Here are some random thoughts I wrote down today. I hope they will make sense to some. I’m not sure I ended up where I wanted to, but I’ll leave them like this, and possibly I’ll work more with these later. Basically, I had this stream of thoughts which I felt I needed to put into some kind of medium. That sweet creative impulse should not be ignored when it is sparked or muted. I also had a conversation with Percival/Zooloo about refining my work – changing the format but not the message. It’s something I really do need to work on. But not during the last 5 hours of the decade.
Today I woke up to watch Loren Cunningham speak at Onething ’09 (see this video, about 2 hours in). I was at a New Year’s Camp in Kungälv organized by Credo/u-Oas for two days, but I got a flu of some sort while there… So I was in quarantine throughout the night and remained in a pretty restricted area there until 17.00 when my mother picked me up and drove me home. I’m fine now. But I’m probably going back on New Year’s Day (January 1st, 2010, i.e. tomorrow).
Anyways. I thought about quite a few things as I was watching the Onething webcast. I really appreciate Loren’s preaching/talk/exhortation, and I can definitely identify with his way of speaking. Mike Bickle, however, is someone I have a little more trouble connecting to. I mean, I do think he has a great message to the Body of Christ. I actually agree with 98% of what he says. However, as a Swede, I am sort of unused to that kind of communication. There’s a lot of… grandeur and hyperboles, which I recognize as Biblical but hard to understand in the Swedish culture. I hope Americans are better at getting his message 😛
Misty mentioned the “6,000 years of creation”, which does sort of offend reason in many ways… In one sense, I do admire Young Earth Creationists for their faith, but I do sometimes wonder if it may be misplaced faith is something that is not really the point the Bible was trying to make. I just hope Young Earth Creationism is not a doctrine IHOP encourages – I have not heard such statements beyond Misty’s words at two occasions, but I am still sort of worried.
While I am a fan of the Bible and believe it to be infallible in all matters of doctrine, I think Bibliolatry is too common in the “Evangelical” Church. There are, as usual, two extremes in the views of the Bible within the Body of Christ. There is on one side the Liberal Christianity, which places all authority on reason, the individual and the Spirit of the Age. However, on the other side are those who go beyond the actual point of the Bible, to emphasize the Bible to the point where it actually restricts God and His Church. The way I view it, we should not teach anything which is contrary to Scripture.
However, there are so-called “fundamentalists” (a term that should be positive) who teach that we should not do or say anything with regards to God or our lives that is not explicitly expressed in the Scriptures. This is, ironically, an incredibly low view of Scripture, as it implies that only the literal and direct meaning of Scripture is to be followed. The way the Jews and the Universal Church (until the last 2 centuries) has always viewed Scripture, is that it has both a direct and allegorical/symbolical meaning, and that while the literal meaning is primary, sometimes there *is* no literal meaning, for example in the case of many Psalms. My point is that imagination is encouraged in the Bible, and always has been among those who call it sacred. It’s amazing to think how these “fundamentalists” must view the reality of the writers of the Bible. I don’t think they were in a trance when they wrote most of it, and in a way, I don’t think true and holy writings are restricted to the Bible. I think there are still anointed and fully true/divine creations and things being said and written today, it is just that the Church is too split and divided to come together and recognize it as it. And considering all this division, agreeing on new Scripture would only hurt more than it edified. However, that does not mean that the Bible is somehow more magical than our reality. It is as true as when we hear that silent voice from God saying He loves us.
Oh well. The site that sparked this in me was this site: http://www.bible.ca/ It’s basically one in tens of thousands of English-speaking sites that claim to have “Bible-answers”. Most of them have very, very, bad layouts, usually because it’s one or maybe two or three people that are behind it. To me, a very good way of determining if you should doubt someone to have understood the “true, Biblical meaning” of subject X or Y, is when it turns out to be the thoughts of pretty much one dude. Another good way to determining if it’s true is when it’s done using cold logic and zero humility. Considering humility and broken-heartedness permeates the entire Bible, it’s a bit suspicious when people try to take other approaches than those to understand it.
What people think matters. I think we cannot ignore tradition, nor can we ignore human experience throughout history. We need to honour or predecessors much more than many in the West are doing right now. I am not Catholic, nor am I Orthodox, but I do think it is disrespectful when Protestants claim that all tradition is hogwash and to be ignored. I also think they need to remember that it was the ancestors of the apostles, not the Apostles themselves, who canonized the Scriptures. Before that, they were just letters. And yes, I know 2nd Peter calls some of those letters “scripture”, but ironically, if the author indeed is Peter, it can’t have included later works like the Gospel of John or Revelation. Sidetrack. What I’m getting at is that we would not have the Bible had it not been for tradition, it was thanks to people who put faith in the person the book spoke of, not the book itself, who canonized the Scriptures. I belong to a Lutheran Church, and I’m learning how to identify myself as one. I want to honour my background and my tradition, although I cannot claim to think the Lutherans have got it all right. Nor have I got it all right.
God does, however, have it all right. But I honestly do not think 100% correct doctrine among Mankind (until His 2nd Coming) is even that high on His agenda! I think we humans are too broken, too unsanctified and simply too limited to write down some kind of rational systematic theology on everything in the Universe.I am very Lutheran in this sense, as there are places I come to in my theological struggles that I simply cannot understand with my reason. I think the Orthodox have got a good idea of this with their concept of Mysteries – A truth that we cannot understand. I refuse to explain Biblical doctrine beyond what the Bible is explicit on. That is not to say we can’t talk about it, but almost all heresies are derived from trying to use logic to “fill in the gaps” and to let logic override revelation. Also, the focus needs to be on God and His love.
This takes me back to where I started, with Mike Bickle and Onething. I think Mike’s got it right on this point. The First Commandment, to love the Lord our God with all one’s heart, soul and mind (Matt 22:35-40), needs to be central to all of Christianity. A closeness to God, and an openness to His transforming love and power, should be at the absolute core of everything a Christian does. Everything, and I mean everything else, comes second. However, the fact that it comes second does not mean one is free to rationalize away other parts of the Law – because “if you love [Jesus], you will keep [His] commandments” (Joh 14:14). All of the Law, all the things He has ever required of His people, have been out of love.
The Law is a guide to Love. It is a cause for concern when the two do not mix, and usually the solution is neither “ignore it and continue, or you’re an apostate”, nor “let’s throw that doctrine out, it doesn’t fit with ‘my’ god”. Usually, there’s something wrong with how we read and interpret it, and I would say that those who say they are orthodox but do not radiate God’s love, probably do not have the First Commandment as their focus either. And in a way I understand them – I can’t claim to have it myself either. In fact, I should erase what I just wrote – no human can police another human being for not being pious enough… But at the same time, the pattern is all too obvious, when the fruits of the Spirit are not shown through some particular Christian ministry. All I can say is that in my own life, I have experienced an enormous change in my own ability to live out the SECOND commandment (love your neighbour as yourself) by coming back to the FIRST commandment. Emphasizing the second over the first, ironically has the opposite effect of the intended. I am getting more and more allergic to using the word “Liberal Christianity”. However, I believe what that loose term is trying to describe is any theology that puts other commandments, from God or from Men, before the First one. And that is why I am not a Liberal.