2014 Religious Trends
For the Bible Tells Me So?
It is time for that kind of biblical "interpretation" to die.
Progressive Christianity is leading the way. As we open the biblical texts and explore them more fully, as technology gives more people access to scholarship, and as we learn to listen more closely to all voices (particularly the marginalized, those the world might see as "the least of these"), we are finding one consistently expressed, overarching, biblical theology: the persistence of love.
Considering the life and teaching of Jesus, it really shouldn't be surprising. It is the commandment he taught us to hold above all others: Love. It is the commandment he taught us sums up all the others: Love God and your neighbor. It is the commandment he taught us to extend even to our enemies: Love.
Love offers hope. Blind faith offers obedience.
Love offers communion. Blind faith offers division.
When you hear, "it says so right there," recognize that "what we've got here is a failure to communicate." It's not a difference in interpretation. It is not even just a difference in opinion. It is a fundamental difference in approach that is rooted in the controlling ways of the larger society in which we reside. There is no true common ground upon which to grow this conversation. So don't even try.
Instead, nurture the soil; create common ground. Instead of arguing, extend love. You don't have to be "right" on this; as a matter of fact, the way they see it, you can't be. You do, however, have to love one another.
Ultimately, that is where biblical authority rests for Progressive Christians: in relationship. It's a relationship between each individual and the text, which is augmented by our relationship with God, which is ultimately defined by our relationship with others—even those with whom we disagree.
How do I know? Well, because the Bible tells me so.
Mark is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA). He is a co-founder of The Christian Left. His blog, The God Article, was recently named as one of the "Top Ten Christian Blogs." He also writes for The Huffington Post and Sojourners. Last year he received the "Award of Excellence" from the Associate Church Press. He's married to an amazing Baptist minister and has two fabulous teenagers. More than anything (other than peace and justice), Mark wants to have a beverage in one hand and a book in the other as he and his wife look across the shores of Ocracoke, North Carolina. He is a certified geek.
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