Friday, March 11, 2011

It was a fair question:

The other day I posted a piece I called "For the 'But the Bible Says Bunch" ... comments and links to the CNN blog by American Baptist biblical scholar Jennifer Wright Knust presenting an inclusive biblical apologetic for LGBT inclusion. (If you missed it, you can catch up here.)

It was this comment that posed the "fair question" I'm wriging about today:
Did you read Robert Gagnon's response?
Robert Gagnon is a conservative biblical scholar who wrote a response to Knust entitled "The Bible really does condemn homosexuality." My quick answer to "did you read it" was "Of course."

And ... on reflection ... I decided that fair question deserved a longer answer ... the one I posted on the CNN blog as a comment. Which was:

Gagnon falls into the rhetorical trap frequently deployed by those who presume to have the power to set the context for the dialogue with his "serious" question:

"... does the Left read significant works that disagree with pro-gay interpretations of Scripture and choose to simply ignore them?"

He leaves out a critical third option: We read your works and disagree with their conclusions. Not because we don't understand your brilliant exegesis. Not because we are so blinded by our "pro-gay" agenda that we fail to see the "Absolute Truth" of your arguments.

We've read them. Marked them, inwardly digested them ... and disagreed with them.

And if you'd like to have THAT conversation, you know where to find us.

And around and around it goes!


Martin T. said...

Here's another question: "On what grounds do you reject it?"

LGMarshall said...

As Believers in Jesus Christ, we get our beliefs about God's Word, from -- God's Word.

Outside commentaries, and opinions, [no matter how scholarly] , are just that.

God speaks to us through his Word. It needs no interpretation, other than the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

If you believe in your heart, and confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is LORD, the Truths of the Bible will JUMP OFF THE PAGE! And you will never doubt Him again.

Personally, I've thrown out all side-issue books and commentaries, they are a waste of time. [No one came to Christ through an opinion book -- you can't argue someone into the Kingdom].

...but I must admit, Gagnon, has some very good biblical points!


Wow. So the Bible is like a kind of Ouji Board? Doesnt' work for me.

So how's this:

I don't believe "in" Jesus. I believe in God. I believe THAT Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

I don't believe "in" the Bible. I believe that the Bible contains all things necessary to salvation.

I believe THAT in following Jesus I align my life with God's love, justice and compassion. And I believe IN the God of abdundant, inclusive love whose quality is always to have mercy.

AND I believe it's time for cocktail hour, so here endeth the "Confession."

Martin T. said...

Psst, hey Susan, Jesus is God the Son. Are you a Trinitarian,Susan? Following Jesus means following his commandments. Does "If you love me, you will keep my commandments" ring a bell?

LGMarshall said...

Don't see the analogy -- Believing God's WORD vs calling on demon spirits with a Ouji board... [?] Maybe you could explain.

"I don't believe in Jesus, I believe in God."-- S.R.

If Jesus isn't God, then who do you say he is?

God says..."In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. "

Jesus = The WORD.
The WORD = God
Jesus = God

The WORD of God = Bible

Jesus said... 'Believe in Me.'

F. Harry Stowe said...

I have to congratulate LGMarshall on his native mastery of Biblical Hebrew, Aramaic and Koine Greek, feats most of us have not achieved and so are thrown back on commentaries (including those implicit in translations).
As MartinT, the only commandment that Jesus gave was "Love one another" and it doesn't take a commentary to see that this is meant to be universal.

W. Huber said...

Martin: Here's another question: "On what grounds do you reject it?"
Here's where tit-for-tat comes in: yes "we" read (and largely reject) the arguments brought forth by Gagnon and his like. Many "liberals" have written very Biblically based articles, papers, and books that explain in great detail the ground for rejecting certain arguments and accepting others.

I offer that your answer lies in there. Do you read works of those you disagree with, or just ignore them?

LGMarshall: God speaks to us through his Word. It needs no interpretation, other than the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

I truly believe that god does speak to us, both through the Scriptures and through the Spirit. I also believe that the Infinite Word of God is incomprehensible to us finite creatures except through careful, prayerful, and ever-growing, ever-changing interpretation of what it might mean for our lives.

God does not simply "reveal" all the secrets of life to us - God gives us instructions on how to grow up into something that might approach being a worthy Bride for Christ: something that, while as inherently unequal as ancient marriages were, contains great mutuality and as much equality as possible.

Trusting the interpretation of your own subconscious mind to guide your understanding of Scripture denies God's holy purpose for giving us Reason, and denies the quiet othervoice of the Spirit that speaks to us in more complicated and subtle ways then just "jumping off the page". This is evident is the fact that (as we can clearly see just right here on this blog page) two believing Christians can read different things in the Bible. I tis my firm belief that the Spirit guides us to Truth and makes us work for it, rather than handing it out like cheap candy on Halloween. Even Jesus own interpretation of all Scripture, the Law of Love, has an infinite number of layers of subtlety that we will never fully comprehend.


Busy day today ... first meeting of our L.A. General Convention Deputation down a the cathedral then a tech run-through for the HRC benefit dinner tonight and then home to get gussied up for same. So here are a few random thoughts and repsonses:

I would name myself as a Trinitarian because I believe that the essential relationality of the doctrine of the Trinity makes sense to me as an effort for finite human minds to describe the infinite creative power of God's abundant love.

As for "following Jesus means following his commandments" ... ummm ... Yep. And if you're looking for a proof text onthat one it's Matthew 22:40. The only "new" commandment Jesus gave us was love one anohter ... (maundatum -- Latin for "commandment" is where we get Maundy Thursday ... which is coming up again PDQ). The rest of the commandments Jesus followed were God's same old commandments. And what got him in trouble with the theology police of his time was breaking the multitude of other "rules and regs" they had added to those original ten.

At the end of the day all our doctrines are faciniating specualtion about how God works ... but I don't believe "in" any of them. I love the Verna Dozier quote from "The Dream of God:" -- "Don't tell me what you believe ... tell me what difference it makes that you believe.

It seems to me that's the point Jesus is making in Matthew 25:40,

OK ... off to My Very Bizzy Day. Have fun theologizing, kids. But do keep it all in perspective.

LGMarshall said...

No one can understand the mind of God.

But, He's not trying to trick us. Even a child can understand Him. In fact, he has really put it on the bottom shelf --so to speak.

The Truth comes by Revelation. Which comes through faith, which comes through hearing of the Word.

"I did not receive it [the gospel] from any man, nor was I taught it; rather , I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ." --Paul

God says..."I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate..For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe..."

to W.H:... which Bible scripture backs up your beliefs...?
-the Word is incomprehensible
-interpretation is ever changing.
-eventually we become worthy as a Bride for Christ.
-the bible does not reveal its 'secrets' to us.'
-- God's holy purpose for 'reason'.
-the Spirit's voice is complicated
-the Spirit makes us work for Truth

JCF said...

It's simple, people:

If you read the Bible to be anti-gay/anti-SSM, then you're obviously understanding/interpreting it faithfully&correctly.

If you don't read the Bible to be anti-gay/anti-SSM, you're obviously in ERROR---and you make the Holy Spirit cry.

Are we all very clear now?

{roll eyes}

danielj said...

aka and Jesus wept

More Jesus...
and things will get much better

uffda51 said...

It’s always interesting to see how many people who find themselves on third base think they hit a triple.

How many of those who hold rigid, absolute, inerrant Biblical views would hold the same views if they had been born in other centuries, in other countries, and other religious traditions, to other parents?

Today, if you talked to most people and said there was a human being in the first century who was called Divine Son of God, God from God, Lord and Redeemer, and Liberator and Savior of the world, 99.9% of people would say it's Jesus we are talking about. But Caesar Augustus was called all of those titles before Jesus was ever born.

Stories of heroic figures who were born in supernatural fashion, exhibited precocity in their youth, and suffered tragic deaths followed by resurrection were common in the ancient Mediterranean world.

If God wrote the Bible wouldn’t he have been a little more inventive, and have known more about the universe he created? Or is it just possible that fallible, albeit inspired, men wrote the Bible and used the language and knowledge available to them to best describe their experiences with God?

If an innocuous word such as “orphan” has a different meaning in the 21st century than it did in Old Testament times, isn’t it possible that thousands of other words endlessly translated, reintepreted and passed on to us through the centuries have also changed in meaning?

And if God, rather than men, had determined which books would be in (and not in) the Bible, wouldn’t he have included a forward to that effect, i.e.,” Every word of this book (sic) is literally true. (Signed) God.”

And don’t those who believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God also deny that the same is true of the Book of Mormon, even though the same claim is made for that book?

Anyone who ever took a college level “Religions of the World 101” course would be familiar with all of the above.

I would be surprised if any of the fundamentalists who troll this site will be changed by anything any of us could say. They are a stubborn bunch.

Any doubts about the tenacity of conservatives are perhaps best summed up by “The First Annual Catholic Conference On Geocentrism,” which took place last fall in Indiana. Tom Willis, the guru of the geocentric movement states that “both the observations and the Bible indicate quite strongly that the earth does not move."

F. Harry Stowe said...

It really is simple, people:

If you read the Bible to forbid cotton-polyester blends, then you're obviously understanding/interpreting it faithfully&correctly.

If you don't read the Bible to forbid cotton-polyester blends, you're obviously in ERROR---and you are condemned to sartorial Hell.
Are we all very clear now?

danielj said...

oh those horrid cotton-polyester blends

which feel so horrid on my skin

cotton, cotton I proclaim, cotton
everything thing else is just plain rotten

sorry foks, couldn't resist