his or her calculations, theorems, and theories. Physical evidence in support of the scientist is routinely dismissed as willfully fabricated or blindly misinterpreted because of prejudice against the Bible.

 

The second and much more damaging way the church demonstrates disrespect for human reasoning involves the way it deals with questions within its own membership. Way too often the church environment discourages a questioning approach to faith. Certain doctrines are dogmatically proclaimed to be so sacred and unassailable that to question them is damnable. To raise an issue with any of these elements is grounds for being thrown out of the fellowship. In all areas of inquiry, simplistic answers which fail to address obviously related issues are palmed off by quoting a verse here or there which supposedly provide all the response necessary. Thus church study and learning is reduced to indoctrination in the form of endless lectures for student robots who never get to think, just regurgitate.

 

In reality the church does not get to have it both ways. Either human reasoning is a valid element in determining the truth or it isn't. Either church members are fully entitled to question everything, using their God given minds, or they are forbidden to reason. If the average member is not capable of proper reasoning, then the average clergyman isn't either. Absolutely nothing about the clergy proves otherwise.

 

One final point begs to be raised. Once the church admits the need to apply human reasoning to the Bible to get its proper meaning, their claim to speak God's word becomes invalid. Divine words on the page plus purely human reasoning cannot still be divine words. The product becomes an indeterminate mixture of the human and the divine. The results of such are forever questionable until the human element is eliminated in the revelation process.

 

God's word plus human logic cannot equal God's word. a + b ≠ a, unless b = 0. Otherwise  a + b = a + b, not "a" alone. Remove the "b" and you can have the same on both sides of the equation. Take the human out of the divine if you want to retain the divine. Be assured that God knows how to speak to you without human assistance. After all, he spoke to many in the Bible just that way.

 

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