Sjolander Road Fellowship




Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

understanding seeminly contradictory passages

12/19/07

 

Since I hold a contrary view of the Bible, i.e. non-traditional, I am subject to questions about how I reconcile this or that verse or passage with my general understanding of scripture. My approach is fundamentally the same as anyone else’s in trying to reconcile scriptures that seemingly do not support their own basic understanding of the Bible. To some extent everyone ignores or attempts to “clarify” the passages which do not seem to support their theological position. People to a greater or lesser extent decide what the Bible should be teaching and then try to fit all scripture into that mold. I’ll admit to the same tendency.

 

I have already shared the Bible axiom I use to test my understanding of any passage of scripture: God is Love and Love never fails. Others apparently hold to a different axiom, something like this: God is the arbitrary ruler of the universe and obedience to His holy commands is a requirement to be loved and accepted by Him. To be unacceptable brings about His wrath and eternal punishment.

 

Now no one denies that the Bible says plenty about obedience, wrath, and judgment. The Bible is full of it, especially the Old Testament that documents the early history of the nation of Israel. What people don’t seem to realize is that the workings of the Old Covenant Law with all its inherent frustration, failure, and punishments were preparatory, designed to teach the inadequacy of rule-keeping (obedience) for gaining God’s favor and blessing. Additionally, most do not recognize that even the so-called New Testament scriptures which herald the coming of Christ and the advent of a New Covenant were all written during a period when the Old Covenant arrangement was still actively in place, centering in the Temple in Jerusalem. Much then that these New Testament scriptures contain is not applicable to us today, especially those passages dealing with judgment. The Old Covenant people had to fulfill their purpose before a new all inclusive New Covenant could be fully inaugurated. Thus the period of Christ and His Apostles, as recorded in the New Testament, was unique in redemptive history and very much different from today.

 

The bottom line is this: orthodoxy, i.e. the traditional understanding of scripture, is no more sacred than mine or yours, given the reality of my supposition. No one in our culture is remotely able to approach Bible interpretation with a blank slate. Our cultural norms, assumptions, and institutions are just too infused with old Bible interpretation schemes. So let’s just own up to our prejudices and recognize that my opinion, no matter how strictly orthodox, is just that and no more.  To the extent we propose that our opinion is God’s we then better be able to demonstrate God-like omniscience to complement our other God-like qualities.

 

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