Friday, December 01, 2006

Deconstruction Zone #1a: The Bible

Sorry I haven't responded to your recent comments, guys, I appreciate the interaction. This blog gives me some academic room that I appreciate, I just don't get to it as often as I'd like. Anyway, I hope everyone had a great Turkey Day. Here's some quick thoughts on the earlier posts.

I sympathize with Mark's response totally. In my deconstructing my understanding of the Bible, I in no way wish to jettison the ancient text that have withstood the test of time so much. I am more inclined to question our use of them and our understanding of their purpose than I am the actual significance they play. They have played such a central role for the church for so long, conspiracy theories make good movies, but the historical accuracy and scrutiny that the texts have withstood, I am not about to cast doubt on them. My deeper and more relevant question has to do with the actual closing of the canon. Who said it's closed? Who said there aren't other ancient . . . even modern texts that are significant for believers of the Christ? Sometimes we are guilty of making the Bible into an idol mistaking it for the source rather than simply a testifi-er to the source. Take, for example, Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter from a Birmingham Jail . . . is there anything there that isn't Scripture? Even fits the letter motif :-)

I don't feel lost, like we don't have a reliable and accurate document (or collection of documents). I whole-heartedly trust the Bible and hold to its contents. But for what? That is the question I've really been wrestling. I supposed I was taught growing up that the Bible has all the anwers. It is a collection of answers. It tells us how we should live, how we should worship, how we should understand God. I'm not sure I follow that logic any more - actually I'm sure I don't.

I understand the Bible more like a story. It is a great cosmic story that breathes meaning, purpose, and direction to my life. It puts my own story into a larger and more complex and meaningful framework. I am part of someone else's story. In an of myself I am empty, lost, and neutral. However, understanding the larger picture of creation, redemption, sin and forgiveness I understand what life is about.

This perspective, however, underplays the importance of the Bible for telling me all the answers and how I should live and how I should worship. Instead it tells a story that makes a whole lot of sense. It relates a story that I want to strive after. I want to be like that. I want things to work out for me as they do for the others testified about in the story. So as I read about Moses and the exodus, I see my own personal exodus (currently underway) of leaving the slavery of sin and oppression of evil desires. I see in David's character his great ability in leadership, but also his great aptitude towards his vulnerability - all themes I see in my own life. Actually, I am finishing up a class with our senior high students looking at the entire work of the BIble and considering the themes in teh Bible. THat is how the BIble is to be understood, in my mind - thematically. NOt book chapter and verse like we often refer to. It is the big picure that brushes the strokes on the painting, not the individual atoms of the paint - that is what I have been to tempted to focus on before.

And so, within the narrative, there is great variety and diversity. There isn't "a right way" always - only the way to Jesus. That way, though, hasn't been described in the precision that the way to offer sacrifices on the day of Atonement was described. That offers me great freedom, I believe. The church has focused too much on unifying our corporate practices and doctrine that we have failed to recapture and reliven the great call of discipleship offered by the Christ. That is what we must find in the pages of the text - the way of discipleship.

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