Theoretical Creative Destruction

Recently one of my more devout friends got into a mini-debate about so-called Creation Science and the veracity of the Bible as a scientifically true book. His pièce-de-résistance was the article below. It’s not my purpose here to refute Creation Science itself, but to refute calling it true science. It is, like phrenology, a pseudo-science.

Recently one of my more devout friends got into a mini-debate about so-called Creation Science and the veracity of the Bible as a scientifically true book. His pièce-de-résistance was the article quoted below. It’s not my purpose here to refute Creation Science itself, but to refute calling it true science. It is, like phrenology, a pseudo-science. Continue reading “Theoretical Creative Destruction”

Is It Live Birth or Is It Memorex?

Last week I had a disagreement with my pastor over the nativity stories and their veracity as history at Bible study (a story for another day) that got me to thinking about nativity scenes and the old and tired battles about truth and the Bible. However, it never ceases to amaze me how people avoid facing facts in service to what they believe (and this includes you athiests out there, perhaps especially so given recent events). I think it has to do with our need to order our world and make it comprehensible, predictable in some way. I’m not judging whether this is bad or good, just the way it is often discussed in a less than honest fashion IMHO. So back to the nativity.

The discussion at Bible study turned to Christ’s birth and I remember Father speaking of eyewitnesses, etc. I objected to this because there are lots of problems with claiming the birth stories together are eyewitness accounts and are therefore history, at least history of a sort. Even our understanding of the nativity as an amalgam of Luke and Matthew has issues. In the end, magi offering gifts to a babe laid in a manger is not a scriptural scene. In other words it’s not in the Bible. Yet we see nativity scenes in front of plenty of churches and have kids play out Christmas plays every year, traditions that I think speak to a deep need to make the separate stories in Luke and Matthew make sense together and support our faith in a modern world.

And I’m OK with that as long as we are honest and up front about it. When a believer goes into spin mode in an attempt mask the simple fact that Jesus’ birth is a historical mystery beyond the tradition that holds that he was born of a virgin in Bethlehem of Judea a little over two millenia ago, it’s worse than an outright lie, it’s a con job: an attempt to fool another person ( or oneself!) through trickery.

I know such language is harsh and unforgiving but we all know whose game lies and trickery is. It’s important we don’t succumb to such temptations to speak in half truths which are whole lies. It besmirches the Gospel which is so dear to us.

What We Have Seen and Heard, Part 2

In the previous post we looked at out faith informs our culture and values. Now for a look at Sacred Scripture

African-American spirituality is based on the Sacred Scriptures. In the dark days of slavery, reading was forbidden, but for our ancestors the Bible was never a closed book. The stories were told and retold in sermons, spirituals and shouts. Proverbs and turns of phrase borrowed freely from the Bible. The Bible was not for our ancestors a mere record of the wonderful works of God in a bygone age; it was a present record of what was soon to come. God will lead his people from the bondage of Egypt. God wil preserve his children in the midst of the fiery furnace. God’s power will make the dry bones scattered on the plain snap together, and he will breathe life into them. Above all, the birth and death, the suffering and the sorrow, the burial and the resurrection tell how the story will end for all who are faithful no matter what the present tragedy is.

For Black people the story is our story; the Bible promise is our hope. Thus when the Word of Scripture is proclaimed in the Black community, it is not a new message but a new challenge. Scripture is part of our roots; the Bible has sunk deep into our tradition; and the Good News of the Gospel has been enmeshed in our past of oppression and pain. Still the message was heard and we learned to celebrate in the midst of sorrow, to hope in the depths of despair and to fight for freedom in the face of all obstacles. The time has now come to take this precious heritage and to go and “tell it on the mountain.” [emphasis mine]

The Bible is everywhere in our culture and community. Even a Muslim preacher can get a church full of Christians to stand up and clap with a little John 10:11-12 and some 2 Chronicles 7:14. Turns of phrase are so ingrained we can repeat them almost automatically when called out. The inevitable response to, “To whom much is given…,” is of course, “Much is required.” (Lk 12:48) These phrases are like inside jokes, incredibly pregnant with meaning. MLK said, “I’ve been to the mountain top…I have seen the promised land.” Even Tavis Smiley’s and Cornel West’s Covenant with Black America has no meaning if you don’t have a deep sense of the Bible.

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Out of Context

My Mom and I were talking this morning about the Bible, of which I am proud to say she has become quite the student. We got on about how people interpret it and the necessity of knowing the context of Scripture in order to truly understand it. We also spoke ruefully how people will refuse to do that homework, esp. if it might threaten their understanding of Scripture. I found it is ironic that my Mom learned this from a converted Catholic biblical scholar.
I related to her how that argument plays out among my Protestant friends: not well. I’m frequently told that because I take the time to understand its socio-historical context, I might know about the Word but I don’t know the Word. In other words, don’t let the context change the “true meaning,” i.e. their understanding of its meaning of Scripture. My challenge to that is this: how can you understand anything written or said when it is taken out of context? If you are incredulous, just look at the healthcare “debate” and those infamous death panels.

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The Truth about Santa Claus

Today I was inspired by remembering a personal story that I think does justice to explaining where I’m coming from. It shows how I can disagree with my fellow Christians about the Bible’s ontological nature vis-á-vis the Word of God, yet agree to its Truth.

Over the years, I’ve been given to expressing an increasingly strong conviction of mine about the Bible as it relates to the Word of God. I’ve often expressed it as simply that the two are not one and the same, specifically that the former is a reflection of the latter. Simply said (perhaps overly so), “The Bible is not the Word of God,” any more than I am Jesus Christ. The Bible being faulted, limited, human while the Word of God is Truth transcendant and divine. This has gotten me in no little trouble with my fellow Christian brothers and sisters, esp. of those given to more fundamentalist leanings.

In trying to explain my point of view, I’ve noticed that I’ve had trouble conveying my thoughts, beliefs, and convictions because when I speak with my brothers and sisters in Christ we often use the same words to name very different perspectives on things. Today I was inspired by remembering a personal story that I think does justice to explaining where I’m coming from. It shows how I can disagree with my fellow Christians about the Bible’s ontological nature vis-á-vis the Word of God, yet agree to its Truth.

Continue reading “The Truth about Santa Claus”

The “Rule of Faith”

My personal Christian faith has been evolving for years now as I try to clarify the “rule of faith” by which I live. Fellow Christians often asked me, “What is your standard?” Here I give a brief discussion to answer this important question.

**UPDATE 4/12** *Fixed some typos and language errors.*

My personal Christian faith has been an evolving one over the space of years, as I try to clarify the “rule of faith” by which I live. Fellow Christians often asked me, “What is your standard?” Here I give a brief discussion to answer this important question.
All of my understanding of the Early Church Fathers stems from the role of the “primitive,” “catholic,” and “apostolic” tradition that was seen to be the “rule of faith” for orthodoxy and how it developed. It mightily influenced the Canon of the New Testament and other Christian doctrines. In fact, the central authority claim of the Roman Catholic Church that raised me is centered on an unbroken succession of apostolic authority in the church. It’s even in its creed: “…we believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church…” This tradition locates genuine Christian authority in Peter and the Apostles whom Christ charged with authority in the Gospel of John.

Continue reading “The “Rule of Faith””