Sunday, October 28, 2018

What if we're wrong?

I've been wondering a lot about religious things lately (by lately I mean over the past several years). Or more specifically, what do we need to be right about in order for our faith to remain intact?
As a follower of Jesus, this post will deal with some of the things I've been taught as basic beliefs of today's Christian faith. If you have other beliefs, I leave you to challenge them on your own.

Where to begin?

How about this --
Is the Bible the inerrant and infallible Word of God?
And if so, which Bible?

The Bible that most Protestant religions use today is a little different from the Bible that Catholics use. Both have evolved over the 2000+ years of the Church Age.
And these aren't the only two variants of the Bible; just the most popular ones. Within the many versions there are thousands of translations, each with its own interpretation.

Did the Holy Spirit inspire and guide the writings of all of these books so that they meet the inerrant and infallible criteria, as well as guiding those that have interpreted their writings over the centuries?
Truthfully, I am one of those heretics that does not believe in a young Earth creation story. While I can present justification for why I believe in an old Earth, that kind of puts me out of the inerrant camp and we're only in the first couple of chapters of Genesis.

It helps to know that the doctrine of biblical inerrancy is a relatively new thing. It's only come to be in vogue in the past fifty or so years. The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy  wasn't published until 1978, forty years ago this weekend. While I respect those with more education than I have (which is pretty much everyone), I am not willing to let them think nor speak for me. Having read The Statement, I find some of the affirmations and denials a bit disturbing.

I've said it before -- I am a born skeptic. I tend to question everything.
Two hundred theologians put together a statement (in three days) that says believe this or else...
You better believe I'm going to challenge them. The very idea that men would be so arrogant to say we know the truth and you disagree with us at your own peril is absurd!

So if I disagree on the biblical story of a literal six day creation, am I a heretic?
Does this one disagreement nullify everything else I believe?

What about the flood?
What if I believe it be a local phenomena instead of a whole earth deluge?

What critical parts of your beliefs can be dismantled and still have your faith intact?
What if Old Testament writers wrote about God from the perspective of their ancient culture and believe God to be warrior god that destroys the women and children of his enemies (like their enemies believed of their gods)?
Are they so different from today's religious leaders that believe in politics or might makes right as a religious weapon?
Am I willing to dismiss science (which is the study of God's creation) in order to believe something that lacks scientific evidence but is told as a factual story that has been handed down from generation to generation?
How does man decide which ancient writings are "holy" and "The Word of God" and which ones are just written by some guy with a pen and paper?
Could it be that ultimately "The Word" is just Jesus and what he said? (John 1)

These are just a few of the many questions I have about the things I have been told are unquestionable truths. I don't think that my questions or doubts make me a heretic. I'm just a simple guy trying to find some truth in a world full of deceit. While many people seem to respond to fear as a motivator to change beliefs and behavior, I tend to be skeptical of those that use fear to bring people over to their side. I don't think that sermons should scare the hell out of you, nor do I think that fear should be used to convince you to eat a certain way, live a certain lifestyle, or vote for a particular candidate.
Fear is effective but it is also a destructive way to live.
Wouldn't you rather live with love and hope rather than fear and dread?

If you want to use the Bible, how about this verse ...

...for God gave us not a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self control.
2 Tim 1:7

I think I'll be sharing some more of the questions that challenge the things I've been taught.
I know that just asking some of these questions will ensure that I get fewer opportunities to preach in many churches and camps. It's kind of sad, but I understand it is the way of the fearful.

It's a little early for a Christmas song, but I am reminded of a favorite from Jackson Browne so I'll just leave this here.

John <><

Monday, October 22, 2018

Oh, Canada!

It's been crazy weekend!
We began our weekend with a Friday night trip to Festus MO and spent the night visiting with Chris' dad and his wife. On Saturday morning, we continued the weekend by driving into St. Louis and meeting some Canadian friends at the airport. That's when the craziness began!

I should probably back up here and refer you to a post from seven years ago. The two women we picked up at the airport were friends we met on this trip in June of 2011.

After picking them up at the airport, we went to Russell's on Macklind for lunch. This was a return trip to Russell's for Chris and me. I'm certain that we will be back again. It might just be a new favorite St. Louis restaurant of ours!
We loaded our slightly heavier selves back into the car and spent the rest of the afternoon at scenic Grant's Farm.

After checking into our downtown hotel, we opted for a late dinner within walking distance. We continued to enjoy visiting over dinner and then in the hotel bar before calling it a relatively early night (11ish) since our Canadian friends had started their day at 3am EDT.

Sunday turned out to be a long day, in spite of sleeping in.
We slept in, checked out of the hotel and made our way to the Landing for lunch at The Morgan Street Brewery. Even though we passed on dessert, we all left full or at least, well satisfied. We walked the Arch grounds and then started our journey home.
At a stop for gas, there was a Krispy Creme nearby and our friends wanted a Krispy Creme (apparently not widely available in Canada). And because we were still full from lunch, we decided to introduce them to White Castle!
We took a break about halfway home (a couple of hours into our 3 1/2 hour ride) at a little tourist stop -- Uranaus, MO.

"The best fudge comes from Uranus!"

We finally arrived at home, had a little dinner and then girls headed to a friend's home for a girls' night in the hot tub. It was after 1am when I got the call to come pick them up!

It's now Monday morning and the girls are still sleeping.
It's quiet as I enjoy my coffee and prepare myself for the next few days.
It should be an experience!

John <><