Monday, November 17

Fishbone Religion?

A business tourist returning from Japan told me of a fancy restaurant which served up its sushi not just fresh, but alive. The waiter brought the live fish to the table in a bowl of water, and would slice wafer-thin slices from the live fish and serve them onto the diners' plates, then put the fish back in the bowl to keep swimming in circles until the waiter came back to serve their plates again. Somehow the poor fish managed to keep swimming in the bloodied water until there was effectively no meat left to slice.

Has "Modern" scholarship, over the past few centuries, whittled the Gospel down in just the same way? As much wisdom as God has given us in the Bible, as carefully as He has stressed that this is His (singular) Word, and as richly as He has blessed the Church with insights into what He has revealed to us we presume that as long as we fulfill some "bare minimum requirements" that nothing else is expected, and no greater blessing available than what we (presume to) already have. Do we have it? What does it look like?

For a starting place, a suggestion: First, that we each read the Scriptures, in faith (James 1), that is, faithfully, ready to believe and obey what the Lord shows us. Second, that we begin to read some of the really early writers, comparing their understanding of the Gospel with our own. This sort of exercise, besides discovering their hidden treasures, brings us closer to understanding the world to which the Scriptures were first written. Third, that our study be always from a starting-place of worship, remembering that it is the Spirit of the Living God Who must be our teacher, and not merely our own "great wisdom." And in all these things, let it be done in the context of close fellowship with other Believers who share that intention. Doing these three things can make the difference between full salvation and a tenuous, "bare bones" religion!

5 comments:

  1. It looks like a spineless Bible. Or it might look like a "Jefferson Bible" where you leave out all that virgin birth stuff and that resurrection stuff because "modern" people cannot believe that.

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  2. A scholar's bias can seriously undermine Biblical interpretation, especially when the scholar disbelieves in the supernatural and has a very liberal approach, and as well if a scholar is attempting (perhaps unknowingly) to read a theology, of any type, into the text there is going to be a bias fueled interpretation.

    Basically scholars are in trouble when they greatly lack objectivity.

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  3. Thanks for stopping by, Pewster! Trouble is, as you well know, if we presume to snip away the miraculous there's really no message left in the Message. Like Jesus said, "Which is easier, to say 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'rise and walk?'" And He, very effectively, did both!

    Yeah, Russ, whether we're talking about the cunning "Liberal" theories for excluding any chance of God appearing or intervening in space/time, or the well-meaning "Conservative" hero-worship of those who have taught their followers to expect to see thus and such a doctrine in Scripture, either way man's meager opinions are palmed off as the Living Word of God, and everybody suffers.

    The good news is that there is no limit to the depth of revelation or the power of God to use it to develop and reveal Himself to, in, and through such mud pots as you, the Pewster, and me!

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  4. We are in basic agreement, Dr. Robert.

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  5. Well, Prof. Russ, I would sure hope so! Blessings on ya, Brother!

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So what's your take?