Although I typically don’t get into many theological discussions or arguments on social media these days, I still like to mix it up from time to time. Not that I really feel the need to change people’s minds per se, I just want to get people to think about stuff a little deeper than they currently are. You see, Christians, by and large, aren’t really all that known for thinking outside the box. Instead, they seem to be pretty content to assume that what they already believe is correct and are quick jump on anything that strikes them as odd. I’d like to see that change.
To that end, I wanted to offer 7 things I wish more Christians considered prior to coming to any conclusions about things theological. I offer these, not as an exhaustive list, but as a small sampling of the ideas I’ve been running across on Facebook and elsewhere.
Inerrancy Is A Hermeneutic, Nothing More
The doctrine of inerrancy is a fairly prevalent one in American Protestantism. And that’s fine. I really don’t care. What folks need to consider, however, is that it is nothing more than one lens out of many through which we can view the Bible. And more than that. It’s a doctrine that has very little backing in Scripture itself. Sure, there is that one verse in 2 Timothy that says how Scripture is “God-breathed,” but that hardly means the whole of the Bible is “inerrant.” To suggest otherwise would be to read much more into the text than is really there.
The Phrase “Biblical Worldview” Is Meaningless
Little phrases bother me more than “biblical worldview” does. Why? Because, while people use it as some catch-all phrase to “prove” whatever they want to prove about the world, it is really nothing but a vacuous statement that bears no meaning. Indeed, the Bible can be used to say whatever one wants it to say (just compare the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. with those of the Westboro Baptist Church). Hence, just about anything could be considered a “biblical worldview.” Want to justify slavery? You can use the Bible. Want to justify misogyny? The Bible can come in handy. Want to condemn everyone to hell? Go ahead, the Bible is your friend.
Jesus Interpreted His Scriptures Creatively
I’ve harped on the fact that Jesus had a propensity to use Scripture creatively (like here, here, and here). I wish Christians understood this. If they did, they would realize that “doing theology” is a little more complicated than quoting Bible verses till you’re blue in the face. They would realize that if they are going to follow Jesus, not only in action and in deed, but in how to read the Bible as well, then they are going to actually have to pay attention to how he used his Scriptures and in what ways he quoted from them. I know, a lot of work, but well worth it if you ask me.
Literalism Is A Distraction
There is, in principle, nothing wrong with saying things like “the Bible literally says this, or literally says that.” The problem, then, is that we’ve taken this so far that it’s become a distraction from the truths that can be found in the text. For instance, if we are so inclined to believe that God created the entirety of the cosmos in 6 literal days, then we run the risk of missing the bigger truths the book of Genesis is attempting to convey, namely that God, contrary to other creation myths like Enuma Elish, creates without using violence. And more than that. Now that we have a bunch of science that has long since shown that the cosmos is billions of years old, we end up looking rather silly when we argue that it’s a mere couple thousands of years old.
The Good News Was Announced Before Jesus Died
What is the Good News? Well, if you ask many a Christian, they’d likely tell you that Christ died to spare us from the wrath of the Father and that if we believe in him we’ll go to heaven when we die. This is wrong. Full stop. How do I know? Jesus brought with him good news prior to dying. In fact, his first sermon—which is found in Luke 4—is the announcement that the Day of Jubilee was here. Now. Not tomorrow. Not when you die. Today. The good news for the poor, the imprisoned, the blind, and the oppressed was at-hand, in their very midst.
The Kingdom of Heaven is Now
Piggybacking off number 5, I wish Christians understood that heaven is not some future experience we hope to have. Well, it may be. But it is much more than that. The kingdom of heaven is now. Jesus said this over and over—the kingdom of heaven is at-hand, the kingdom of heaven is in your midst, the kingdom of heaven is near, and so on. So, why wait till we die to experience this when you can experience it right now?
Paul’s Words Against Women Are Not an Injunction for All Time
I’ll admit, Paul had some harsh things to say about women. Let me rephrase, because I don’t think that’s quite accurate: Paul had some harsh things to say about some women in Timothy’s church. But based on my understanding of these women, they had it coming. They were gossips and were spreading lies, hence they were basically told to sit down and shut up. However, that doesn’t mean Paul’s words were meant to be an injunction against women assuming pastoral or leadership roles. That’s nonsense. Plus, Paul was very much pro-woman in other places and even had a woman—Phoebe—read the very dramatic and rhetoric-filled letter to the Romans (Paul’s piece de resistance, if you will). So, to elevate a few things Paul said in places like 1 Timothy over and above all the other stuff he said in support of women is highly dubious at best and quite manipulative at worst.
So, that’s about all I have for now. Please share your thoughts with me below. I’m always curious about what folks are thinking these days. Peace.