same scripture different response

"Scripture, Love, & Hate" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

“Scripture, Love, & Hate” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

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This cartoon is simple: Same scripture. Different response.

Enough said.

Doubting your beliefs about scripture? You’re not alone. The inspiration and inerrancy of scripture was the first piece in my theology to fall under question that started my long road of deconstruction.

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22 Responses

  1. Gary says:

    Interestingly enough the inerrancy of scripture was 2nd for me. The first was was the infallibility of my own church/denomination’s interpretation of it as my struggle was very much over what you portray in the cartoon above. The infallibility of scripture came 2nd as I said…but not terribly far behind. Once I gave myself permission to think for myself and question, I too began my long road of deconstruction.

  2. Interesting Gary. My struggle with the church was for my own independence. But it didn’t ignite the deconstruction I experienced mostly theologically.

  3. Sabio Lantz says:

    I watch Hindus do this, Muslims do this, Jews do this and Christians do this, of course. Solution: Stop using any scripture to support your ethics, politics, sanctimony or sense of meaning. Give up on your favorite scripture. They are literature abused by claiming they come from some god. Stop the nonsense.

    My road to deconstruction was:
    (1) my self-deception
    (2) the evilness of exclusiveness
    (3) the danger and silliness of magic prayer thinking
    (4) insight into seeing every religion playing similar games
    (5) the illusion of belief and one consistent self
    (6) the beauty of a religion-free life (the reconstruction)

  4. Philip says:

    All humankind does this, do they not. Whether scripture, law, science or politics. No persons or groups escape the tyranny of translation. The question is, who will out do the other?

  5. You’re right. Hermeneutics apply to all fields.

  6. Sabio Lantz says:

    Hermeneutics (interpreting texts) applies to all fields –> common sense.

    “This is Holy, touch fricken touch this text!” Applies to religious texts.

    Decry anyone who calls their books or texts holy! This is dangerous thinking.

  7. Sabio Lantz says:

    ooops: “don’t fricken touch this text” (please correct). Don’t worry, my text ain’t holy.

  8. Adam Julians says:

    Yes hemeneutics after the Greek God Hemes – the messenger of the gods. Closely linked to homiletics – the art of conversing the message.

    I was only involved in a church for 2 years before going to theological college where I was encouraged to think for myself where differing theologies and world views existed. So my major deconstruction was not from church.

    I can identify a couple of times in my life where deconstruction has happened. First on joining the military where my individual perception of myself was deconstructed then reconstructed as identifying as part of a body. Second on being diagnosed with dyslexia when ideas about myself changed and what I was told at school with having to work harder if I am to achieve my potential was deconstructed and reconstructed to allowance ought to be made of my dyslexia if I am to achieve my potential.

    Yes – I have gone away from thinking of the bible as infallible, to having been written by humans and therefore open to the idea that there could be mistakes in it. But then one could say that for any human ideology or world view.

    Nobody has it all figured out and not human movement offers real security though some may act as if the one they ascribe to does.

    Your illustration is a perfect example David. What I see from the middle east with chants of “death to America and it’s allies” is no different by way of human conduct as what I see politicians and opinion newscasters saying with “bomb them”. I don’t see there being any less terror for the migrants leaving war torn areas as there is for the fear of terrorist acts.

    Whether bombing is or is not the solution, I’m not getting into as ex Air Force I am not against the use of minimum force in order to have peace. But what I am against in principle is greed and where interpretation is used to justify greed.

    There’s a saying that the bible can be summarised by this. Love God and love others as yourself, the rest is commentary. That might be oversimplifying things but I can’t think of worse places to start than that with interpreting it.

  9. Adam Julians says:

    Apologies – meant to type “can think” not “can’t think” above.

  10. Brigitte says:

    Jesus said: love your enemies.

  11. We have to remember that there is not even agreement on which books should be included in the Bible. With over 30,000 Christian congregations in the world, it is easy to see that Christianity is not a monolithic organization or theology – there is no single, absolute, definitive understanding of the Bible or Christian theology. The good news/bad news is: Nobody owns God, Jesus, the Bible, or Christianity.

    The audience for whom the scriptures were written, no longer exists. The culture within which the scriptures were written, no longer exists. This means that many of the cultural assumptions that support and are built into the narratives are lost to us forever. Think of all the cultural assumptions and knowledge that are behind the contemporary phrases “May the Force be with you” or “Live long and prosper.” Last year, with the publication of the Harper Lee novel “Go Set A Watchman;” think of the character analysis and discussions about the fictional character Atticus Finch. Without any familiarity with Star Wars, Star Trek, or To Kill a Mockingbird; what interpretation and understanding would someone have of those phrases? What would happen if Atticus Finch were to be treated as a real-life historical figure?

    It would be a horrible mistake to consider those ancient cultures as stupid or callous. They were intelligent, passionate, and capable of great compassion and of insights so profound, we still – and should – study and contemplate them. Yet, we must always keep in mind that, in many ways, their culture would be more than foreign to us. No science or medicine as we know it. Not even the same math or numbering system. The history with which we are familiar is either nonexistent or inaccessible to them. They would philosophically and visually, see the world in ways we would find difficult, even impossible, to comprehend. The almost insurmountable problem of any useful comprehension of their culture lies with us, not them. The same knowledge and history of ours that they do not have is what interferes with our ability to even marginally understand them. How do we divorce ourselves from what we know, from how we think, from how we see? How do we know, think, and see like a person of a Bronze Age culture?

    I suggest that we do not consider the Bible as objective history, absolute rules, or singular answers. Whenever a narrative contains a miraculous event, it is not about the miraculous event. Look for overarching themes, such as: Creation, Exodus, Exile, etc. Look for the tension between the differing views of the Divine: Are we called to a life of legalistic obedience and ritual purity or are we called to a life of justice and compassion? Is our relationship with the Divine a contract or a covenant? Are we called to be individual citizens of an empire of laws, rituals, wars, conquests, and piety or we called to be members of a community of peace, justice, and compassion by being people who are joyfully and graciously engaged in generosity, hospitality, and healthy service? When confronting and engaging these tensions; which way does God, Moses, the Torah, the Prophets, Jesus, the Disciples, the New Testament authors lean and invite us?

    It’s about the questions, the mystery, and the journey.

  12. Sabio Lantz says:

    What I find amazing is that liberal Christians make all kinds of caveats for how to not take Bible non-literally but it still has value … BUT, the vast majority don’t read other scriptures — WHY? because they probably still think it contains something better or holy. And that other stuff is quaint and maybe valuable, but their non-literal, Bible is still real special.

    Real answer is not Truth, just tradition.

  13. Brigitte says:

    Douglas, sorry, which books do you consider to be in dispute as to whether they are in or out of the canon?

  14. Brigitte says:

    Sabio, your deconstructed self is making assumptions–that others have not engaged in comparative studies and that there is indeed nothing “special” about the Bible. It would be impossible in your mind, for someone to read widely, and with an open mind, and still find that the Bible is different from other books. I have my diffences with people who read everything metaphorically, but of course, some things are indeed ancient history, and some things are indeed metaphors and analogies.

  15. Sabio Lantz says:

    @ Brigitte,

    I indeed think that the Mahabharata is special, that Qur’an is special, that the I-Ching is special (indeed, we celebrated the I-Ching today).

    Being “special” is pretty easy, actually. Hell, people even say I am special sometimes. 🙂

    Concerning “indeed ancient history” — I have heard similar arguments in Islam and Hinduism about their special books containing actual historical miracles, just like Christians claim. Well, of course they all think that.

  16. Brigitte says:

    You used the word “special”, Sabio. Are we actually allowed to look at these different books, analyze them, make comparisons and draw conclusions? If I have been disabused of an idea I held, it is that this analysis is allowed. Discourse seems very narrowly constricted these days. A priori, Christians are stupid, and you are in your damned right to mock them at every turn. Am I right?

  17. Sabio Lantz says:

    Sorry, Brigitte, didn’t follow that.
    Did you ask me in particular a question?

  18. Brigitte says:

    Right.

  19. Adam Julians says:

    Bridgette,

    What you are picking up on, I think, is accurate about the mocking that can happen. The way I see it is that anyone who is comfortable within their own skin can laugh at themselves and return satire. If anyone can’t take what they give out then that’s sad. For them.

    It’s common in my experience for some folks to take the view that God does not exist or that if he does exist that he must be evil because of all the suffering he lets happen in the world. I’m OK with conversations of this kind. However when it comes to having a superiour air to those that think differently then difficulty always arises in my expereince.

    I’ve known Christians to be called parasites, invoking the kind of language used towards Jews in Nazi Germany. There’s secular activist group here in Scotland – the Scottish Secular Society. This is what an atheist has said about comments there. “I think that language like “sky daddy” or “imaginary friend Sam” immediately and unnecessarily pits people against each other… I don’t want the secular community to risk failing to engage with the faith community”. Another atheist commented “there are too many gratuitously anti religious posts on SSS. They belong elsewhere.” I was at a comedy gig last week where an atheist made fun out of fellow atheists for speaking like that, saying that they should just “shut the fuck up.”

    It seems not dissimilar to the embarrassment felt by those who looked down on others in the civil rights movement for taking direct action and while making peaceful protest faces violent attacks. Aren’t Christians the most persecuted people in the world now?

    Thankfully some atheists have a little common sense and willingness to treat “the other” with dignity.

    My guess from experience with Sabio, Bridgitte is that what you will get is not dissimilar to what happens at SSS. Anyone that writes “”God has answered prayer”… Argghhhh… there is no such super power that does such things… Argggghhhh” is to have a discussion that is a polemic for atheism. He won’t engage with a discussion about Nietzsche in my experience, saying he doesn’t like him. I have my suspicion (rightly or wrongly) that he might be afraid of going the same way with losing it. At the same time, it’s not been unknown for Sabio to call someone else “deluded”.

    David gave me some good advice here a while ago in the midst of an “interesting” exchange. It was to have a thick skin and to not let anyone derail you. But I’m gathering by how you come across that you already are aware of that.

  20. Tomas says:

    That’s odd. Since I deconstructed my atheist faith for being a mind trap of thought prohibitions, and then converted to symbolist Christianity for allowing the existence of supernatural forces.

  21. Brigitte says:

    Yes, Tomas, there seem to be tons of prohibitions. Thanks for advice, Adam. I am used to these discussions, if one can call them that. I am drawn to them. I don’t know if it is a calling or a bad habit.

  22. Adam Julians says:

    Brigitte yeah I get what you say about calling or bad habit. Kinda not unlike that cartoon David drew about theology and commented about that and art, loving it “when it is true and gets close to articulating what is” or likening to an addiction to a drug.

    Or in other words is it about sharing stories, parables etc or casting pearls among swine.

    Whatever the reality, what you said is true about Jesus, love and enemies. How else are we to put an end to wars?

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