Monday, May 14, 2012

Problems With the Church 3 (an arrogant series of cynical genius)

The church has handled truth in a number of ways.  In the older traditions the church hierarchy was called the holder of truth. In the extremes the church did not even let the scriptures be in a common language so that unskilled, uneducated people would not even have access to them, but the scriptures would only be explained to them by the church.  The Waldensian's died because they began to teach outside of the authority of the church.  In many newer church groups everyone can interpret scripture as an individual, which some point out as the reason for so many denominations, or the quote "you have made every man a pope".  I think at the heart of much of the problems with the church stands an inadequate way in which we might process truth.

Truth, and specifically scriptural truth tends to be addressed in between these extremes.  There are some notable distinctions in some groups however.  In some Quaker groups they highly value the idea of a communal interpretation.  In other words as the church silently waits for the leading of the Spirit, they are lead to an understanding of truth.  In the liberation theology camp they talk about action reflection.  In other words, as you are part of the struggle for liberation, and freedom from poverty and oppression in real life activities, you are then able to reflect upon the scriptures from a proper alignment. 

Let me say that I believe there is much that we can learn from all of these traditions particularly the last two.  But the problem I see with the church today, is they miss a very important principle.  In fact, I would say that all of these traditional methods have merit, and should be combined to give us the best understanding of scripture, yet if we did this well we would still miss the most important aspect of our faith, and what it means to be the church.

What is this little secret?  It is that Jesus, is actually the center of our knowledge, not the bible.  Now I am well aware that without the bible we don't have a Jesus.  But lets look at how we approach scripture.  In most cases we do not approach it as a narrative, though that is what it is.  And we take it in pieces, using all pieces equally, (unless they disagree with out lifestyle or dogma in which case they are just figurative, or not in proper context).  But this is a problem, because the bible is not THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE.  The bible is not the EXACT REPRESENTATION OF GOD'S BEING, nor is it THE LOGOS BECOME FLESH.  Nor are we known as biblians.  We are called Christians, which means we are to be followers of Christ.

This radically effects the way in which we view truth, or interpret scripture.  If we are to be true to our name, and discipleship, then first and foremost we must acknowledge Christ.  So in order to understand all of scripture, we must first understand Christ.  What Christ did, what He said, and how He died and rose again, is the pinnacle of our understanding of God, and scripture.  Far from meaning the other scriptures don't matter, or even that they matter less, it means that all scripture comes alive when viewed through the lens of Jesus. 

The problem has been that we have not followed Jesus.  In fact, most of the time we elevate Jesus so high into the clouds that we forget he actually asked real live men, to follow him in the real live earth, and entrusted the real live church into their hands.  We do not read Paul in light of Jesus, but we read Jesus in light of Paul.  We do not take the Jesus of the gospels as the one true God, but we say, "well he was just a nice guy back then but in Revelations he is gonna wreck shit"  We say, "well look at Joshua, God is not just love He is just".  But the thing is Jesus shows us what God's justice looks like "neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more".  God is revealed truly, and perfectly in the actions, and teachings of Jesus, and the scriptures bow to Him, not the other way around.  This is the actual meaning of Jesus statement in the sermon on the mount, "not one tiny little morsel of the law will be done away with until it is all PERFECTED"  Jesus comes to make the understandings of God, and scripture perfect. 

A problem with the church is we look every way we can besides the actual example of Jesus life, the powerful teachings he gave us, and the invitation to join in His death and resurrection.  If Jesus is the Way, Truth and Life, then we should be about that.  Isn't it funny that the only people Jesus really tore into were those that already figured it out, had all their doctrines and dogmas straight, and used them all as currency to buy and sell power and influence over others.  What He spoke of was the kingdom, a way of acting, and living, a way of being the community of God, and in the midst of this community His very presence lives.  Truth is not a book, nor a method, it is a person, the person of Christ.

All of our interpretive methods must be engaged, but more importantly, we must set our sight firmly on Christ the man, and His call to follow Him.

rev

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have been in church my whole life. I've studied and have a theological degree. I'm not sure I've ever heard anyone say this. And you know, since I've been reading your stuff, and trying to wrap my brain around it, I think I've finally grasped something I've been missing. If its all about Jesus, then that's exactly it. Who was Jesus and how does knowing him make my life better. Not Paul. Not Timothy. Jesus.
And I should have known that.
We as The Body Of Christ should know that.
So thanks for what you do.

That is all. :)
Beck

Br Jack+, LC said...

Rev,

I've been saying the same thing for a while now. It's nice to hear someone else say it, too.