Sjolander Road Fellowship




Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

theological speculator

10/11/14

 

Sometimes I am mistaken for a church minister because I write on the subject of religion. I suspect I am less often mistaken for a Bible student. I can hear the "Amens!!" echoing  out there right now.

 

I have been exposed to fair amount of the Bible though, primarily through the orthodox church but to a lesser degree from personal study. That hardly makes me a Bible expert, by any stretch; but it does allow me to recognize the complexity and counter intuitiveness of the book and the many questions its orthodox interpretation invariably raises. It also leads me to wonder about other things, like how we got this book in the first place and whether it represents precisely what we have been taught.

 

Many among us think that they have a sufficient grasp of the Bible, allowing them to properly respond to the essential elements of the Bible, even if they admit being unfamiliar with or puzzled by a significant portion of scripture. I certainly fell into that category in my religious past.

 

Presently I confess that I often don't know what to make of this "sacred" text. It confuses me and frequently seems to contradict what my heart says should be right. Orthodoxy would probably say that my confusion results from my insistence that the Bible and its God must make sense to my heart. They think the problem is my heart and not the shortcomings of the book. Things that don't make sense can be true, but can truth be both illogical and unworkable?

 

Forcing myself to accept and act upon precepts and principles which my heart finds repulsive is not possible. Others may say they see the same precepts differently and whole heartedly embrace them, but that doesn't work for everyone. I need a personal faith to live by, and that means I must accept it without reservation. Orthodoxy will never provide that for me.

 

I don't doubt for a minute that I have plenty of company in my ambivalence to the Bible, including many who sit in church pews each week. The church may condemn that indifference as sinful, but that attitude fails to address what humanity needs here and now- peace, joy, and fulfillment. Young people, in particular, demand this kind of earthly relevance, and that explains their loss to traditional churches.

 

I believe that the orthodox understanding of the Bible has survived so long and molded our culture so pervasively precisely because it mainly appeals to the human ego. Seeing oneself as God's elect is the ultimate ego trip. Christian Orthodoxy's exclusiveness, reliance on conflict, and rejection of any form of re-evaluation all contribute to the aura of smugness and pessimistic judgmentalism which the church reflects and seemingly enjoys.

 

Out of my personal questions about the Bible, I have developed the habit of being more the religious/spiritual speculator than Bible expositor. I consistently meditate on what God is really like and how He operates. I occasionally attempt to re-interpret passages of scripture in new ways, more consistent with a totally benevolent deity, the kind to which I intuitively gravitate. In this way I remain attached to the Bible after a fashion, but my real attachment is to a developing personal faith, free of fear and the manipulation of human institutions.