Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Biblical Truth vs Literal Truth

(A nice calming picture is good for everyone!)

I hope kirb doesn't mind, I am again posting his comment into another post. I think points that are brought up are worthy of more than just a comment section.

kirb said...
Actually, doc, i do happen to take everything in the Bible as "Bible truth". It seems as though you have written off the Bible in your explanation. Some of the laws were certainly written for that time in history (for example: in Matthew 19:7-8 the pharisees asked why Moses allowed divorce and Jesus answered because of the hardness of their heart, but it was not so from the beginning). Others, such as the Ten Commandments, were written for all eternity. You can not merely throw all of them out. does that make sense?

I would argue that homosexual acts are eternally forbidden based on Paul's letter to the Romans chapter 1. Here, Paul puts it in a theological context. He says that homosexual acts are the result of a darkened mind, those who have rejected God's word. They were also penalized for their perversity.

I encourage you to check out a book called "Beyond Gay". Also, i beg you to look into a group i know of called "Courage". It is for those who have been involved in homosexual activity but are now trying to live chaste lives. I agree that you have been going through some rough times and that makes this all the more important. You, as a paster, are put in a position in which it is crucial to teach the whole truth. I urge you to meditate on Romans 1, and ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit of Truth, who will "guide us into all truth" Jn 16:13 i'll keep you in my prayers constantly, as i am sure all the saints will!!

I would also like a reply.

Ok, there is a difference between "Bible truth" and "literal truth." When we get these mixed we get into trouble. "Biblical truth" - adultery is a serious problem and we need to work to preserve the sanctity of marriage. "Literal truth" - stone those caught in adultery. If you are of the assumption that "Biblical" = "Literal" truth, then our conversation is over. I can appreciate your view of the Bible, but I think using the Bible in this manner is idolatry. I know that we do not speak Greek, let alone Aramaic or Hebrew, so what we are getting in the Bible is already in translation. Even if we could go back to the "original Greek" that is still a translation from the spoken Aramaic. And each time you encounter a translation, you are encountering an interpretation.

Even in English which we both purport to speak and read, we have interpretive problems. I can type the words, "Who cares?" (And, yes, this did really happen to me.) I meant it as in, "Who cares, it is good to have it presented." What was interpreted from the words was, "Who cares, it was a stupid idea to begin with." So even when we can agree on the meaning of words, we have trouble in finding definitive "intention" to written words, even today. How much more when the words we are talking about are close to 2000 years old and from a totally different place and understanding? (And again, the translation thing comes into play.)

If you have not read the article, consider reading just pages 9-13 concerning Romans 1. There are many interpretive stumbling blocks there. To say that one interpretation or translation is definitive is hubris. If you are claiming to have "THE" interpretation, then I wish you well and live well the truth you have found. But I think God has more respect for the intelligence God has given to us all. Conversation is the tool through which the Holy Spirit moves.

Someone (for the life of me, I can't remember who) said that we bring the wrong questions to the Bible. The Bible is not a "how" book but a "why" book. So many of the places people get hung up on things is when they use the Bible for "how."

When I lived with the Bible as a "how" book, I was depressed, despondent, frustrated. I prayed to be changed. I prayed for the power to live a celibate life. I prayed to not notice that really cute guy who was kneeling at the communion rail. I prayed that no one would be in the locker room at the pool when I went to swim. I prayed for the Holy Spirit to guide me. I PRAYED! I assume you did not mean to be rude, but your comment, "I urge you to meditate on Romans 1, and ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit of Truth, who will 'guide us into all truth'" is one of the rudest things a person can say to another. As I said, I DID pray for guidance. I prayed for guidance and was lead to a therapist, a supportive community, a supportive family, and a wonderful partner. I believe the guidance and truth I sought was found in my partner, Nick. (A pastor also.) Maybe it is you that needs to pray for the truth of the Holy Spirit?

All who use the comment about praying for the truth seem to think that they have already received the truth. Then they say that those who disagree with them will continue to badger them until the badgerers (is that a word?) get what they want. What never seems to enter the mind is that maybe the badgerers are the ones who have the truth of the Holy Spirit. The "church people" of Jesus time did not want to hear the message of Jesus and his followers. I believe they were good people who were trying to do what was good. They followed their scriptures in the way they had learned and had been told. Even when the ultimate "New Interpretation" of the word was in their midst, Christ himself, they did not see it. God is still at work in the world. Revelation did not end with John.

Even God "changes." (I am not going to look up all the chapters and verses because that would make blogging too much like work.) God presents to Peter clean and unclean food and tells Peter to eat it (Acts 10:9-16, I know, I looked up the verse, I lied!!) God says not to call unclean what God has called clean. I have been called. This has been shown repeatedly by various communities of faith. Even with my "gay persona" faith communities have looked to me as a leader. If God has called me to be a leader, why should there be those who say I am "unclean?"

I am sure as you read this, you could envision me as all "wild-eyed" and ranting, but I assure you, I am very calm. Please read it with that tone running through your head. (I almost typed "heart" instead of "head." A Freudian slip of the best kind!) Have calmness running through your heart, too! This post could be used as an example of how the written word could be misinterpreted and how our initial expectations can cloud how we read and interpret. We need to be careful when we make definitive judgement of written words.

I guess this was more testimony than academic, but, hey, the Holy Spirit seemed to be directing me in that direction.

Peace, Kirb.

1 comment:

longo15 said...

Hey Pastor,

You are correct in part of your truth journey, for you found friendship and acceptance, but you CANNOT base your whole truth on feelings. Certainly we are called to friendships and community. I am 18 years old and plan on entering into the Catholic seminary. As a teenager, i still am attracted to women, yet as I pray I gain strength in my chastity. I still feel attracted, but it can be overcome. This is true for everyone, although you have an urge to continue in homosexual activity, you must take into consideration what the Bible says. You are throwing it out on translation and speculation. There are times in the Bible when laws are based on certain times in history, yet it is clear in Romans 1 that the law is not temporary. Read the whole chapter and leave nothing out. This is not an insult because I am sure as a pastor you have read this passage numerous times. What baffles me is that you have read it so many times and still managed to ignore it.

This entire argument is based on translation. Don’t you think, as someone who loves God with all his heart, that he is smarter than to leave something as Holy and powerful as the Bible unattended? This is one of the reasons I have converted to the Catholic Church. I do not claim to know all things, but I do claim to know who does, and that is the church. "The Church of the living God, the Pillar and Foundation of truth" -1 Timothy 3:15. This is important in order that all are able to receive the true interpretation of the Bible.

"Consider the patience of our Lord as salvation, as our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, also wrote to you. Speaking of these things as he does in all his letters. In them there are some things hard to understand that the ignorant and unstable distort to their own destruction just as they do the other scriptures" -2Peter 3:15-16
Many cannot interpret the Bible for themselves; this is why the foundation of the Catholic Church is so essential! Do not close your mind to the whole truth while twisting scripture to mean what you would like.

For a man in your situation who teaches scripture, it is so important that the correct interpretations are taught. If you are throwing certain parts of scripture out on supposed interpretational errors, you are placing distrust in the word of God. I will continue to keep you in my prayers. The saints will also continue to pray for you Benton.