My sources for revelation

As a seminarian of the liberal Protestant tradition, I do not believe that everything in the Bible is necessarily (a) the Word of God, or (b) intended to be literally applicable to our lives.  I believe neither that the Bible was penned by God personally, nor “divinely inspired” – insofar as that means that God actually told its authors to write everything in it verbatim.  I don’t accept that view because I cannot, at this time, reconcile such literalism with passages like Numbers 5, Judges 19, 1 Timothy 2, nor the bizarre practices alluded to throughout Leviticus and Deuteronomy, just to name a few.

So what, then, are my sources for revelation? There are three: I know God and receive God’s message through personal, direct experiences and prayer, I know others who are personally in relationship with and have ideas about God, and yes, I have also come to know God through revelation about God as written in the Bible. I take seriously the command to love God with all my heart, soul, and mind (and might!). But I can do none of these if I must attribute all of the crazy, violent, and disturbing passages in the Bible to God’s own dictation, rather than humans operating within the science and social circumstances of their time.

Let me be clear: the Bible is essential, not optional, and contains great truth about God and from God – and perhaps even more truth about humans, even in the most terrible passages.  But to try and interpret the whole thing, good and bad, through the rosy lens of “God said it, so it must be true,” is to let oneself off of the responsibility to critically interpret the text through our present day lens, in the context of what God is trying to tell us about what’s happening today.

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Asking the (W)right questions

My dad sent me a link to this film and asked me if think it’s valid. Take a look:

In a word, no, I don’t think this is valid. My issue is with the questions that are being raised. This approach attempts to make McCain account for these crazy views espoused by one of his supporters. Basically, it’s a move to try and get McCain to answer: “Do you agree with or repudiate these views?” Seems fair in light of what happened to Obama, Wright?

Problem is, it is not legitimate to try and make McCain, Obama, or anyone else account for the views or statements made by their supporters. Instead, we need to hold them accountable to their own beliefs and actions. In McCain’s case, the questions can and should be raised: what are your views on the practice of Islam in America and elsewhere? And why is your campaign seeking out endorsements from religiously-bigoted pastors? For Obama, he shouldn’t be asked to approve of or repudiate everything Rev. Wright ever said, but I think it’s fair to ask why, in light of Rev. Wright’s controversial views, did he attend Trinity UCC for so long?

Each of these approaches to McCain’s and Obama’s pastors provides room for the nuance that has gone missing on both sides of this issue. And that’s what is needed, not simply to do unto them what was done unto us.

Yes! Score one for the vegetarians!

This video, called Battle at Kruger, is absolutely unbelievable. I don’t have anything useful to say about it, other than that it should be viewed by everybody. This testifies to the power of one individual with a camera, in the right place at the right time.